10/28/11 Five days ago I found out I will deploy to Antarctica. Today I found out I leave in 6 days. I’m feeling somewhere between excited and like a “deer caught in headlights.” Less of the latter as the days pass. Many have asked me how this all came about and why I would possibly want to go there. Let me explain and share the experience with you. Hopefully we both will fully understand by the end of this experience. But let me start at the very beginning.
Probably 4-5 years ago, the seed was planted when my patient, Joe, told me about when he flew with the Air Force delivering cargo and workers to McMurdo Station, the largest US research station in Antarctica. He knew of my love of travel and adventure and thought I should look into working there. So fast forward a few years when I was planning to leave my full time physical therapy position. I found the companies that staff McMurdo. And so I applied for the one physical therapy job listed. This was last summer. I never heard back and didn’t realize until this year that I had applied way too late in the year. So this past year, I halfheartedly threw my hat in the ring again. It didn’t take long before the ball was rolling. I interviewed and by May I knew I was the “alternate”. There is a lot of paperwork and health testing before you physically qualify (PQ) so having two people ready to deploy is important. So at that point I spent my summer filling out HR forms and extensive medical histories. Then came the drug testing, blood tests, dentist appointments, doctors exams. I qualified. And so I waited. I didn’t want to hope for anything bad to happen to the other candidate because I strongly believe those kind of things make their way back to you. But I really wanted to go. Maybe there’d be a good reason she couldn’t or wouldn’t deploy? Her prized racehorse due to give birth? POW father being suddenly released? Golden Globe nomination? It could happen, right? So as the summer ended I gave up hope, but figured I’d officially “hold my breath” until the contract start date of Oct 1. I exhaled and forgot about it. Well, they called on Oct 24. The primary candidate needed to return and so here I am. Deer. Headlights. Figuring out how to pack for 3 ½ months without the ability to run to Target. And wishing the other PT good luck at the Golden Globes 🙂
- This is only some of the required paperwork.