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22 November 2009

Elective Week Four and Eddie is Destroyed

I am almost finished my elective here in Bundaberg. Both Rob and I are counting down the hours...70 to go.....
I have finished working with the Palliative Care team, and I spent a week in the Emergency Department. Most of what you see in emergency is NON-Emergencies. But some of the cases are quite exciting. We've had a few car crash victims, a few drug overdoses, and more than a few alcohol intoxications. They have a very slick system to bring people in from all over the Wide Bay area (it would take 3-4 hours to drive from one end to the other of the area this hospital services). They have a helicopter pad right next to the emergency department, and the Royal Flying Doctors uses the airstrip next door.
A lot of people have the same problem they have back in Alberta- no family doc, or can't get in to be seen in a timely manner. So we deal with a number of things that could be taken care of by a GP, but if ignored could become very serious, like bladder infections, debris in eyeballs, stitches, etc. Today I learned to use a slit lamp (to look for things stuck to the surface of the eye. We had 5 cases Thursday morning of sore left eyes. Weird.) I have had a good run here, but I am finding it increasingly difficult to stay in the moment. I just want to be off that plane and back with my sweetie and family and friends.

I arrived back in Brisbane on Friday. I ran a few errands and gave myself the night off. Saturday had a few more errands to run: pick up some ebay purchases, pick up my lost mobile phone, drop the cat off at the kennel in Logan (about 30 km away) and get down to packing. Life had other plans. Rounding the corner from Ann St to Brunswick street, I braked to meet the red light. Nothing happened. NOTHING! Eddie's brakes had failed. I did not want to hit the car in front of me and give him or myself whiplash. The sidewalk next to me was clear, so I figured jumping the curb and hitting the signpost would slow me down, as I reefed on the handbrake for dear life. Scariest 10 seconds ever. The car did stop, with no one hurt, and the only casualties being Eddie's driver's side light and a flattened no parking sign. The irony. Royal Auto Club of Queensland (RACQ) to the rescue again. The tow truck driver agreed with my conclusion that there were no brakes when he loaded the car up. I found out that it is only illegal to leave the scene of an accident if someone is hurt. If no one is hurt, and they come to the scene of your accident, they charge you a $370 on the spot fine, 3 points against your licence, charge you the towing to their holding facility and $44 a day to keep the vehicle there. Hence the tow truck driver got me out of there as soon as possible. Then I told him that I had just had the front and back brakes redone before I left for Bundy. At this he became irate on my behalf at the mechanic, and insisted on towing the car there, and that the mechanic reimburse me the Q transport fine of $272, fix the car and the damage free. He was very convincing to the garage staff....He also then gave me a free lift back to my flat. Very kind of him!
So on to the next problem: cat to the kennel. I phoned Translink to see if I could take her caged on the train. No dice. So I had to call a cab. The driver got lost twice (for which he still charged me) and by the time we got to the kennel the fee was $100. YIKES!! I didn't have another $100 to go home with, and he was being a jerk, so I just asked him to drop me off at the nearest bus stop. I was now sans cat, so it was a much cheaper, friendlier option. So he dropped me off at a shelter on the side of the road. Turned out it was merely a sun shelter, and had nothing to do with transit. Great- I'm now in the country (I can hear the sheep and cows) in the middle of nowhere, not even sure where I am. So I start walking in the general direction of Brisbane, in 30 degree weather with no hat or water. About 5 km later, I came to a school zone. I figured a cab could probably now find me. Whipped out the Vodaphone. got on the line with the cab company..and the prepay ran out! AAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRGGGGGHHHHH! OK, calm down, just use your credit card to buy more time. Except it would not accept a credit card that had not already been set up, and as it was Saturday, no one was available to do this for me until Monday. I have to admit, at this point I had an arm flailing, screaming tantrum in the middle of nowhere. Once that tension had been released, I started walking again, until I found a house, where a nice person let me borrow their phone and call a cab. The cab took me to the nearest REAL bus stop. And I was on my way back into the city. I was supposed to meet my friend Anne at LaDolceVita (again, the irony) at 7 pm. I thought this place was on the 199 bus route, so I switched buses at the appropriate spot and was only a smidgen late. LaDolceVita is not on the 199 route. At this point, I was holding back tears as the driver came to the end of his route and stopped the bus to wait before turning around. So I just rode the bus home. I felt like all I needed now was to find a poisonous snake in the toilet to make the misery complete. Once at home, I grabbed my (now charged) Optus phone to see Anne had called 5 times. I felt like a heel, and called her back. She had had an equally challenging day, with her car being hit on Brunswick Street that afternoon. So I invited her over for supper, with (Bundaberg) Rum and Cokes. We talked geek about our electives and commiserated on the day. She agrees My day wins. But we had such a good conversation, the time flew until midnight. Aaaahhhhh, thank goodness for friends. And thank you, friends, for letting me rant online about it.

