Monday, February 19, 2007

A trip to the doctor

The past week has been a bit of a bumpy one. Rachel had a couple of days in bed with a sick tummy, vomiting and diarrhea. By the weekend she was doing better, but on Sunday night the poor kid was sick again and we decided that we needed to go see a doctor.

Sandy took Monday off work and drove us the 40kms out to the Nazarene Hospital (a mission hospital) in a town called Kudjip. Here we experience our first PNG style doctor visit.
There are no appointments, so we rocked up on time for the clinic to open at 8.30am. Our hearts dropped as we drove into the hospital compound and saw around 100 people queued waiting to get in.

Sandy waited in the car with the children while I went and joined the queue, silently praising myself for thinking ahead and bringing a book to read. I was just getting into my read when the man behind me tapped me on the shoulder, and pointed to a guard who was trying to call me to the front of the line. In our short time in PNG, we have found that our white skins often get us bumped to the front of queues ... whether we want it or not. I shoved my book back in my bag, and with a red face and apologetic nods to those around, I walked quickly up to the front of the line.

Witnessing my hasty advancement through the line, Sandy walks Rachel from the car to sit with me. It wasn’t long before we were ushered into a large room, already full of people and nurses coming and going. We were lead to a small desk and sat with a kind man who took all Rachel's details and asked about her condition. He explained that it is his job to evaluates if people are sick enough to see the doctor. After a few minutes of discussion, he points us to a row of church pews at the other side of the room, and we are told we can wait there to see the doctor.

Here we sit and wait, and wait and wait. It was an interesting time, watching the people come and go. The emergency room was just across from us, and while we were waiting a man was brought in by a big group of his ‘wantoks’ (neighbors). The man had been in a fight, and had had a spear thrown into his back. His wantok were pretty riled up, and we watched one man giving a rather vivid reenactment of the event. The nurses certainly had their hands full! Rachel and I also spent a good 15 minutes watching a beautiful little humming bird try and find his way out of the waiting area, and we spotted at least four rather large cockroaches on the walls. But i think my favorite was watching one of the nurses sitting at her station, picking her toe nails clean with a paperclip. Lovely. The room was full of mothers with babies (there for check ups and to have their babes weighed), lots of elderly people, and others who just looked very unwell. The place was chock-o-block. Rachel was doing okay, but as the day progressed and the room got hotter, the bad smells increased, her poor little sick tummy couldn’t cope.

Thankfully, just as she started to heave, we got called in to see one of the American missionary doctor. Dr Bill was very kind, thorough and helpful. He sent Rachel off to pathology for a few tests and about a hour later, we had her results and were off to get the drugs she needed from the pharmacist. Seems that she has picked ups some sort of nasty amoeba. Fortunately, it is easily treated, and Rachel should be good as new in a few days time.

So, as you can see, we have to be fairly motivated (or just really really sick) to go to the doctor here. All up it took us 6 hours - rather a quick trip thanks to all the queue jumping that went on. Please pray that Rachel will feel better quick, and that the drugs will do their work well. (We took this picture on the drive home.)

Sandy flew out today to another of the MAF PNG bases in a town on the north coast called Wewak, where he will spend the next two weeks training in the area. This training will allow him to flying in to a much wider area from Mt Hagen and once it is completed, Sandy will have flown into more than 100 airstrips in PNG. Please pray for protection for us all as we are apart during this time, and especially for Sandy as he works hard to complete his training.


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