Travel Nursing: On to Iowa... Parts 5 & 6

  1. Now it was autumn, and time to re-group and re-direct. The call came for New Hampshire but Iowa was the result. New challenges with patient care, a dog bite and accommodations tested my resolve.

    Travel Nursing: On to Iowa... Parts 5 & 6

    Chapter 5

    It was my birthday. I was back in Wisconsin, trying to decide what to toss in storage and what to keep before my lease was up on my apartment.

    My friend from church had invited me over for a birthday supper, gifts and "girl-talk". She knew I would be alone and still missing my late mom. She always made birthdays fun!

    My phone rang: "Cynthia," my recruiter from another travel company was on the line, sounding eager, "You've got an interview today on the phone with the Director of Nursing up in New Hampshire. Are you ready?"

    Was I! "Yes," I jumped up. I hoped for a job on my birthday and it looked like it could happen.

    Right after we hung up, she called. We spoke for about 10 minutes. She decided to let my agency know that she wanted me.

    Unfortunately, over the next few days, some fallout took place with contract negotiations and attitude on the part of my recruiter, so I ended up taking an assignment in Iowa instead.

    It's always an adventure in Travel Nursing. The drive to my new spot in Iowa was lovely.

    I decided to avoid the toll roads and took the country roads instead. It was so gorgeous: Rolling hills, green fields, lush trees, quaint houses, barns, acres of pasture dotted with sheep, cows, horses and the occasional goat.

    Nice, so you can imagine my disappointment when I finally got to my hotel. It was situated in the middle of a smelly and I do mean smelly industrial area where a factory was processing corn with the local slaughterhouse just up the street.

    (I asked myself if my recruiter was punishing me for turning down New Hampshire.)

    My hotel had serious issues: Everything from moldy wet carpet from a leaking air conditioner, chlorine smelling hallways from the indoor swimming pool, and old dirty air conditioning units.

    By the end of the first week, I started to get sick.

    They finally moved me after 9 days to a suite upstairs. But that room had issues too.

    I vowed from then on, I would take the Housing Stipend when I could to find my own place!

    The company for whom I worked in Iowa was very good to me in the beginning. Their team was wonderful and very patient with my learning their charting system.

    After about 4 weeks, I was getting a bigger caseload due to sick nurses or those with family emergencies. It was pretty exhausting, but I was happy to help.

    On the weekend, I purchased a newer vehicle, a 2007 Town and Country. I considered looking for a house to purchase.

    The outfit I was working for must have thought I was doing a decent job because 3.5 weeks into it, they offered me a permanent position as an R.N. Case Manager. I was doing Case Management already so I guess they felt comfortable with me. I turned it down as gracefully as I could.

    Once my Orientation was over, I had to endure quite a bit of vulgar griping from other staff regarding various issues. But gossip about staff and patients and their families really disturbed me. In addition, my load kept growing and so did the wound cares.

    Most of the wound cares were on morbidly obese people who could not assist and were living in very unhealthy environments. Couple that with over 90 miles round trip several times a week, it was wearing me down.

    The muscles in my shoulders and back were screaming.....

    About once a week I would visit a fellow who needed his medications set up in addition to a nursing assessment. He owned several small dogs.

    I had no issue with dogs as I love them and had been seeing this gentleman and his wife for about 5 weeks or so.

    So, you can imagine my surprise when one the dogs bit me on the back of my lower leg, while on my way out the door. Though the bite was not deep, it broke the skin.

    "Oh," the wife said, "I am so sorry! He's had his shots...they all have."

    Something told me she wasn't being honest with me. She didn't make eye contact.

    "I'm afraid I am going to need to see written proof of that please," I stated quietly. We had removed ourselves from the house and were standing together on the porch.

    "Well," she replied, "I don't know where the certificate is."

    I thanked her explaining that I would be required to report the dog bite to my company.

    She wasn't happy, but she understood.

    When I returned to the office and spoke with the supervisor, she wasn't happy.

    They went to see the client and the client told them that I agitated the dog, thus causing him to bite.

    I did no such thing. I was unsettled about it so I called my agency.

    They were very nice and instructed me to go ahead and see a doctor to attend the bite. I complied.

    In the meantime, Law Enforcement had the dog picked up for quarantine, as it was proven that it did NOT have its' shots.

