My older brother lives in Tucson, Arizona but he and his family actually live in Brisbane, Australia. They have been in Tucson for a year now and are probably going to be staying there another 2 years. My SIL is South African but her parents and both her sisters live in Brisbane with their families. My brother still has to travel back to Brisbane for work a few times a year and he was there this week. Well, supposed to be anyway. He is currently in Sydney heading back to Tucson as there isn’t any work being done in Brisbane at the moment (well, other than emergency related work I presume). He phoned my mom from Sydney earlier in such a state. If the water rises another 30cm their house will be washed away. Apparently the water will only reach it’s highest level tomorrow so things aren’t looking good. Most of their stuff is with them in Tucson and the rest is in storage in Brisbane (no idea if the storage facility is safe) so it will be only their house that they lose. But how absolutely dreadful to lose one’s home when you are so far away. Yes, you’re safe but to know what all your friends and family are going through  or actually not knowing if they are all okay must be just dreadful. The Brisbane they will go back to (they go back at least once a year) will never be the same. I really pray that their house will be spared. The houses in Australia aren’t built out of brick like ours are so the house WILL be washed away and not just damaged, if the water rises too much. My brother said it was just incredible flying over Brisbane and looking out to sea as for kilometre upon kilometre upon kilometre all one can see is brown water in the sea. Just imagine all the top soil (nevermind the roads, houses, bridges, animals,etc.) that’s washed away. Oh boy, when you think of all the snow in Europe and USA recently I reckon we’re all in a bit of trouble.

I absolutely loved the USA. I have lived in England and have never visited Australia but IF (and it’s a big if) we ever had to leave SA and I could choose where to go I would definitely choose the USA. It probably isn’t the most practical as Chris (and I) would easily be able to work in England, Australia, Canada and New Zealand but USA would be a little trickier. Chris actually wrote his USMLE exams after we visited the USA but that was way back in 1999. He passed them and was then supposed to go to Philadelphia to do the practical exam within 7 years and he just never got around to it. My younger brother (a Pediatric Surgeon) recently spent a month at one of the big Children’s Hospitals in the USA and is planning to go back to do a fellowship for a year in 2012. He is planning to do his USMLE’s this year and then I’m not sure how it works if you are a specialist. We have very, very good friends that live in Honolulu. They both studied with me and have their own private practice and I’m sure they would be able to sponsor my green card but then I’m not sure if I’d want to be in Hawaii. I mean, I’d love to be in Hawaii but I’d prefer to be somewhere in the mainland first and I’m not sure where the best place for Chris would be. It’s really not something we’re even considering but it’s where I’d choose to go if I could go anywhere.

We were chatting with my mom yesterday and she was mentioning some things. They’ve been to visit my brother twice in Australia and I asked her whether she prefered USA or Australia and she said definitely USA. My mom was a grade 4/5 teacher and my niece is in Grade 1 and she was very impressed with the high standard of maths that she was doing in Grade 1. My aunt went to the USA for the first time a few years ago and stupidly took one very large suitcase which she could hardly lift. In all her travels around the USA she never had to lift it herself, not once, someone (I presume male) always jumped at the opportunity to help her. She went via the UK on the way home and after hauling her suitcase off the conveyor belt she stood at the bottom/top of the escalator and every single person just walked straight passed. My parents also found the people in the USA extremely friendly. One lady even gave them a lift to a shop they needed to go to quite a few kilometres away, waited for them to buy what they needed and then dropped them off again at their hotel. We also found everyone very welcoming and friendly. The other thing that appeals to me is just the fact that it is the land of opportunity when one considers where would be a good place for one’s children to grow up. I’m very against “welfare states” where they have a dole system or lots of state benefits. Not only are one’s taxes very high (to pay for all the lazy ba#$%^ds smoking at home popping out baby after baby) but I also think that young people then know they have a safety net to fall back on which I don’t believe is necessarily a good thing. The USA is so vast that in terms of weather it has everything – sun, snow, you name it. I know there are also hurricanes,earthquakes, tornados and all the rest. Honolulu has the most incredible climate – never too hot and never too cold – well, that’s what our friends say and that’s why they chose to go and live there once they’d lived in New York for a good 5/6 years I think. The only drawback is that the malpractice insurance for a plastic surgeon in the USA is about $750 000 a year!!!! Chris pays just under R90 000 a year here which I think is ridiculously high because all the plastic surgeons in SA know each other (there are only 124 plastic surgeons in South Africa) and no one knows of anyone who has been sued other than 1 individual who was struck off the roll a few years ago. The malpractice insurance is all done through an international company and they base the premiums on global trends, so the plastic surgeons here are penalised for what goes on in the rest of the world. The USA has about 4500 plastic surgeons and from what I can understand you get plastic surgeons and plastic surgeons and then you also get other doctors (GP’s, ENT’s,dermatologists,etc.) doing the work of plastic surgeons and I think that’s when things start to go wrong. Even in SA there are a lot of dermatologists doing quite a lot of cosmetic surgical procedures. Just consider for a moment that dermatology is not a surgical discipline at all, they do no surgery as part of their specialist training so the only surgical experience they have is whatever they got during their undergraduate training and internship. Enough of that, my thoughts are with my brother, his wife and all of their friends and family.


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