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28 December 2010

Working Christmas/New Year

We are down to a skeleton staff of four nurses. We have no doctors, cleaners, receptionists or aboriginal liaison officers and between us we are trying to run a 24 hour service.

Yesterday, Rob and I were on call (our 2 remaining colleagues were on a much needed day off, having worked Christmas and Boxing Day) and in our 24 hours we: flew a girl out with a possible ectopic, sedated a 8 year old child and reduced his displaced Colles fracture (again, thank goodness for a book) and also flew him out, sutured up a head, managed an aggressive and intoxicated man, administered rabies prophylaxis to a lady who was unfortunately bitten 14 times by a bat, and also saw 31 other patients with various other complaints. And the clinic is actually closed except for emergencies.

It is not boding well for New Years Eve.

22 December 2010

Volleyball, BBQ's, Dog Sitting... Christmas time in Laj





This year, Christmas is going to be a little different. Firstly, there's no decorations in our house or a Christmas tree, which makes it feel a bit un-Christmassy. But there is a mail plane that comes in once a week, laden down with presents and packages which reminds me of those daggy Australian Christmas cards where Santa is wearing thongs and driving a ute (having left his summer-phobic reindeer north of the equator).

Surprisingly, the people here actually do Christmas to an extent. Houses have been decorated with lights, the local shop has got a mini-toy section where parents can put stuff on layby, and this morning I saw one of the local cars had tinsel around its rear view mirror. (There wasn't any intact windows in the car nor did it have any workable tyres, but apparently thats not so important).

We are not sure how Christmas is going to go down here, work wise. The clinic is closed from Christmas Day through to the 28th inclusive and then again from the 1st to the 3rd of January other than for emergencies, but we are losing our doctor to a holiday in Samoa and two other nurses have finished their contracts leaving us with only 4 nurses to manage. Even the Lajamanu pilots are heading off. So it could be either a walk in the park or absolutely atrocious. The population is quite transient, so a lot will go away, visit families in other communities or just go bush so we may have less patients than normal or we may have people from other communities stopping by, and a skeleton staff to look after them. Yet to be determined.

In other news we have befriended the local pilots, a bunch of 20 something bachelors, who fly our clients in and out of Katherine for appointments, as well as Katherine West clinical staff. They all live in this bachelor pad donga, complete with a inflatable wading pool on the verandah and a volleyball net in the backyard. Evenings now consist of BBQ's, light beers (we are in Laj after all) volleyball (Lajamanu rules apply - one bounce is fine), and word is that a chess club might be on the horizon. I tell you, our social events calendar is getting pretty full.

Not to mention that from tonight we are also dog sitting.

Our GP has left her Whippet/German Shepherd cross with us while she's away. Chopper (our clinic dog) is quite miffed that Ellie has moved in on her turf. Ellie presents as a slightly anxious dog, lovely temperament but that could be because she is on HRT. Our GP advised us that a weekly dose of her 'happy pill' will keep us all content!

I'm just hoping that her and Chopper won't get into any scraps. Chopper is, as previously mentioned a camp dog, so hence she's like Jenny from the block, and would probably use phrases like "oh no you didn't!" before launching into a full on cat (or dog?) fight . Ellie is a bit like a elite school student who would much prefer to play lacrosse and learn French and debate her way out of an argument.

So it could be interesting, hopefully they won't get into any scraps. Luckily our GP has given us a 'Not for Resuscitation' order on her dog, which means if Chopper and Ellie do get into a bitch fight, and Ellie loses, we don't have commence CPR. That's a relief. Nothing worse than trying to intubate a dog.

So that's about all from us, thank you for all the lovely cards, messages and packages that have arrived... We miss you all and are chuffed that you are thinking of us
Lots of love xxx

08 December 2010

ZAP! Shazam!

Month 2 in the desert!

