Sunday, February 4, 2007

Journey into jungle!

Hello hello! I'm writing glad to have survived my recent journey to Kairiru Island - I'm told 20 nautical miles off the coast of Wewak, and a very long and bumpy 2.5hr boat ride away. Decided at the last moment to ditch surgery for the rest of the week (as i can still do as a student! HA Dr Johnson!) and have been there from Tues through to Sun.
What can i say by it was loads of fun! Bit odd the thought of staying with the Catholic Mission.. hmm.. but ended up actually going to Church to cleanse my soul (not that my soul needs cleansing!) the last night there.. all in Pidgeon.. meant nothing to me!
But anyway.. our 5 day adventure started with the first morning heading over this saddle like mountain from the mission to Victoria Bay.. cruisy journey.. not much to walking right? WRONG! The trip there took about 2 hrs i'd say and in the beginning as every chick i would say does.. tried to keep clean.. not get the shoes too wet or muddy - yeah that changed about 1/2 hr into trip where i realised the track was a whole lot of mud.. wet, slippery.. very muddy mud. Oh yeah.. there was a lot of falling over and sliding down muddy embankments, holding on to nearby shrubs & trees for dear life and by the time we reached the hot springs.. our destination.. i looked like i'd been turned into sepia! Brown was definitely the new black! Hot springs were nice tho.. good to get cleaned up in toasty water, only to get dirty again on the journey home! Springs there get above boiling.. and we were made to take some eggs along with us to boil as is the tradition! Was very cool i must say! Even got my hands on a couple of coconuts to wash everything down with! No major injuries suffered.. a few bumps and bruises from flying logs in the sea etc.. but survived to tell the tale! Following a day of recovery, a day of swimming off the wharf unfortunately too muddy to see much of the coral reef.. (and possibly the slight fear of crocodiles!) we spent our last day climbing the infamous Kairiru mountain.. about 700m.. not exactly everest but for my first trek up a mountain i'd say i did pretty damn good! Now steep is the word i tell ya! That trek was a nightmare! Leaves the stairmaster for dead. By the time we reached the top it was raining, i was again covered in mud and 'jungle-ness' and had just enough energy left to view the volcanic lake that signified the top of the mountain... pretty cool hey! A few snakes and a whole lot of slips & slides later .. and 7 hours later i was back at the mission and could barely make it to the shower. I'm still recovering right now. Speed boat ride home this morning on calm clear seas finished off the journey quite spectacularly! Was loads of fun, loads of aches & pains, and i recommend the journey to anyone! Plus.. there were 4 tv stations with clear reception! WOOHOO! By by the end of the trip we were down to 2.. with them both playing the same thing.. go PNG! Till next time.. love Cath.

  • Me in the hot springs... the not so boiling parts..
  • Me with the moo cows on St Johns Mission farm Kairiru island.. that's right.. go for the bait little ones... get nice and fat so we can eat u..

  • me on the top of Mt Kairiru lookout.. u can barely see me let alone the scenery.

  • Me with my lovely bunch of coconuts at Victoria Bay hot springs

  • Me with hot springs in background

  • Me at the base of Mt Kairiru.. after we'd survived the 7hrs of trekking! I may not look all that muddy and grubby.. but take my word for it.. I am.

  • Me on the trek to the hot springs... looking rather red and sweaty... nice.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Greetings again from the end (almost) of the 2nd week here in PNG. This week has entailed some shockers..

Firstly there was the demise of our reg with malaria & pneumonia leaving me and the resident in charge.. and the consultant when he was around. It was a nightmare! Just when i'd thought i'd gotten out of the paperwork type stuff & more into the surgery i was once again back on the wards! AHH! AND i lost the earpiece to my stethoscope leaving it useless, but the whole hospital did get behind me in looking for it... such champions!

Surgery has consisted of more circumcisions, but a heap of orthopaedics this week, and a lot of nasty nasty infectious stuf.. this pic (you can't miss it) is of this Buruli ulcer they have here.. or Mycobacterium Ulcerans... very very nasty and we're seeing it more and more. Its horrible. Family members remember pepe's ears when they were really bad?? Probably not! But it had this awful stench that this stuff has. IT IS THE FOULEST THING EVER! And terribly painful.

On the entertainment front had my first hash run, my return to the wewak golf club, and my attempt at launching a canoe into the ocean... which failed miserably! Gosh the seas get rough here! However.. i have managed to scough down a coconut finally! Even though they are everwhere! I look a bit spaz in this photo but i'm thoroughly enjoying myself let me tell you! I reckon we should have coconut cocktails back home served up in them! They're fabulous! Once u get them open.. u should see the michette type bush knife used to crack this one!

