Friday 08 October 2010

The Australian Health Service has devised interesting ways of trying to ease the burden on the nations Emergency Departments. One solution is to provide free telephonic medical advice to people that have non-emergency medical issues that would otherwise end up sitting in an emergency department waiting room with something that could easily what for a GP appointment in the morning.

This brilliant system named HealthDirect is a taxpayer funded six million dollar per annum telephone call centre where burnt-out nurses can google your medical questions on your behalf between checking their facebook.

This fantastic idea has actually increased the number of presentations to the emergency department and here is a lovely example of how……

While working in our local working class town ED, stitching up drunks and managing overdose patients, a lady came to triage with a splinter in her finger.

I really thought the triage nurse was joking with me but the “medical emergency” that required a trip to the local hospital at midnight was indeed a splinter in the finger.

At around 2am I was able to see this impaled appendage and it looked exactly as the nurse described: “a splinter in the finger”.

I thought there must be some trick or joke going on but this rather embarrassed and tired lady explained that she thought she would recoup some of her tax dollars and ring HealthDirect for a little telephonic advice. (She obviously had no friends or even google to turn to.) This government sanctioned initiative whose sole role is to unburden the Emergency Departments of this country instructed her to head straight to the nearest emergency department and get her splinter professionally removed. Fearing blood poisoning or sudden death, she obliged. As did I, and I professionally removed a tiny splinter from a healthy finger and thought, “ this one is for the blog”.

Monday 15 February 2010

I got frostbite in the Pilbara

Let it never be said that I don’t deeply care about medical education in my adopted land. I was supposedly supervising a junior doctor who was in turn supposedly supervising a medical student who was about to use cryotherapy to burn a few nasty skin lesions off some bloke's arms.

As the junior doctor was giving the medical student simple step by step instructions on how to use the cryotherapy, I could see the prospective patient's eyes growing larger and more anxious as he realized that this student had never even seen cryotherapy before.

“It sucks being the guinea pig patient, having some student experimenting on you.” I said to him to try and lighten the atmosphere and put him at ease.

I then added, “It's not too bad if the student has already practiced on some other sucker and you’re number 2 in the queue.”

He smiled and agreed. I then decided to offer my own little skin lesion for the medical student to “practice” on before doing a medical procedure on a real live patient.

I did my best to maintain a stern, content expression, denying the searing pain in my hand as the student poured the cryotherapy liquid onto my hand, instantly freezing the tissue and crystallizing the cytosol in my hand.

I couldn’t scream out as this whole charade was to build the patient's confidence in the future doctors of this great country and simultaneously allow the student the opportunity to learn a medical procedure in a calm, non-threatening environment. I’m pleased to say I remained as non-threatening and calm as I could.

Fortunately it was the patient who then stepped in and said, “I think you’ve put too much on, you’re supposed to use a nozzle.”

This gave me the opportunity to run to the next room to cry alone while I pretended to look for a “nozzle”.

My hand is still very tender and seriously discoloured from the literal frostbite.

It seems the best educator for eager medical students is not direct supervision by helpful experienced doctors but anxious patients vocal enough to speak up when they see incorrect procedure being performed!

Sunday 24 August 2008


I had a strange day last Wednesday.

I had been rostered on for Antenatal Clinic (my favorite!) - where I get to scan pregnant tums and marvel at the miracle growing within.

And somewhere in the middle of my clinic was a woman who had booked an appointment in my clinic to discuss the various options of how to go about aborting her 6 week old miracle.
I stared at her in shock. My mouth dried up.
"But this is the antenatal clinic" I said, "we don't plan abortions here!"
And then she began to cry.

I didn't know what to say and had to excuse myself from the room. I didn't want any part in plotting the death of this baby, but I felt like my hands were tied - I had an obligation to help this woman.

Fortunately, my boss walked by at this moment and I was able to defer to her.
I have just looked at abortion stats for Australia which showed an overal number of abortions exeeding 71000 in 2006, the vast majority (28000) were women between the ages of 25-34, ie the age group that probably are working, educated, even in stable relationships... so, not the group of women that have no other option. It seems abortion has become so accepted that it no longer is the choice of the "last resort"....

Sunday 03 August 2008


When we got engaged 5 years ago, my husband, who is just so romantic and creative designed the most beautiful ring. We were on the beach and he drew the lines in the sand, using shells to represent where the shells would be.

