The doctor has had a baby

Martin and Elizabeth Bevan
Mon 27 Jul 2015 22:59

Position           Uliveo, Maskelyne Islands

Date                Monday 27 July 2015


Meanwhile back at the dispensary and all in a morning’s work!  A lady of 21 years old and of good island stock walked the kilometre from Peskarus fully dilated, waited to be seen, was popped on the table in the delivery room and half an hour later produced a healthy girl then named Olive (Coincidental but Elizabeth’s mother, Betty, given but never used name).


Mother, baby and doctor are doing well!


This was a busy morning as patients had been waiting for the doctor to return and Elizabeth had diagnosis of a man with heart block and a lady with thyrotoxicosis.


The man presented with a pulse rate of 36 and a history of headaches and dizziness for over a year and occasionally losing consciousness whilst working  in his garden, fortunately not whilst out fishing.  Stoicism is not a word to be used lightly in the islands.  He essentially required a pacemaker, Port Vila said that they could deal with this but we are not sure how.  When we delivered his referral letter the next day we found he was out fishing in his canoe. The other minor problem here was that he genuinely could not afford the return fare on the weekly ferry Big Sista so we funded the US$130 fare.


The lady presented with a history of when asleep nobody could wake her up, E thinks that this was caused by very dry eyes.  She had protruding eyes, loss of weight and a raised pulse rate.  Extraction of history is an almost impossibility from both patients, relatives and nursing staff all who do not seem to have a comprehension of what is relevant.  It was only afterwards when E was explaining to the nurse about the condition that Bambae thought to add “Oh yes she used to be a very large lady but has shrunk” – thanks Bambae!.  This lady was also referred successfully and when we last heard from her husband she had arrived at Port Vila Hospital


Last week Elizabeth had seen a young man, Owall, on Avokh with a stingray wound.  He was the subject of intensive treatment and E wanted to follow this up.  The so called dispensary boat was of course not available, a bone of contention, and so the only solution was for us to pay for a local boat to go and collect him and deliver him back.  It was definitely worthwhile as the improvement in a few days was amazing.


We will be off to Avokh for a doctor’s visit and further follow up later in the week.


Local taxi, Maskelyne style.  Owall is modelling a red hat, very trendy.  Bush telegraph had worked and a lady was on board taking advantage of a free ride to visit relatives on Avokh


Whilst most of the local powered boats are fibreglass there is a boat builder at Lutes and this is one of his craft constructed of plywood over a timber frame.  Outboards tend to be of the 15 to 25hp range.  We have seen this boat carrying upwards of 12 people at times and journeys can be 3 to 4 miles over rough water.  Also bear in mind that these boats are the first stage of the long journey to hospital as the Big Sista ferry only stops for dropping off and picking up off the uninhabited island of Sakao at least 2nm (3.7km, 2.3 miles) from Peskarus where most of the boats are based.