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