Friday, August 07, 2009

Woop Woop

"Woop Woop" (Australian slang)
Def'n: a collective description for any destination outside your local area (eg. a small town out in the middle of nowhere)

Alright, time to revive this blog with a long-ish post about what's been going down =)

Finally wrapped up my first week of my rural rotation. The days seemed to go by agonizingly slow as we pretty much sat through lectures and pracs from 0800-1700 each day - a painful reminder of what learning was like in the previous two years. Not all of it was bad. I feel a lot more comfortable with my cannulation and suturing technique after a skills workshop. We had a really great lecturer from Cairns come in to talk to us about bush bugs and a do a review of ECGs. We had a local snake expert come in and talk to us about, you guessed it, snakes. He gave us this guide if you get bitten by a snake:

Before you get to the hospital...

1. Do not wipe the wound
- many snakes are non-poisonous and the ones that are often won't inject venom for every single bite (unless you really piss the snake off)
- BUT, just in case, leave the wound as is so you don't facilitate the spread of the venom

2. Mark the bite location with a pen
- Depending on the snake, there may be two inconspicuous puncture markings or there may be a huge bruise the size of an orange (I think he said pythons are known to have very large bite marks because they latch on and chew on you...but the ones here in Australia are non-poisonous).

3. Do not try to catch/kill the snake
- Most bites occur when the snake is startled and feels it has nowhere to run
- With the exception of adders, most snakes will try to run away first. Adders will freeze like a deer in headlights thinking that if it doesn't move we can't see them. They'll only bite you if you aggravate them or corner them so that they have nowhere to go.
- Taipans are super fast and can bite you 4-5 times as they speed past your leg.
- Brown snakes are the leading cause of snake bite deaths in Australia
- Sea snake venom is the most potent but they will rarely attack unless you make them really angry. Apparently you can swim along with them and they will ignore you (but I wouldn't encourage it)
- Having said that, you'd have to get pretty close to identify the snake so probably best to just avoid.

After you get to a hospital...

4. Apply compression and immobilize the bite site
- most bites are about 1 cm deep (shallow envenomation) and venom will move through the lymphatic system. Therefore, compress and limit muscular contraction to limit the lymphatic spread.

5. Investigate with venom detection kits, urinalysis, and bloods (especially INR since the venom often contain pro-coagulation factors)
- I think here in Australia they have venom detection kits for every single type of venomous snake out there.

6. Treatment includes IV anti-venoms
- Because of available anti-venom agents for all the poisonous snakes in Australia, the mortality rate from snake bites is very low for those who are treated promptly.

**For more detail on how to manage snake envenomation, read here.

We also watched an interesting video on a remote Indigenous community in the Northern Territory. Seeing condition of the community made me think about some of the Native American communities in Canada and just how they are often neglected by the government and the rest of the country. Here people were living in 3rd world conditions and had life expectancies of 45 yrs. It just reminded me that you don't have to travel very far to find people in need - they're living right in your city - and you probably don't have to even leave your province or state to find people trying to survive without the basic necessities like clean water/food/shelter. I find I often talk about how it would be nice to travel to Africa on a medical mission but is it necessary to fly around the world? Instead of flying 12 hrs across the globe I could drive 12 hrs and probably find people in an equally unfavorable condition and in need of aid (at a fraction of the cost). I suspect that the same holds true for spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ...

Speaking of the gospel, I was so happy to have the privilege of serving in RICE Brisbane 2009 with heaps of others in an inter-church, non-denominational teen outreach movement. In only it's second year since inception (inspired by a similar movement in Sydney), I was very impressed with the unified efforts of so many who have a passion for serving, a passion for teenagers and most of all a passion for Jesus Christ. The theme was "A Tale of Two Kingdoms" and everyone was challenged to live in a way that reflects God's eternal kingdom right here, right now. During the event, I spent a lot of time backstage with the rest of the music team so I can't wait to watch the video of the entire evening. The games were awesome and I could hear everyone having a great time with them. The skit team did an amazing job, especially with the hand mime to Casting Crown's "Who Am I?" In fact, there were so many people working/meeting behind the scenes for many months prior and also during the evening to make it all possible. They deserve a lot of credit for going through all the planning and overseeing everything. The tech team was unbelievably slick throughout the evening and Eugene Hor delivered a powerful message that I know has helped changed at least 17 lives forever. Soli deo gloria!

I grabbed a few photos of the music team off Facebook (which might be copyright infringement) 'cuz I wasn't able to take any during the evening. If I'm not allowed to do this someone let me know and I'll pull them off.

I probably should have split up this post into multiple smaller posts. Oh well...
We arrived in Ayr at around 1620 on Friday and, with the help of Ping's GPS (thanks Ping!), made it to the hospital without any dramas. We met some of the nursing staff there and they seemed really nice! They showed us to our rooms in the nursing staff quarters right behind the hospital where we will be staying for the next 6 weeks. I'm so glad I'm not traveling alone 'cuz this place is FREAKY. As we were hauling some groceries back in the dark, it was like a scene straight out of a horror flick. Dark, narrow hallways with a few flickering lights (most of them don't work). None of the clocks are working and the whole place smells like nobody has lived here in ages. My room door shuts really tightly (you pretty much have to slam it to get it closed) and is so hard to pull open that a few times I've started to panic thinking I was trapped in my room (I should NOT have watched "Room 1408"). There were birds outside making strange, crying noises throughout the night. There's also some random old nurse named Philip living in one of the rooms next to us who we met last night. It was after 11pm and we were getting ready to sleep. We were standing in the dark hallway outside our rooms talking about what we should do the following day when we saw this guy emerge from the stairs at the end of the hall and start walking to us. I probably would have crapped myself if I was alone. I locked my door overnight and considered leaving my lights on. I'm going to have to fluid restrict myself after 8pm 'cuz there's no way I'm waking up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom.

Luckily, I'm not in room 13 (Albert is). The well-lit room interior is actually not too bad. It was nice to finally unpack my stuff from my suitcase. I have a lot of ironing to do this weekend >_<

More stories from the crypts of the Ayr nursing quarters to follow...

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

haha.. i randomly saw albert on gmail and he told me about it yesterday. be safe! mann it does look a bit sketch.. hope the creepy guy turns out to be nice.. hehe please update on ur adventures..
btw i'd read about that snake treatment thing there before.. at least i don't have to worry about it while i'm here in canada! =p

8:28 PM  

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