The Process… including BLS class

September 18, 2014

One thing I’ve learned about Saudi Arabia… everything is a process… a generally fairly lengthy and slow moving process… and there’s a process for the process for the process!

In order to technically work and stay in Saudi Arabia, I’m required to have a Saudi Arabian nursing license… like I would back home in Canadian (except that’s a Canadian nursing license obviously!). And in order to get my Saudi Council for Health Specialities license… I need to be BLS certified.

Of course I just renewed my CPR/BLS back home… but apparently Canadian CPR isn’t good enough?! Only American Heart Association BLS is accepted… So I signed up for the course… along with a bunch of girls from my GNO group…

It was actually a rather fun class. For starters… my friend Yin taught the class… and there was plenty of practice and laughs…

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Here I go… going deep… giving good, quality CPR!!
imageIt was a warm classroom and we definitely got a decent workout in!!! Those 30 compressions to 2 breaths definitely are a good cardio workout… hahaha. No pun intended. But really. Both for the giver of BLS and the reciever who is getting some good cardiac massage and such.

And then we moved onto the kiddies… the glee on my friend Moira’s face as she pounded that kids back… haha

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Anyways… the class was fun… we all passed. Fortunately, I’ve already been approved for my Saudi Council license already (my BLS booking was enough…) but for the rest of the girls… now they can move onto the next phase of their license application process.

Also… another reason this license is so important… we need it in order to get our iqama (our Saudi Residency Permit)… and we need an iqama in order to stay in Saudi…

And so… off I go to apply for my iqama…

Ma’asalama

Annemarie

The Ritzy Ritz-Carlton Experience

September 13, 2014

A much too early morning… but, if I want to join my early bird colleagues for a fabulous breakfast at the Ritz-Carlton, then I guess it’s worth it?! Who goes for breakfast at 8am on a Saturday morning in Riyadh anyways??!!

But really, how to describe the absolute fabulousness of breakfast this morning… Despite being up at the crack of dawn, only about 3 cracks after I went to sleep…

It was absolutely amazing!!! The Ritz-Carlton Riyadh is absolutely stunning… the fountains, the gardens, the architecture, all the brilliantly shining marble, the shimmering chandeliers, all the beautiful shades of purple and gold in the restaurant, the beautiful fountains and gardens as we drove up the long drive to the hotel, and the beautiful garden view from our table at the restaurant too… It was wonderful! So worth the early wakeup!!

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A golden horse in the lobby??!! Awesome!!! This calls for a #goldenhorseselfie imageimage

I met my colleagues in the lobby of the hotel… surrounded by beauty everywhere! (I took along my friend Sarah from GNO for the experience also… because anything this wonderful is always best when experienced with your best friend in Saudi!

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We were ushered to beautiful little nook in front of large windows with views of the garden… and we proceeded to spend the next several hours filling our faces, sipping on coffees and chit chatting with each other and just enjoying the whole experience!

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Started off breakfast with an absolutely beautiful cappuccino… my favourite relaxed Saturday morning sipper…

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Now for the food… where to begin… with the beautiful bread table filled with heaps of fresh loaves and rolls and cute little butter dishes with butter pressed into the Ritz-Carlton lion symbol? A table full of mouthwatering carby-ness?

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Or the hot buffet with many dishes of eggs, sausages, fake bacon (no piggy meat allowed in this country unfortunately), pancakes, waffles, steamed veggies, noodles (who eats noodles for breakfast by the way??!) and all sorts of other delectables… And a chef to make an omelet for you too??!

(I’m pretty sure the baggage guys are going to need to roll me out of this place on a cart… cuz I’m definitely not going to be able to move after all this!!!)

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Then… the freshly squeezed juice bar! So refreshing and delicious! The lovely green lemon&mint juice was definitely my favourite!!

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And finally… deserts… or all things sweet… mueslies and yogurts, fresh fruit… heaps of fresh fruit, pastries… so many delectable morsels… and even fresh honey straight from a honeycomb! Oh it was amazing!!!

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Ahh… the food was just absolutely divine!!!

The best part of the morning most definitely, was spending time with my coworkers and getting to know them all a bit more and just relaxing in luxury together. Many laughs… many pictures…

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Many cups of coffee and plates of food later… we left the restaurant and walked back through the beautiful hotel, our shoes clicking against the shiny marble floor…

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to the lobby, past the golden horses and the beautiful flower arrangements…

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and outside to wait by the fountains for our driver…

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It was so peaceful and relaxing outside by the fountains… not to mention beautifully warm… the sound of the water… the beautiful gardens everywhere… absolutely lovely! I can’t wait to come back here again and actually check out the gardens more!!

