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!

Ntaria Clinic Staff
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!

Google Searches

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

Uncategorized

Ginger Beer

Off to a place called Canteen Creek (it has a new health centre, this site is really old) on Monday with an Aboriginal Health Promotion Officer called Jenny and a new staff member who is doing her orientation. I’m not nervous (wow! Rachel, is that you?) but I’m excited and looking forward to whatever I will do there. I saw Jenny at the Saturday markets and she said if the health clinic is too quiet, she will get me out and about like I did in Ali Curung. Awesome!!!

IMG_4882 I don’t think it will take 10 hours to get there.

The sunsets in the desert are supposed to be magical so I went sunset seeking a few nights in a row. The problem is, I kept leaving it too late and by the time I got to wherever I could get a decent view, the sun had already said goodnight to the town and had pulled the horizon over its head. So here are some grasps at what few sunbeams remained…

Yesterday (Saturday 24th March) I called into the markets and bought a book about Australia’s worst crimes; just a bit of light reading on a warm desert day. I bought an iced coffee from Cafe Buzzbean (say hello to owner Kristen when you’re there, she is really friendly) and bumped into my AOD RN buddy who invited me to join her and her friend who had just started a new job as a parole officer. After chatting for a while (and with me now wanting to be a parole officer…It just sounds cool… “gotta report to my parole officer or I’ll be back in the clink”) I meandered off and read my new book at Lake Mary Ann.

Coming out of IGA today, I nearly collided with a you-beaut electric scooter carrying a bloke called Walter Boulter who likes to be known as Tony (pity, cos I think having a rhyming name is awesome). Tony and his lovely wife Joy, an ex-school teacher, have lived in Tennant creek for almost 50 years – 49 to be exact. Tony told me he used to be a Ginger Beer (engineer) who helped build a lot of the roads in Tennant Creek. When he arrived, they were all dirt. Tony told me the population of TC at the height of gold fever was 50 thousand! The last gold mine shut down only 8 years ago and the population plummeted. I had to lean in to hear Tony at some stages as he lowered his voice to tell me about the more sensitive issues about TC and his thoughts on them. I respected his opinions and appreciated his honesty from his point of view and experience living in a town for half a century. Getting on my way, we shook hands. We shook hands again, then it turned into a homie handshake then a fist bump. Not kidding you. Tony and I have a secret handshake (I suppose it’s not secret anymore). An 80 year old on a gopher and a 34 year old in thongs doing a secret handshake outside IGA Tennant Creek; beat that Dr Dre.

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So I am now sitting in the dining room with one of my flatmate’s sitting at the same table sniffling snot every few minutes. I told him he doesn’t have a cold and it must be symptoms of rheumatic heart disease, syphilis or scabies – 3 common illnesses in Tennant. The common cold doesn’t exist here, it has to be something far worse. He is not impressed and does not find me funny.

See ya’s! – Rachel.

thumbnail_IMG_4945Mum! Whippett Street! 20180224_073723 Mum’s whippet Zena

thumbnail_IMG_4938 Frozen Roo tails at IGA

Google Searches, Uncategorized

Which is Which?

There’s another scribbling nurse. And it comes up at the very top of a google search. Dang it. He is not me and I am not him. Good luck to him though; as both scribbling nurses, we might one day meet and play scrabble. And scribble. And hopefully not battle for the title of THE Scribbling Nurse but I’ll sharpen my thermometer just in case…

Last Friday I spent the morning with one of the Child Health Promotion Nurses who was happy for me to go with her to the local primary school and talk to the kids about the importance of washing their hands. We attended the ‘transition’ class which is in-between kindergarten and pre-school (?). I walked in and 3 little kids ran up and wrapped their arms around me, welcoming me into their classroom! They watched a DVD about germs then all had a goo put on their hands which they could only see under a blue light (the germ seeker!). They then had to wash their hands and come back to check under the germ seeker if they had left any of the goo on. It was a great way to not only tell them but show them how germs work and why keeping little busy hands clean was very important.

