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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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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Opportunities. Look for the opportunities.

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I’m going far away. Nine hours from Alice Springs and four and a half from Tennant Creek. The most isolated nursing station in Australia and I’m going to be there for just over two weeks. No internet. No phone reception. No housemates. Just me, Canteen Creek Community and learning, learning, learning. And I am EXCITED!!!

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Me, Cassie, Jenny and a new AHPO.

Canteen Creek is a 4.5 hour drive south east from Tennant Creek along red dirt roads. When not graded, it can be extremely riveted and has actually caused some people back problems. During the rains, the road has sections that are impassable by vehicle and require boats to carry essentials. The communities become ‘flooded in’ and simply have to wait for the water to subside. In emergency situations, people are air-lifted out.

On the way we saw beautiful scenery and stopped at a waterhole that was whispering to us ‘Come in for a swim!’. We had a little splash and told ourselves we would stop for a swim on the way back into TC.

Jenny (Aboriginal Health Promotion Officer and all-round beautiful soul), myself and another health promotion officer turned up to the Canteen Creek health clinic on Monday afternoon and got chatting to the health clinic manager / RAN / Nurse Practitioner Cassie. When Cassie learnt I was aiming to be a Remote Area Nurse, she said I had come to the right place. Cassie is super keen to have students and teach them as much about being a RAN as possible. Canteen Creek usually has a population of around 150 people but it is Easter this weekend and the community was expecting an influx of family and friends to celebrate the occasion. This also means an influx into the health clinic. So I cancelled my RFDS placement and got permission to stay on in Canteen Creek to be personally mentored and taught by a Nurse Practitioner with so many post-grad quals that she would need them made into wallpaper should she wish to display them. I grabbed this opportunity with both grubby (from patting the dog) hands!

The set-up in this clinic and quite a few remote area health clinics is very similar to that of a GP office, except there are no GP’s. There are RAN’s and they mean business. People come in with a variety of ailments, accidents, complaints and needs and are seen either one after the other or ‘triaged’ (AKA who’s got the most serious life-threatening complaint in the waiting room, NOT necessarily who can scream the loudest – though that might work on a Friday afternoon when the RAN is in serious need of a G&T…). RAN’s are highly educated and experienced and are required to not only assess and treat but also diagnose and prescribe medications / treatment. They are the doctor. But possibly quicker.

I’m going to be a different person after these two weeks but for the better. Cassie has discussed some plans she is working on (which I can’t divulge) but will be great news to people interested in working in remote areas.

So to sign off, I will be fairly sans internet for a couple of weeks although I can use the clinic’s internet so I will endeavour to update if possible.

 

Take care and talk soon! – Rachel

 

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Ali Curung

This is gonna be a long post. I hope you’re interested and have made a cuppa. I have had one of the best showers of my life, a good feed and a talk to my Mum, brother Cliff and good old Tim Bill.

NB. All photos taken with both permission from facilitator and/or person featuring in images. 

I was buddied with a gorgeous RN/RM (Registered Nurse / Registered Midwife) called Yvonne and scheduled to travel to a remote Aboriginal community called Ali Curung on Monday. We arrived at Ali Curung in the afternoon and had a meet’n’greet with the other nurses at the Health Clinic.

We picked up our car and went up to Wycliffe Well where we were staying.  I’ve decided this accommodation needs to change it’s name to Wycliffe will make you really unWell because it was absolutely putrid. Yvonne had to change her room three times because each one was filthier than the last. I couldn’t shower in mine because the shower recess was so filthy it looked like someone had taken a dump and it was simply hosed down the drain! Argghhh!!

The night was interesting though, with a green whip snake slithering along near the BBQ only a few metres from where Yvonne and I were eating our tea in the courtyard. The owner was alerted and although the snake had slithered into the BBQ, the owner thought it was a great idea to get his employees to pour petrol onto the BBQ and set the whole thing alight to either drive out or destroy our poor little fanged friend.