Also… I loved all the detailing in the exterior architecture of the hotel! Stunning!!!

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And so… our driver showed up… and off we went… down the long, palm tree lined drive… away from this beautiful place!!

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We will be back very soon!! Insha’allah!

And so ends a fabulous breakfast in the Kingdom… what a great way to finish off the weekend… It’s definitely nap time for Annemarie now!!! Or pool time!!!

Much love,

Ma’aslama

Annemarie

Riyadh’s Got Talent

September 12, 2014

Riyadh’s Got Talent. Really. It does!! And my co-workers are extremely talented!

On the menu for this weekend’s fun times is: a talent show… to raise money for the Healing Hands Foundation in the Philippines.

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A few of my coworkers sing/play in a band called the Phat Ninjas. And they’re amazing!! They were playing at the talent show… So I got tickets and went to go see them sing/play at the West Campus Hall on the King Faisal Hospital grounds.

I joined a whole bunch of friends there who I either work with or play hockey with… and it was so great to see everyone all dressed up and having a good time!!

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Eventually we were bound to get a good picture! Haha. Love these two ladies!!! (Kelly… the girl in the middle, is supremely talented and played the piano, guitar, sings fabulously, and probably more that I don’t know about yet!)

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Andy and Kelly… two of the band members… both Radiation Therapists… wonderfully talented musicians and just generally amazing human beings!!!! Never a dull moment when they’re around!!

imageimageNow to the really good stuff… the music!!! The Phat Ninjas were amazing! Really! They played a fantastic version of Armin Van buuren’s very popular song “This is What it Feels Like” as well as some Lady Gaga. And a whole bunch more that I unfortunately wasn’t able to stick around for…

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There was a rather hilarious moment when, at the exact moment I reached up to take a massive group selfie, the lights went out and the music stopped… bit of an electrical/power failure. Apparently we were too electric to handle??

Below… with lights and music…

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Then… Sans music or fun colorful electric lights…

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Anyways… this was a bunch of the crew at Riyadh’s Got Talent. Oh I thoroughly enjoy this group of people! I am so blessed to have met them all and become friends with them!!

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Ahh… it was a lot of fun! Stayed tuned for more talent from Riyadh… more jam sessions and music headed your way!!

Much love,

Annemarie

We do work some days…

September 2014

So… I know it seems like all I do is have fun out here (and that would be pretty accurate!!), but I do also do some work!!

I’ve finished a couple weeks of orientation now and I’m really enjoying a lot of things about my new workplace… My radiation clinic coworkers are absolutely lovely human beings with such warm and loving hearts!! I feel extremely welcomed into the department and it’s a wonderful feeling.

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We have plenty of time to chit chat and build rapport and it is really really nice to build relationships with my new work family! I am going to spend the majority of my time here in Saudi with them… a minimum of 44hours a week… so it is a good thing that we all get along well!!

The actual nursing… I’m not going to go into much detail… but as I think I’ve mentioned… it is much different from back home. I don’t do a lot of nursey-nursey stuff… and I do really miss the nursey stuff!!!

Although I did have a couple hours in the recovery room today with the little kiddies as they recover post Ggeneral anesthesia for radiation treatment… Definitely more “nursey” skills involved!!!

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(one half of our recovery room… shown above)

One of the biggest challenges I’m facing now, is the language barrier!! I knew it would be a challenge before I even moved to Saudi, but a couple weeks of general orientation and being constantly surrounded by English speaking people, put me in a slightly delusional state, forgetting that it wouldn’t always be that way!

So now, when I do happen to have a patient who actually speaks English enough to communicate with me or to understand me fairly well (when combined with an excessive amount of hand guestures), I feel this overwhelming sense of joy as I can really get into nurse mode and ask them questions and assess them properly and teach them things about managing their side effects! It’s wonderful!

I had a patient with breast cancer one day… and she showed up in the clinic with her daughter. They were both very well dressed individuals and spoke remarkably beautiful English, and seemed like highly intelligent and knowledgable people. It was only the beginning of this woman’s cancer treatments, so she asked me what she could do to prevent her skin from breaking down. (Note: one of the most common side effects of Radiation Therapy is Radiation Dermatitis… where the skin breaks down due to the radiation damaging the poor little surface and deeper cells).