The finished product is platinum, shaped like the Greek symbol for infinity and it encases this beautiful diamond. It's a tension setting and the platinum hugged the diamond quite tightly. The problem was that when my husband had designed the ring we had thought only of the properties of platinum – being so much stronger and more valuable than gold, that we hadn't stopped to consider the physical properties of the diamond. It wasn't just good to look at, it is so much harder than any metal we could have set it in.

Gradually, over time, the diamond wore away the platinum. After a few years of wearing the ring I noticed that sometimes the diamond could make a little ½ turn in the setting. And then over time, the little ½ turn became a full turn. Next thing I know it wasn't only turning around, it could now move up and down as well. It had taken a few years, and it had been doing it so subtly that I hadn't even noticed, but the diamond had been changing it's environment, reshaping its setting and was now just about ready to escape its platinum bonds.

Naturally I was rather distressed about the possibility of losing my precious gem. I was thinking about this ring when I should have been having my quiet time, and I felt God say to me that we should be like that diamond. As Christians, we should be shining, true and consistent. But by being like diamonds, those properties will cause us to change our environment. Gradually we will erode the World from it's grip on our lives. Christians will determine the environment they're in.

So often we think that our lives are inconsequential, that our actions don't achieve much in this world. We don't realize the impact we're actually having. It's like ripples in a pond, it starts out small, but the effect is far-reaching. Slowly, by continuing to walk with Jesus, we will change our environment, a little every day.

Thursday 24 January 2008

Previous occupant

Mucking about in the shed, (like all blokes should) I heard a noise and then a squeak and saw the desperate face of a mouse or rat entwined in the tightening coils of a snake. So much for this new house being unoccupied when we moved in.

Anyway, this being Australia, home to seven of the worlds ten most deadly snakes, and me not been too clued up on snake identification, I did the most responsible thing I could......

I called my mate.

"Hey mate, I found something in my shed....."
"A snake? Was it a snake?" He asked impatiently with great expectation.
"Yeah, and I........"
"Address! What's your address??" He demanded and hung up
on me as the words trailed off my tongue. I found myself telling the dial tone that I think the snake caught a mouse.

My wife saw me speaking into a quiet cell phone and asked what was going on, so I did the next most responsible thing I could do, I avoided the topic, like any bloke should. And then added: "Oh buy the way Honey, my mate might pop round soon." And that's when his 4 wheel drive pulled up and out he jumped with a snake catching pole and apologized for being late. (?)

So together we approached the shed, a formidable team, one warrior with a grin on his face and a snake catching pole in his hand, and the other a little uncertain of the wisdom of all this, suddenly volunteering to 'fetch a torch' just to remain out of striking distan
ce of this unknown foe.

When I returned to the shed I heard stuff falling everywhere, hoping that if my snake catching mate was in the dying throws of envenomation that he had at least taken the bulk of venom and left the snake dry and harmless. In reality he was merely throwing all my stored timber on the floor desperately trying to find its hiding place.

"Gotcha!" he cried and promptly pulled a python from a dark recess.

We were heroes!

But I was sure there was a rat involved. How did it swallow an entire rat in minutes? Did it leave it behind and try and hide when we approached? Do I now have the carcass of a rat hiding in my shed?

Anyway, my mate had to go back to work so he left, "I'll let my little girls play with it then I'll let it go." I'm trying not to be surprised by this place anymore.

I got to work some hours later, (we do shift work), and he casually told me the python is in his pigeon hole in the ward, and he thinks it was overstimulated a little because it promptly regurgitated a dead sticky adult rat onto the hands of a young English girl who was visibly shaken by this whole encounter but none of the local Aussies batted an eyelid. All in a days w
ork in the outback. (I decided not to include a picture of the rat in this blog as we would like to keep it family friendly but email me for pictures if you want.)

At least I knew I wasn't hallucinating when I thought I saw it catch a rat.

We decided that this python is rather necessary in controlling the rat population in the shed so my mate will return it on a day that the wife is not at home and once his kids have had a good play with it.

So soon we'll have two pets, a dog in the garden and a python in the sh
ed! Welcome to rural Australia!

Tuesday 22 January 2008


We've bought a house!
It's beautiful, big and breezy and we love it.
Hubby and I were having lunch on the deck yesterday, Puppy at our feet when we suddenly felt Very Grown Up.
What happened to the pair of tumble-weeds we used to be?
Now we have Responsibility, a home that doesn't have wheels, a garden with a fishpond and a Mortgage!
I guess Hubby is well and truly over his commitment-phobia :)
.... Time for babies....

Sunday 23 December 2007

Christmas Party Fun


A typical day in our busy Emergency Department.....

This was so silly, but such good fun!