The Scribbling Nurse

And that was that! (for now)

It’s done. Or in the fine vocabulary of Vicky Pollard “I DUN IIIIIT!”. 326171

I have finished my Bachelor of Nursing degree and now waiting for my registration with AHPRA (the governing body all health clinicians need to be registered with in order to practice [legally]).

It was a bittersweet ending to my time in Hermannsburg. As is usual with student placements, you just get to know the staff better and feel like you’re fitting in just a little bit more then *woosh!* you’re leaving. You say heartfelt goodbyes to staff you came to admire and enjoy being around, but they will soon have another student to fill your place and the merry-go-round starts up again; same moves, same motions, same things to sign-off.

The Hermannsburg Ntaria clinic staff, like the Tennant Creek, Ali Curung and Canteen Creek staff, are all a really wonderful group of people who I would love to work with in the future so maybe this student might return one day!

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Most of the Ntaria Health Clinic staff!

There were a couple of people in Hermannsburg who I spent time with who I will miss and look forward to seeing again when Tim and I return to the NT.

Ems is a strong and determined new student, who was a pleasure to sit with and rehash knowledge even I had forgotten. She reignited in me the excitement of new beginnings and a sense of self; ‘Why am I doing this’? Ems knew, she’s known for a long time why she is doing this. And being around her, listening to her story and sharing mine, I remembered why I was doing this as well. Thank you Ems.

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Ems, Fran and moi!

And Lulu. Lulu is a magical dog because for some reason I have this crick in my neck and every time I move it, I hear a voice say “Lulu HAS to be in your blog! I’m not writing it down because I just said it. Lulu HAS to be in your blog!”. I’ve never been afraid of a midwife before but I have heard urban legends so Lulu, a rescued pound dog who has white fur that gets stuck in your clothes and is way older than she looks, has now been mentioned in my blog. And I get to keep my womb and any other bits midwives deal with. Lulu’s Mother is a midwife and she isn’t afraid to travel in her new little car.

This week has been a countdown to the day I finish. I was on-call with two RAN’s (Remote Area Nurse, in case you forgot) on Anzac Day and attended a few call-outs with them. I still love remote area nursing and working/living in Aboriginal communities.

Wednesday night, I went to a BBQ down at Fink River with Fran, Lulu’s Mum. There we joined a group of people and sat under the stars, chatted and enjoyed watching the little kids run around. The serenity was, in my opinion, better than Bonnie Doon (sorry Darryl). Everywhere I go, I make a mental note to come back with Tim and Izzy and spend more time there, get to know more people and learn more about ourselves, even if it is sitting quietly and being in our third space.

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Picnic on the Fink River bed

Thursday, we had a lunch together at the clinic and one of the visiting clinicians had made a lime cheesecake to say goodbye to a RAN called Marcia and a congrats to me for finishing. So lovely and appreciated.

This morning (Friday) was my very very last day as an RN student. I went over to the museum to have a look around at the history of Hermannsburg. I took some happy snappys and had a cool drink at the tearoom. Hermannsburg is beautiful little community with lots of places to visit. I’m keen to go back and see Jesus’ footprint near Fink River and just spend more time enjoying the area without rushing.

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Everything seemed slightly surreal as I wandered around waiting for my ride coming into from Alice Springs to take me back. Unfortunately, the driver of the car who picked me up was the most rude, obnoxious piece of work I’d encountered in a long time. I don’t usually draw attention to negative experiences however I am managing to find the funny side in the situation. I’m very assertive and choose when to enter into swapping words, but because I didn’t feel like being left on the side of a desert road with no phone reception and a warm can of Coke Zero, I ignored her comments!

After 8 weeks, moving 9 times and working in 6 different facilities, I have met and worked with some of the most genuine, hardworking, loving people I have ever met. I feel so blessed to have had this experience in the Northern Territory and can’t wait to call it my home, again, but for longer.

I just went and watched ‘Gurrumul’ at the cinema. It is about Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu, a blind Aboriginal man from Elcho Island who is a musical and singing prodigy. He has a haunting and powerful voice that can take you to different parts of the universe. I’d highly recommend seeing this documentary.