Anyway.. hope you're all well.. can't believe it's only week 2. 2 weeks and 2 rats so far in the good old penthouse ala Johnson. I'm still sleeping with the lights on and one eye open. Just in case. Love to all!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Hello all! Am currently writing this out for the 2nd time as in typical Wewak style the power went out last time around. In mean time however i did manage to get in a quick run around the airport. First since i've been here and by gosh does the humidity get you! So the first week here is over already! Can't believe how fast the time is going. I must say that i've never spent so much time at a hospital! I'm really enjoying my elective here.. it's been great so far. With the surgical team currently and they have been lovely. Am getting as much hands on experience as i want and they make an effort to get you involved and doing something, not just standing in a distant corner somewhere like in sydney looking on from afar and wondering when you can leave! I've assisted in all the operations so far.. which have included circumcisions; ORIF's; skin grafts, debridements; and my fav the ruptured ectopic pregnancy..a medical emergency you would think.. but the poor lady had to wait hours because there was no blood! Great huh! Was an awesome operation though.. could not believe how much blood came out of this lady! Anyway so hospital has been a blast! Although the last few days there's been a bit of a disaster - been a bit of a problem with the blood and there's been a few wrong blood type transfusions been given. DISASTER! I've been made to go around the hospital chasing all transfusions in past week and re-taking blood & crossmatching it with the bags given etc.. has been a nightmare. If i never have to take blood again i will be very happy! On the social front we've been invited to many a friends place almost every evening.. has been quite nice. Visited the markets today and got given big crabs which thoroughly enjoyed for lunch! Yet to get my hands on a cocconut yet even though they are everywhere, and sold for about 4cents! And have yet to have a swim yet either! But all things to do. Suprised at how tired i am really! Had my first encounter with a rat the other night.. was not pleasant. Now sleep with the light on and one eye open! If you don't know already the thought of a rat in my room petrifies me. But generally speaking, the first week has been great. Everyone is so nice to me and i'm treated like a bit of celebrity! I'm not complaining. Everyone is happy to help out wherever they can. I lost the earpiece to my stethoscope the other day and the whole ward was up out of their beds and on the floor looking with me. Was great. The kiddies in the hospital are lovely and stroke my hair and touch my skin and one came up to me the other day as i was walking along and just grabbed hold of my hand. Very sweet. But sad also as you see heaps of awful ulcers and gangrene and it's pretty nasty stuff.. nothing like you would ever really see at home primarily due to the hygeine i suppose. Have included a variety of pics for your amazement &/or disgust! Enjoy. There's one of the highly equipped (yeah right) operating theatre, me and a margaret hayward's place, the high tech traction device, burn victim & amputation for diabetic foot. Nice. Ok best be off.. time for a cold shower! (not that i'm given a choice!) Ciao!

Sunday, January 7, 2007

The journey begins!

Hello all! Greetings from Wewak PNG! Home of the Sepik, the mosquito, mildred the cassowary and the never ending stench of well.. PNG! The flights up were a success and arrived early Sunday evening to a sea of black people awaiting arrivals. My dad was not hard to miss!
So far i've had the grand tour, fed the cassowary, avoided the mossies and checked out the hospital. Hope the photos do this place the justice it deserves! There's not much in the way of entertainment.. television consists of one channel... the snow report.. oh yeah & a bit of channel 9! Am glad i brought my lap top & a variety of dvd's to entertain me in the evening.. it's actually a bit difficult to hear anything at night as the roaring & crashing of the waves are bloody loud! It kinda sounds like there's a massive thunderstorm outside! The people seem relatively friendly, always waving and smiling. Looking forward to the hospital work! Already been introduced to the theatres.. 1 & 2! And the emergency department (photo!). Snooped around a bit & sussed out the obstetric ward, the pathology lab and contemplated photographing the blood trail leading to the door of the path lab but opted not to! Must upload my photos before the power cuts out! Love to you all.. especially the family fan base back in brisvagas & U.S. Give the kiddies a big cuddle from me!
PS. It's damn hot.
PPS.. Lin.. bring more dvd's! And mosquito things!

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Before Departure

Pre-PNG.. family at Chirstmas in typical Johnson style where not one of us is looking at the camera. Yes folks.. the youngest member may be the most normal yet.. little Ryan good luck to you!