16 June 2016

Orientation, My Substitute Mom, and Visa Troubles - Wellington

So here I am in Wellington, getting oriented.  The orientation is put on by the government-run locums agency and is a whirlwind course including everything from driving on the left to a primer on the New Zealand healthcare system.   (More about the New Zealand healthcare system when I see it in action, but it's already obviously a big improvement over the US "system").  

Of course, I also got to learn another Electronic Medical Record program - the Canadian in the class was bragging that he had to learn to use four different EMRs in the short time he has been in practice.  Ptsh, please.  Let's see: Epic, Cerner, PowerChart, Azyxi (that was true shenanagins), PeriCalm, MIS, whatever that gawd-awful thing at Union outpatient was, PAS, and that doesn't include radiology.  Oh and paper.  When I suggested paper notes were a thing everyone looked at me like I must be some sort of time traveler.  

Polynesian explorer Kupe first sights Aotearoa.

Being an American abroad is an interesting situation right now.  Upon introducing myself, one kiwi succinctly observed, "ah, so you're here to escape Donald Trump and gun violence, are you?" Um, essentially, yes.  Well, less to escape and more to see another way of doing things and hopefully bring those observations back home.  But escape is sounding better and better.  And though just a few days ago I wrote that I was not coming to escape political violence, the mass slaughter of my queer brothers and sisters in my home country makes me feel more like a refugee than I thought I was.  It also makes me feel guilty for leaving just now, when it feels like there is a battle to be fought.

But here I am.  In a hotel in Wellington with my six month old.

My biggest blessing in New Zealand, and the person who has made this whole orientation-with-a-baby situation possible is Patti.  She is a Quaker and a family friend of my in-laws currently living in Auckland.  When she heard about our visa situation, she offered to fly down to Wellington and watch Pax while I went to orientation.  Um, yes, please!  She actually had a similar visa situation herself, and was stranded in California for a time awaiting medical review, too.  

The Amazing Patti

She has been utterly amazing. Not only has she cared for Pax while I am off being oriented, she has also gently reminded me to eat, introduced me to various Quakers across the North Island, and generally kept me company.  Basically, she's been my substitute mom, and I am so thankful for her.  

I especially enjoyed getting to explore Wellington with her - it is so much more fun to share that sense of newness and discovery with someone else.  And Patti reminds me so much of my own mom - she has that same kindness and enthusiasm, the same deep appreciation for a brisk walk.  And they both provide grade A baby snuggles. 

This morning we found ourselves up early (thanks jetlag), so we hiked up the hill to the botanical gardens, arriving just in time to watch the sun rise over the city.  Magic.

Sunrise from the Botanical Garden

Benjamin called during our walk - he had been in touch with New Zealand Immigration again.  We have been told that the medical review process we're involved in takes either 2-4 weeks or 30-60 days depending on who you ask.  Benjamin has chosen to assume the 2-4 weeks is the correct time frame; I have of course decided to plan for the worst.  During this phone call he learned that though we submitted the additional medical documents they requested on 31 May, they were not forwarded to the medical review officer until 7 June.  So whichever time frame we were using, it hadn't even started for another week.  

I like New Zealand already - it's hard not to since it's basically like a hybrid of Hawaii and Britain.  But it's hard to fall in love with a country when that country is keeping your husband and son in bureaucratic limbo.  

Pax explores under the bed.

Sculpture near the hotel

Early morning at the waterfront

Sunny afternoon at the waterfront.

Patti at the Night Noodle Market

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