Dr Yen Lim

Diabetic Man on Patrol with ADI
DoctorDr Li Yen Lim
LocationKavieng New Ireland Province, New Ireland
DateJuly 2018 - December 2018
Read MoreYen's Blog

Dr Yen Lim is currently on patrol with ADI in New Ireland in PNG. She originally moved from Malaysia to the UK to study medicine. She relocated to Blacktown (Sydney) in 2013 where she currently works as a GP, when not on patrol in PNG with ADI.

“Moving to Sydney was a steep learning curve initially but managing patients with chronic disease in my area of social deprivation in Blacktown was not dissimilar to the work I had been doing in the UK. I get great satisfaction from dealing with patients from a wide variety of backgrounds and ethnicities with a particular clinical focus on women’s health, antenatal care and paediatrics.

“So far, my work on patrol in PNG has been, by and large, the same as my time as GP in both Sydney and the UK – diabetes is an upcoming problem and muscle aches and pains from overwork a common presentation. The difference is I am also seeing cases of malaria, TB and tropical skin infections. The local health officers we work alongside will support you really well if you ask nicely (and smile a lot). The potential for learning from them is huge if you have the right attitude, and this goes both ways.

“Managing resources available to you, on the other hand, is a different beast. On one patrol, I saw an older diabetic gentleman who had run out of his diabetic tablets over a week ago. He was at risk of being severely unwell and was feeling awful. The health centre had no diabetic tablets and could only support him with IV fluids. The logistical discussion on transferring him to Kavieng hospital then ensued. Ironically, as I was looking through the outpatient tray of tablets while this discussion was taking place, I found a bottle of Dianil 5mg for diabetes. Further training is needed here to help local health officers manage resources for the future. I suspect that with life being so tough in PNG, living for today is the cultural norm.”

Dr Yen Lim is currently on patrol with ADI in New Ireland, PNG. She originally moved from Malaysia to the UK to study medicine. She relocated to Blacktown (Sydney) in 2013 where she currently works as a GP, when not on patrol in PNG with ADI.

“Moving to Sydney was a steep learning curve initially but managing patients with chronic disease in my area of social deprivation in Blacktown was not dissimilar to the work I had been doing in the UK. I get great satisfaction from dealing with patients from a wide variety of backgrounds and ethnicities with a particular clinical focus on women’s health, antenatal care and paediatrics.

“So far, my work on patrol in PNG has been, by and large, the same as my time as GP in both Sydney and the UK – diabetes is an upcoming problem and muscle aches and pains from overwork a common presentation. The difference is I am also seeing cases of malaria, TB and tropical skin infections. The local health officers we work alongside will support you really well if you ask nicely (and smile a lot). The potential for learning from them is huge if you have the right attitude, and this goes both ways.

“Managing resources available to you, on the other hand, is a different beast. On one patrol, I saw an older diabetic gentleman who had run out of his diabetic tablets over a week ago. He was at risk of being severely unwell and was feeling awful. The health centre had no diabetic tablets and could only support him with IV fluids. The logistical discussion on transferring him to Kavieng hospital then ensued. Ironically, as I was looking through the outpatient tray of tablets while this discussion was taking place, I found a bottle of Dianil 5mg for diabetes. Further training is needed here to help local health officers manage resources for the future. I suspect that with life being so tough in PNG, living for today is the cultural norm.”

Yen’s Blog | Month 6 (final month) | December 2018

Pic 1: Little Maggie at Maragon health centre, tired after balling her eyes out when we were treating her
Pic 2: Little Maggie at Kavieng hospital on traction, with her best smile for the world to see

 

Little Maggie, the selectively smiling superstar

On our last patrol to Simberi islands, we came across a 4 year old with a femoral fracture. Yes that’s a break in the thigh bone. Broken bones are pretty painful and I can testify to that with my recently snapped collarbone (a non-weight bearing bone, probably a tenth of the size of the thigh bone). And the team stumbled upon her by accident really. One of our nurses was doing TB screening for Maggie’s neighbour in the village when he was asked to review a kid with a sore leg who fell from a tree a couple of days ago. So Maggie wasn’t really smiling when we saw her sitting on her mum’s lap in the village grounds, nor when we transported her to the nearest health centre 10 minutes away, or when we popped a cast on her leg there. And she definitely was not smiling when we cannulated her.

Then she met Thomas Garrett, the Simberi mining paramedic and clinic supervisor. I salute his determination to make the world a tad of a better place than when we found it. Maggie unfortunately did not see it that way and cried, no she wailed, on cue every time she saw him. He promptly transferred her from the village health centre to the mining clinic where her pain was better managed overnight.

The next day, he diligently organised for her to be transported to Kavieng hospital for ongoing management of her fracture. I explained to mum when I caught up with her in Kavieng hospital that leg shortening from childhood fractures is a frequent cause of disability in adulthood in PNG. I have too commonly seen uneven wobbly walks in older kids unable to participate in sport due to previously untreated fractures. We all sincerely hope that little Maggie has many more smiles and running days in her after her month in traction. And yes she did plenty of smiles for me when I visited her in Kavieng hospital, because Thomas wasn’t there.

Pic 3: Last village doctoring session with a lovely lady who smiled heaps before and after the pic was taken, but not during as she wanted to look like a serious patient

Doc Yen signing off

So my time in PNG has come to an end. I do hope that some of you have enjoyed reading my wee therapeutic waffling session here. And maybe if I’m lucky, one of you may be motivated to visit this extraordinary land called PNG – where the sun rises like its people and babies born – ready; where the rain pours and stretches the rainbows unendingly across the horizon – like its people’s characteristic patience; where the clouds move without time, rhyme or reason – yes like it’s people. I have learnt a whole lot about life and living from the people of PNG and the world they live in. Enjoying the in between moments and realising the treasures they hold is something I hope will stay with me for the rest of my short life on earth. I sincerely hope PNG’s essence does not change too much or too quickly, because change is inevitable and we are all just passing through. One can only hope that those who do pass through do so responsibly and with a smile