July 25

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One Month in the Blink of An Eye

Wow! One month working with PATH and living here in Ho Chi Minh City, or HCMC for short, has already gone by. I know it sounds cliché, but the time truly seems to have flown. It’s been a whirlwind of activity, as I have found an apartment, learned where to shop and eat, explored and got lost (several times) while learning to navigate the city, ordered drinking water (HCMC still has some work to do on the water supply), and have even joined a running group here. I’m also adjusting to the ways of working in the office, which is a new experience for me. I have never worked in an office setting day in and day out since I entered the workforce 28 years ago. I find that I do go a bit stir crazy at times and have to get up and move about frequently. My co-workers must think I’ve the attention span the size of a sesame seed, but I do manage to get some things done.

I like to believe that I am making a positive difference here. I have to keep telling myself that I’ve only been here a month and that even small contributions can have a ripple effect. The HCMC PATH team (pictured) are such a high performing unit, and it can feel daunting to add or do anything that will make things even better than they are. It would be great, from a personal fulfillment stand point, to be able to find a huge gap that exists somewhere and develop a plan and effectively implement it to bridge that gap, but I’ve yet to see and highly doubt that there is one. So, I have to acknowledge that small wins, like recommending content for text messages which will be sent to patients to help them be compliant with their treatments, or finding patient adherence tools that can be incorporated into our materials, all add up and, in aggregate, can be very beneficial.

Being out of your comfort zone is the only way in which we can grow. I am learning so much, which I absolutely love.  I’d say my first major lesson has been to suspend judgment in regards to differences in culture where we might consider something rude or inappropriate. This has given me a greater level of patience than I had before, but, personally, adapting to the culture is much easier than adapting to the big city.  This metropolis is so very busy all the time, like NYC or Las Vegas, and that wears on me. Thankfully I have found a few places within the city that provide a nice sanctuary and reprieve from the hustle and bustle, and, no, for those who know me well, they’re not all Irish pubs.  However, I do have to traverse numerous tricky intersections to get to those places.

And a quick update on that. Remember how the first major intersection I came to left me curled in the fetal position on the sidewalk from the stress of it all? Well, I can proudly say that I now confidently perambulate those junctions, making moves that would draw applause from the likes of the late, great Walter Payton and Mikhail Baryshnikov. Indeed, poetry in motion. In my own mind anyway.

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Photo credit: PATH