We recently got to spend 2 wonderful months back in Darwin for the dry season. One of my colleagues asked us to housesit, dogsit and jobsit while she went off to Europe for a couple of months. My partner managed to organise a project back at Danila Dilba and we scored a short term spot for the girls in child care. How could we possibly say no?
I had the pleasure of working on the beautiful Tiwi islands at Julanimawu health centre in Wurrumiyanga aka Nguiu – try saying that in a hurry. Lucky for me I got to work with the formidable @ClintonLeahy (who you may recognise as the GP in Chloe Hoopers ‘The Tall Man’). He is seriously obsessed with fly fishing and loves his island life. The clinic is staffed by some impressive remote nurses, Aboriginal Health Practitioners, drivers, community workers and many others and it was a very different vibe to some of the other remote communities I have worked in.
It was a big change from my 3 month locum stint on the East coast of Tassie and it took a little while to get back in the swing of remote Indigenous health again but luckily it all came back fairly quickly.
One of the few evacuations I was involved in was for a man who came in for a check up and had a routine ECG. His ECG showed some abnormal findings and when we questioned him further it turned out he had an episode of severe chest pain 1 week earlier. We did a few tests and it turned out he had a large heart attack. When I spoke to him a bit more he mentioned that his brother had died of a massive heart attack a few years earlier on the football field. He was sent urgently off to the cardiologists for an angiogram and succesful stents. A good reminder of the importance of asking about family history. Now why doesn’t come into the cv risk calculators?
I spent a lot of time visiting a young woman in her 20s with severe malnutrition, limb deformities and skin sores. She was unable to get out of bed and didn’t want to be transferred to hospital for investigations in treatment. Her family were understandably upset about the situation. We did our best to provide supplements, antibiotics, pain killers and comfort but in the end palliation was all we could provide. She passed away soon after I left. Such a tragic situation.
One day was spent doing a Remote Area Trauma Education Course which served me well a week later when, for my dads 70th birthday, we travelled to Litchfield for a day of swimming and relaxation. Unfortunately while we were there a young tourist drowned in the falls and I spent the afternoon attempting resuscitation. The image of performing CPR while being carried on a stretcher up a rough dirt track to the carpark as the rescue helicopter attempted to land blowing branches, dust and dirt all over the us and the carpark is one that will stay with me forever. A note to anyone who has responsibility for a first aid kit, be sure to check you have a bag and mask (not just a bag) that would have made things a lot easier.
Back in Tas for the time being and working in Communicable Disease Control at the Public Health Unit. I still travel virtually to the NT each week to provide on call support for remote communities and each week is a new adventure. Something that I get called about far too often is domestic violence. Some awful injuries have happened including a young woman who was recently stabbed in her chest, abdomen and vagina. Kudos to the amazing Dr @CatGargan for her prompt early management and transfer to RDH for surgery. There are some pretty amazing young doctors that I am proud to know who work in the remote NT.
Bye for now!