Last day in the village! I went to bed late, trying to tie up all the loose ends from patients I’ve seen and make sure all the charts are completed and there is good, clear documentation. Then I was awakened by banging on my door in the middle of the night to see an infant with a fever of 103.5, turns out to be a bad ear infection. The baby also vomited all over the floor when I tried to look in her throat. And we made a mess trying to see into her ears. Didn’t get too much sleep last night! This morning I felt grubby and in serious need of a shower! My sponge-bath freshness hasn’t lasted long!
The day was hectic, got off to a late start and had a staff meeting that we are supposed to attend by teleconference, and we were short one health aid, but we were trying to fit in as many patients as possible to get people seen before I left. There were also several patients with food poisoning that the other health aid was busy treating. Through the day we all felt a sense of urgency, but there are so many limiting factors (like calling to get authorization and consult Cardiology for a patient with atypical chest pain and concern for a heart attack to get to Anchorage). And calling any specialists, really. Trying to figure out how to get someone lung tests, and how to get someone a screening colonoscopy and how to find the latest imaging or other diagnostic studies/consultation reports.
I did get to meet the principal of the school who invited me to come shower at the school on my next village trip. She was so kind (and probably noticed my telltale greasy hair! 🙂 I did several employee physicals for teachers, which for the most part are easy, but I still had some chronic care patients with lots of stuff to follow up on. I also had things like pap smears and a toenail removal that we squeezed in over the lunch break! It was a lot to fit in. But I thought the plane was coming closer to 5 pm (I was told 4:30 to 5pm, and someone called and checked, and they said 4:45 pm), well it turns out, it actually came in just after 4pm!!!!
The bush planes land, unload their small cargo quickly, reload and take off; turn-around time might be 20 minutes.
Calm chaos turned to a mad rush. Now I was totally running behind, trying to finish everything, feeling under pressure and hurriedly being told that the plane will not wait for me! I grabbed my belongings, threw the dirtied procedure equipment back into the black box, and jumped on the four-wheeler. By the time we got to the airport, the Navajo (twin engine plane) was just starting to taxi, but they turned the engines off for me and let me board! Whewsh! Close call! That’s the last time that I will have appointments past lunchtime (which I was told to do, but then the CHAs (community health aids) requested that I fit in more people, and I want to see as many people as needed). We live and learn and do the best we can! The two passengers on the plane told me a few times that I was so lucky to have gotten on the flight! The pilot was so gracious and kind!
I was also lucky because it was a stunningly beautiful day (again)! The pilot told me he doesn’t remember seeing a beautiful day like this in Wales in a long time! I feel so lucky! He also said, “You will enjoy it here. Don’t listen if people say it is terrible to live here–it’s really not that bad!” 🙂