I had the entire cinema to myself and as it was playing on my mind, I thought I’d quickly check to see if my last two units had been marked. I squinted at my phone and saw I had passed my last two units meaning I now had my degree. I turned my phone off again and sat in the darkness, tears of joy rolling down my cheeks as the rich soulful euphony of Gurrumul’s music swirled around the theatre and caressed my heart. ‘I did it’ I thought proudly, ‘I did it’.

– Rachel

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Photos courtesy of Fran!

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To be human.

I feel compelled to write this. For everyone, especially other students.

I was chatting to a brand new nursing student today who is at the very start of her journey. She is still navigating around the learnline website (online university ‘blackboard’ with all the resources, assessments, grades etc), flicking through great big text books and trying to memorise everything she reads – bless her heart. She said feels overwhelmed. She stopped and looked at me; quietly, just watching to see if my expression changed… hoping to hear some reassurance that it was okay to feel overwhelmed. That things get better – get easier.

What did I say to her? Well, right now I am sitting in Hermannsburg with tears streaming down my face. I’m exhausted. Overwhelmed. I’m days away from finishing so I should be feeling on top of the world, yeah?!

I told the student that it is perfectly normal to have melt-downs. Cry, scream, throw something, yet keep going. Have a break then finish that essay. Go each day to clinical placement even though every inch of your being just wants to stay in bed. Write that damn objective, reflect on that reflection and post a discussion on the discussion board. Tick all the boxes because each day will pass and you’ll be closer to your goal. Minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day … you get the drill.

We push through study and clinical placements as well as our normal lives whether it be looking after children and households, working, friendships, marriages / partnerships, family, hobbies, aspirations, health and self-image. Things can crack and make you feel like shit. It’s cool, you’re not the only one.

I’ve texted a good friend of mine with so many swear words and angry emoji’s that she has sent back a full text page of self-help advice and loving words.

Keep going. Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, just keep going because it will get better. And when you get there, it’ll be all the more sweeter.

Take care.

– Rachel 🙂

“She was never quite ready but she was brave, and the universe listens to brave”

 

 

 

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Hermannsburg & Uluru (and everything in the middle)

NB. All photographs of Uluru and Kata Tjuta were taken at sites where photographs are allowed. No photos were taken where it was forbidden. Cultural acknowledgment and respect was shown throughout the tour. 

I just walked to Piggly’s Supermarket and got some milk. I can’t remember ever walking to the local shop to buy milk. So that’s something exciting.

I’m sitting in a cool (both temperature and aesthetic) house in a suburb called The Gap in Alice Springs. Walking out the front door, the McDonnell range peers down at you, keeping you safe from anything coming up from the south, like South Australians or…stuff. I’ve been here two nights, getting in from Hermannsburg on Friday morning, hitching a ride from a lovely midwife called Fran and her pound puppy Lulu. I haven’t checked the DSM 5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders #5) but I do believe I may be slightly addicted to dogs. I miss my dog Izzy terribly and experience withdrawal symptoms including the need to talk out loud to her in her special dog voice (when no-one’s around; I may be mad but I have insight) to pretending she’s on the bed with me and using a pillow to hug as if it’s her. However, once I get to have a cuddle and pat of another dog, my longing for Izzy is placated for a while and I can function. So I patted Lulu and that was nice.

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Isabel Elizabeth aka Izzy Lizzy

HERMANNSBURG

Last week I spent in Hermannsburg, an Aboriginal community just over 120km west of Alice Springs. Ntaria health clinic is fairly new and has a team of health professionals including a doctor, Aboriginal health practitioners and nurses plus a receptionist and driver all of whom are friendly and welcoming. The clinic is  located near another facility called West Aranda Health Aboriginal Corporation (WAHAC) so the staff of both support each other to provide a holistic service. It also has lots of visiting specialities like the mental health team I eagerly waited for on Thursday! (I work in MH and aim to do my Masters degree in it so any other MH clinician is a friend I just haven’t met yet.)

