A Few Thoughts From Katherine This Week

After three weeks in the Solomon Islands I am into a routine and working as “Dr Katy” on the paediatric ward seems quite the norm now. The number of children coming into the ward with diarrhoea & vomiting has slightly reduced and this week we have had many babies with fever and breathing difficulty, a child with a high fever (the cause of which I have struggled to get to the bottom of) and a third child with persistent fitting.
The maternity ward has kept us busy and we have had two sick babies, the first was a baby born around 30 weeks gestation weighing 1Kg, the second was born with vacuum-assisted delivery after a prolonged labour who was severely compromised at delivery. Managing these babies in such a different setting has encouraged me to think things through from first principles and with the aid of Nelson’s paediatric textbook and some creative thinking we have tried to do our best for these babies with what we have. In the U.K. both would have been on a neonatal intensive care unit, intubated and ventilated, with the second baby cooled to prevent further brain damage. There are no such facilities here and the staff do an incredible job with the facilities available. Practices that are now “old fashioned” and no longer used in the U.K. are crucial when there is no alternative. The attitude to life and death here is very different: parents and staff are far more accepting and ready to let nature take its course when all possible has been done. I have found them far more accepting than myself!
At the end of the day, Mum and I have been swimming in the lagoon to cool off. I have loved being in the water as the sun is setting over the distant islands and we have been kept company by the jumping fish and the fishermen out in their canoes.

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