Sunday, January 06, 2008

Chapter Two

December was long and eventful here in our now-packed-up house. It started with a job offer from Northern News Services, a company based in Yellowknife that publishes weekly and bi-weekly papers all over the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. I had been sending them photos for a while and they had my resume on file, so when a job in Inuvik opened up, they called to ask me if I was interested.

These decisions are not easy to make, especially over the Christmas season, but after talking it over, Nicole and I decided to go for it. It wasn't easy telling everyone at the store that I was leaving, but they were supportive to say the least.

On the 23rd, Nicole started having pains in her stomach. There is no doctor in Tulita, but the nurse called the hospital in Yellowknife and described the symptoms. We were told it was nothing too serious. The pain subsided a bit over Christmas, but by the 29th it was back and we decided that she couldn't wait any longer to go see a doctor. It meant paying several thousand out of our own pocket for a last minute flight to Yellowknife. It is true that health care is free in Canada, but only once you're inside the hospital. How you get there is up to you.

Once inside, the doctors seemed fascinated by Nicole's conflicting symptoms. There was a steady stream of specialists called in from their Christmas holidays to perform test after test. I felt relieved knowing that so many doctors were putting their heads together on her case. I'm sure it was because of her unusual symptoms. We later learned that the patient in the bed next to us had languished for four full days before finding out her appendix had ruptured. They kept telling her no doctors were available to do an ultrasound, even though we knew one had come in the day before to perform an ultrasound on Nicole.

In the end, Nicole's illness wasn't too serious. It was an overreaction of her immune system that was painful more than anything else. It had a long name that even the doctors seemed unable to pronounce. After four nights and five days in Yellowknife, I jetted back to Tulita to begin packing our stuff.

And that brings me to today, my last day living in Tulita. It will be spent ferrying boxes and doing some last-minute packing. Tomorrow afternoon I'll arrive in Yellowknife and begin my career as a journalist. I set out in 2001 with the dream of making a living as a writer. Seven years later I've finally made it a reality. We will see how long it lasts, but at least now I can say I've tried.

By the sounds of things, one of my first tasks as a reporter will be a 10-day road trip through most of the communities in the southern part of the Northwest Territories. I don't want to say too much yet except that if it goes ahead, it will be the trip of a lifetime for me. I can't wait. Not sure when my next posting will be because my computer will be shipped to Inuvik. I'm scheduled to go there sometime in mid-February. Stay tuned.