Last week was quiet in the clinic which allowed time for me to have a chat with the nurses and Aboriginal health practitioners, research some information online and complete some online study. It was lovely to spend time with different staff members and find out more about their role, where they are from and what they like about living and working in Hermannsburg. As usual, this clinic, like others, has both permanent and locum staff yet all the staff seem to enjoy getting together either for walks, BBQ’s or exploring the region. On Wednesday, we helped send off some school kids who were riding horses to Alice Springs arriving in time for Anzac Day.

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Seeing off the kids riding to Alice Springs in time for Anzac Day.

 

ULURU

Last night I got off the coach bus from a very long day exploring Uluru and Kata Tjuta with Emu Run Tours. We started at 6am picking up people from various motels, hotels and caravan parks then trekked to Erldunda roadhouse and wildlife park for a hot breakfast. I chatted to a couple who caught The Ghan up from Adelaide. Next we picked up more ‘explorers and adventurers’ (the tour guides refused to call us tourists because tourists are ‘people who drive badly and we aren’t driving, we’re on a bus’) from Uluru resort and went on to Kata Tjuta where we were given a strict time limit of 35 minutes to race to the gorge, take pictures then race back. The gorge was beautiful and it would have been magical to sit and meditate in the shade overlooking the green foliage being protected lovingly by a mountain of red striped rock on either side.

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I had the impression from tourist photos that you could only get within a few kilometres of Uluru so I was pleasantly surprised when we got to walk around the base of the rock, seeing the caves and waterholes and touching with my own hand the cool hardness of a significantly sacred area for the Aboriginal people. Next time I come back with Tim, we will be able to spend more time absorbing the powerful environment and appreciating one of Australia’s most famous landmarks.

We had a BBQ dinner at a ‘sunset photo’ spot which our group had to ourselves for all of ten minutes before processionary caterpillars in the shape of tour buses synchronised their parking and hoards of visitors, just like us, flopped off each bus and clicked selfies, spousies, friendies and more selfies this time sipping champagne (guilty!).

Sleeping on a bus sucks so getting home, showering and sliding into a clean bed was AH-MAZING. Great tour, long day, tired student.

OTHER STUFF

So I got my nose pierced as well. It was the first thing I did when I got into Alice Springs from my beautiful Tennant Creek (how I miss thee!). I’ve had over 13 body piercings and 7 tattoos in my time but this nose piercing hurt the most. So much that I yelled out a profanity while the poor apprentice was trying to squeeze the stud into the hole she had just made. Fortunately tattoo parlours aren’t notorious for policing language so I didn’t have to pay more and/or leave with 3 holes in my schnoz and no stud.

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It’s not a huge zit. This time.

Five days left of this nursing degree and I’m finished. FINISHED! Wooohooo! But to be honest? I’m shitting myself. What if something happens in the next five days and I can’t get signed off? What if I fall over and can’t go to prac for a week? (I associate falling over with bad injuries for some reason. Other than extreme sports or 4 wheel motorbike riding.) What if the Ntaria health staff think I’m an idiot and give me a crap final assessment? Sounds all silly but the end is near… and so far! I will be very relieved and happy when I am holding in my hot, sweaty hand the 160 hours attendance record, decent final assessment and the last two completed objectives – all ready to scan and send to Charles Darwin University. THEN I will be okay… except then I’ll be worried that CDU will find fault with something. Okay, anxiety get behind me.

Am looking well and truly forward to going home and seeing Tim, Izzy and the ocean. I am looking forward to seeing my cat Leila as well but Tim told me she said she doesn’t care if I come back but to just send money for food. And not biscuit food, WET FOOD. And not just WET FOOD, Whiska’s Casserole wet food. And NOT only when it’s on special.

I am going to apply for a nursing graduate program at Alice Springs Hospital, applications open in May 2018. I have referees lined up (and really good ones too!) so I really hope I will get a place. I’d love to spend some time in the ED in Alice Springs and Tennant Creek hospitals then go on to do a Transition to Remote program. Finger’s crossed!

