Fever, the gap, and what’s normal

Some things should never be normal. Today I saw 2 young boys, about the same age. Both live in East Arnhem Land with their parents. Both of them presented with fevers, lethargy, and a high heart rate. Both of them looked pretty miserable. Why should it be that for one kid the most likely diagnosis was a viral sore throat that was likely to get better with paracetamol, and for the other kid the most likely diagnosis was pneumonia needing hospital admission and intravenous antibiotics?…Continue Reading “Fever, the gap, and what’s normal”

This part of East Arnhem Land has been a battleground for the last week, against an enemy that is too small to see but is hard to beat. That enemy is Sarcoptes scabiei, otherwise known as scabies. All week, health workers have been visiting houses in communities, encouraging everyone to wash and dry their linen in the sun and to all apply a special cream from the neck down. 

Continue Reading "Healthy Skin Week"

When you see a doctor, do you expect to be able to explain your problem so the doctor understands it, get an explanation of what could be wrong, and a plan for investigations and treatment? For most people that would be a fairly basic expectation. What if none of the doctors could speak your language? I had an experience recently of meeting someone, and not being able to communicate at all. Neither I or the nurse could figure out what was wrong apart from the…Continue Reading “Communication”

A different language

Us doctors seem to enjoy appearing mysterious and intelligent, so we often speak in secret codes that only other doctors understand, or write with such bad handwriting that only other doctors can decipher it. It’s a great strategy because it gives the impression of being clever without requiring any actual cleverness. Take the following example: My point exactly. Now, when a doctor like me moves to a place like Nhulunbuy, it is stressful. The language is different. All of a sudden, instead of familiar words…Continue Reading “A different language”