Saturday, 28 February 2009

Part 2 of the Medivac - Arriving at The Palace [yes, very belated]

I was prompted to action partly by Steve, and partly by seeing Rob and Lara's final entry on the blog: I never finished my hospital saga, and it is a story that needs to be recorded for posterity. (note: datestamp altered to be closer to part 1 - Steve)

When last I left you, Steve and I were preparing to leave the "comforts" of National Referral Hospital in Honiara so I could receive some First World medical care as recommended by the insurance company. We advised them the next flight departing Honiara would be that evening, a Sunday. With about six hours before the flight, a company consultant rang to inform me that yes, I had been approved to fly to Brisbane and was booked on the flight. But how would I fly by myself, I asked in horror? I needed assistance to get to the toilet twenty metres away, had blood pressure of 80/50 (normal is about 120/80), had collapsed a couple of days ago, couldn't sit up for more than a few minutes at a time - how would I carry a bag, check myself in, walk through the airport, get a taxi to the hospital? "Oh," the consultant replied helpfully. A long pause ensued. I explained to her, with minimal hysteria, that I was better qualified than most to assess my own safety to travel - AND I WAS DEFINITELY NOT SAFE! With that, she promised to try to get Steve on the flight as well.

The hours oozed by, the stress levels rose (Steve called our parents, so they were anxious along with us), and I probably vomited at some stage during all of that too. With about 2 1/2 hours before the flight was due to depart, the insurance company called back: yes, Steve could accompany me. Phew.

A nurse came with us to the airport, so that I could have fluids running through my IV until the last possible moment. Steve held me and our scant luggage, and looked for a place for me to sit, or preferably lie, but most seats were full. As we have learned, getting by in Solomons is all about who you know: as we looked, we made eye contact and exchanged eyebrow raises (see previous blogs) with an air hostess we had met on two previous flights! She immediately cleared a couch for me to lie on, and hurried off to sort out a wheelchair and helped Steve get us checked in with minimal hassle. We were waved through, rushed through even, despite carrying about six litres of water, and me and the wheelchair setting off the scanner alarm.

We don't normally have a lot of kind words for Solomon Airlines (none for their domestic services), but the staff were lovely and helpful, and I think we even departed on time. They found me blankets and pillows, and a wheelchair as quickly as they could at the other end. It was an uncomfortable flight, however, as my belly begun to expand very uncomfortably due to my enormous liver and spleen. I now have so much more sympathy for the babies I used to see with liver problems - it is impossible to sit up straight, or lie on your left side with an enlarged liver, it really feels like your organs are being pulled out of you with tongs. But we made it, and must have got through immigration and customs very quickly, as I barely remember it.

A friendly taxi driver drove us (very carefully over the speed bumps, as I didn't want to lose my liver) to the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital, hereafter referred to as The Palace. Just being in an Australian city was reassurring, even though we don't know Brisbane well. One way or another, it had to be better than where we had come from. A brief wheechair ride up into the clean, new emergency department, and we entered another world....

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