Saudi Closed Their Borders

On Monday, I was waiting to hear back from my agency about whether the hospital approved my medical files or not. Last week, they emailed me saying the hospital needed a letter from my doctor stating that two conditions on my chest xray needed clarification. One, I have pectus evacatum. A small indentation in my chest that I forgot about and have not noticed ever since I began to grow breasts. The other is mild scoliosis, something I never noticed until the xray reported it. Neither have ever impacted my work or life. I have hiked for multiple days in the Himalayas and Andes. Spent two days solo backpacking in Denali. I scuba dive and bike and am an active woman. But these two minor conditions need a letter from my doctor stating they will not affect my ability to live and work in the Kingdom.

So I called the doctor office and explained this to the nurse. You could hear the irritation in her voice. “That was the LONGEST form I have ever seen!” And now I wanted more. I apologized. I told her I know this is a pain and I am so sorry, but I did bring a dozen donuts to the office as an apology gift. By that evening, they had the letter ready. I scanned it to the agency and they said they should hear back by Monday if the hospital in Jeddah would accept the letter.

Early on Monday, I went to CPR class. I wanted to renew my certification before it expires in May and since I planned to be in Jeddah by then. On a break I checked my email and I received an email from the Saudi Health Commission that I was licensed to work as a nurse in the Kingdom. I was so excited. I took this as the acceptance from the hospital. I thought it meant the agency will now send my visa application to the embassy and I needed to send my passport to the American company as instructed. I had it all ready to go to FedEx.

The regular contact person (I don’t know how to refer to her because she is not my recruiter) was out of the office on Monday and for the rest of the week. I discovered this by an automatic reply. Odd that she did not warn me of this when we talked last Friday. Usually, she always warns me “I will be out of the office…. please contact _____ in my absence.” I worried if she was sick.

My recruiter replied instead and asked if she could call. Sure. I was just sitting in my car searching for FedEx locations at the time. Yet, if she needs to call me, instead of emailing me, that should be a warning there is bad news. She explained the nursing license approval is separate from the hospital approval. And the hospital now wants a letter from my orthopedic surgeon about my history of my “conditions”. But I have never been to see anyone about the “conditions” because they are not a problem! She said she is going to try to explain that to the hospital.

But right now it does not matter. She said they just received word that Saudi has closed it borders due to COVID19. No planes are allowed in or out of the country. So all new employees are placed on hold. And we do not know for how long. They can not apply for my visa until these restrictions are lifted. They said maybe I can still start in late April/early May. But for now, we must wait.

I felt dizzy. I felt foggy. This can not be happening. I have been trying so hard for so long to get this job, and now it might not happen due to a worldwide virus. It felt like a crappy movie. Do I get a indie-flick ending or a Hollywood-happy ending? I have been counting down to leaving my job so much and then having to restart the countdown clock. Honestly, I kept hoping to leave the USA before this pandemic crashes our whole healthcare system. I felt that I would be safer from it in Saudi. I do not know if that would have been true, but I have been so frightened by the large amounts of Americans who are not taking it serious. Too many scoff the idea of staying home and social distancing. My hospital has already seen a decrease in supply and it has not peaked. The next month is gonna be a horrible time to be a nurse, especially in the USA.

This phone call was right after I texted my assistant manager to say that April 22 would be my official last day. I said I would email our boss that evening. Then I had to quickly text her back to say “cancel the resignation!” She was confused but so was I. I asked if she could still leave me off the May schedule and consider April 22 my last day. I might not be able to give 4 weeks notice if they lift the ban in time for me to start April 27. But if this travel ban continues, I might need to be added to the schedule.

I was lucky that my landladies did not have a new renter lined up. I was supposed to move out March 31. I was looking at hotels for when I worked and stay with my mom on my days off. She lives 2 1/2 hour away. Well, with my uncertain future and not wanting to put my mom at risk for the virus, I begged to let me stay another month. They said “sure no problem.” The good thing about that is I have another 6 weeks to clean and paint it for my security deposit. Only furniture left is a twin bed, couch, TV on TV stand, and a computer on an old desk. I will live very basic for now.

This virus has me scared. How about you?

2 thoughts on “Saudi Closed Their Borders

  1. Definitely have up and down days with regards to worrying about the virus. Think that our Senior Charge Nurse got it in one when she said it was like waiting for a tsunami to hit for us at the moment. Stay safe x

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