Last Sunday I went for a walk along Lake Mary-Ann. Crossing the bridge, I looked up to see enormous spider webs. Sitting proudly in the centre were enormous makers of the spider webs casting 8 protective eyes over their enormous spider eggs.

Since my last post it’s been a week and a week it has been. I have spent all week (including tomorrow) in the Alcohol and Other Drug sector with one of the coolest mental health / AOD nurses I’ve ever met. There’s no drug she hasn’t seen smoked, ingested, injected or inhaled. And no liquor that hasn’t seeped deep into a person’s cells and soul that even facing the loss of everything dear to them hasn’t stopped them from wetting their lips and feeling the burn.

Tennant Creek has a multitude of services dedicated to the provision of support, treatment and care for people facing an addiction of some sort. Ranging from frontline grass roots support such as the service I have spent time in including the ‘sober up shelters’ to the people behind the scenes researching and creating programs that are person-focussed and culturally sensitive. The need for experienced and dedicated staff, like many services around the nation, is chronic. However, the people who are here are present in body, mind and spirit and sticking around – for as long as they can – to support the community in their fight against substances which are breaking down family units and adding to the health burden of Australia.

Check out this list of all the Volatile Substances that people can use to get high. AOD and VSA (Volatile Substance Abuse) workers have tried to be one step ahead yet are often just one step behind because sadly, where there’s a will there’s a way.

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This week I was shown around a facility called the Julalikari Youth Accommodation Centre. The Julalikari Youth Accommodation Centre provides individual accommodation on the property for Indigenous young people who have employment and need somewhere safe to live. This will open in the next 6-8 weeks.

I also had the enjoyment of meeting a guy called Fraser Tahau who is a musician and involved in Uncle Jimmy’s Thumbs Up program. Fraser is an amazing guitarist and singer and assisted many communities to write and create songs to educate young and old people about the importance of good health, good hygiene and good diet. The below video is one of my favourites. Trachoma is a bacterial eye infection that can lead to blindness. It can be easily prevented by good hygiene and not infecting eyes with grubby hands.

Eye Know – Uncle Jimmy’s Thumbs Up

Last night, myself, my RN AOD buddy and Fraser went to watch Hillbilly Horror, a play with no props and an outstanding cast of actors and musicians. I haven’t laughed so hard in a long time. The Barkly Regional Arts Coordinator and other artists and facilitators gave the audience a run-down of future artistic plans for the Barkley region and I felt a swell of pride amongst the attending locals. Despite what has been happening in Tennant Creek and surrounding regions which has been broadcasted in the media, in the wise words of Chumbawamba, they get knocked down but they get up again, ain’t nothin’ gonna keep them down.

This was also in full show at a meeting I attended with my RN AOD buddy this morning. A room full of community minded people of police, council representatives, Territory families staff, AOD, Aboriginal health workers and more all brain stormed ways to make Tennant Creek a safer place for everyone. I provided some information on a program that used to be run in Albany where youth workers and peer workers would be on the streets talking to the youth, playing music with them and reaching out to people who may not reach out first. It was taken on board by the attendees and meeting facilitator. A lot of kids and adolescents are very anti-authority, not helped by American music and movies that make it seem cool to hate the police or aim for an anarchist society. Peer to peer support ie. someone who has walked the walk can be a positive mentor to other kids currently facing difficulties at home, school and with their friends and can have a huge impact on whether habits are developed or not. Or if habits are continued or recovered from.

Anyway, there is so much to learn and so many people to learn it from. For me, they haven’t just been my clinical instructors but people in the community, patients, clients and acquaintances. There are more people reading this blog which I’m thrilled about but I’ll always keep the content as real as I can because I am an observer and writer. And this world is my muse. Goodnight Tennant Creek, you are loved. And so are you.

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Ciao for now! – Rachel