Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Life Updated: The Expat Life

Spoiler Alert: Life is Amazing
I Skype with my parents on a weekly basis, and one thing that my mom keeps repeating is how good I look and happy I am. It makes me realize how much we absolutely did not like or fit in Maryland. Yeah, it was never our intent to be there, but I thought we did a good job of making do. Oh man, were we just making do. Everything just feels better here.
No, we will not be making this a permanent locale (take a deep breath parents), but dear God did we actually find a life that we thoroughly love living again. I watch how the East Coast is transitioning in to "winter mode" and am grateful that I am not within a thousand miles of it. Adam and I get to carpool to and from work together, which means more time together, and round-trip, the total commute is less than 30 minutes. So much better than my 1-2 hour commute each-way daily commute. It also means that we get to stick with being a single-car household, which I had been hoping to return to. We all know how much I hate owning or having "things".
We have an incredible group of friends, that have already become family. Seriously, we have at least dozen people that we can call at any hour for any reason, and they would be there for whatever is needed. And we would do the same for them. We can go put our toes in the sand and beings in the sea whenever we please and have gotten back into freediving. I don't have to wear jackets except for when someone goes a little crazy with the air conditioning. I have my "girls' nights" while Adam has his "poker nights", there are group brunches, happy hours, water park ventures, lazy afternoon BBQs, museums and exhibits, ahhhhh.....just a life thoroughly lived. Oh yeah, and the trips. Love all the airplane rides! Where to next you ask??!?!??!
I have days off from work with the new year, so to Cambodia we go! YAY! We also have some friends that will be going with us, like Nepal, so it will be a group adventure!
So, in summary....Do I miss the US? Actually, no. Not at all. What I do miss are our friends and family there (Adam also misses easy access to good beer, Sriracha, and Crystal Light). I hope that more people get the chance to come visit and completely obliterate this American perception of what the "Middle East" is, because I promise you, it is not what you predominantly see on the mainstream media.

Beach bumming love

Freediving excursion

Wakeboarding at the waterpark

Shake Shack with my gingers: Alison and Adam

Halloween and my lumber jack love

Halloween Party #1

Halloween Party #2: Allison, me, and Alison

Heading to Halloween Party #3

Happy Hour on the beach

Art exhibit at Manarat Saadiyat

Playing with the birds of prey at the exhibit

Brunch time: Debbie and Adam

Brunch time: Michael and Dave

Brunch time: Me and Chris

Brunch time: Adam and Allison

Brunch time: My beloved Dave

Brunch time: Love these boys, Adam, Dave, and Chris

Brunch time: The girls- Allison, Debbie, and me

Brunch time: Chillin' pool side

Brunch time: LOVE

Brunch time: The Perfect Day

Brunch time: The adorable and awesome Greenhalghs

Morning fog, our home is the 2nd building from the left

So this is what we are thankful for this festive holiday and continually...a fortunately life filled with amazing people and experiences. Thank you to all of you that make our lives so enjoyable and incredible!

Life Updated: The Job (What do I do?!?!?)

