Culture Shock

Thursday, 27. October 2016 23:35 | Author:

It had probably been building for a few days but the culture shock hit me today. We spent the morning on a ward at the Fishtail Hospital and things were done differently to how we are used to doing them in Australia. It is not that they were good or bad, but just different. I am trying to be especially mindful that I am in a different culture and I am not a wise woman from the east coming to tell others how things should be done, but rather an observer in a foreign land. I will admit though that processing all the differences at once was exhausting. One of the main differences was the ward had 15 patients with one nurse in one large Florence Nightingale style open ward. Admittedly every patient is also accompanied by numerous family members who take care of the activities of daily living (ADLs) such as feeding (they go and purchase food from the hospital canteen for the patients), wash them, toilet them and make sure they are comfortable. They also take the doctors prescription to the hospital pharmacy and pay for the medication before bringing it back to the ward for the nurse to administer.

The medications were slightly different to what we were used to in Australia with all patients receiving IV antibiotics having a small amount injected intradermally to check for a reaction. Cannulation was predominately between the thumb and wrist. Observations were taken using manual instruments (sphygmomanometer, thermometer with temp taken under the arm, and oximetry and pulse taken with a small portable pulse oximeter. Respiratory rates were not taken. Interestingly no patient had their blood sugar checked, even those admitted with pancreatitis and type II diabetes.

After lunch we visited Naulo Ghumti Nepal, an NGO set up to help people with drug addictions and/or HIV. They offer drug counselling, treatment and rehab programs of 3-4 weeks and provide community engagement with needle exchange programs and education aimed at reducing the stigma of IV drug users, people with HIV and those with mental health problems. Over 40,000 Nepalese people live with HIV with 37% of these people not using antiretroviral therapy. We were pleased as a group to present Naulo Ghumti with money we had raised prior to our visit which they will use to continue their efforts in Pokhara.

We then visited the Himalayan Eye Hospital where we were able to present the items we had collected for this hospital. Being at such a high altitude with people living way into the hills surrounding Pokhara, there is a high incidence of cataract of the eye. The eye hospital provides over 5000 surgeries each year and is responsible for restoring and maintaining sight in many Nepalese people. Our donations were very well received and we were promised will be put to good use.


Tomorrow we are back at the hospital. I will keep observing and trying to make sense of what I see, however I think that a lot of this will not become concrete until towards the end of the trip or even once we are back in Australia.

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Fishtail Hospital

Wednesday, 26. October 2016 23:17 | Author:

Preconceptions can be troubling things. We had been told so much about what we would be experiencing in the Nepalese hospital system. We are based at Fishtail Hospital which is a private hospital here in Pokhara. It is not the same as an Australian private hospital in that you need private health insurance to access the services, however there is a small fee for services for those who can afford it. The hospital will not turn away patients however and it receives some government funding for its community health work in particular.

Fishtail is a 100 bed hospital with medical, surgical, ICU, obstetrics and gynaecology, radiology, pathology and a CT scanner. There are also consultant specialists in fields such as neurology, psychiatry, endoscopy, ENT and others which you would expect in an Australian hospital.

We were greeted by the hospital chairman and hospital’s matron and presented with leis made of marigold flowers. After a talk from the chairman and another from the matron we were left with the matron who gave us a talk on the community health initiatives of the hospital. These were so similar to Australia in particular dietary education, immunisation, antenatal care and encouragement to meet the world standard of exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months. Whilst our lecturers met with the matron, we visited the roof of the hospital and had amazing views of the fishtail mountain and the Annapurna ranges, part of the Himalayas.

The glare from the snow topped mountains was pretty intense and it was hard to get a non squinty shot! Please note I am also holding Bob Woolly, the mascot of our trip crocheted by the daughter of one of our lecturers!

A tour of the hospital followed which was fascinating. Whilst there were so many differences, we still saw dedicated nurses using evidence based practice and showing they really cared for their patients. We first met in the library where the Florence Nightingale pledge was displayed both in English and in Nepalese.

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I am still trying to process a lot of what I saw on the tour and no doubt will reflect on it further on in our trip.

After lunch we returned to our hotel and a group of us went on a long walk around the lake here in Pokhara. It really is such a beautiful place and one I really want to bring my family back to.

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Our plan is to hire a boat one day and go for a trip on the lake, possibly after hiking up a hill to the temple. Over 15,000 steps today and 49 flights of stairs, and my calves are feeling it!

Finally, this afternoon outside our hotel we had a visitor- apparently they walk up and down the street and graze on the weeds and grasses! We have seen them along main roads, side streets and in the middle of town.