We are truly in the swing of things now. Its been a big learning curve but now we are feeling much more settled. We've been given portfolios (as they are called)... Rob is in charge of men's health and I am taking over the antenatal care while our resident midwife is on holidays. So basically that means that we are chasing down people, I'm getting the ladies in for their pregnancy assessments, ultrasounds, antenatal checks, booking them in to Katherine to have their babies. Rob is focussing this week on men's sexual health, following up on positive results for STI's, screening and education. Health in indigenous communities is quite separate gender wise. Any problems with 'down there' are usually only discussed with a health worker of the same gender. Hence when Rob finds a positive result amongst one of the local boys, he needs a female nurse to hunt down the partner so they can both be treated. So we've been tag teaming. We've been feeling like safe sex superheroes! We usually give our patients a huge mouthful of antibiotics: Zithromax (Azithromycin), Amoxycillin and Probenecid, (snappily known as a ZAP Pack!,) as a single dose that will treat the run of the mill infections and then screen them for the rest and treat as necessary. We've been loving it, its quite fulfilling health promotion. All we need is a cape and to maybe start wearing our undies on the outside!

04 December 2010

Clarence Point Market



According to my sources, it was a lovely day... our stall looked great, if anything the three of us had too much stuff so next time we might have to get 2 tables. Christmas markets are great, there's a sense of festivity in the air, we rationalise all our purchases by reassuring ourselves and others that they are stocking fillers (even if we really intend to keep them for ourselves!) and generally people are merry and bright.

Us ladies did pretty well, admittedly there was a lot of competition, the calibre was there, but the day was nothing short of a success. Most of our stuff sold, and the stock that was left over we'll be selling at the Exeter Twilight Market later this month. And Mum's women's collective 'Point of Women' raised more funds for ongoing projects in the West Tamar.

Here's a couple of photos, apologies for the resolution, it was taken on an iPhone, but you get the idea!

19 November 2010

Thank Goodness for Books!





We've been here over a week, and oh the things we've learnt!

Number 1? Suturing. We thought it would look a bit lame if we had to get out the procedure book at the time of needed suturing, so a little practice might be in order. Not that our clients would probably notice, they are pretty used to bemused nurses flicking through books to decide on treatments and diagnosis. But we figured that our hands would be pretty full if and when we needed to whack in a stitch or two, so the solution? Chicken! Our poor little chicken breasts mysteriously ended up with a few lacerations that a little bit of Prolene (stitching thread for all you non-medical types) sorted out quick-sticks!

Our week has been full on, we are doing things here that we've never done before! I applied my very first backslab on a fractured wrist, muddled through a few antenatal checks, helped evacuate a sick patient to Darwin. Its amazing the stuff we have to do. Here the airstrip is about 100 metres from the clinic. When we airlift someone out at night, its not just about sorting out their clinical stability. We've also got to make sure the airstrip lights are on, and ensure someone drives up and down the runway to make sure its clear of random dogs and children! Only in the Territory!

The dogs here are "cheeky' as the locals say. What that really means is that they are feral, will run at you and bite. No cars in Lajamanu have any mudflaps left because as you drive up and down the streets, packs of them run at the cars and chew them off. And because no-one desexes them or cares for them, litters of puppies are born every week. The one exception is a camp dog called Chopper, owing to the fact that the top of one of her ears is missing, probably as a result of a scrap in her younger days. She's become the clinic dog, has a gorgeous temperament, and protects us from the other camp dogs. She's ancient, is terrified of thunder storms, has heart failure and arthritis and can't walk much further than 500 metres before she gets puffed out and you have to carry her home, but its amazing how much energy she can muster if another dog steps on her turf or goes for one of us. So one of our colleagues has her on anti-inflammatories and a bit of Lasix and she's still kicking on. People have predicted her demise many times, but still she lives! She's a bloody legend and an institution here in 'Laj' as its known. It'll be a sad day when she finally goes to canine heaven.

And speaking of heaven, we went and had a look at the local cemetery the other day. Lajamanu town itself is a mess, there's rubbish everywhere, the houses are unclean and full of pests, the feral dogs run amok, there's burnt out cars and bikes, but yet the cemetery is spotless. Every grave is impeccably maintained, plastic flowers and wreaths adorn each one and there is not a piece of litter to be seen. The respect for the dead is paramount, and the ancestors are revered in this traditional community.