Hope you’re all keeping well! Thanks for reading my blog 🙂

Oh and check out: http://blog.feedspot.com/australia_blogs

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– Rachel

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Bye Molly. Bye Tony. Bye Honkey. Bye Canteen Creek.

Hello from my comforting friend Tennant Creek. It’s so lovely to be back here after my adventure in Canteen Creek.

Where to start? I know, the itchy bites on my legs are driving me crazy. I don’t know if it’s the flies or the mozzies but I can’t wait for them to disappear! Okay, got that out the way.

Canteen Creek was an experience and a massive culture shock for me. As I discussed in my last blog, I have changed. I have learnt so much in the two and a half weeks I was in Canteen Creek working alongside two highly experienced and great fun Remote Area Nurses (RAN’s). I have learnt to treat a person and look past their choices both to themselves and their loved ones. Be beneficent. It is human nature to judge and compare people’s life choices with your own. Compare the way they were raised and the skills they were taught against your own life skills and family culture.

But I, as a nurse, am trained and hold dear the belief of serving the community. I am trained to educate people and support them in the health and wellness. And I enjoyed doing just that in Canteen Creek.

As well as working alongside Cassie and Sini in the clinic, one of the highlights was providing influenza vaccinations to people in the community straight out of the ambulance on the sides of the roads and even at the front of the local store! We filled an esky with pre-filled fluvax syringes, swabs, sharps container, gloves, teeny bandaids and an anaphylactic kit and trawled the streets jabbing everyone who came within arm’s length of Sini and I (with their permission of course!!).

At one point, we had a group of women sitting with us outside the store who identified people coming past who hadn’t had their flu jab. When each person had their jab, we’d all chorus loudly “Woohoo! Next!”

Cassie gave me as many opportunities to practice skills and knowledge as possible, always with practical “have a look at this and tell me what you see”. Following that was an explanation about what the condition was, how it came about and how it can be treated. I also got to have a go at certain tasks (within my scope of practice as a student RN) like centrifuging blood tests (putting them in the whizzing machine), performing heaps of intramuscular injections, using the online computer data entry system and generally being a member of the health care team. Sini was very patient with me, often in her side of the clinic, fumbling about and asking questions I really should have known the answer to… “Do you draw back on every IM?”

I loved sitting in the staff-room listening to Cassie and Sini talk about their nursing experiences. Cassie with her sharp wit and acute observations (with a ‘she says what we all think’ technique) and Sini’s laid -back, tongue-in-cheek recounts of life in a busy ED and remote clinics. Laughter was welcomed in this place.

One evening I was pouring myself some iced-tea and thought to myself “gee this stuff looks like urine”. Then an idea for a prank came over me. I snuck a urine specimen container home and filled it halfway with the iced tea marking the container with the word ‘trick’ (to ensure I wouldn’t confuse it with a real urine specimen! – unless a patient’s name was Trick, then that would serve me right). I smuggled it into the clinic in my pocket and waited for an opportune time. Then it came. Cassie had just seen a patient who had provided a urine specimen. Cassie left it on the bench asking me to ‘test for leucs’ (dipstick testing for leucocytes amongst other things) then she turned back to her computer. I pulled the fake urine from my pocket, opened the lid and walked up to Cassie saying “This wee looks a bit weird…”. Cassie turned and looked just as I sniffed it and took a sip! Cassie’s face lost all colour and her expression went from disbelief to horror to disgust in the matter of seconds! Her hands reached out trying to pull my arm away from my mouth while she spurted out all the possible diseases I could catch by drinking someone else urine! It was amazing that even in such a bizarre and revolting few seconds, she was still able to list communicable diseases spread via urine! I stopped and through my laughter told her it was iced tea, I had brought it from home to prank her. Relief washed over her face and today, after recovering, she said the prank was ‘hilarious’ – phew!

The clinic was often busy but I never felt useless or out of my depth. Cassie was acutely aware of what I could and couldn’t do but also taught me so my knowledge would expand during my placement. This might sound like an obvious thing to happen but as other nurses and nursing students would know, some clinical placements are as boring as batshit because you don’t learn anything or everything is outside your scope so you can’t do much anyway. Or the worst, there is nothing new to learn.

