Do you ever feel sorry for yourself?

To answer the question above, sometimes I do. My knees are giving me ‘hell’ today. I had my knee surgery a good few years ago and they were good for a while.

This was the first day the dressings were taken down. They healed well and I was able to be on a plane back to Ethiopia within a couple of months to help with the first group of year 4 medical students as they came into our hospital there.

They were good for a couple of years then something went wrong and although I am constantly reassured that it has nothing to do with the prostheses going bad, now every step hurts. So today I was feeling a bit sorry for myself. and decided to look at a few photos of those who really did have something to complain about.

I have chosen a handful from more than a hundred leg shots, and cut out the really nasty ones but you choose if you want to read on.

Continue reading “Do you ever feel sorry for yourself?”

Children….

I’m writing this because I read yesterday of the 150 children kidnapped from a school in Nigeria. This is one of many such attacks with about 1,000 children in all being taken since December last year. Some, a minority, have been released. That is mind-boggling and I’m surprised that that it doesn’t provoke international ire and offered help to the Nigerian Government for help. Such help may of course have been offered and rejected. Some of the pictures I have seen from before indicate that some taken were Muslims. The latest school attacked was the Bethel Baptist School.

In Australia as doctors we have to be very careful. It is difficult for medical students to get into watch a child being examined without parental or guardian permission. As a doctor I am not allowed into an operating room without special registration with each individual hospital, even with adults being operated on. This is a long way away from the old system where operating rooms had mezzanine floors built so that many students and other doctors could watch and learn.

It reminded me of a medical student from Australia visiting us in Ethiopia for an elective term, who told me that I dare not treat children with the affection that I did there, if I was in Australia.

This boy had been run over by a cotton picking machine and had massive injuries from his pelvis down. It took my hat on his head to get a smile out of him. It was a weak smile but took weeks to achieve!
Months later when we got him standing with help, I got a real smile! He had about 20 operations.
Sometimes it took my glasses to get any attention

You can see that this poor kid has lost an arm. We had at least one case a week of cases like this. This occurred rarely because of an accident but ususlly because with a fracture (I guess we could call that an accident!) but that had been badly managed by a local healer who bound the limb, leg or arm so tightly that it caused gangrene.

This young guy had been kept at home until his leg dropped off. You can see how flexed his hip is. He was so weak that we had train him to stand up again, initially by holding him. We did make wooden legs initially and later there were prosthetic limbs available.

This is one such limb made in Arba Minch for a teenager who was so ill when he came in with a gangrenous leg and septic shock that even after initial resuscitation he had 2 cardiac arrests on the operating table. He did well and the last I saw him was attending school supported by an Australia who visited us and met him. There is a lot more to the story than I have told here, as you can guess!

You can see the scar on this boy’s head. He was in ICU and with a very low GCS (a count of severity of head injury) and the nursing staff wanted to put him in the ward as they were sure that he would die. I resisted and although he had a few problems (he was nearly blind), he survived and he loved me and would come running to me whenever he heard my steps. Should I have held him and tickled him? His dad was so happy that he lived!

I may show a copy of some gross pictures of suffering in my medical memoirs blog but here sufficient to say that I treated a thousand or more kids and they all needed medical, emotional and often physical loving. My heart bleeds for those taken in Nigeria and their families, but this is a worldwide problem. Let’s give all the help we can!

Dominic Cartier.

My 101st Heated Stew attempt.

Our small church has two congregations. At 9AM we have a service for mainly older white people, you might label us a ‘dying’ church. But we do have an outreach into India, South Africa and Ethiopia where people from an overseas church which was disrupted have scattered to other places. The outreach is by the internet. Then we have a much younger Indian congregation which meets at about 10.30 for a service and then an all age Sunday School. Once a month we have commenced a combined service with communion. Today was the first such combined service.

You might wonder what a dog staring at a Television set has to do with church services. I’ve written about my dogs before. Sadly they are both dead, euthanized, because they got into my sheep and started killing them. Here is Liesel staring very intently up at a very colourful, very active packed scene. What is she thinking? How is she reacting? I talk to animals, I may be even more stupid as I sometimes talk to myself. They recognize expressions, they respond to moods but I don’t know what they are thinking. I guess when I talk to myself I can tell myself what I’m thinking!

So what has that got to do with church this morning? The Indian adults, although from a different background have been in Australia for long enough to understand our ways of thinking. But I wondered what the kids thought. Their church services are in their own tongue, Malayalam, and this morning was the first time some children have been in an adult English speaking service. The kids’ English is good, but there are real differences in styles of worship.

In the morning tea afterwards I called one of the little kids to talk to me. He was a bit shy and his older brother came to guard him. He’s in grade 1. So I asked him if he could add up. ‘Yes’, he said. I asked him to add up 1+1, then 2+2, then 6+3 and he got them all correct. I saw him counting on his fingers. I knew that kids in grade one don’t deal in thousands so I asked him to add up 6 thousand and 3 thousand. He looked at me with his head on an angle to the side, thought for a moment and said nine thousand. So I asked him if he knew subtraction. The bigger brother said that his little brother hadn’t learnt that yet. So I told him, the older brother, to let his brother try to answer. So I asked 2-1, then 4-2, then 9-6 and he got them all correct. I then asked what if he took 4,000 from 10,000. And sharp as a tack he told me 6,000. For you and me very easy, but I thought for a grade one boy, that was excellent.