This week marks 8 weeks since I have started my job and it is going absolutely incredibly. Honestly. I wasn't really expecting to like my job, as I am more leadership than I want (I am an Assistant Director of Nursing) and it is purely Clinical Nurse Specialist (i.e. NOT doing direct patient care). I am the very first Advanced Practice Nurse this country has hired to function in the role (there are lots of others working under the RN scope of practice), so we are all trying to figure out what my job description is. You would think it is simple, as it is a defined role in the US, but we aren't in the US anymore, and their scopes of practice are developed with the influence of nurse from around the world.
The program that I cover is massive (4 general Pediatric units, 1 Pediatric day hospital, Peds ED, Peds ICU, and a Peds high-dependency unit). Where I have previously worked, there would be at least 3 of us covering a program this big, so I do have to remain very "big picture" here. The response to my arrival has been overwhelmingly positive and everyone is so excited and supportive to have me there. I have already gotten approval to develop and roll out 2 curriculums that will be open to 7 hospitals, am revamping and improving the Peds Oncology program (still my heartland), and developing overall initiative to bring the entire program of care up to brag-worthy standards. While I am away from my base passion (working directly with patients and families), I am loving how "BIG" this job is as far as my influence on process and program improvement.
On top of that, I have corporate responsibilities to SEHA (the governing body for health care here), where I sit on Pediatric subcommittees that influence Pediatric processes throughout the entire system (not just the hospital that I work at). Not only that, I site on the Nursing and Midwifery Council Specialization Committee (UAE equivalent of a national board of nursing), where I am helping to develop the scope and standards of practice for Advanced Practice Nursing. You know, since I am the one and only one here currently practicing.
It is just mind blowing what I have become involved with in such a short period of time, an opportunity that I would NEVER have in the US because I was one of thousands there. Here, I am interacting with hospital CEOs, program chairs/directors, government health care leaders, meeting delegations from other international hospitals to learn from us, and dealing with legislation on a regular basis. I will already be speaking at an international conference next year and sit on the scientific committee for two others.
I know that this may all sound like something that I would hate, as it is so far from the patient at times, but to be such an integral part of the process that truly determines the logistics of everything that happens to patients AND trying to make it better, is wonderful. I have never felt so welcomed and had my opinions so readily sought out and enthusiastically received this quickly. They are letting me determine my own job description, trusting me to properly assess, prioritize, and intervene. The things that I am going to be able to accomplish here is mind-blowing and I am just SO excited.
Yes, my life is a lot of meetings, but I see immediate impacts and improvements from these meetings, and work with incredibly passionate people. Don't worry though, I still get to have some fun: Two days ago, I got to follow a 2-year old patient through his cardiac procedure, and sat in on his operation. I stood two feet from him, watching them repair his heart defect though his open chest. That magic moment when they take him off the bypass machine and it starts beating on it's own again. Fantastic. I am such a procedure junkie.
So yeah, if I can't be the Peds Hem/Onc NP that I want to be right now...this will do just fine.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

An Expat Thanksgiving

What is my *favorite* meal of the year?
Do you think that not being in the US for the yearly turkey day means that I miss out on this tradition?
Adam is blessed with leave and not being on probation with a new job, so he gets to go back stateside to celebrate this amazing meal with family, but I was not going to miss out! We have an amazing and incredible group of friends here, most of whom are American, who are just as obsessed with this tradition as I am. We opted to host a feast in our place, potluck style, and it definitely did not fail in being absolutely exceptional!
Adam and I took care of the turkey, which ended up having to be ordered from a hotel restaurant because we had 20+ people and a tiny oven that would not hold a large enough bird. Can I tell you how much this is the way to go? To not have to worry about finding a turkey to buy here (it is an issue), defrosting, brining, cooking perfectly, etc... They cooked our turkey the morning of our feast and we just had to pick it up. The rest of the main course dishes and dessert came from everyone, who was tasked with sharing a favorite dish/dessert and libation.
Fortunately, there are 4 apartments of us living here at the Rosewood, so we borrowed tables and chairs from everyone, to provide more than enough seating for everyone.

Debbie, making the stuffing

Cheers Nate, Adam, and Dave

Time to get this feast going!

Tasty time!

Partial spread, after the first round

Other part of the spread

The rest of the spread

After filling ourselves with delicious food and cracking in on the dessert, everyone took to the couches to let to food coma settle in with some pleasant camaraderie.

Alison and Allison, my life is full of them!

Michael enjoying the post-feast drink

Carmen, Chris, and Nate warming up for the next round

Kurt, Dave, Debbie, and Sara perfecting the lounge techinique

Late meal stragglers

Micah and Elena breaking into their delicious dessert spread!

So many incredible dessert options!

Micah's insanely good chocolate pumpkin break (thanks to his grandmother's recipe!)

After letting the food settle for a bit, we broke into a hybrid of Cards Against Humanity. You should have known this was coming, it is my favorite game. Well, Allison came up with the brilliant idea of combining Cards Against Humanity with Pictionary, so we tried it out.
We did girls versus boys and it was fantastic. If you want to take CAH to a whole new level, I highly recommend this! You just need some markers and  large pieces of paper, a good time it promised to be had!

Carmen and Adam, let the games begin!

Girls vs. Boys

Working hard

Alison and me, having such a nice time

The girls = WINNERS!

As you can see, this lasted a long time, as the sun fell out of the sky.

Chris and Debbie

Me, Chris, and Lyde

Adam and Dave, conspiring

Allison and James (miss you Amy!!!)

Allison not believing the boys

People hung around long enough that there was dinner and dessert Round #2 for some.
I constantly feel blessed that we have built such an incredible group of friends here, it makes all the difference in the world with loving where you are at in the world.
Thank you to our friends for joining us and making this such a successfully awesome time! It has already been decided that this will be an Annual Mayer Event! Until next year!!!!