I was invited to stay on at Canteen Creek for the remainder of my time in the NT however, after discussion with the Centre for Remote Health placement coordinator Jessie, it was decided I should experience as much as I can in the NT so will go on to Ntaria clinic in another Aboriginal community called Hermannsburg about an hour outside Alice Springs. I am looking forward to that and my day trip to Uluru.

After my first night at Canteen Creek, I was moved to another house which was really lovely with brand new recliners and was generally more comfy. I was visited one afternoon by a donkey who stood at my front glass sliding door staring straight inside. I poked a carrot through the crack wondering if he might then leave. No such luck. Honkey (as I named him) stood and waited. I was unsure if he may nip me should I try to get past him so I rang my colleague to walk to my place and shoo him away. Honkey visited a few more times, pushing my gate open with his nose and waltzing on in. I no longer felt nervous around him so often stood next to him feeding him carrots and feeling sorry for his weepy fly-blown eyes and small open wounds. He looked sad but I don’t think he was; when we left Canteen Creek today, he trotted gleefully past my house with a pretty dark haired female donkey (known as a jenny, or jennet) in hot pursuit!

Molly visited often and so did Tony. Tony is the little black dog with the stumpy tail but since one of Sini’s dogs was also called Stumpy, I renamed the little black community dog Tony.

Tony is an odd little character. He showed no affection and engaged in very little interaction yet liked to quietly be around us. He always came along when we went for a walk and seemed to enjoy being a part of our odd ‘family’. He did have a bad habit of picking fights with the other community dogs, often relying on Molly to step-in and put out the fire. One morning Tony got cocky and picked a fight when Molly was nowhere to be seen. He had his back foot hurt slightly, some hair pulled out of his head and his left ear bitten. Unfortunately his left ear became infected, and combined with the red dirt and ticks plaguing the little guy, he was in a sorry state. There are no vets in Canteen Creek so I played vet as much as I could, picking off the revolting ticks and gently bathing Tony’s ear with all I had; wet-wipes and warm water.

Tony seemed to know he was getting helped and sat quietly while I carefully wiped away pus and red mud. I am buying flea and tick treatment tomorrow and sending it back with Sini to give to Tony and Molly. She will also bathe his ear and apply iodine if possible. He will always be a community dog but he is our community dog and I know the other nurses who come to Canteen Creek will care for him and Molly because they have in the past. As Sini and I drove back into Tennant Creek today, I told Sini I wished Tony and Molly were in the back coming as well and not being left there. I left two large bags of dog biscuits at the nurses house for them which Sini will ask the other nurse coming on to continue to feed them. Typing this, I have tears in my eyes but I know that Sini and the other nurses who visit Canteen Creek will care for the both of them just as well as they care for humans.

Sometimes it’s not the nursing or study that is hard, it can be other factors of life in remote communities. The home-sickness. The yearning to hug your own pets back home and tell them they will never ever be neglected or unfed. The flies. The lack of activities we are often accustomed to in bigger towns/cities.

But what this placement, in particular, has taught me is appreciation for what I have, how I was raised and the skills I have and am learning. The skills I can use to help others and hopefully teach a whole new generation. And those people passing it onto the next generation. And the one after.

This blog was going to be a ‘this is what I did and these are the photos I took’ but right now, I feel humbled…fortunate. I look around at the house I am staying in, the house the Centre for Remote Health have generously let me stay in again because I arrived in Tennant Creek early. The genuine support I have received from the CRH, Tennant Creek Hospital staff, CDU and the amazing remote health clinic staff. I think back to the precious faces of the little kids and babies I cuddled and helped treat in Canteen Creek and I hope they will grow up strong and fortunate. I hope they do.

Take care and thank you for reading my blog.

Rachel 🙂

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Tales from a new grad!

I have a friend, Serenity, who started her grad program a while ago. I keel over with laughter when she relays stories to me. With her excellent sense of humour and ability to sum up even the most awkward situations in a sharp-witted little package, I just had to ask her to send me a couple of stories, in her own words, I could share with you!

