So I am interrupting my intended ‘series’ on partnership development to bring you a news flash of sorts from our little family here at Chateau Walmsley.
Early Sunday morning (I think it was 2am to be exact) Scott and I were awoken by a ‘THUMP’ emanating from the boy’s room – a sound that often accompanies Matthew falling out of bed. This was of course followed by crying (which is also normal but looking back on it now was perhaps louder than normal!) and then with me feigning sleep and Scott dutifully getting out of bed to remedy the situation. As I casually rolled over to go back to sleep I was roused by a call from Scott to get some tissues as Matthew was bleeding. Now whilst I must admit to often (OK pretty much always) feigning sleep when dealing with night wakings from our kids past 1 year of age, I will say this – in a crisis (wet bed, vomit etc etc) I move pretty fast!! So up I got and in to see the problem.
There was a lot of blood, which upon inspection was emanating from a rather large gash right through Matthew’s lip (it appears he hit it on the ladder of the bunk bed he shares with Jack . Exactly how he achieved this with such force seeing as he is on the bottom bunk
we are still not sure). So I got dressed and off we went to the emergency department at our city’s Royal Children’s Hospital. Long story short – Matthew ended up having to be operated on by a plastic surgeon, he was an absolute trooper (no crying or screaming), it was a loooooong day but we were cared for wonderfully, in the brand spanking new children’s hospital (if you are ever in Melbourne you are in good hands!!).
Anyway all this got me to thinking about what would have been had we not been here, with access to such great care at our finger tips. Taking our kids away from these kinds of facilities and opportunities has been a major factor in our decision to depart for Arnhem land. But until now decisions have been made based on what if’s, this event has bought the whole issue so far into reality that it has made me uncomfortable at times. Will our kids be at risk when we take them to the field?
So what will our medical situation be? Where we will initially be based in Arnhem land there is a 32 bed hospital which does have pediatric services. In addition to this in-situ medical care remote areas of Australia are well serviced by a number of not for profits such as Careflight or the Royal Flying Doctors who specialise in airlifting patients to hospitals with better facilities. Gove has an airport with major services running to Darwin and Cairns regularly not to mention that my husband is a pilot with access to planes (albeit a lot smaller). Scott and I have first aid training (which we are updating) and are well up to scratch on life saving interventions. And finally – we will be getting a hold of a satellite phone (a necessity we learnt about the hard way after an accident whilst camping remotely almost 2 years ago). So there is a layering of options should we need it – however this care does not consist of a major, state of the art, children’s hospital 20 minutes from our house.
So what would have been the result in Matthew’s case? Firstly he would not have died (hooray!), the best situation I can envisage would be that there is a plastic surgeon at Gove Hospital, however I am in doubt about this. So what next? Well there would probably have been two options -
Option 1 – This involves getting him and one of us transported to a locality with a plastic surgeon to seemlessly repair his lip (aka what has happened now). Good option albeit a bit more logistically tricky and perhaps expensive!
Option 2 – Should option 1 not have been available then a local doctor or surgeon would have to stitch his lip most likely leaving a scar. Long term not life threatening but slightly disfiguring and possibly annoying.
What would happen if it were something life threatening – say snake bite or a serious illness? What if we move more remote, where there will be no hospital?
The reality is there are risks with this decision which make my stomach turn and eyes well up as I write about them. Remoteness is dangerous just because of the very nature of it - you are away from the services so taken for granted in major cities.
Will this stop us? It depends on when you ask me? Middle of the night with a bleeding child – yes it makes me stop. However today, in the light of the day, knowing that Scott and I are aware of the risks and are doing everything in our power to minimise them I say (tentatively) no - Scott and I feel strongly about the work we will be doing, serving people who do not have the benefits of life we have grown up with, and don’t believe we will be overly risking our children’s lives in the process. We all know the statistics about children and roads don’t we (well here is one risk we will be minimising hopefully).
Will this decision change? I believe it will – constantly – and I am not alone, there are other bloggers out there struggling with these issues. But for now, whilst actively pursuing every avenue to reduce the risks, we will take a step in faith and I will attempt to quiet my overthinking mind…
Do you take for granted the medical care you have access to? Perhaps you could take a look at the care avilable to others around the world.