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Monday, June 19, 2017

Moore River Relaxation B&B

It was my husband's birthday a few months ago, Rob turned 45! I decided to take him for a short 1-night getaway to Moore River Relaxation B&B. An hours drive north (yes this time it really is an hour!), the B&B is 10m away from the town of Guilderton.

The house is beautiful and polished .... There are different "themes" for the bedrooms, and we had chosen to stay in the "Kosciuszko Room". It had a nice luxurious feel to it, just like a hotel room and was decked out in loads of bedding and pillows.


Just like a hotel room, it had its own mini bar-fridge, kettle, coffee pods and the electric incense burner gave an amazing lift to the room.


We visited Moore River and it was really really busy being the Easter long weekend. The carpark was absolutely heaving, grassy spots were at a premium, everywhere was busy and we just found ourselves a spot on a small strip of sand by the riverbank. There's a caravan park located right next to the river, so its guests overflowed with all the other day visitors from Perth.

There were small paddle boats for hire (a pricey $20 for 30 minutes)


I didn't think much of Moore River, couldn't find anything special about it that would make me come back .... it's proximity to Perth makes it a popular spot, the rivermouth and ocean are things that we already have in Perth.


Back at the B&B, and our friendly hosts shows us an assortment of animals - loud screeches from the parrot, lambs, sheep, ducks and a pig who sits on command provided us with some amusement.

There's a converted garage that holds a pinball machine which keeps Jimmy amused (you can just see red racoon sitting on top "watching" ....)

As pizza is being prepared for dinner, I try out the spa - more luxury, with jets of bubbles and light underneath a stormy night. When Jimmy turns in early for the night (amid some complaining), we sit next to the outdoor pot-belly fire underneath starry skies.

The main attraction for us was the floatation therapy. Situation in it's own room as part of the bathroom, it reminds me of some submarine-like thing.

With the door open, you see a large enclosed bath-tub, with about 6 inches of water at the bottom.
The tub is tall enough to stand up in, and big enough to stretch arms and legs out.

I shower in the adjoining ensuite then step into the floatation therapy .... tank/tub/room thing. It's warm, with a tiny light and music to keep you company. I start off with an air cushion under my neck to try and keep my hair dry but after a few minutes, decide to ditch it as it's more comfortable without.

There is a lot of magnesium in the water, making it easy to float effortlessly. The buoyancy is the best part of the floatation experience, as I alternate between being absolutely still, to spreading myself out and stretching.

A lovely luxurious and chilled experience overall, definitely worth a visit.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Reflections 4 months into working as an anaesthetic technician

It's been 4 months since I started working as an anaesthetic technician. I'm currently on a 6-month contract with a public hospital, and it has been a crazy 4 months! Started in February, which meant that it had been 4 months since I finished clinical placement and stepped foot in a hospital.

Lots of nerves in the first few weeks, having a fellow graduate from TAFE start the same time helped as we would compare notes and support each other. The hospital has been great, with lots of support from the educator, senior techs and other techs.

For the first 3 months, I was considered supernumerary, which meant I was simply excess staff. That allowed me to doubled up with another tech so that I could learn and gain lots of experience. There's so much to learn - not only about putting into practise what I've learnt, but there's the whole "handson" experience which is so very different to sitting in front of a computer, programming. Your hands just have to translate your brain thoughts into keystrokes. But being a technician is very handson - your thoughts have to translate into action, into getting things, doing things.

Then there's the understanding and preparation for a case. From the specialties of neurosurgery, orthopaedics, ophthalmology, plastics, ENT, general surgery .... you have the different procedures under each category: microdisection, laminectomy, burr hole, subdural haematoma, total knee replacement, debridgement, PHACO and IOL, sentinel node biopsy .... a whole new world of anatomy opens up, ready to be dissected and delved into.

A general understanding of anatomy is required, a breakdown of each word to be able to half-guess what I might need to prepare for the anaesthetist. A collection of different airway equipment - LMA (Supreme, Classic, Igel), ETT (flexi, south RAE, nasal tube, MLT, J-tube, NIM tube) - is it a short procedure, what does the procedure involve (open surgery, or laparoscopic), where will the surgery be (eyes, nose, ear - keep the airway away from that area), what is the patient like (age, frail, comorbidities such as heart conditions, COPD, CABG, previous surgeries, asthma, unstable heart) ... all this in a few short months.

