Sunday, November 28, 2010

We Need Medical Assistance!

We are 40km from the nearest hospital. I should add that THAT hospital doesn't have the facilities to support child birth or pretty much anything that requires an x-ray either. However, they ARE very good at triage (well, not bad anyway) and diagnosing the flu, calling the Flying Doctors or offering a pregnancy test, and that's about it. The nurses are all lovely of course, and it's a fantastic social occasion when you get there, but it's not my hospital of choice. The next closest hospital is 100km away.

This would all be well and good, except that Olivia is accident prone.

When she was 11 months old, she fell onto the sharp edge of a can holding nails (we had building extensions going on at the time) and split her bottom lip 7mm (gaping). I know that it was 7mm gaping, because I later learned that Doctors don't like to stitch a lip that is less than 1cm gaping. It was a close call. Bottom line is that when it happened, she was like The Exorcist. Without the turning head. Blood was going everywhere. I put a washcloth onto it, carried an ice pack with me and we flew into the car and raced her into the hospital. There were tears; hysterical crying fits and squeals of pain - and that was just from me! Olivia was considerably calm. I kept seeing the fall over and over in my head. And even to this day, it makes my skin crawl. Ultimately (after calls to plastic surgeons and consultations with other nursing staff) it was decided that Olivia really only needed a hit of Panadol and a rest. I however, might need something a little stronger. We were told the lip should heal quickly enough and that all we could do was wait. Over 4 years later, her lip still has a vicious scar, but it is fading, and it doesn't seem to bother her.

Several months later, Olivia was jumping on a bed. She's not allowed to jump on beds, but she got up on that thing so quickly, took one flying jump (probably knowing she would get into trouble for doing so anyway) and then slipped down beside the bed (head first), splitting it about 2cm across at the back of her head. At least she wasn't concussed. So off we went to the hospital again. (Insert Benny Hill theme music here). This time they glued it back together. The wound healed quickly enough (and now Olivia and her father have matching his/hers scars at the back of their heads), but the glue took a long time to get out of her hair!!!

Then this time last year we were getting ready to drive into St George to collect Yv and her sister from the bus. I'd left plenty of time spare before her bus arrived, hoping to get some grocery shopping in first. 5 minutes before we were due to leave, Olivia split her head open (just above her eyebrow) whilst spinning like a top in her bedroom. Apparently the dressing table got in the way of her head. Off we flew to that little hospital again...
"Hi Jess, we've saved Olivia's room for her..."
OKAY, so we're not that bad. Yet.
Luckily they could fix this one with some magic glue as well.
Nurse: We could probably glue this you know... or maybe we should stitch it? Hmmmm....
Me: Um. I don't mean to interrupt, but we've got a bus to meet soon. Could we just do SOMETHING. QUICKLY?! I mean, QUICKLY, but not TOO QUICKLY. Do a good job too - that's more important I guess. But just do it sort of quickly. Thanks. If you don't mind.

And then we drove to pick up our guests. This is the Olivia they saw...

Except that she wasn't wearing that. Or dancing like that. But the bandage is what I'm all about...

And then a week later it was like this...

And then when she started school it was like this... Just the smallest little scar left under her hair. Phew.

Thank goodness scars heal. They make me feel bad, when I look at them.

I've had my fair share of stints in the local hospital too. Mostly when I was pregnant and had morning (all day) sickness, and was hooked up to a drip keeping my fluids at a healthy level. And let's not forget CP's time there as well. So this little country hospital has certainly served it's purpose for our little family!

When I was pregnant with Sam, we weren't even sure we would make it to either of the hospitals close to us, in event of me going into labour. But it was nice to know they were SOMEWHERE close by - just in case.

Because of the distance, I have become a devoted '13HEALTH' caller.
"Hi, it's just me again... yeah I know it's probably nothing, but I hate the thought of doing an 80km round trip for Panadol..." And it's nice having a second opinion. I wasn't joking when I mentioned the pregnancy testing earlier in this piece. One Doctor would pretty much give anyone a pregnancy test... just to rule it out.

"Hi Doc, I'm not feeling very well."
"Can you just pee on this stick for me?"

And that's all well and good if it's, say, ME. But not if it's my hubby...

That may be an exaggeration. He's never given CP a pregnancy test. I think.

Where is that Benny Hill Theme Song again?

I have had several friends who live out here who have had children who have had to be rushed to the nearest hospital (either by them or by an ambulance), only to then have to be flown out to Brisbane or Toowoomba for further treatment. Terrible - but lucky we even have the facilities for Flying Doctors to land really. But most of us (who live on properties) have air strips for this as well. Sometimes it's just much quicker to call the hospital and have them send Flying Doctors out immediately, while ambulance drive out to look after things on the ground. We have an airstrip. To my knowledge it's never been used... but it's there, just in case. And it's not a fancy concrete thing either. I hope that if someone ever does have to land there, they have practised long and hard before then. That goat track is peppered with pine trees and large stones. They'll earn their stripes landing out here, that's for sure. But touch wood, they will never be needed anyway.

When I see this all spelled out here on this page, it's hard not to cringe. It can be scary living so far from the nearest hospital. Touch wood we never have to deal with a snake bite. Or a major accident. Cuts and bruises and fevers I can deal with. The rest is just too scary. But if all that fails, there's always The Benny Hill Theme Song. Everything seems funnier when you put the Benny Hill Theme Song to it.

And if I didn't laugh, I would probably cry.


  1. it certainly makes me realise how it must have been for those settlers so many generations ago...when even the small country hospital wasn't around.....and for anyone who has had serious accidents 'out there' or had to send kids off to larger hospitals miles from family.....
    it also says so much about how little we appreciate what farming families do for every one of us...every single day...and how little support they have on these basic levels....
    and it speaks of the incredible resilience of those of you who live way out west .... an inspiration ... well done !

  2. I actually know of properties who have certified top notch first aid kits. And not like the kind I keep at home either. These ones are kits that one person is certified to open in the horrible case of an emergency. These kits are designed to keep people alive until medical help arrives. So I am by all means blessed by where I live in comparison. Just makes you think about how other people can live...


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