“I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all the kinds of things you can't see from the center.” Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

How I got a job in NZ and thyroid cancer

Just prior to our visit to Auckland, I did a Google search for "pharmaceutical Auckland". I stumbled upon this small drug development company that happened to have a single job opening that perfectly described my skills. I thought it was too weird, and decided I needed to explore this further. I inquired about the position, sent my resume, and arranged a meeting during my weeklong visit. It turned into a 2 hour interview, and they offered me the job 2 days later. I guess the lesson is, be cautious about where your curiosity can lead you. I was actually really freaked out and sad when I got the job offer, because I wasn't prepared to consider it.
Now, in the US, if I wanted this sort of job, I'd be competing with a lot of other talented people, references would be checked, and I'd probably have to give a scientific presentation. For the Auckland job, I didn't send any references, because I wasn't really looking for a job, and they never asked for any. The other difference is that the benefits are weenie.
Obviously, I accepted the position, but the decision was not easy. This whole transition continues to be a regular reexamination of my choice, but I'm so grateful to have the choice, and the ability to choose. My decision, along with my husband's agreement and consideration, actually led to an important health discovery. You see, New Zealand Immigration requires a full medical exam (and background check by the FBI, and evidence of education, etc.). During this exam, my doctor found a nodule on my thyroid. He said, don't worry about it. Lots of people get these as they age, and they are usually benign. Only 5% are ever malignant. But, let's do an ultrasound and schedule the endocrinologist follow-up visit, just in case. Well. The doctor himself had to call to request the appointment with the endo., because they are very in demand (you know- diabetes being so prevelant and all). I had applied for and recieved my NZ work permit, had the ultrasound, and had booked my flight to Auckland by mid-June. I was told that the nodule would require a follow-up FNA (fine needle aspiration) biopsy at the endo. visit, based on the nodule being solid, not fluid. The FNA was more painful than I'd expected. The doctor put 4 needles in there- one painkiller, and 3 biopsies of tissue. I wound up with a deep purple/green/yellow bruise on my neck. I hadn't told anyone about it outside my family, and was hiding the bruise with makeup while visiting friends in the Seattle area. I was at the Tacoma Glass museum when I got the call from the endo. telling me the pathology report was "suspicious" for papillary thyroid carcinoma. This was 10 days before I was scheduled to fly to Auckland.