On the Tuesday I spent the day at the Health Clinic with Yvonne but it was a heck of a lot of administration work which I couldn’t do, so I spent a lot of time reading. ‘Bugger this’ I thought, and so did Yvonne, who suggested I spend some time the next day at the local childcare centre. This way I could learn and observe how little kids function and the parenting styles of some of the community. The Manager / worker Michelle was so welcoming and friendly and I spent the day playing with little tackers and learning a lot about Aboriginal parenting and the challenges faced by childcare providers in educating and supporting parents to provide adequately for their children. Unfortunately alcohol and drugs is still fairly rampant in Ali Curung, getting snuck in and feeding already out of control substance addictions. However, the time I spent with the kids watching them play freely and without a worry in the world was really good. Michelle and child care worker Charmayne (and her baby Alina) were so welcoming and fun to be around.

Michelle gave me a tour of the community, calling into the one and only shop to meet owners Scott and Henne.

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Scott & Henne at Mirrnirri Store

Scott, a tattooed goateed guy with more gold on his fingers than what’s left in the entire goldfields, asked if I was ‘qualified’. I erred… and said I have another 6 weeks to go then yeah, I’ll be qualified (I didn’t say I was already an EN). Scott hurriedly replied “great, I need you to have a look at my leg, it’s killing me”. I thought he was joking, so asked “Are you serious?” Scott looked confused and said “Yes I’m serious! Quick, come out here, I’m really busy”. Following him into the back room, he dropped his dacks and pointed to a red patch on his lower leg with a scab in the centre. Looking keenly at me, he gushed “I think it’s a whitetail [spider], what do you think? I squeezed it last night but nothin’ came out but fark it’s killing me!” I asked him a few questions to ascertain if he was going to die or be seriously maimed and with the obvious first question “have you been to the [health] clinic?”. Apparently deadly spider bites aren’t as important as stocking shelves, so I drew a circle around the erythema (redness caused by swelling, infection or inflammation) and dated it, giving him orders to present to the clinic if the redness goes outside the circle or the pain gets worse. Other than that, I ordered, don’t pick it!

Michelle and I then moved onto the Arlpwe Art Gallery meeting curators Ian and Judy Grieve. Ian sadly explained the riots that occurred in Ali Curung last year and how the art gallery was broken into with artefacts of  boomerangs, woomeras and shields stolen to use as weapons. Judy elaborated about the causes behind the riots and the fear they caused in the community. Fire bombs were thrown, police cars were destroyed and the Tactical Response Group had to be sent down from Darwin. Still simmering, Judy said quietly, is the feud. Still simmering.

On a brighter note, I met a local artist called Martha Poulson and was given my very own tour. Martha spent time with me explaining the content of some of her paintings. It was extraordinary listening to her stories and seeing them depicted in her art, I felt so honoured and lucky. Watch the slide show below!

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This morning, Thursday 15th March, I was dropped off at Mirnirri Store and was on check-out duties with another worker called Cynthia. She patiently explained to me how to put not only groceries through but pre-paid gas, power, phone recharges and purchase orders. Electricity and gas are prepaid in the community and sometimes not re-charged meaning fridges, freezers and stoves don’t work. This has a negative impact on the ability to cook nutritious meals especially for growing kids. Scott and Henne provide hot and cold lunches to both Ali Curung and Murray Downs school kids under the School Nutrition Program (SNP) to ensure all school kids are provided with good meals while at school.

If you’re wondering why I did some work at the local store when I’m on nursing placement, don’t worry, I haven’t lost my mind…yet….

I wanted to work at the shop to observe what food families were buying to contribute to the high rate of diabetes, anaemia, low vitamin D levels etc. Two minute noodles were one of the best sellers, second to Coca Cola. It was sorry business in the community, so heaps of 12kg bags of flour were going out the door to make damper. Although it was busy at the store, everyone was patient, both customers and staff.

Later on, Scott called me over to take me out to Murray Downs Station to drop off lunch and meals to the kids at the school. On the way, he relayed stories about their time as proprietors of the local store and where they had come from. By the end of the trip, I knew more about the realities of running a business in a community and even more about the cost of each one of his hefty gold rings adorning each finger.

Scott and Henne are passionate about providing good nutritious food to the Ali Curung community, with Scott showing me the fresh produce he orders in and how he lays his store out to promote hygiene, healthy eating and drinking more water.

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Territorians have something about them, something real and honest. The red dirt is inhaled and starts running through your bloodstream in a very short amount of time. It’s addictive, it’s comforting and it’s friendly. It might be the sun, the earth, the spirituality you can feel around you. Whatever it is, I love it and am looking forward to the rest of my time here!

