03 April 2012

Mr. Wolfe had it right!

Thomas Wolfe wrote a novel titled You Can’t Go Home Again, and the phrase has become a metaphor for “You can’t recreate the past.” For the last three weeks, I’ve worked in the health unit of U.S. Embassy Islamabad, a place where I spent three of the best years of my career, and I’ve discovered Mr. Wolfe had it right!

I was pleased to receive the invitation to cover for a staffing gap in Islamabad. I still have many friends there, both in the health unit and in the city, and it was an opportunity to renew relationships. I was met at the airport by an embassy driver who remembered me and exclaimed, “Madam, you’ve come home!” It actually felt that way, so familiar and comfortable.

But time has not stood still, and the health unit has grown and become even busier than when I was there. Some of the medical resources have changed, and I had to brush up on new consultants and new facilities. I stopped by a free-standing diagnostic center to see a colleague, and we had a cup of tea and cookies, but it became obvious we really didn’t have much to say to one another. We’ve both moved on and don’t share common ground beyond a past fondness.

The embassy facility itself has changed, and I needed directions to new locations of the various service centers. New construction has greatly changed the layout of the embassy grounds. It was almost the same, but not quite; familiar, yet different.

I was busy. There were lots of patients to see, including three patients to hospitalize, while I was there. That is quite a different pace from Karachi, and I enjoyed the challenge of sweeping out the recesses of my medical knowledge and enjoying a vibrant practice style again.

At the end, I boarded the plane to Karachi with some relief. I have a new home, a new routine, and Thomas Wolfe is right. I really can’t go home again.

For Reflections on Nursing Leadership (RNL), published by the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International.

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