Yen’s Blog | Month 6 | December 2018
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.
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 across our faces.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone. Many thanks for all your support and have a good one!