The Christmas family get together was a lot of fun although very tiring as we didn't arrive back in Port Denison until 48 hours after leaving Yuendumu. In the accepted tradition there was far too much food but an acceptable amount of alcohol having enough leftovers to feed a small army. One major hiccup that occurred just before leaving Yuendumu was that the Fish Market from which we had ordered all the seafood, and the major ingredient of the occasion, burnt to the ground!!
I was supposed to call the market on the day before we left to confirm the order and pay for it over the phone. I was having trouble getting through to the number but thought it may have been because they were so busy so just persevered. Eventually someone answered the phone and informed me that the shop had burnt down just last night. Although feeling some empathy for the owners on what would usually be one of their most profitable times of year all I could think was BUGGA!!!!! Where am I going to lay my hands on enough seafood to feed everyone.
I rang the few other seafood outlets in Geraldton to find out what the options were and luckily found one that still had a reasonable selection available. Also in conversations with these other outlets found out the rumour was that the fire had started from some faulty Christmas lights. What bad luck!!
Anyway the weather was kind being not too hot with a cool sea breeze and everyone enjoyed themselves which is the main thing after all. The journey home was not as prolonged with better connections and we were able to depart Port Denison around 7:00 AM and drive into Yuendumu about 8:00 PM. The drive back to Yuendumu being mostly paved these days really underscored how much a community with almost all weather access takes the pressure off the journey.
Couldn't be in a better place to catch upon some posts. One of the many, many, many bars on South Terrace in Fremantle, Perth on a sunny afternoon while Jo gets her hair done. We drove in from Yuendumu on Friday afternoon in record time to catch up with family for dinner and stayed at Lasseters. We caught the late morning, no choice actually, flight to Perth and will overnight here before the late morning, again no choice, flight to Geraldton then the 45 min drive to our place in Port Denison tomorrow, Christmas Eve.
We are having Chrissy with the family that could get away for a few days over the break. Jo's daughter, partner and her son live in Port Denison, my son and his partner are driving up from Perth, Jo's Mum and Dad are flying in from the Sunshine Coast. Will be the first time in a few years we have been able to co-ordinate this amount of family to be in the one place at the same time for quite some time so should be a great get together.
Unfortunately we could only get a few days off work so will have to reverse the travel on Wednesday morning which will see us back in Yuendumu and actually on-call Wednesday night!!!
Oh well, gotta take what you can get when you can I suppose.
Merry Christmas to those not able to get here!!!!
Allright, I have been a little lax this week but HAVE to fit in one before Christmas Day. The last week has been a little interesting, as the title suggests, a few different presentations. Jo and I were called out the other night to a suspected snake bite which on inspection revealed no broken skin, no discolouration, no bruising...no nothing. We did all the right things like blood coagulation timing and the usual obs but nothing showed anything out of the usual. The lady in question though it had bitten her on the big toe, which was possible as she was sleeping outside on the verandah. Further conversation revealed that she only thought she had been bitten as she thought that it felt like it! She had not seen the snake sooo...was she dreaming or???? Anyway, after a reasonable amount of time and numerous blood tests nothing eventuated so she asks to go home again, fine by me.
The next night I was on call with a non nurse responder and was called out about 4:00 AM by a Mother worried that an insect had crawled into her 5 year old daughter's ear while asleep. The little girl was very distraught so I went out to try to fine the culprit. Again no evidence of insect or other wildlife in her ear so maybe something crawled in only to evacuate again leaving a feeling that it was still there. A few flushes with warm saline and some drops seemed to allay all fears that said insect was gone so all happy to go home again.
The next night the two on call nurses had another snake bite issue though this one was accompanied by a puncture wound so this lady was flown out by RFDS. The next day there was quite a commotion near the front door of the clinic when one of the old ladies spotted some snake tracks in the sand leading to an irrigation pit. Luckily one of the guys in the clinic at the time was quite happy to investigate and in no time had the reptile in a bucket to be released a long way from Yuendumu.
To finish off the week Jo and were just back from lunch when there was a report of a vehicle rollover 180 kms west of Yuendumu. We were dispatched in the Ambulance for a retrieval accompanied by the local Police. Long story short on arrival at the MVA all occupants had self extricated from the vehicle and ourselves and the Police retrieved the 3 occupants back to Yuendumu. The RFDS plane was waiting when we arrived back so all were whipped off soon after to Alice Springs Hospital. One lady was then sent on to Adelaide Hospital with a crushed pelvis plus possible internal injuries. Of the others, a fractured Orbit, (eye socket), broken tibia, (leg) plus a variety of cuts and contusions. All in all could have been much worse but just another run-of-the-mill week at a remote clinic.