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Teaching, touring and treating

Tuesday, 25. October 2016 23:04 | Author:

The morning started with some eduction sessions on the history and geography of Nepal and a session on language. From there we headed out for a traditional Nepalese lunch which we ate with our fingers.


After lunch we went on a tour of the Tibetan Settlement in Pokhara. The highlight of my day, and possibly trip so far was seeing the fibrecrafters at work!

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And yes, that is a lady sitting cross legged on the floor spinning using a supported spindle, the support being a tin with the lid hollowed in! I managed to even get some video…


The large looms were also amazing.


From here we visited their shop where they showed both their weaving and also the amazing rugs and carpets they had for sale. If only I had money I could have gone crazy!

We also visited Davis Falls…


a Hindu shrine which had the most magnificent views…

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and some white water rapids that came down from the mountains and passed through this narrow spot


Upon returning to our hotel we divided up the goods we had been donated as a group. Everyone was super impressed with all the woollens, hats and medical equipment I had been donated and they will be distributed further on in our trip.

After dinner, I treated myself to a one hour massage. The masseuse kept commenting that I was such a big lady and said that my thighs were very sexy and my husband must love them! The massage also included a chest massage which was different and again gave an opportunity for the masseuse to comment on my breasts!


With the teaching, tourism and treating today I feel like I achieved a lot. My roommate and I have decided we will try and have a massage each week as we need to treat ourselves during our work here. Tomorrow we have our induction at the hospital. I am so looking forward to seeing what the hospital is like and the acuity of patients. Until then, subha ratri!

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Of windy roads and reaching our destination

Tuesday, 25. October 2016 0:11 | Author:

After three days of travel we have arrived at our destination of Pokhara. After an interrupted night of sleep due to me not being used to the sounds of Kathmandu, we awoke to try and see the sunrise- alas the low lying fog prevented this. It is something we will attempt to do here in Pokhara however.

After an early breakfast we walked through the streets of Kathmandu to our coach which took us to Pokhara. Along the way the sounds and smells of Kathmandu were amazing, however it was challenging when I was approached by a child begging in the street. I did what we had been instructed to do and ignored him, however this really tugged at the heartstrings and went against so many of my values. Fortunately someone else in the group ignored the advice and spent 15 minutes with the child going through Nepalese phrases and laughing and communicating without a lot of English.


Driving out of Kathmandu was challenging- traffic was gridlocked a lot of the time, however this gave us time to wave and smile to people on neighbouring busses.



Once out of Kathmandu we met the most scenic roads and travelled down into valleys and up over hills over and over again.

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We stopped for a pitstop after a couple of hours where I tried my first street side food- potato curry. It is no secret I adore spuds in any form and this was amazing! Potato, tomato and spices, served in a bowl moulded out of a leaf.


After over 8 hours of driving we arrived in Pokhara.


Here the housing was lower density and appeared to be more completed than those in Kathmandu. In Nepal land taxes are only paid on completed houses so it is very common to see houses with room for additional floors, roofs etc as these are still habitable, but attract no tax.

Our hotel is lovely and we were made to feel very welcome…


Again a lovely dinner with our group and representatives of the local Lions Club who are taking us under their wing for our visit.

Oh and all the bouncing around on the coach had some benefits. Although I would have walked over 10,000 steps today and been up a couple of dozen flights of stairs, the bus travel was picked up by my fitbit- best day ever!


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Sunday, 23. October 2016 23:03 | Author:

Namaste! We have arrived in Nepal. It was an early start this morning which left us with a couple of hours at Bangkok airport prior to departure. We had been told that due to the death of the King there would be tributes around. All airline staff wore black ribbons and many wore badges with the King’s image on them. There was a stunning memorial at the airport with the most beautiful flowers and a place for people to sign the condolence book.


The flight from Bangkok to Kathmandu was rather uneventful, however towards the end what we had assumed were clouds turned out to be the Himalayan Mountains. Not the best pic, but I hope you get the gist…


The approach to the airport was a little hairy- a quick descent after we had cleared the mountains. The density of the housing was immediately noticeable from the air- no yards as such and most dwellings were apartment buildings.

After collecting luggage and clearing customs we were met by Sonam, our in country guide. Leaving the airport reminded me a little of Fiji with the number of bikes, scooters, cars and busses trying to merge into narrow roads, but it was also vastly different. I was surprised cyclists were not collected by larger vehicles, however drivers tended to stand their ground. No traffic lights to be seen, however a strong police and military presence around places like the Old Palace and some directing traffic along the way.