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This is when I’m in my element… Educating patients!! (Very very rarely get to do that here as it is generally not our role… again, largely due to the language barrier.) So I got to tell this lovely lady and her daughter all about how to keep the skin clean and moist and to moisturize regularly and what type of products to use and things to avoid in the products. And they soaked it all up, and asked lots of questions. It was wonderful. I felt like I actually was able to fully do my job for the first time in a while!! Hopefully, this patient will have learned from what I taught her, and be able to take measures to prevent Boxes, B,C or D (above) from happening!!!

At home, at the BC Cancer Agency, we have well developed policies and protocols for managing side effects such as Radiation Dermatitis, plenty of handouts and leaflets and information sources for patients to help them prevent and manage these side effects. However, here at King Faisal Specialist Hospital & Research Center, these policies and protocols haven’t been developed yet, although they are working on some of them. So I hope that myself and my colleague from home will be able to help them implement some strategies and information sources in order to reduce the risk of side effects in patients undergoing Radiation Therapy here. Prevention is key!!!

Anyways… enough jabbering… this turned out to be a long-ish post. But I figured I needed to put something up for once that wasn’t about parties and fun. Although as you can see, we do still have a lot of fun even at work!!

And we have lovely patients who bring us all sorts of deliciousness… just like at home. Like Reese’s Peanut Butter cups… Om nom nom!!

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So…

Ma’asalama

xo

Annemarie

The Day in which Annemarie and Vivian Reconnect in Saudi Arabia

September 6, 2014

There is nothing quite as enjoyable here… as having your gal pal from work back home come to work in the same country as you… half a world away from home!!!

I am so happy to have my lovely friend and colleague from the BC Cancer Agency back home, here now, in KSA, working and living at the same hospital as me!

Vivian and I talked about working in Saudia Arabia at least a year and a half ago… I had applied to come out here and work, but shelved plans as life happened. However, when Vivian applied for a job and was hired last March, I was extremeley envious!! And then life happened again… and I again applied and got a job and somehow ended up in Saudia Arabia nearly a month before Vivian.

Anyways… it is wonderful to have a friend here with whom you share common ground and experiences and interests and knowledge!

Obviously, things are much different here in Saudi Arabia. Our role as nurses is different, especially here in Radiation Clinic, and especially due to the language barrier. However, it will be interesting to help develop some policies and protocols for symptom management, if possible, as we have these all implemented back home, but here they have yet to be developed! So… hopefully Vivian and I will be a force for change!

Anyways… to catch up, Vivian and I went to Le Notre, a French Cafe at Centria Mall, with a few girls from her GNO group, and a friend from my GNO group… to have a nice welcoming night out in Riyadh for them, and so that Vivian and I could catch up a little on life!

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The food was delicious… the company even better… and the view was beautiful! We sat outside on the patio at Le Notre… it was a bit on the toasty side and the misters were too far away to do us much good. But it was still very enjoyable!!!

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And once again… one of the highlights of the evening… was finding a full size Laduree shop… the best macaroons in the world for sure!!! My friend Sarah and I may be slightly obsessed with Laduree macaroons!!! Absolutely delightful! The orange blossom and rose macaroons are a little bit of light airy crumbly delectableness!!!

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So… beautiful shop… will be returning one day to sit and relax here while eating a macaroon or 5!!! And just a lovely evening in general! So happy to have good friends in this place!!!

xo

Annemarie

A Roof with a View

September 5, 2014

As a British Columbia girl living in Riyadh, one of the things I’ve really noticed, is how flat flat FLAT Riyadh is!!!

No mountains. Not even any hills really. If there are hills, they’re generally manmade!

There are definitely some beautiful tall buildings… but in general, the majority of them are only a couple stories tall. So talk about urban sprawl!!!

Anyways… somehow, it was discovered that we can get up onto the roof of our apartment complexes… So one lazy Thursday afternoon, I went over to my friend’s complex and we went up to the rooftop to enjoy an alochol-free drink and watch the sunset…

As I walked over to E complex (opposite side of the hospital campus from my home in C complex), I walked past the new King Abdullah Center for Oncology and Liver Disease… which will hopefully be my new home some day soon, Insha’Allah!! The sunset around this towering building was wonderful… I imagine the view from the 19th floor once the center is open, will be quite wonderful!! And I do love a room with a view!!!

