Monday, May 31, 2010

Rock vs Stick

I had a throughly awesome weekend with Deanne, who flew up from Melbourne for a holiday.

We started off at the pub on Friday night, discussing an important teaching of the Alice Springs ED: all assault weapons are either rocks or sticks. A stick is an object that the perpetrator holds onto whilst hitting their victim, whilst a rock is any projectile weapon. A tin of food and a TV are both rocks. A nulla-nulla is a stick, but so is a cooking pot. A children's tricycle could be either a rock or a stick. This expedites clinical handover; '28 year old man hit to the head with a stick;' and speaks volumes of the ridiculous amount of violence in this town.

Saturday morning we went to the Steiner School Fair. I admit to being fairly cynical about Steiner schools, particularly as there is apparently an outbreak of whooping cough at the Alice Springs Steiner school at the moment. (Insert disparaging comment about hippy parents and vaccine-preventable illnesses). But by the time I had eaten a delicious pancake for breakfast, bought some outdoor plants, a jar of homemade chutney and a gingerbread man, all in the idyllic school grounds at the foothills of the East MacDonnell ranges, they had nearly converted me to their Steiner ways!

Then we picked up our hire car- a RAV4 so that we could take the Mereenie Loop to King's Canyon, and do some 4WD side trips on the way. As it happened, our car was brand-spanking-new: 23km on the odometer. Oh, what fun we had flogging it around the Mereenie Loop in our shiny white car! On the way we saw a caravan of camels, a drove of donkeys and a mob of brumbies.

The King's Canyon rim walk is probably the best short bushwalk I've ever done. We also visited Rainbow Valley, where I ran around maniacally on the claypan in front of the spectacular colourful cliffs. We made it part of the way to Palm Valley, but nearly got bogged in sand (a RAV4 isn't a real 4WD, after all!) and had to turn back.

Happy days.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Outback Wedding

This weekend was the festival of Miriam and Marcel's wedding. The Outback Wedding, and my first ever Jewish wedding.

We were super-excited about attending our first Jewish wedding. Jason carefully packed a bobby pin for attaching his yarmulke, and then was quite proud when it stayed on of its own accord. We practised our three Yiddish expressions; schvitzing, schlepping and alter kocker; and carefully read the 'Guide to a Jewish Wedding' enclosed in our invitation. I even befriended a teacher of Jewish studies who told me about klezmer music and the hora. So exciting!!

We gathered at the entrance to Alice Springs' botanic gardens, and were lead into the desert garden by two traditional owners and a klezmer band. Several people (including my Jason!!) carried colourful flags in the procession. It rained during the procession, but during the ceremony the sunlight snuck in right under the huppah. Miriam's little nieces sat around the huppah clutching their banksia bouquets, occasionally running back to their parents in the front row. The ceremony was performed by rabbi Gersh, with English translations of the sung Hebrew. His blessings were punctuated by bursts of Miriam's overjoyed laughter. Marcel stomped on the glass and we shouted 'Mazel tov!'

I was astounded by the overwhelming joy of the Zimmet family in particular. Seeing Marcel's father Paul on Friday night, I remember thinking ,'He looks like the proudest man in the world!'. Then Sunday saw Hendrik holding a post of the huppah, wearing an impossibly wide smile. And finally the groom Marcel, confirmed for me the extraordinary capacity of Zimmet men for unabashed happiness.

Other highlights were hearing Miriam's father, a high court judge, admit to making Ferris Bueller jokes in court (AWESOME!), the trays of mini-desserts (mini desserts mean you can eat seven, right?) and dancing under the outback stars.

Nice job, Miriam and Marcel. Mazel tov!!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

tummy bugs

I was struck down by a tummy bug at approximately 5:30pm yesterday. I feel this is the best way to describe it- 'hit me like a ton of bricks', 'struck down' or 'knocked out'- a sudden outbreak of WAR IN MY TUMMY!!

I am now convalescing with Sarah Waters' 'The Little Stranger'. Things could definitely be worse.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Outback Doctors

I saw an ad for the ABC documentary series 'Outback Doctors' and immediately thought, "I should be on that show! I'm an outback doctor!"

And I am Outback Doctor now, of sorts. I've worked in Alice Springs for nearly 4 months. I know about nulla-nullas and redback bites. I'm no longer surprised by the pus or the maggots, or the patient who sprints off half way through the consultation to retrieve his swag from the Todd riverbed before someone nicks it. Actually, I understand this one now: a good swag costs about $300.

Of course, the real outback doctors consider Alice Springs to be the 'big smoke' so I guess I've got a way to go before I'm a documentary star.

My friend Marcel is a paeds registrar working in community paediatrics. He likes to make fun of the short-term mindset of the ED doctor: after all, he works in preventative medicine. When he visited the ED the other day I gleefully said, "Slow day for preventative medicine Marcel? You didn't prevent any of this!" - with a sweeping gesture around the busy ED.

I often think that I am too jolly, not serious enough, during my work in the ED.

Yesterday I picked up a patient and the nurse in charge asked me to pick up her sister- the next patient- at the same time. I got cross and refused: to my mind there is nothing worse than seeing two or three patients at once. This invariably happens when a whole family has gastro, and the history proceeds, "Well, Johnny started vomiting last Tuesday, after we had some fish fingers that I'd bought from Coles because I couldn't find a park in Woolies. Their parking is terrible, you know. And Kate had a spew that afternoon too, I think. Or was that me??" And it just becomes impossible to know, or even care, which of the three little patients might be getting dehydrated.

Anyway, these particular patients were adults, who could surely manage on their own. So I went out to the waiting room well pleased with my decision not to admit the patient's sister to the ED yet, only to discover that the sister is completely blind. I looked so mean and foolish that I laughed and laughed with the the nurse in charge.

I finished Coetzee's 'Summertime' today, a beautifully self-deprecating autobiography. "But what if we are all fictioneers, as you call Coetzee? What if we all continually make up the stories of our lives? Why should what I tell you about Coetzee be any worthier of credence than what he tells you himself?"