The hotel we are staying at tonight is in the tourist area of Kathmandu and allowed us to change currency (you cannot obtain Nepalese Rupee outside Nepal) and pick up some bottled water. Of course I just turned on autopilot and brushed my teeth in the basin with town water. Let’s hope my constitution is as good as I claim it is!

We ventured up to the rooftop garden on dusk which was well worth it…


For dinner we went to a Tibetan restaurant and were treated to the yummiest hotpot…


Another early night for my roommate and I- these early starts are taking their toll. We do hope to be up early tomorrow though to look at the sunrise from the rooftop.

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Makes the hard one humble….

Saturday, 22. October 2016 23:26 | Author:

We have arrived in Bangkok and settled into our hotel for our one night- well 7 hours really! Can’t get that song from Chess out of my head!

The joy of an early morning flight from Cairns is watching the sunrise, although at this time of year even a 5.30am flight takes off in daylight. Still got to see some beautiful colour as we ascended however.


In Brisbane was wonderful to catch up with Tess, Ants and Dan and have breakfast together before I met up with our group. Our excitement and nerves was evident as we waited to check in. Fortunately my 53kg of luggage, of which I estimate about 40kg is donations, got through from Cairns (Qantas was amazing!) and checking in as a group with Thai Airways meant it was all averaged out and for the 20 of us travelling we were around 60kg under limit!

The flight to Bangkok was semi-uneventful- I scored the middle seat of three in the middle section of the plane with two burly gents either side with elbows and legs to spread. Managed to get up and walk around a few times and made some progress on my Sockhead Hat– had to restart it on the way down from Cairns as I missed the ‘being careful not to twist’…


Loved Thai Airways- great service and amazing food! Super exhausted now and in need of sleep.

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On my way

Saturday, 22. October 2016 3:02 | Author:

I’m sitting in Cairns airport waiting to board a flight to Brisbane. There I will meet up with a group of students and lecturers from CQUni and travel to Nepal, via Bangkok. In Nepal we will be based in Pokhara for three weeks and spend time at a local hospital, an eye hospital, maternity hospital, children’s home, nursing home and assisting at health clinics in remote villages. To say I am excited is an understatement! I am fortunate to have received a New Colombo Scholarship from the Aussie government and been able to add the cost of the rest of my trip to my HELP debt. Picking up a few extra shifts at work means I will have some spending money, but not a lot. MIML™ and Mr 15 are home alone and Miss18 will return from uni in Melbourne whilst I am away. I know they will be fine without me, but you know- guilt and all.

Over the next three weeks I will be chronicling the trip here on my long lost blog. There will probably be mention of knitting projects (I packed 3) and no doubt photos of food! So sit back and enjoy the ride- I know I will!

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Knock, knock- is this thing still on?

Friday, 14. October 2016 16:10 | Author:

So it appears I have been MIA on this blog for a while. Life has been good. Actually it’s been great! My mental health has been fairly stable, I have been excelling at uni still and now I am working as an AIN at the hospital which I just love. I get to sit with high acuity patients who need someone with them to ensure their safety. One of the joys of this is I get to knit (or spindle spin) when I am on shift so I can kill two proverbial birds…

I set some craftolusions last December and thought I should check in on them…

Finish or frog 10 current WIPs

Hmmm… I believe I am sitting at 8- 4 frogged and 4 finished. I hope to finish two more before the end of the year!

Have a negative stash balance at the end of 2016 (more used than purchased!)

I started a spreadsheet for this and I think I am in front. Well I like to tell myself I am, but I think I would be lying! I have not spun a lot so my fibre stash is really in the black, and yarn is probably about 60/40…

Spin and knit some 3 ply socks for me

Not even started… This may be a 2017 craftolusion, but never say never!

12 self-striping projects completed (can include current WIPs)

I am at 9. Need to cast on and finish some socks this month!

Knit a Baa-ble hat

Done! It even took out second prize at the Cairns Show!

Knit 6 projects out of handspun

That is sitting at two. I want to cast on a couple more…

1 washcloth a month for Women’s Shelter (ABC Christmas appeal)

This hasn’t gotten off the ground. I still want to knit some…

Podcast every fortnight

I thought long and hard about this one. I don’t have the time or energy to do this. There are plenty of amazing podcasts out there and I don’t think I will be adding to them.


So with 2 and a bit months to go I should reach a goal or two… And to be honest, I am not worried that I have not met all these goals and probably won’t. That to me is a huge change of mindset!

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2016 Craft-olutions

Tuesday, 29. December 2015 13:18 | Author:

What an awesome idea by the amazing Donna to put 2016 craft-olutions in writing.