Take it away girl…

“Reg.

I’ll call him Reg to protect the innocent…and protect myself from litigation. Hahahaha!!

Reg has deteriorating dementia. This day Reg couldn’t follow instructions, couldn’t speak and couldn’t safely get about. After giving him a damn good scrub in the tub, I set him up for the day. But he was air plucking.

A couple of days previously someone had unearthed a fiddle rug, or activity blanket, call it what you will. You know, things within zips sewn on, Velcro, textures, bits and bobs. Lovely things made by volunteer ladies. So I pop it on Reg’s lap just before smoko and trot off. The NUM (Nurse Unit Manager) comes by to say hi and let’s go get a cuppa. We decided to check that Reg was managing his cup of tea and muffin. Well bugger me! Old Reg is drooling fit to drown! We race over and can hear his choppers clanging on something hard.

fiddle rug Something similar to this!

Now, the muffins are sometimes a bit tough here, but this was obviously not muffin! I grab gloves and try to poke my fingers in his mouth (brave I hear you say) and catch a glimpse of a large green object. “Reg. What have you got in your mouth? Spit it out mate”. Round and round and side to side goes the object, drool pouring over my hands and down his shirt. The NUM is clearly on her game and races off to find forceps. I am getting frantic…and louder. “SPIT! IT! OUT! REG!!!” Another nurse hears my squealing and bravely comes to my aid. Between us we manage to get a quick snatch and grab at a 2 litre milk container cap! The NUM races back in and we all high five and cheer. Except Reg. Who seems pretty disappointed we pinched his ‘biscuit’.

Ever tried to write up a CIMS (workplace incident form) for something like that? I am so glad Reg didn’t choke. But of course, the bottle top did have two little holes where it had been sewn onto the blankie. So he may have just wound up with a whistle instead of a voice if he HAD got it down. Crikey. If he’d swallowed one of the bells we all could have sung Christmas carols. Anyway. Two weeks of being a nurse and I could have found myself in coroner’s court! New rule here. NEVER use fiddle rugs. Always check on patients eating. Who would have thought?

Hilarity amidst the drama!

ED patient in severe pain about to be transferred by ambulance. Boss nurse draws up the Fentanyl, tags it, takes that and 2 x normal saline flushes to the moaning guy. I draw up the Ondansetron (or dancing thongs as I like to call it – it helps stop nausea and vomiting). Boss nurse takes her time with the slow push (slowly injecting the drug into the vein) and I walk over to take over and push the Ondansetron. Just in time to hear her say “That’ll help with the pain” Big smile. Well, I doubt it, as she’s just done the slowest 2.5mL saline flush I’ve ever seen! I nudge her and point to the tagged syringe. Our guy is clearly not feeling better and can’t understand why we’re laughing fit to bust!”

If any of you have any stories you’d like to share on this blog, anonymous or recognised, please feel free to email me: rachel@thescribblingnurse.com

The more embarrassing, disgusting or mortifying the better!!

Cya! – Rachel

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Canteen Creek 2

I woke up on the Thursday (29th March) morning feeling excited and with a sense of calm especially after a beautiful evening the night before watching the stars while munching on pizza and sharing stories with my new friend Jenny and her partner Graham at Battery Hill mine. It was precious getting to know Jenny a bit more and I look forward to seeing more of her when Tim and I move to the NT.

There is a saying ‘People come into your life for a reason’. With all the time I have recently had to sit and reflect, I truly believe this is true. Even if you don’t really agree with or like someone, they are placed in your life to learn from, or learn more about yourself.

Around 2pm on the Thursday morning, the Canteen Creek driver turned up with the relief RAN Sini and two scruffy dogs. We realised we didn’t have enough room for all the luggage so it was decided that Sini was going to be picked up the next day. Arriving in Canteen Creek, a thunderstorm came over the community complete with thunder and lightning. I was thrilled but also nervous that the roads would become unstable and Sini wouldn’t be able to get into the community.

