I feel as though I’ve lost all my words.

I think to myself, I should write about this. Or this. Or this. What a good story this is. How funny that is. And the moment passes, and when I sit down to write blog posts or even e-mails, I’m so overwhelmed by something that feels eerily like dread that I back off, go read some other blogs, read some books, go to sleep. Anything but write.

The one bonus to working in Kayenta was, I think, in retrospect, working at the Dennehotso clinic. I got to see a do many fascinating things there, things I would have never had the opportunity to see or do otherwise. I got to draw blood — the lab techs do that here in Milwaukee; I’m rarely using needles on my patients anymore. I pulled someone’s toenail out once — technically, that’s not really legal, but the provider had attempted to remove an ingrown toenail and had missed it, and I knew it. So they left the room, and I grabbed the pliers, found the embedded piece, and yanked it out. Here’s fun trivia — how do you know when an ingrown toenail is finally out? Answer: it bleeds like a sonofabitch.

I adopted three dogs from Dennehotso — Ralphie, Hound Dog Pup, and Cornelius Rex. I still miss Ralphie today. He was big, and dumb as hell, and completely messed up (I took out a line of credit to get him a surgery he needed, and I don’t regret it), but he loved everyone, and I miss his stupidness. I miss the packs of dogs near the clinic — there were always more scruffy ones than even in Kayenta.

I got to hang out with neighborhood kids, kicking in the dirt with them and talking about why they weren’t in school (they were usually suspended for hitting someone else), and what their favorite game was, and who had new pups and what they were going to eat for dinner. The tiny elementary school in Dennehotso was behind the clinic, and I wandered over there once to try to find a child who had mistakenly been prescribed an antibiotic that she was allergic to. She wasn’t in school that day, and her family didn’t have a phone. But the pharmacy tech knew where they lived, and they drove out in the van and confiscated the wrong meds and handed her the new meds.

I think that perhaps someone has to have a sense of what its like to work in “modern” medicine before they can fully appreciate what its like to work somewhere like Denne. I work on a med/surg floor now. I don’t mix medications in IV bags. I don’t handle prescription medications from bulk containers, counting out pills and writing out the label for the bottle. I don’t draw labs, or put the tubes into the centrifuge, or draw off the plasma or spin urine samples or complete pregnancy tests, or complete strep tests or prepare pelvic exam smears for microscopic examination. I don’t set up or perform EKG tests, or put pregnant women onto baby monitors or help with deliveries.

I did all of that in Kayenta, and in Dennehotso.

And I also wrote. I dialed into the internet using my home internet account and a local telephone number pulled from the internet. I wrote informational brochures, and re-wrote old brochures, and wrote educational materials for staff and wrote templates for the nursing notes for our new electronic health system. And when I was bored or upset or reflective, out there at that clinic, with no firewall to block me, I logged on and journalled. There was an immediacy to it that, when I read it now, brings me right back there, to that day, to those moments, when we helped with a car accident, or tried to put out a fire from exploding mulch on an 18-wheeler.

I want to say that I like my job, and I do, quite a bit, most of the time. And I won’t lie and say that I liked living or working in Kayenta — I hated it most days, and it ruined my health and my sanity, and it’ll take years for me to work through all the crap I began to believe about myself.

But there are a lot of days when I miss it.

Quite a bit.