Let's hope Chopper gets the same respect on the day she passes on.

13 November 2010

Google Earth Us At Lajamanu




Well my mister and I have arrived in the Red Centre... We were flown in a tiny 4 seater mail plane, crammed in like sardines in and amongst the mail and parcels. The poor little plane was so laden down its tail was below the dashboard and the pilot had to strain to see out his front window. It was also bumpy and poor Rob vomited copious amounts for the entire trip. Not pleasant. Still we are here. An amusing comment made by a local man made us laugh though. On hearing the story of the power chuck, he said 'Oh what a waste of your lunch. Did your wife cook you another one?'



We're working for at least the next three months in a bush town called Lajamanu, a primarily Aboriginal settlement, at the health centre here. The clinic aims to improve health outcomes of the Lajamanu community through primary health care programs and also runs an emergency service linked with Katherine and Darwin hospitals. Its busy too, here we are emergency nurses, paramedics, midwives, child health nurses, pharmacists, nutritionists, air traffic controllers, receptionists, cleaners and everything in between. As Remote Area Nurses we can prescribe medicines according to certain protocols, suture and plaster and do a whole stack of stuff we can't do in Tasmania. So naturally we are quietly freaking out. But give us a couple of weeks and I'm sure we will feel more settled.

Its remote... we're 600km southwest of Katherine, on the edge of the Tanami Desert and there isn't much here. There's a local store/mini supermarket that is where we are getting our food from, but it is super expensive. A sweet potato costs $7! But to their credit, they don't stock much junk food, couldn't find chocolate or chips there, its mostly healthy options. So that's a good thing... We won't be eating any crap. Word around the campfire is that we can set up an account with Woolies in Katherine and they will do a weekly freight delivery here so that may be an option, but then we need to weigh up the cost of the freight. Our accommodation is provided, simple but adequate, an old brick unit, full of asbestos (but then so is the clinic!) and is furnished, and we aren't paying for anything so no complaints there. There is red dirt everywhere and it gets over everything. The temperature at the moment is around 35-45 degrees, and the wet season is coming. Last night a huge storm knocked over a tree which landed on the unit next door, but luckily no-one was staying there. We're not quite sure who will be able to get that fixed as the council is based in Alice Springs. Not exactly around the corner. And we're also hoping that the remaining trees stay upright!



So we have the weekend off, but we'll be on the on-call roster soon enough. And I think the on-call person works pretty much every night so it will be busy. Stay tuned for our next report!

04 November 2010

Treasures for Sale




Wrapping paper and kusudama origami ornaments - perfect for Christmas...
On sale for one day only at the Clarence Point Market...

Sunday the 28th November 2010, Clarence Point Hall in Clarence Point.

01 November 2010

To market, to market... And new design!

Now I know that you all know of and probably attend Niche - the fantastic makers market on roughly quarterly here in Launceston. But at the end of this month, there's another little market on that you may not have heard of...

Its the gorgeous and quaint Clarence Point Market, held in the little hall, by the river at Clarence Point. Its the old kind of market, you know the one filled with fruit and veggies, homemade honey and jams, high end bric a brac and handmade goodness. The next one is on November 28 and there will be some 'eve and the apple tree' treasures being sold. I'll unfortunately already be working in the Northern Territory desert by then, but if you swing by you'll find my mama and my aunt selling my wrapping paper, origami Christmas ornaments and a few other little things along with their treasures on our cute stall! Mum has a cute little label simply called Joanie, while my Auntie Fuzzie (as she is known) sells under 'Dear Little Doggie Design'.

So people, pack a picnic, visit a vineyard or two and take the motor car out for a Sunday drive and check out what those creative peeps are doing in the West Tamar!