    The dog was not rabid, thank the Lord!

    I was placed on antibiotics from the doc and kept forging along.

    Every once in a while, a patient touches your spirit, making impressions that go with you long after your assignment is over. Such as it was with a patient I'll call "Mary."

    Mary, an alert and oriented heavy smoker with COPD and a nasty leg wound, spent most of her time in a wheelchair. When she wasn't in her chair, she slept in a recliner. She owned no bed, and hadn't for years.

    Her grandchildren, young adults, also smokers, would bum cigarettes from her and money. I had the feeling that there was nothing she wouldn't do for them, even at the expense of her own health and welfare. Frankly, it had me worried. But she made it clear to me that it was her choice.

    Her blue flannel nightgown was in tatters. She wore it each time I saw her, fumbling with the folds of the gown because her breasts would peek through the worn material. Her feet were cold, constantly exposed to the cold floor. She owned no slippers.

    The autumn wind was quite chilly. Mary had her inside door opened to catch the sun while we visited.

    She loved to pray and loved God. It was not unusual for us to have a small prayer at the end of each visit.

    The last day I saw her, was also the day that my recruiter phoned to tell me that my assignment was at an end.

    (I had assumed that the dog bite situation played a part but I couldn't swear to it.)

    "I'm not leaving until I know she has a decent nightgown, robe and slippers for the winter," I informed him. He understood.

    "Do what you need to do," he instructed.

    Before I left town that day, I visited the local Walmart. They had a nice selection, but nothing that would fit Mary.

    Kohl's did, so I packed and shipped it to her via the Postal Service.

    I wanted her to receive it without me being there.

    Mary received it after I left Iowa and was very pleased and surprised. It was worth it!

    It took all day Saturday to pack, maneuvering around the youngsters at the hotel, there to swim and to visit their friends. The truckers coming in after a hard days run, and elderly folks just visiting in the lobby, having coffee.

    Finally, I slammed the tailgate shut. I headed for home.

    The fact that my lease was up in my Wisconsin apartment weighed on my mind. I didn't wish to renew, but I wondered if I would stay permanently in one spot.

    The phone rang. It was Deb, offering to have me come stay with her near my old place in Wisconsin until I got my next assignment.


    Chapter 6

    It was the week before Halloween, the last of the fall colors fading before winter would sweep in.

    The came in. Maine!

    A journey back to Gods' Country," was fine by me. Although I had been there before, it would be different as it would be closer to the southern coast this time.

    I thought I would miss seeing the New England leaves in the fall this year, but not so.

    Packing the car once again was a challenge since it was raining and getting dark. It stayed raining through 5 states!

    I could tell that folks were praying for me for safe travels. With the highway speeds, construction, the semi-trucks spewing up sprays of water one after the other, rush hours traffic, it was apparent to me that the Lord was protecting me with the close calls I encountered!

    "Honestly," I asked myself. "Where did these people learn to drive?!"

    The autumn beauty began when I hit Pennsylvania and didn't quit. The sun shone and the air was cool and crisp, It smelled of leaves and burning wood. Such a change from the toxic fumes of the prior state and my last assignment.

    The hills began to get higher and the air cooler, the colors of the maple leaves still evident.

    By the time I hit Vermont, it was dark. The moon was full and huge over the valleys.

    Tiny churches in the distance built back in the 1700s glistened in the moonlight, with their white towers and treasured bells.

    Once again, I felt transported back in time to a simpler, quieter place.

    My Host, Cari, an old friend I had met years ago on a previous vacation to Vermont, texted me that she was waiting. I rolled into her drive around 9:30 p.m.

    It had been nearly 6 years since I had seen her and her husband. Such a reunion! It felt like Old Home Week.

    We put on our pajamas, mittens and coats to go outside on her deck with our hot chocolate. I gazed at the huge moon over the town.

    Suddenly a silver streak wisked across the sky, a shooting star!

    So thankful and very tired I was, to make it thus far.


    To read how this story began, go to:

    Travel Nursing: The good, the bad, and why I probably will never do again-Part 1
    Travel Nursing: The good, the bad, and why I probably will never do again. Part 2
    Travel Nursing: Working in Maine - Part 3 and 4
    Last edit by tnbutterfly on Jun 14
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