I have learnt to prepare from what I know, and then to confirm with the anaesthetist. They are the ones with the knowledge and expertise, who have read the patient's notes, and they will (hopefully) tell you what their plans (A, B, C) are.

There are various ways that anaesthetists like to do things, and the same for techs. Some like to have a clear airway trolley. Others prepare for worst case scenario. Different tapes for different techs. I have been exposed to different methods, and so I adapt and learn as I go.

Not only did the hospital start by doubling us up, but it slowly introduced us to one speciality at a time. We started with neuro, did a bit of ortho and general, then went back into neuro for a couple of weeks to really cement that one in. Access to brain and spine means that neuro can be quite fastidious, its attention to positioning means that we have a selection of frames and tables that look like torture devices....

Wilson frame 
Ortho is another tricky specialty. With hips and knees being hacked and sawn open, it's common to use blocks such as spinal and epidurals, so that means learning how to set up for a block: epidural catheters, spinal needles, ropivacaine, ultrasound, nerve stimulator...... opening up a sterile pack for an epidural or spinal can be quite scary at first, as you tentatively open up the pack, carefully tear open packets and pop them gently on.

The first few weeks of "handson" fly past in a blur, as I get the feel of opening up fluids and packets... and more packets. Almost everything is in a packet for sterility. Single-use scissors. Syringes. Sharps. Baer Huggers. LMAs. Masks. If it's not in a packet, its disposable or it needs to be sterilised.

After 3 months, the apron strings are slowly loosened ... we are allowed to run our own lists in the simpler specialities. So we are free, we have our own theatre and we setup from the start until the end of day.

It's now 4 months, and I am really getting into the swing of things. Lately I've done plastics and ophthalmology. I've also been assigned to outside areas (MRI, ERCPs, neuro-imaging etc). Another slightly different ball game.

It has been a really good way to gain experience. Being on your own, you have the liberty to make a decision and then learn from it. Instead of asking your tech, you find out why things are done a certain way and you learn from it. I can't stress how much of a difference a good tech who teaches you the WHY of things can make. Not "Just flick that switch" - but to explain what that switch does. A tech who talks slowly, who understands that your brain doesn't quite work like theirs - just yet.

Lately, I have been trying to revise what I learnt at TAFE, to fill in the gaps and to really understand the theory in terms of the practical side of work. Breathing circuits for example. Airway pressures as another. In this new medical world that I now find myself in, there's always something to learn.

When we first started, I had a choice of 9-hour or 10-hour shifts. I chose 10-hour shifts which means I work 76 hours over a fortnight - 4 10-hour shifts and a day off in the first week, then 3 10-hour shifts, a 6-hour shift and a day off again.

I have to wake up very very early - 5.30AM which is extremely hard! I'm out of the house at 6am to catch a bus to the train station, train into the city and then another bus. I'm at work just after 7am. Squeeze in a coffee or quick breakfast, change into scrubs, scissors/pen/tape in pocket, hair up into scrub hat and I'm ready.



Updating my scrub hat ....


The days are long - I'm usually home around 6.45pm, and as the days darken early, I feel like I'm living in the twilight zone -leaving for work in the dark and coming home in the dark! I gulp down whatever dinner Rob has cooked, I get a few minutes to lie down with Jimmy .... and if I don't end up falling asleep with him, I have a shower and then I'm almost ready for bed.

It's hard to fall asleep these days and I rarely get a good deep restful sleep.

These are the days of my life right now. Busy. And tiring. I don't get much time to blog. I'm enjoying my new career, but certainly not the long days.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Dwarda Downs Country Hideaway, Williams

We're back from an Anzac Day long weekend, and had a 2-night stay at Dwarda Downs Country Hideaway, a dinky-di true-blue Australian bush cottage stay complete with a billabong.

Somewhere south-east of Perth near the town of Williams, I carelessly estimate the time it will take to drive there as a bit over an hour, but .... I only enter the destination in Google Maps as we're about to leave which tells me it will take 1 hour and 40 minutes!