Oh! and I bought a painting! Check this out! It’s by a young local Ali Curung artist Alvina Beasley who I served at the store only a couple of hours earlier! It’s so beautiful and will be a reminder of the amazing time I had at Ali Curung.

Catch ya round like a rissole! – Rachel 🙂

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One week over!

I like Tennant Creek. I really like it. It’s not fancy, ha! We all knew that! It’s not sexy, suave or metro, – heck, it’s an outback country town. But I WOULD write home about it. And I have, in the form of 2 postcards that are sitting on the passenger seat of my loaned car waiting to be posted to my Mum. Sorry Mum, they’ll get there.

I just had 2 days in the dialysis unit with a very experienced RN called Jimmy. He was softly spoken, patient and keen to share his knowledge, even though he knew I was only there for 2 days. This particular unit is seperate from the Tennant Creek Hospital and is specifically for chronic end stage renal disease (ESRD). ESRD is where the kidney function has decreased to the point the person needs kidney replacement therapy (KRT). KRT is either in the form of dialysis or transplant. Kidney dialysis uses a machine to filter out the toxins in the blood, a job normal kidneys perform. 99% of the patient’s were Aboriginal, the youngest patient I nursed with ESRD was 30 years old. 30 years old.

Today is Saturday 10th March 2018. I have been in the Northern Territory for 7 days, 5 days in Tennant Creek. I had my first sleep in for over a week (oh poor me!) then began a day of leisurely sightseeing. First off the rank was Battery Hill Mining Centre which has 3 different exhibits. I saw two of them because I arrived late. The first exhibition showed the life and times of Albert Berolla, a WW1 & WW2 soldier who volunteered to join the army. From Tennant Creek, he walked, rode a horse and hitch-hiked to Darwin so he could enlist. He won a prestigious Victoria’s Cross for his efforts in WW1.

The next exhibition was about gold mining and how they set up camps and lived. Apparently the Tennant Creek miner’s were renowned for being very muscly due to their extreme efforts to slug through hard earth with picks and shovels with water more scarce than the gold itself.

Helen, the customer service lady at Battery Hill Mining Centre is really friendly and so helpful. Say hello to her when you go in.

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Briefly called up to ‘One Tank Hill’ which is an obscure name for a hill with one tank on it – dang locals. Beautiful views of the township to the left and some remote camps to the right. The pinkish wall isn’t snake shaped, it’s just the panorama shot. It’s actually a circle.

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Onwards to Lake Mary Ann AKA Tingkkarli, a man-made lake about 2km east of Tennant Creek township. The green trees and grass, with peacocks, geese, peahens and even roosters wandering the grassy areas made the whole scene look like an oasis compared to the red earth and stark bushes surrounding it! I wandered around until a car pulled up and little Aboriginal kids leapt out, running to the water and splashing about. They told me a peacock was in the tree and has ‘feathers that stand up near it’s bum’. A family were sitting at a picnic table, a dark eyed baby eyeing me off as I walked past. When I went past again, I stopped and said hello. They were about to have a BBQ and had 3 Kangaroo tails, wrapped in plastic with an IGA price sticker on each. The man briefly explained how he was going to cook the roo tail (singe the hair off, place it under coals and BBQ it) and was happy to show me the tail out of the wrapper.

After having a quick chat to my Mum on the phone, I pulled into the old Telegraph station. It was a self-guided tour with the whole area very well maintained. I think I was the first person to have been there in a while because I was ‘hugged’ by spider webs criss-crossing some of the areas! After a good walk around with the sun on my face and the clouds on my back, I drove back into Tennant Creek for a quick shop and an afternoon at home.

Looking forward to next week with the Remote Outreach Midwife Yvonne, who I met on Friday morning. Will keep you posted. Thanks for reading my blog, I hope you enjoy the pictures and what I’ve been up to 🙂 – Rachel

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I love NT

 

 

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First day at Tennant Creek Hospital

I arrived at Tennant Creek yesterday (6th March 2018) after a fun drive. Visited Wycliffe Well which is apparently Australia’s #1 hotspot for UFO sightings! Onwards to Devil’s Marbles (AKA Karlu Karlu) then to Tennant Creek. My housemates / fellow RN students had arrived and were unpacking. I checked my email and was extremely pleasantly surprised to see I was allocated the master bedroom with ensuite bathroom and walk in robe! Flashes of envy crossed the faces of both flatmates but I was too happy to really care! Besides, as I explained to them, if they were to be the only male with 2 female flatmates, they would probably be allocated the Master bedroom…??

