Blogs from Western Highlands, Papua New Guinea, Oceania


Oceania » Papua New Guinea » Western Highlands September 14th 2018

Papua New Guinea is challenging us but it is a rewarding place. Our first morning is spent on the Rondon ridge spotting Birds of Paradise. The male birds have ridiculously long tails of over a metre. They look all the more unreal as the swirling morning mist moves across this jungle covered mountain slope. Spotting the birds is not easy, dark against a bright sky and the jungle foliage of the canopy provides ample cover. But as it gets brighter we see more and more birds, feeding and calling around us. We even see occasional flashes of iridescent blue feathers, displayed fully only in the birds’ courtship dances. The 4 am start and the steep muddy climb to the ridge were worth it. Organising getting to PNG was complex but Pym and his small local tour ... read more
Skeleton men
Face painting
Shell necklaces

Oceania » Papua New Guinea » Western Highlands January 24th 2018

A Week on Peds There are several reasons why I am not going into pediatrics: the patients can’t tell you their symptoms, they squirm and cry when you try to examine them, and there is too much math involved when dosing medications. I am in the mindset of treating pediatric patients as though they are just tiny adults, which they are not. Thus, I am eternally grateful for those (like my beautiful wife) who have chosen to dedicate themselves to this field. This being said, I have enjoyed my three days on the pediatric ward. My kiddos had things ranging from run-of-the-mill pneumonia to meningitis to pigbel. (As an aside, pigbel is a severe form of necrotizing enteritis that is only seen in the Highlands of New Guinea. It occurs after eating contaminated meat, usually pork, ... read more
Radiology consult
Osteomyelitis of the ischium of the hip

Oceania » Papua New Guinea » Western Highlands January 21st 2018

For the past week, I have been rounding on the medical ward with Dr. Bill. On the medical ward, interestingly enough, many of the problems that we manage are very similar to those on a medical ward in the US: COPD exacerbation, congestive heart failure exacerbation, pneumonia, etc. And then there are some cases that I have never seen on a medical ward at home: typhoid, osteomyelitis, malaria. After rounds end in the morning, usually sometime between 9:00 and 10:00, we head over to the outpatient department (OPD) and start seeing all the outpatients for the day. The way this works is that patients will line up outside the hospital, nurses will screen patients to see who actually needs to see a physician, they then come and wait inside to see the next available doctor, five ... read more
My walk to work every morning

Oceania » Papua New Guinea » Western Highlands January 14th 2018

Mi bai kamap Dokta bilong Katim This week was my week on surgery. With Dr. Sheryl, I got to see many patients inside and out of the OR. There were several “bread and butter” straightforward cases – tubal ligation, C-sections, lap appendectomy, as well as some others that were not so straightforward. Among these was a bladder stone in a four year old child. You’ll see the x-ray I uploaded as well as a picture of the stone itself, which ended up measuring about 2 cm in length. Another surgery started as a diagnostic laparoscopy, where we stick a laparoscopic camera inside the abdomen to look around and see if we can identify the cause of a patients symptoms, which in this case were two weeks of lower abdominal pain and fever, refractory to medical treatment. ... read more
Bladder stone removed
John opening a coconut

Oceania » Papua New Guinea » Western Highlands January 10th 2018

Life on Station Kudjip Nazarene Hospital (now officially known as Nazarene General Hospital Jiwaka) is part of a large mission station in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea (the elevation here is about 5200 ft.). There are quite a few missionary families that live on station, as do many of the national staff. One of the great things about this is that everything is within walking distance. My guest flat is about a 3 minute walk from the hospital. To walk to the houses on the other end of the station takes maybe 7 or 8 minutes. The other missionaries on station are great company. I’ve been invited over to dine with several times with different families and it’s always a wonderful time. My quarters consist of a two bedroom flat with a kitchenette. The water ... read more
Buying kaukau at the market
Sewing up a thumb in the ER
Hanging out with Ranger the cuscus

Oceania » Papua New Guinea » Western Highlands January 4th 2018

A brief life update for those of you with whom I’ve been out of contact for a while: I’m halfway through my fourth year of medical school and am planning to pursue a general surgery residency later this year. I have been married to my lovely wife Abigail for a year and a half. She is in her first year of pediatrics residency in Chicago. Ok, you’re up to speed. Greetings from Kudjip, Papua New Guinea! It’s hard to believe that it’s been four and a half years since I was last here. On my two previous visits (summers of 2012 and 2013) I was a lowly pre-med college student who didn’t know a lick about anything medical. Now I at least know enough to be dangerous. I’ll be here for just over 3 weeks. One ... read more

Scrubbing In Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of this week I have been with Dr. Jim Radcliffe is surgery. On Tuesday, I got to scrub in for the first time. The procedure was a biliary bypass. The patient had an inoperable tumor obstructing the bile duct from the gallbladder, so Dr. Jim incised and drained the gallbladder, incised the stomach, and then sutured the gallbladder to the stomach so that the bile will now drain into the stomach. During this operation, I got to hold retractors, clamps, and sutures, suction blood and bile, and once Dr. Jim was finished suturing the fascia, he left to fill in the patient's charts and I stapled the epidermis back together. Other operations I saw on Tuesday included two tubal ligations, a finger amputation, and a colostomy. Wednesday was a day ... read more

Encounters with Wildlife Papua New Guinea is a tropical, and thus very biodiverse, place. The number of insects, animals, flowers, and other plants is astounding. I have had quite a few interesting cases with some of the local fauna. The houses are not sealed up here as well as back in the US, and this provides opportunities for many insects and other "binatangs" (anything that crawls) to enter the house. Just yesterday I picked up my shoes and knocked them together only to find a 3 inch long centipede come scuttling out. He was terminated. In the first house in which I lived, the cockroach death count totalled eight. Thankfully, I never saw any in my bedroom. However, in the house in which I live now, I do have a roommate. There is a gecko that ... read more

Security Guards and Puppies The security guards at Kudjip Nazarene Hospital are hired through a third party, Asila Security Services (conveniently abbreviated ASS, with badges places on their hats and sleeves). These guys are pretty nice and friendly when you talk to them, but most of the time they strut around, empowered by their uniforms. Sometimes they carry a bushknife or a club as guns aren't legal in the country. At the front gate, the guards will often question each person entering the hospital area. They will act like they're doing you a favor when they let you pass. White people are an exception though; they hurry to open gates for us and greet us. Again, they're really nice guys, they just like having authority. Anyway, one day after I finished in ER, I made the ... read more

John Opa is one of the security guards on Kudjip station, and is one of the friendliest nationals that I have met. He lives up at Konduk, which is a good 2 hour hike from Kudjip. John is probably close to 60, and he makes this trek 5 to 6 times a week. There are caves about 2 hours past John's house, and John is always eager to take white people up and show them these caves. This past Saturday, I went with Tim Deuel, Dr. Imelda, Mark Tan, and Nolan to see these caves. Tim's initial plan was to drive us to Konduk, and thus save about an hour and a half in time, plus several hundred vertical feet in climbing. It just so happened that the road was completely washed out at Kopsip, thereby ... read more

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