Jean is a nurse and wanted to nurse in an isolated settlement with very little equipment. She wanted to work with the people on their terms. She wanted to be in a minority. She got what she wanted and more.
First, there was no position for a nurse. Health had been looked after by the local priest but he didn't have any medical training at all. After requests and negotiations Jean finally got an allowance of $50.00 per month.
So off she went with her $50.00 a month. There was a nursing cabin with some medication and equipment. First, she planned to open the cabin every week day for one hour and anybody who wanted anything could come at that time. This didn't work at all. The cabin was too cold and people didn't get sick from 1:00PM to 2:00PM. People were coming to the house at all hours of the day night or week. It's not as bad as you might think. There were less than 200 people so there were days and weeks when she didn't see anybody. Then there were times when all hell broke loose.
Jean liked the job and the people and looks back at it as one of the best times of her life. The people loved her and she loved them. The called her Angiashoutiq which means little nurse.
Nobody died on her watch except for the murder victim. However, there were close calls. One little boy had spinal meningitis. With guidance from the doctor 3 hundred miles way she gave the best antibiotics but finally said to the parents that the only thing left was prayer and the priest was called . Jean came home for a few hours and then went back to see the kid. The kid was up and playing and laughing. They continued and the kid survived. You can bet these parents were happy.
Another time a young woman was having a baby and things didn't go right. Jean was terribly worried. After more than 24 hours the baby was born. Next problem, a retained placenta. Try as hard as she could Jean could not get the retained placenta. Now in the traditional birth the woman knelt on a seal skin. Somebody held her from the back supported and squeezed. Now it was normal for quite a few people to come and go during the event. So one of the old fellows who was the local midwife said, "I think I know how to get it." So Jean scrubbed his dirty hands and applied alcohol. He went in and got the placenta and everybody survived. Jean never forgot that one and will remember this old fellow forever.
During the 30 hours Jean did not get home. I would get a message from some kid that Angiashoutiq wanted a sandwich and some tea so I made a lunch and took it down. I would stay and visit. Jean was glad to get home and bath and change clothes and sleep.
That was the last delivery in the settlement.
Jean did not have an interpreter so over the two years became quite good with the language.
If Jean was writing this it would probably make a good book.
Jean was sad to leave and the people were very sad to see her go as it was the best medical care they had ever had.
Now the people had names for all the white guys. My name was Eehunga. I asked the kids what it meant. They made a motion on their face and said crooked mouth. Wow! Where did that come from? However, one side of my mouth was lower than the other. I had never noticed it but I went home and looked and sure enough my mouth was slightly slanted. I was always called Eehunga. When the kids spoke Eskimo I would know when they were talking about me. It was not something that was hidden.
Those were the days. So you see we both worked hard.
Oh yeah! One time Jean was starting a batch of bread when somebody came to the house and asked for her. She told me what to do with the bread and said , "I'LL be right back. " So I was to put in a little flour and stir. So I followed the directions. The problem was Jean didn't return when she thought so there I was stirring and stirring and afraid to quit if it would spoil the bread. We still laugh about that one. She said it was the best bread she ever made.
The photo of us as a couple was a couple of months after we left Kangisujuaq. If you enlarge this one, take a good look at my mouth!
Yes, she really was a nurse. No Uniforms in the north.