Anyway, as I unpacked I glanced in the bathroom mirror to my insanely bleached dead, greasy, yellow roots hair scrunched up in a clip and looking wild. How did I let it get that bad?? So I rang a hairdresser in Tennant Creek who very kindly offered to get me in that afternoon. When I arrived, she advised me she is the only hairdresser in the entire town! So how lucky was I getting in the night before I was due to start! I left looking a lot more kempt. And confident. Thank you Just U Hair!

Tennant Creek hospital is located just 2 streets behind the ‘main drag’ and about a 3 minute drive from where I am staying. This morning at 8am I, and the two other students, met the nurse educator and had a tour of the hospital.

I was allocated Primary Health for the entire 4 weeks. Primary Health meant I would be doing outreach and community nursing in Aboriginal communities and around Tennant Creek. I was getting more and more excited as we made our way closer to the PH section of the hospital. Shuffling in behind the Nurse Educator to meet the PH Manager, the worst thing I could hear was said immediately “We unfortunately can’t take students, we didn’t know Rachel was coming until last Saturday”. A big ‘BUH-BONG’ resonated between my ears and I felt my face scrunch up ever so slightly. I glanced at one of the other students and he glanced back sympathetically.

My own voice shrieked in my head “THIS WAS THE ENTIRE REASON I CAME TO TENNANT CREEK!” The nurse educator remained calm and quickly gushed “It’s okay, it’s okay, I have a plan B. Always have a plan B”. As we were ushered out and began walking to another section, the nurse educator bent to swipe the door unlocked and sighed “I don’t have a Plan B but I wasn’t going to say that, but we’ll sort something out for you”. I felt both appreciative and ever so slightly resentful at the same time – directed to no-one but everyone at the same time. Why me!?

Carrying on the tour of the hospital, the nurse educator was doing his best to find places for me at least for a couple of weeks until he could either convince or coerce the PH team into doing something with me. I met the dialysis team and was welcomed to join them for a couple of days, next the darling midwives who were happy to have me the week after. Pictures of chubby babies with wide dark eyes and proud yet exhausted Mum’s were plastered near the entrance, and although I’m not a real kid person, who can resist a chubby dribbly squishy baby!

Returning to one of the main wards to hang out before I attended a meeting, a friendly (they are ALL friendly, but this one even more) nurse gave me a slice of caramel slice, asked where I was being placed and confidently said “I’ll have you with me in AOD (Alcohol and Other Drugs) for a week, I’ll tell [nurse educator]”. So that was that.

Throughout the day, I met more nurses and allied health staff and was looking forward to wherever I would be allocated.

However, after some hard work by all involved at the hospital, I am back in Primary Health and start next week! On Monday I am off to an Aboriginal community called Ali Curung Ali Curung – Barkly Regional Council  for 3 nights with a Registered Midwife. Then hopefully the last week I may be off to another Aboriginal community, finger’s crossed!

Overall, the staff at Tennant Creek hospital are some of the most friendly people I’ve ever met. I can’t wait to spend more time with them.

Arriving home this afternoon, my housemates were home but the house was quiet. They emerged after a little while having needed an afternoon snooze after their very first day! Poor guys, I wonder how they will be after their six weeks is up! zombies!

Looking forward to every day. Cya!

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Time flies…

My last night in Alice Springs before heading to Tennant Creek for 4 weeks. The nerves have settled – for now.

Full day at Cultural Training and Awareness; the information was pertinent to our practice and I gained a lot of useful knowledge and advice. A bonus was being given a car to use the ENTIRE time of my placement in the NT! With fuel paid for! The Centre for Remote Health go out of their way to look after students.

Leaving Alice Springs tomorrow at 8.30am to cruise up to Tennant Creek visiting some tourist spots along the way. Will post photos tomorrow afternoon! I have two male flatmates who seem really nice. They are sharing a car because they are staying in Tennant for 6 weeks and I’m only staying for 4.

IMG_4517 A map I got given by the CRH staff with some of the tourist spots on the way.

IMG_4519

Another side of the McDonald ranges, the ‘smooth’ side, whereas the other side is edgy and angled.