I wonder what people think and how much they understand when a church service is going on. The Indian children sat perfectly well behaved – not a noise out of place. But how much did they or any of us hear of the prayers, the songs, the preaching, the communion? I guess it will be told in the way we live our lives this week.

Please note the small skateboard under the table, in the dog picture above. It hasn’t been used for many years. The small boy seen below playing below with two of my grandchildren was run over by a train and lost both legs and an arm. We were allowed to bring him to Australia for medical help but not permitted to adopt him. He used the skateboard and the little ‘do-dad’ in front of him in the picture below to get around. He is now a University student in the USA. We still correspond but I’d love to see him face to face before I die!

He used to love sitting in front of the TV, conducting Andre Rieu as he watched a DVD.

The day I first met him he was about to be discharged to be a beggar on the streets of Ethiopia. I brought him home that evening and it was the beginning of a long friendship. He knew no English, but we had Amharic as a common language. I asked him if he had to get up to pee at night. He said ‘no’. I asked because I knew it would either mean a wet bed or me getting up to carry him to the loo. Then I asked him if he ever woke up screaming at night after the accident. I was surprised and delighted when he replied ‘There is a God in Heaven and I have left it in His hands.’ He was somewhere between 8-10. It was drizzling rain and, on a dirty road, I kept having to use the windscreen wiper and following behind other vehicles when the rain stopped I had to use the water spray jets to clean the window. I tested him when he asked where the water came from. He had never been in a car. I told him that there were two little boys under the hood and I would give them a little electric shock and they would pee for me. I kept a straight face. He looked worried for a moment and then burst out laughing. ‘Now, tell me the truth!’ I knew we would get on well, and we still do.

People can think! It’s what they do with what they’ve learned that counts!

Dominic Cartier.

A Day Out.

My orthopaedic surgeon allows me to take, once every few months, a high dose three day course of prednisolone to allow me to have a pretty pain free couple of days. I use his permission for special events. I used it this week.

In retirement my wife and I live with two of our sons on a small 100 acre (40Hac) property. About 40% of it is taken up with 2 hills steep and covered with my enemy the Chonkee Apple. That leaves us about 60 useful acres. One of my sons is adopted and younger than many of our grandchildren. He is an apprentice mechanic. The other much older has a part time job as pastor of a small church, and makes caring for us and the farm the rest of his job.

So what do we do on the 60 acres? We are developing, I guess you would call it a hobby farm, with Dorper sheep. Initially we bought 12 ewes and a ram. We got 11 lambs, sadly one of which was stillborn and the dogs got at two of them. The dogs have since gone to dogs’ heaven even though we loved them very much. A farmer cannot tolerate that behaviour, and I refused to see them chained up all the time.

So we have 8 lambs nearly ready for market (males) or putting back into the breeding flock (females).

Here the lambs are separated in a small paddock to finish fattening them.

As we separated them from the small flock we counted 8 of them. I think if you try you can count 8 heads. The brown in their ears makes counting a bit difficult. But there were 8. Yesterday there were 9!

Now if you count correctly there are 9!

All our ewes have ear tags. None of these have. The 2 uncastrated ram lambs are easily identified and there are still only 2. So How? I don’t have an answer except maybe our neighbour who has a few now has one less. Something about grass on the other side of the fence being greener! At any rate they are looking in good nic.

But what has that got to do with my use of prednisolone? Nothing! We decided to buy some more ewes. Hopefully by getting a good percentage of ewe lambs we hope to run a breeding stock of about 50. The only place we have been able to get them is a round trip of about 1,200Km. This area around us is a cattle area, so there aren’t many sheep, and not many have dorper sheep. (These don’t need shearing, they shed their wool.) So I, usually limited to small trips and often in a wheelchair these days, wanted to go with my son. Hence the three day course.

This son, whom I think is extraordinarily capable, has built two crates to fit a ute and a trailer plus a ramp

So setting out at about 10 in the morning, we arrived back and by midnight had unloaded the extra 15 ewes and were in bed by midnight. I thoroughly enjoyed the outing.

Sunset on the way home over the long Western Queensland plains. It has been a good season.
The new sheep waiting in the yard the next morning. They are a pretty colourful group.

Now we’ll have to wait and see how many lambs we get. They’re all supposed to be pregnant.

Dominic Cartier.

What’s in a picture? Memories

I certainly didn’t expect to see this picture when I opened my computer this afternoon. But there it was straight in front of me.

It’s not the best quality picture but it holds lots of memories.

  • Our only daughter was born when we were home on furlough in Australia but then we returned to our work in a mission hospital, where I was a surgeon. For our daughter’s sake I had better not tell which year it was, as ladies are so conscious of their ages. It was however well over 40 years ago. She is as lovely and beautiful a daughter as anyone could wish for.
  • The young man, a late teenager, was employed as a gardener but took on the role of her constant carer and companion. He loved her heaps.
  • One morning he arrived late for work and we asked if he had had his breakfast. He hadn’t, so we asked him to eat with us. We were having fried tomatoes and onions on toast. He ate it all but then said something I will never forget. ‘You foreigners don’t like all our food. Now I understand why. That was terrible.’ Innocent lovable honesty.
  • He had tuberculosis of his neck glands that responded to treatment’
  • We attended his marriage some years later. He has a lovely wife and beautiful children. Sadly one shortly after graduating from University died.
  • He’s still alive but has known tribal persecution and suffered several major health problems, but is still a man I’m delighted to call a friend.

All that flashed through my mind from just seeing a poor quality old photo. I loved the kid, loved the man and his family and still even in his relative old age think very fondly of him.

Dominic Cartier