24th November 2013 – Any Old Iron?
in quite a bit of discomfort when we got back into Vuda so straightaway we
inquired about doctors and that afternoon Jon was off the see the encouragingly
named Dr Doton who arranged for him to have an X-Ray immediately and to see an
orthopaedic specialist and the physiotherapist in the hospital in Lautoka –
about 15 minutes away by road from Vuda marina.- a couple of days later The X Ray didn’t support a definite
diagnosis so Jon was advised to have a CAT scan. However, the scanner in Lautoka hospital
had run out of film. The only other
place to get a scan here is in the capital, Suva.
But they also have an MRI scanner there and that would have been an even
better aid to diagnosis. An
appointment was made for Tuesday, 19th November at 10:30 a.m. Suva is a
good 4 hours drive from Vuda, so we drove to Pacific Harbour, about 50 kms west of Suva, on Monday afternoon.
The majority of hotels there are of the resort type which would have been wasted
on us but Carol had found a delightful B&B called Nanette’s and we would
recommend staying there if you need to be in that part of Fiji.
arrived at the hospital and tracked down the Radiology department only to be
stopped in our tracks at the MRI scanner door. “Danger – Very Strong Magnets – Do Not
Enter If You Have Any Metal Implants”
That was a bit of an issue.
Over 20 years ago Jon broke his ankle and had it plated and pinned. The radiologist wanted to know if the
plate was MRI compatible, which of course Jon didn’t know and it was far too
risky to take a chance on it. The
magnets in these machines are very powerful and even if the plate wasn’t
dramatically pulled out of his body, excruciating pain would have ensued if the
metal was at all magnetic. The
radiologist wasn’t having it.
whizzed of for an X-Ray – not quite sure why but there we are. As you can see, the plate is very firmly
still in place.
only other option was a CAT scan; the machine in Suva can save images to a CD so lack of film
wasn’t an issue. The normal
procedure – back to your doctor, new referral, booking and all that - was
circumvented by the extremely helpful staff once they understood that we’d
undertaken an 8 hour round trip and an overnight stay to get there. Half an hour later Jon was having a CAT
scan and about and 40 minutes after that he was presented with the images on a
CD. To our unpractised eyes
something in his spinal column looks a little out of place but we await the
interpretation from the orthopaedic specialist in Lautoka.
Throughout this round of seeing doctors, physiotherapists and
radiologists, we have kept in touch with our insurance company, Topsail and the
outfit they use to handle claims, CEGA Medical, who have been very helpful even
to the extent of arranging to settle the Suva hospital bill directly. The MRI scan would have been $1840 FJD –
approx £650- which is probably as much as it would be in the UK if done
privately. Fijians pay only half
this, but even so there can’t be many who can afford these sort of charges. Even the CAT scan for the locals costs
the equivalent of £100.
impressions of the hospitals here are that the facilities are basic, the fabric
very shabby in places but pretty clean on the whole. Neither of us had seen a hospital as
packed with people waiting as the one in Suva.
Every space in every corridor was taken up with people either standing or
sitting. It seemed impossible that
they would all be seen in one day.
But, everyone seemed to accept that they would be a long time there and
we saw no sign of frayed tempers – indeed what struck one was how quiet everyone
reasonable weather window in the offing, it doesn’t look as though we will get
the interpretation of the CAT scan until we are on our way to
We plan to leave tomorrow along with a few others from the marina
here. The painful spasms Jon gets
from time to time –usually associated with walking or standing - are not so
frequent now (aided by a few drugs and physio exercises) and he feels up to
taking on the passage. We really do
need to get going – officially the cyclone season has started although we are
currently experiencing no wind at all coupled with high heat and humidity. A few days ago we were treated to a
dramatic electrical storm followed by a biblical deluge – the weather is
definitely changing. It looks as
though we’ll be getting pretty light and variable winds for much of the passage,
mixed in with a couple of reasonably weak fronts with winds of 20 knots gusting
30 whilst in them. That’s
do-able..If all else fails it will be up to Mr Perkins to get us the 1,000 NM
south to Opua in NZ.