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!