16 November 2009

Elective Week Three

The days are passing...only 9 more sleeps until I get on that plane!
This week I spent with the Palliative Care group, as I can help ease the burden while Jenny Crane (one of the docs) is away, and I still felt I had more I could get out of it. A highlight was sitting in with Dr. Melissa Eastgate, an oncologist who comes to Bundaberg once a month from Brisbane. I also got to connect with a number of my palliative care patients again. Over the last three weeks, I have walked with ten people who finished their journey during my time there. Very special.
On Wednesday, after rounds, I jumped in my car and ran back to Brisbane (~4.5 hr drive) to view a potential place for Rob and myself once we get back in January. I spent the night in my old flat, and was up and on the road at 3:30 am to make it back in time for Thursday's rounds. Ugh. Not recommended.
I also went to Mon Repos turtle rookery on Saturday night, and watched a gigantic loggerhead turtle lay 155 eggs. Also pretty cool. The pictures are on my facebook page.
This next week will be spent in the emergency department. I'm hoping for some interesting cases, and it would be nice to suture someone up, or start puncturing people (for therapeutic reasons only). I'll let you know!

08 November 2009

Elective Week Two

Everyone with us last Friday was still here on Monday. Plus some new admits. So I am kept hopping. Dr. Crane has gone to Ipswich, and Dr. Chapman can only be on 12 hours per week. This means I look in on all the patients that he cannot get to in his 2 1/2 hours every morning. As such I am learning lots. We always conference on everybody, so it's not like I'm high and dry. Tuesday we went to GinGin and Mount Perry (1 hr and 1 1/2 hours away from Bundaberg, respectively)to do home visits. I went with Dr. Whan, a Palliative Specialist who does outreach from Brisbane, and Carolyn a clinical nurse. I have his contact details, and so will be harassing him next year. He is fine with that, as he informs me there is (of course!) a shortage in Palliative Care specialists.
My 1st year colleagues in Emerg and Paeds unfortunately got to share an experience. There was a highway crash near Childers, leaving a mother dead, and 2 yr old in critical, and 4 yr old less seriously injured. So they are decompressing from that. The helicopter pictures I got were of the chopper leaving for Brisbane with the 2 yr old and his father, who was not in the vehicle at the time. I feel so bad for that poor man right now.... (I am not divulging anything more than was already reported in the local paper, and thus I am not breaching confidentiality, just in case anyone was concerned).
Wednesday afternoon I began to feel very tired. So much so that when I was give two hours off during their admin meeting, I chose to go home and nap, returning to check up on the last of my patients. Thursday morning I was full blown sick. So Thursday and Friday were spent recovering, and staying away from the immunocompromised cancer and palliative patients. It is not advisable to hasten the inevitable, especially by being too boneheaded to know when to stay home!

05 November 2009

Updated website

I've started a update to the website. You can see the new look at  Enjoy.

My life is just continuing on as normal.   I'm now living at our friend Barbra's house.  The place I was at only had a single bed which wouldn't work well when Barb gets here.  BTW, Barb is now less than three weeks away.

It's almost midnight here, so I really should be going to bed.  'Night all folks

02 November 2009

Elective Week One

I have now finished my first week at Bundaberg hospital. I am under Drs. Jenny Crane and John Chapman. We have had what they describe as a heavier than normal week. We've had a few departures, and a lot of getting to know some great people. These Docs also cover the oncology ward, so that has been thrown in serendipitously. I have some experience with my work at the Breast Centre on the diagnosis side of cancer. This is more the management side. Most patients have already seen an oncologist in Brisbane, and are having the treatments in Bundy, as it is closer to their homes. I have been impressed by the staff here, as they are all very generous with their time and willingness to explain things. I also keep a little notebook by my side at all times, and write down unfamiliar things to look up later. So my evenings are spent in AccessMedicine and MDConsult (the Dr.'s versions of Wikipedia). Thankfully the rate of trying to push things into my brain has slowed, and instead I am getting practice actually examining patients and taking histories. It is very gratifying when my observations are taken seriously during team meetings. I might actually end up GOOD at this!!!
Then again, 2 weeks in ED are coming up. Time to prepare to be wrong a lot....
This morning, I woke up at 3:30, which is usually when my bladder pokes me awake. However, I decided to stay up and go watch the sunrise over the ocean. It was beautiful, and I had the beach to myself. I left at 5:45, and headed back into town for the Shalom Market, which runs every Sunday at 6 am- noon. After picking up some fresh bananas and mangoes and just enjoying the energy of it, I drove back to my room and went back to bed. What a great way to spend a morning!