So perhaps I should add my goals for 2016…

  • Finish or frog 10 current WIPs
  • Have a negative stash balance at the end of 2016 (more used than purchased!)
  • Spin and knit some 3 ply socks for me
  • 12 self-striping projects completed (can include current WIPs)
  • Knit a Baa-ble hat
  • Knit 6 projects out of handspun
  • 1 washcloth a month for Women’s Shelter (ABC Christmas appeal)
  • Podcast every fortnight

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It was the best of years, it was the worst of years…

Tuesday, 29. December 2015 11:57 | Author:

This is probably the 10th year I have answered these questions. 2015 contained some highs, but many, many lows. The 12 months July 2014-15 were probably the worst of my life. I hope I have learnt from it- the future will tell.

1. What did you do in 2015 that you’d never done before?

I enrolled in nursing at CQUni. Best decision of the year!

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I don’t tend to make resolutions, although I note last year I said I was going to be kinder to myself.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Not close friends, no.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Husbands and fathers of friends.

5. What countries/states did you visit?

I had several visits to Melbourne which was lovely- school reunion, Bendi and Melbourne Uni open day for Immy. I also went to the Sunshine Coast (Noosa) and Rockhampton for res school for uni.

6. What would you like to have in 2016 that you lacked in 2015?

Some income would be nice.

7. What dates from 2015 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

MIML™ moving in was huge and has been just wonderful!

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Surviving. I was also awarded Fibrecrafter champion at the Cairns Show.

9. What was your biggest failure?

I think this answer is clouded by my PTSD. I have to stop taking other people’s failures as my own.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

An official PTSD diagnosis, and I had my gallbladder out.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

The car fiasco that I hope will be resolved in 2016. But the car has been amazing!

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?

The way Immy completed her High School education with such amazing and wonderful results and the way Japs has turned his study habits around really make me smile, as does the wonderful MIML™.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?

I still do not know why a former close friend suddenly cut me off from her life. It has taken much therapy for me to realise that unless she can show me otherwise, it is not something I have done. It still hurts greatly however.

14. Where did most of your money go?


15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

The election result in January was pretty exciting. My grades at the end of first term also got me excited.

16. What song will always remind you of 2015?

Probably Hello, even though I am not a fan!

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:?

a) happier or sadder?
overall happier, but it has taken lots of therapy!

b)thinner or fatter?

c) richer or poorer?

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Travel, but that is in the medium term goals now. I would also love to start podcasting again sometime.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?


20. How did you spend Christmas?

MIML™ and I together again- long sleep in, brunch then a late lunch of seafood! It was delightful!

21. Did you fall in love in 2015?

Over and over again with the gorgeous MIML™

22. How many one-night stands?


23. What was your favourite TV program?

Game of Thrones, Vikings, Scandal, Outlander, Downton Abbey, Call the Midwife…

24. Did you make a friend with anyone that you didn’t know this time last year?

I am meeting some wonderful nursing students :)

25. What was the best book you read?

Simply Nigella

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?

I have loved using Pandora in the car. This cover is just hauntingly beautiful…

27. What did you want and get?

A full-time job- for a few weeks at least.

28. What did you want and not get?

A regular income

29. What was your favourite film of this year?

The Martian and Suffragette were both awesome.

30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I was 43. I was discharged from hospital after having my gallbladder out.

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

A different February-July! The rest of the year has been spent trying to catch up from those dreadful months.

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2015?


33. What kept you sane?


34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Ewan McGregor still does it for me, and I wish Justin Trudeau was Australia’s PM!

35. What political issue stirred you the most?

Asylum Seekers, proposed cuts to penalty rates.

36. Who did you miss?

Friends who I used to chat with regularly and now haven’t spoken to in months :(

37. Who was the best new person you met?

My new therapist!

38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2015.

I can start my life over no matter what my age.

39. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

It’s hard not to say the same as last year (Everybody Hurts), but…

I am a rock (Paul Simon)

A winter’s day
In a deep and dark
I am alone,
Gazing from my window to the streets below
On a freshly fallen silent shroud of snow.
I am a rock,
I am an island.

I’ve built walls,
A fortress steep and mighty,
That none may penetrate.
I have no need of friendship; friendship causes pain.
It’s laughter and it’s loving I disdain.
I am a rock,
I am an island.

Don’t talk of love,
Well I’ve heard the words before;
It’s sleeping in my memory.
I won’t disturb the slumber of feelings that have died.
If I never loved I never would have cried.
I am a rock,
I am an island.

I have my books
And my poetry to protect me;
I am shielded in my armor,
Hiding in my room, safe within my womb.
I touch no one and no one touches me.
I am a rock,
I am an island.

And a rock feels no pain;
And an island never cries.

Here’s to 2016!

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