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I also love a good non-alcoholic beer on the roof too when it’s toasty out like it is now!!!

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Even though the building is only 5 stories tall… we really had a wonderful view of the city as the sun slowly faded away and the lights came out.

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Riyadh tends to be a little dirty and dusty during the day. But at night it is gorgeous!! So many brilliant lights… and so many colored lights. It’s a sparkling gem at night!

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And from the hospital campus, we have a great view of Kingdom Center and Al Faisaliah Tower also, two of the most significant landmarks in Riyadh. Fun fact of the day: Kingdom Center is  the 3rd tallest buildling in the world with a hole in it! (notice the “bottle opener shaped building” on the Left in the picture above… that is Kingdom Center, and the tall pointy building with purple lights on the right… that is Al Faisaliah Tower.)

And of course… the view of the North Tower of King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center is pretty great from up here on the roof too!!!And the new King Abdullah Center for Oncology and Liver Disease… currently under construction… There is a ton of construction on-going at the hospital and it’s very dusty and dirty and not so pretty during the day. But at night it is a whole different story!

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Anyways… it was a little on the windy side up there… but the breeze was lovely as it’s still scorchingly hot out these days… no cool crisp September air here!!

And… it was great to hang out with my girl Erilee and chit chat and watch the sun set and the lights come on! Great start to what promises to be another great weekend in the Kingdom! (Also, a side note: really loving the whole every weekend off and office hours during the week lifestyle!! Certainly beats shift work!!!)

Now… let the weekend festivities begin!!

Ma’asalama

xo

Annemarie

 

Ahhh Timmy’s!!!!!

September 2, 2014

The adventures of two Canadian girls in Riyadh continues…

So… today our adventures take us to yet another shopping center… Granada… for the primary purpose of finding the single, solitary Tim Horton’s in Riyadh.

We’ve heard of this mythical place… but have yet to see it. And two Canadians in Riyadh will sniff out this place for sure!!

We took a cab to Granada which was actually a bit of a treck out more to the edges of the city, about a 30min drive. We thought about it… dinner first vs. Tim Hortons first. What a silly question. Obviously we have to find the Tim Hortons first!!

And then as we wandered through the mall… trying to pretend that we were interested in the variety of clothing shops… but really not being interested at all because we were so focused on finding the Tim Hortons… we picked up the scent of freshly brewed coffee… and like a pair of bloodhounds we were on the trail… and it led us directly to this…

imageimageNotice how supremely thrilled we are??!! That is legitimate excitement!!!!

Now… big difference between this Tim Hortons and every other Tim Hortons I’ve ever been in… are the big walls and serious gender segregation. (Not sure if I’ve mentioned it before, but in Saudi, genders are segregated and most restaurants will have a separate section for families and for single (singles being men only). image

But… there were still racks of donuts… and the coffee aroma… absolutely mouthwatering!!! I was literally about the start chocking on my won saliva (to quote my roomie Kalitta!!)

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Now, I’m usually a Starbucks kind of girl. I like my fancy drinks with no foam vanilla syrup soy milk blah blah blah. Not really. But I do love a good cappuccino or latte or Americano from Starbucks! Regardless. There is just something about being a Canadian, in Riyadh, finding a Tim Hortons… and absolutely savoring that cup of coffee like you’re drinking a cup full of home!!! Absolutely wonderful!!!

It reminds me of road trips with friends and family. And of early mornings going to the flower auction with my dad when I was a kid and getting a donut while he ordered an English coffee (aka English toffee but he never gets it right! haha) Stopping for coffee and a toasted everything bagel with herb and garlic cream cheese after a long nightshift… oh things like this make me miss home!!!

But… then I remember that I’m here, in Riyadh, having this absolutely incredible life experience… with a great friend. And now we are making a new, completely unique and wonderful Tim Horton’s memory. One that we’ll take home with us and think back on years down the road with absolute fondness!!

So… Tim… Horton…thankyou for making Sarah and I absolutely incandescently happy today!!!!

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Long sip… Looooong sigh. Mmmmm so delicious!!!!!!

The end.

Love your Canadian in Riyadh!!

(Ps: it is now a few weeks later… I’m still greatly behind on my blogging!! But I finally have a percolater coffee pot… So it is definitely time to make another trip to Tim Hortons to get a container of coffee to brew at home!!!)