We head off southeast at 11.15am and unlike other southerly drives from Perth, there are NO towns on the way! We stop once for a break for Jimmy and arrive at Bruce and Liz's homestead at 1.15pm. Our accomodation is a modest 2-bedroom typical Australian bush cottage, it's comfortable appointed and fully self-contained. 2 bunkbeds in 1 room and a queen in the other bedroom plus a foldout sofa bed in the lounge means up to 8 people can stay.



Queen bed - linen and towels are provided


The kitchen is fully equipped even with coffee, tea, oil, salt
Our hosts had thoughtfully provided insect repellant, an umbrella, torchlight and firelighters which were very much appreciated  ....

There is a small playground at the back next to a firepit
The Australian bush cottage boasts solar panels for electricity, hot water for showers, clean amenities and fully-equipped kitchen for cooking your own meals. The only thing we didn't realise was how isolated we actually were - the homestead was a few km away, and the nearest town is about 30 minutes away! Bruce kindly gives us some milk and luckily I had packed enough food for the 2 nights: bacon, eggs, bread, roast chicken, pies, fruit .... the only thing missing other than milk was some biscuits for dunking in our tea.


After unpacking and settling in, we wander down to the billabong which is about 100m away. A quick search on Google for "billabong" and the first results return clothing stores, surf shops, barbecues, caravans ... but this is the definition on Wikipedia:-
A billabong (/ˈbɪləbɒŋ/, BIL-ə-bong) is an oxbow lake, an isolated pond left behind after a river changes course.[1] Billabongs are usually formed when the path of a creek or river changes, leaving the former branch with a dead end. Billabongs, reflecting the arid Australian climate in which these "dead rivers" are found, fill with water seasonally and are dry for a greater part of the year.
and, interestingly .....
The etymology of the word billabong is disputed. The word is most likely derived from the Wiradjuri term bilabaŋ, which means "a watercourse that runs only after rain" and is derived from bila, meaning "river",and possibly bong or bung, meaning "dead".One source, however, claims that the term is of Scottish Gaelic origin
There's an old kayak and a tinnie, it was very picturesque down at the billabong, surrounded by bush.


Scoobie the kelpie has decided to stay with us and Jimmy thoroughly enjoys his company


As usual, Jimmy starts off fully clothed and then starts losing his clothes ....

I really like all the Australian native trees and bush around us, and it's only after taking this photo and looking at it, that I realise how well-camouflaged Rob's white body is among the white trees .... can you spot him???



It's a warm day and there's still flies out this time of year, so my hair makes a handy cloak around my face to help keep them away .....




My 2 boys have great fun smearing mud over each other!!!



By 7pm Jimmy is out like a light and we enjoy some wine among the quiet stillness of the bush with just a few hoots and bird screeches for company.

The next day, we decide to try and walk to the main homestead. The flies are still a bit bothersome this time of year so insect repellant, mozzie coils and a long twiggy makeshift flyswatter gumleaf stick helps.
There is NO signal at the cottage ... but a very short walk away from the cottage and up the track connect us to civilization and our phones start pinging with social media and messages.


Jimmy pedals along on his bike but it's a warm day and we don't quite make it. Rob walks back to get the car, while Jimmy and I discover bits of bones and skulls from dead sheep



Scoobie goes off and starts digging, I explain to Jimmy that he's burying his bone ... and my little boy promptly goes off to bury his own bone as well!


We are surrounded all around by bushland, it feels really isolated. In the evening we venture out to the bush and do some kangaroo-spotting. I don't actually expect to see any kangaroos, so to literally stumble on top of one is a magical moment... We stop in our tracks as I point them out quietly to Jimmy, a smaller roo is joined by 2 others and then they bound over a fence to feed on pasture among the sheep.


Our feet crackling among the dry leaves and twigs, and several kangaroos bound off like a shot, blending in among the trees as the light slowly fades. A walk to the billabong in the darkness has a delicious creepiness to it, we turn on our lamps and torches back on quickly, glad for the comforting light.

At night, we build a roaring fire as lightning crackles overhead and the wind picks up. We eat hot pies and throw dry leaves into the fire.
Rob and I enjoyed the isolation and seclusion very much. We may return again, better prepared for the drive and with milk next time!

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