And for those of you who have been asking, here is the first official print run of 'Rainy Day in the Park', a cute child-like wrapping paper, or simply for those young at heart. Enjoy xxx


06 October 2010

New Jellyfish Wrapping Paper






New design people... here's a picture of the first print run (custom job) for a lovely lass at work. Rob calls it 'Crazy Squid' but really its jellyfish. I'm thinking its looking sweet as. I also think it might just be turned into fabric...

There's also a work in progress happening... its a rainy in the park... think rain clouds, sausage dogs and apple trees. I've done a basic run, but there's a few elements I want to change now.... Its a bit too regimented, needs a good old randomise to mix it up. Watch this space xxx

13 September 2010

New Skies to See

It's happened.

After 4 lovely years of nesting on the island, my feet have developed a noticeable itch. It started off with just a toe, but now they are definitely itchy. Its mainly work driven I think. I love working with a great bunch of people in the emergency department here in Launceston, but I am also feeling the need for a little change, get some new skills, see some different scenery. But there's also certainly the attraction of remaining free, loosening the ties to any one place, and coming and going as we please. So we're off. Me and my mister have accepted positions in the Northern Territory, working at a small health clinic on the edge of the Tanami Desert. Its largely an indigenous population of around 1000, there's the obligatory red dirt everywhere and its hot. There will be limited resources, and we will probably fly people out more often than not for treatment in Katherine or Darwin.

Aside from the work related challenges, the bit I'm most excited about is the potential for inspiration! Think of all the gorgeous landscapes, flora and fauna and colours I'll see. Oh it'll be photographic and design heaven. So while I'm up there, hanging out in my provided accommodation, I'll be thinking, drawing, photographing and designing. And when we come home in 12 months time, it will be production city. Stay tuned people.

24 August 2010

Oh holidays... how I miss thee...






So I've got back from a little sojourn in Cambodia, Vietnam and Singapore with my mister... Oh it was lovely, the food, the people, the amazing scenery. We had nearly six weeks zipping all over the countryside by train, plane and tuk tuk, eating more noodle soup than is probably considered proper in civilised society, taking a huge amount of photos and just appreciating the increase in temperature. What an escape from the frosty mornings here on the island! Here's just a little taster of what we saw...

07 June 2010

First Print Runs




Some completed wrapping paper for anyone who might be mildly interested. Its been selling like hot cakes amongst the ladies at work! Bless their little cotton socks, they've been keeping me busy.

22 May 2010

wrapping paper



OK, so the last few months, i've been continuing on my little quest for creative happiness. At the moment I'm back on the printmaking train. I've finally bit the bullet, and stopped trying to get a cracked version of Illustrator, and spent the money. My word, its a brilliant program once you get past how non-user friendly it is! I'm sure I've only worked out about 1% of its capabilities but I'm already impressed. Designing becomes so much more professional. Thanks to my mate Kieran (a creative genius in her own right) I've become well acquainted with Live Trace. It just tidies up my sketches and makes them print ready so already I'm in love.

Current project: wrapping paper. Have acquired a mere 350 metres of brown paper from eBay and now need to do something with (besides using it as a door stop to my studio). Here's a little taster of my latest design. Its a proof so please excuse the pencil lines, obviously they won't be there in the final product!

25 January 2010

Visiting the parentals








Mum and Dad finally have their dream house. They packed up, moved from Launceston to a river-side retreat on the West Arm where they've built their castle. Its lovely. Only 55 minutes from town, but it might as well be worlds away.

Mum even got excited and got out her little row boat for some evening meandering with her mates on the water. Check 'em out, they're all a tad tipsy, but bless 'em... they know how to have fun. Now that's retirement.

22 January 2010

Photographic Journeys






Lately, I've been into the photography. As previously mentioned, I finally succumbed to the digital age and bought myself a Canon SLR which I just love. Rob and I have also lashed out and bought us a couple of tripods so now I have even more creative possibilities. It just means we have to carry them but hey, sometimes you have to make small sacrifices.

Here's just a little of what I've seen this week. A few little landscape shots of my neighbourhood. All these images are taken within 20 minutes of my house... what a nice backyard I have!