Fortunately, Sini arrived safely and the next morning we met to go for a long walk. We agreed to meet every morning at 6am to walk to and along the airport strip, watch the sunrise then walk home, just over an hour’s walk. Molly, my adopted community dog comes with us and tells the other community dogs to leave us alone. It is really good protection having Molly walk with us; even though she isn’t a big dog, she warns any potential aggressive dogs to stay away.

Molly doesn’t have any dog toys so she finds empty 1.25 litre bottles and tosses them in the air. She does the same with sticks and anything else she can find that would be a suitable ‘toy’. She reminds me of those TV ads featuring African children who create their own toys out of bicycle inner tubing and a variety of items Westerners would consider rubbish. I went to the shop today and bought 3 cans of dog food for her. I will feed her in secret so as not to attract the other 100 community dogs here. Molly won’t tell on me.

 

The length of the lawn around the house Sini is staying was up to my knees so we spent the better part of the morning mowing it.

 

That evening (Saturday 31st March) we attended the Easter celebration at the local church. The band played country –style music with almost all the community sitting on the grass eating their tea and enjoying the festivities.

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I got chatting to a member of the local council Estelle who gave me permission to take some photos. Estelle told me that Canteen Creek is not a part of the Shire of Barkly so they make their own agenda’s in accordance with the wishes and needs of the community. Estelle believes this is better than having an over-seeing shire with their own expectations and requirements. Estelle had grown up in Canteen Creek and it was heartening to hear Estelle had enrolled in a business course and was looking forward to continuing her education.

After the music, female elders of the community held up paintings they had done and explained to the audience what bible scriptures they had painted. Estelle explained that many of the elders are illiterate and this is their way of passing on bible stories to their communities.

 

This morning (Sunday 1st April) Sini and I enjoyed our usual walk then received a call out to the clinic. A toddler had ‘fly bite’ on her right eye and it had become very swollen. Fly bite is very common in the NT and is a result of flies biting and laying eggs in the eye. The result is an allergic reaction, swelling and clear discharge. It’s not painful but itchy and irritating. It is treated with anti-histamines and checked on the next day.

After we returned from the clinic, we got stuck into finishing off mowing Sini’s lawn. I got charging along with the lawn mower and came across a particularly difficult bunch of weeds. Tilting the lawn mower, I attacked the bunch of ‘weeds’ and was rewarded with a torrent of water saturating me and the lawn mower. Oh NO!!! Sini ran up and we turned the water main off. I felt so stupid! I went to Cassie’s house and told her what happened. Cassie shrugged it off and said “Don’t worry, accidents happen”. Appeasing my obvious embarrassment, Cassie said “Hey, [a RAN at another community] drove the brand new ambulance into a pole the other day, so don’t feel bad’. I was told to go to one house and ask for Riccardo and if Riccardo wasn’t home to go further up the street and ask for Ray.

Walking the streets of the community, I stuck out like the proverbial. Lily-white skin and a wide-brimmed hat to keep the sun off that lily-white skin, I was met with many looks but I didn’t feel unwelcome or uncomfortable. Little kids yelled out “Hey lady! What’s your name?”. Apart from Cassie, I am the only white person in this community (Sini is from Tonga).

I found Ray (waking him up from a siesta) and explained my situation. He came and had a look but didn’t have any suitable parts so he used duct tape as a band aid. After Ray had left, I crouched down and reinforced the duct tape with even more duct tape, just so I felt I had done something. Sini stood next to me with her fly net on her head, hands on her hips and remarked “Well, we don’t need to do any neurovascular obs on that water main, it’s got a great flow!”.

Coming home feeling a bit silly and quite exhausted, I had a lie down on my bed. I woke up with a start and felt the presence of someone looking at me. I sensed it was the spirit of an Aboriginal woman in her sixties simply seeing who I was. I didn’t feel any emotion whatsoever, no fear, no foreboding, just a simple ‘seeing who I was’ and that was that. There is a nice atmosphere in this house. In this community. A sort of acceptance. Smiles and waves are met with smiles and waves. I have come here to help these people and do no harm. I hope they know that; I think they do… even the spirits.

Cya! – Rachel