Calm within the storm



Calm within the storm,

The straw that broke the camels back,


Is this just ‘pressure’, or a wino drinking crack?


The whole world of insanity eventually comes to face,

Us all in the mirror of time and grace,


So slow down your pace,

And see what is there,


I challenge you to do this!

If you do so care?

For when we are calm ,

The chaos becomes our balm 


And we can apply it to ourselves others too,

You also can be part of this new “calmness brew”!?


And even if those who have realized this maybe few,

Join me now in hand, and perhaps we can unfold what is long overdue?


First few shifts in Port Hedland

It was a busy emergency shift yesterday, and it is easy to feel overwhelmed in an environment where the demand can quickly shift to outstrip the available resources. This is often the case in the world of emergency medicine, but being a Locum perhaps adds an extra challenge to the mix because you are never familiar with how things run when starting in a new place.

Lucky for me, the staff I was working with were so friendly and helpful. Last night I was surrounded by fellow doctors, nurses and allied health who gave me the support I needed. In addition the specialists (Physician, Surgeon and Pediatrician supporting the emergency department) were proactive in helping! Already I was reminded of what I have experienced before when previously working in remote and rural settings. There seemed to be a kind of communal spirit focused on what I believe all health care workers should be focused on, “serving the patient”. This is the same spirit that can easily get lost in the impersonal way that many bigger city hospitals operate. 

So in amongst the chaos of the department, I was stuck in the middle of a fire alarm drill whilst managing a patient. It was just a “fire drill” and we were all told to stand down from the high alert, but there was still a technical glitch in the alarm system leaving it ringing for almost 10 minutes (aka- an eternity!). It was at this time that I felt that I had to hold insanity by the hand which probably lead to the source of this poem – luckily I made it back to the other side – Yay for the “Calm”!



Port Hedland


Desert Skies


Entering into a different world,

So very dry and dusty, yet tropical and unfurled,


Skies as big as eyes,

And palm leaves that leave you curled,


Figuring it all out is just another quiz,

Bearing the answers of a why?,


There is peace here too,

Beyond the disturbance of a sigh,


And everything is once again anew,

As your eyes open to the colour and the hue. 


30-1-12  A new locum emergency job, and new location. Today was my first day working in the Port Headland emergency department, a part of the world that I have never before been. I left Sydney in a rush as I tried to finish my PhD outline late the night before, leaving the house without my jacket – but where I was headed I wouldn’t be needing that. Jumping on the plane was as exciting as it was scary! Even from the moment I was boarding the plane I noticed things were different – such as the fact that more than 50% of the aircraft passengers were wearing uniforms with that were either orange or yellow with reflector patches! 

The Port Headland hospital is a really nice place to work I sensed this from the first moment I was orientated (*being orientated formally in an emergency medicine job is a luxury, so today I felt very lucky!). The first day of any job is always a huge stress because in emergency medicine one of the key elements of practicing emergency medicine relies upon knowing how the local systems work, what to do by oneself, and  when to call for help, and how to call! In other words it’s about knowing the culture of local practice in that department and that particular hospital. Learning cultures takes time and when you are in a high pressured environment it is natural to want to feel like “I wish I just knew how to do things faster”! What is comforting to know is that almost everyone faces this same learning curve when they start in a new place, so we are not alone! 

Another other great challenge of first day on a new locum is to do with making diagnoses in populations that you don’t yet understand. This is something I learned from my supervisors in Toxicology, one of the key clues to the diagnosis lies in knowing what types of poisoning are prevalent in the particular community where you are working (eg a semi-conscious 28yo male coming in with pin-point pupils is opiate toxicity until proven otherwise if your hospital is next to Kings Cross, but in Rural Sri Lanka it’s more likely to be organophosphorus poisoning!).

Port Headland has a large aboriginal population and today I felt like I was in a different world – ie I encountered more aboriginal patients in one day that I have in my whole career put together. This is quite Ironic given that I have practiced medicine in Australia for over a year but this has been in Eastern Suburbs Sydney, and before that North Sydney. It was so challenging for me to treating the aboriginal people, as I there was a culture that I am still learning to understand and I’m looking forward to learning more by working in this region.  I remember when I was in rural Sri Lanka, it was in learning the culture of the villagers who made up the majority of the patients that was the key to being able to deliver service.

Well I guess it’s time to sleep – I’ve got another shift tomorrow and got to do a teaching session on one of my favourite topics – organophosphorus poising!