Been here a week now and have settled in quite well but has it been hot!!! 40 plus this week with just the promise of a shower or two that never eventuates. To open the back door of the clinic at lunch time is like opening the oven door, the heat is palpable. All in all work has been pretty cruisy, establishing a pattern of steady presentations for the morning that tapers off during the afternoon when anyone with any sense or air conditioning stays where it's cooler. On-call has been very manageable as it is shared out between so many staff so we may get 1 or 2 at the most of being rostered as the first on-call nurse per week. Jo and myself have been rostered as first and second together a couple of times which is easier as if the phone goes in the middle of the night it wakes us both up anyway.
The build up to Christmas has meant a few social engagements and last Saturday night the clinic staff had our Chrissy Dinner at one of the staff's homes. It was a good night except we were on-call and as you might expect were called out just before dinner was about to start. We made it back in time to sit down to something to eat then an hour later we were back out again for a minor issue. The hour or so that took meant by the time we got back everyone was heading home anyway which suited us fine in case another midnight call came. Luckily it didn't so we had an uneventful rest of the night.
The main problem about being on-call Saturday is that we have to get the hand-over on Saturday morning at 8:00 AM then do the handover to the Sunday crew at 8:00 AM on Sunday morning. Means we don't get a sleep in all week and we are back on this Saturday so no lie-ins for 19 days straight!!! Bit of a drag but what are you going to do???
Plans are well underway for our exodus out for the trip back West for our family Chrissy dinner in Port Denison. It is a little of a logistic nightmare trying to organise people, accomodation, food, drink and co-ordinate transport from Yuendumu but it's looking like it might just come together.
Will keep you posted.......
I flew into Alice Springs late afternoon on Friday and spent two really restless nights at Lasseters for some unknown reason. I certainly should be used to sleeping in different beds after so long moving around either on trips or through work. Anyway the plan was for Jo to drive out from Yuendumu to pick me up on Sunday. That plan was fine except that Jo was on-call Saturday which ended up being a full on day with a couple of evacuations by RFDS and didn't finish up until after midnight.
She arrived in Alice just after lunch time which allowed only enough time to run around doing the few jobs we could do on a Saturday afternoon before me taking the wheel for the drive back. The 300 kms drive out to Yuendumu these days is sealed except for the last 10 kms so late afternoon saw us motoring into the community.
Our accomodation is quite comfortable being a two bedroom duplex that has a west facing front verandah so we have wonderful sunsets most nights. Yuendumu is one of the largest indigenous communities in the centre with a population of around 7-800. The clinic is much larger than what we are used to and have 8 nurses and a full time doctor which a bit of a luxury. With so many people sharing the on-call it means we are usually on-call only twice a week and even have the weekend off every now and again.
Anyway will write a bit more about life here soon.
Well there could not be two polar opposites as to this time yesterday and today. Two flights and I'm transported from the steamy latitudes of tropical Elcho Island to the arid desert of the Red Centre of Australia.
Yesterday, in Darwin airport, I was reflecting on my time spent travelling from job to job and the amount of time spent waiting for flights in various airports around the country. The trip from Perth to Elcho was not without it's issues. The day I was due to fly from Darwin to Elcho the flight was cancelled but not without spending some 6 hours waiting for confirmation that it was actually cancelled. The same flight the next day was delayed, so another few hours spent ....waiting. Thank goodness Jo and I took advantage of the annual, I think, offer of no joining fee that saved us about $450 each on the normal Qantas Club fee. Money well spent factoring all this time spent loitering about departure lounges waiting for connecting flights.
Although I have spent the greater percentage of my life living in the tropics there is a certain feeling of being comfortable back in the desert. This feeling of being "home' caused me to reflect again (this self reflection is most unusual) and consider how long it has been since we had a real "home".
We have recently bought a house in Port Denison to be considered our retirement home but have not spent much time at all in it! On quick calculation it has been probably 4 years since we purchased in Alice Springs and that only lasted maybe 6 months before we headed out bush again. Prior to that it was a similar amount of time before that we left Cairns. So for the last 8 years or so we have lived in either Department of Health housing in remote communities or in short-term holiday lettings or travelling. I must admit it doesn't feel that long, haven't missed having a real home and if the truth be known have quite enjoyed not having any ties to anywhere in particular.
Does that make us dysfunctional or nomadic?
Nomads I think.