Bedbugs and Chainsaws and Bears...Oh My!
My first few days in Big Sky have been...well, the opposite of boring. I woke up on Sunday at the crack of...uh, 8:30am, and waited for Dr. Daniels, the head doc at the clinic and my new next door neighbor, to come by for an orientation as promised. I guess I'd imagined that he'd show up bright and early, because I thought I might have to work that day - but when he finally showed up nearing upon noon, I discovered that I not only had the day off (woohoo!) but that the clinic opens daily at the highly manageable hour of 10am, in part so that everyone working there can get in their beauty's rest and morning run. What a life!
P.S. Yesterday I mentioned the Gallatin River, which winds like a beautiful shimmering diamond belt all along the highway from Yellowstone through Big Sky and north to Bozeman (see below) - ironically, my new home, located on "Riverview Lane", appears to be the *only* spot in a 50 mile radius that *doesn't* have a view of the Gallatin River! Go figure.
On the downside, when I asked about nearby running/biking trails, I was cautioned to watch out for grizzly bears and moose, both of which live in the area and "will easily tear you to shreds". Oh yeah, and there's also been a black bear loitering on our very property over the last few weeks. Greaaaat... Some people have a bad hair day; I definitely don't want to be one of the unfortunate to have a bad bear day!
After Dr. Daniels left me trembling (with joy at my day off, and with fear at the prospect of encountering a bear up close and personal), I took advantage of the free time and headed up to Bozeman, the nearest city. If, like me, you happen to be the kind of person who rates new cities by their density of bookstores and coffeeshops, then you, like I, would agree that Bozeman rocks! It's a college town (University of Montana site) that becomes a haven for ski bums every winter, and it's got a bit of an outdoorsy, hip vibe - intermixed with an indescribable Montana vibe. I walked down Main St. and popped into any open stores to grab their free local magazines and newspapers, and then read through the entire stack while I ate lunch. It was here that I found out about all of the fun and exciting goings on in this area right now; for example, the Manhattan Potato Festival!! Manhattan *Montana*, that is.
I had a blissful time shopping at the enormous, fabulous community co-op in downtown Bozeman (the fresh feta! the organic basil! the homemade carrot-ginger soup!) and then got back on the road south to Big Sky, ready to enjoy the peaceful scenery. But...nature wasn't in a peaceful mood, and as the sky darkened to a deep, indigo blue, and long forks of lightning streaked over the mountains on the horizon, I wondered if it was a problem that I was about to enter the patch of road they call "the canyon", a strip of about 10 miles that has no cellphone reception and little place to pull over. Soon enough, the rain started pouring over my car. And I mean *pouring* - I could not see more than 2 inches in any direction, and it occurred to me that this looked more like a blizzard than a rainstorm. Sheesh. As if in response to my wintry thoughts, the sky started sending down some token pea-size hail in addition to the continued sheets of water. I couldn't really pull over, so I just put on my hazard lights, came to a full stop in the middle of the road, and prayed that some crazy truckdriver didn't think he was macho enough to barrel through this crazy storm.
A few minutes later, the rain subsided, and just as my windshield wipers started squeaking a rainless protest, I turned them off, and turned the next corner, and saw...
the most beautiful rainbow shimmering against the trees! It was complete, from ground to ground, and I was tempted to go looking for the pot of gold or to try to go over and jump into it, but I resisted. Rainbows like this just don't seem to exist in the Northeast - the last time I saw a rainbow like this was in South Dakota last year. Maybe there's something in the water around here.
Ok, so now that you've read all about my various little adventures, you're probably wondering: so how's the clinic, that whole reason you came out here in the first place? Ok ok, I'll tell you: it's so much fun! As I mentioned earlier, we don't start til 10am, but then we go nonstop til about 5-5:30. I barely have time to grab lunch! The patient population is split between locals, tourists, and the construction workers making all of the houses and hotels that the locals and tourists live in. So we get a lot of tourist issues (colds, ear infections, a case of hottub folliculitis today), as well as all sorts of interesting outdoor adventure accidents (the guy yesterday who fell off his horse and broke a rib, along with the usual sprains, strains, and scrapes). Today was a crazy busy day, full of weird rashes, a chainsaw accident, and a case of the bedbugs! Yes, they actually do bite! Fortunately, the guy whose chainsaw got the best of his knee wasn't too badly hurt, and he was nice and patient enough to let me do most of the suturing (22 sutures! he asked me to count them so he could tell his grandson how many he'd goten) to put the skin of his knee back together again. It's so rewarding to have these people come in torn up and hurting badly, only to leave a short time later all sewn up, painfree, and full of gratitude for what we were able to do to help them. It's a *very* different feel than my hospital rotations, where I felt that people would come in and languish while we sort of patched things up well enough to send them home, by which time they often developed a nosocomial infection or other problems that they didn't have when they came in.
So, that's all for now - I'm having lots of fun being back on the clinical side of medicine after my year of research - I'll admit it, I'm a sucker for immediate gratification - and this is an amazing learning opportunity. Dr. Daniels has a huge library of "interesting chest Xray cases" that he's been showing us - oh, and by "us" I mean me and the other visitor here this month, an awesome emergency medicine resident who is also a great teacher and is more than happy to let me do *all* of the suturing we encounter (she's sick of it by now). So I should be an experienced seamstress by the end of the month. More soon!