Monsieur Pamplemoose

Monday 12 August 2013

16 11.10S    167 23.42E

It was well worth the effort of moving the yacht just before dark last night. I slept well. I got up a couple of times, but all was well.  Our plan was to leave the anchorage at 6am and I was lying awake in my bunk at 5:45am thinking Denis’ alarm will go off any minute.  Sure enough the tinkling musical tones of the alarm could be heard wafting from the main cabin. Dve, who slept in my cabin last night on the upper bunk and I got up and pottered around for a little while. I put the new waypoints into the chart plotter while Denis and Dave checked the anchor. At 5 to 6 it was time to warm up the motor; Just the thing to get Martin and Rhod out of their bunks. The medical team knew they could turn over and go back to sleep.
It is only just daylight at 6am and we slid out of our anchorage and on to our course. It was very cold last night so we had jackets on. Except Martin that is; but then he is from the cold country where yachts have snow shovels in the lockers.

The weather was beautiful with a light breeze and the sun peeping over the mountains of Melakula a short distance to the east.
We got to Lambumbu in good time and found the gap in the coast that marked the entrance of that little bay. One of our number was up the mast, two in the bow, one half way to relay instructions and two at the helm (one to steer and one to call the depths. We motored in slowly past rocks on both sides with our team calling little instructions as we went….”all clear up front” “5 metres!”  “stand by to drop anchor” “4 metres”  “Going astern” (to bring the boat to a stop) “Drop anchor”.

Today’s clinic was to be held at the village of Vinmarvis which is a half hour truck ride on a very rough road from the anchorage. Our little truck was waiting for us at 9:30 and took our equipment and people to work. No traffic jams but as Denis found it was tough going. He was sitting on the wheel arch of the ute’s tub and felt every bump in the …….!

Here are some observations from the medical team.

First up Garry Hibble (dentist)
As the dentist on this mission to Vanuatu as we have had to learn to adapt to the conditions that are presented . it is nothing that resembles a dental surgery back in Australia. We work with a limited amount of equipment.  It would be a delight to have a good light, instead I usually find a willing Ni Van to hold a head torch under our direction ( I have found that that it is better to have the light held in preference to wearing it). There is no suction, no triplex, no  x ray and no amalgamator to name a few but as I said we have had to adapt to what we have. Maintaining sterile instruments has been our biggest  hurdle and I have had to enlist the help of other crew in particular  Martin and Dennis who have helped to maintain a good system.
With all those limitations the main presenting complaint is tooth ache requiring extraction. We have extracted teeth from children as young as 7 and those in their  80’s. We usually have a crowd of interested onlookers who provide sound effects and often take photos on their  mobile phones of their friends’ torment. The patients generally accept the injection without flinching and accept their treatment in good spirit and are very thankful. All this time I have been assisted by Morinda who has spoken to school children about preventive dental care. She too has accepted the challenge in a difficult environment and has expanded her clinical skills. She is invaluable in communicating after patient care in Bislama which is a comfort to the patient.  She also is able to assist by communicating with the patient, what the presenting problem is.

We are just over half way through the tour and have developed a good system between us and are able to set the clinic up quickly and create a smooth through put of patients.
Many thanks Garry.

Next we hear from Megan Zabell (Optometrist)
After a couple of days Hellen (Ni Van Eyecare worker) and I have established a good system. Hellen refracts the patient (using the Bislama reading card!) and passes them along to me with their prescription and I check the health of the front and back of the eye. This generally means detection and grading of pterygia and cataracts. In Vanuatu the treatment options are limited so these conditions are left longer than they would be in Australia. If things are looking bad enough such as a pterygia starting to cover the eye or a cataract getting bad enough that the patient can see no more detail than counting fingers then we provide a referral to Santo for surgery.

Generally I try to dispense the glasses and have an attempt at explaining the eye conditions. This is very easy if their eyes are healthy;”Numbawan!! Very good eyes!”. However, it can be tricky for other conditions such as cataract;  “glass blong eye blong you got cloudy”. Hellen steps in if the patients looks too baffled.

Generally patients are very thankful. One of my favorite patients, an 86 year old, told me that his -2.00 glasses, that wouldn’t even get him within the legal driving limit in Australia, saying that his new glasses were like having brand new eyes!
Thanks Megan.

It is now time to introduce you to Monsieur Pamplemoose. You might recall from earlier logs that Denis has a knack of attracting and entertaining a crowd. He plays hand tricks with the children and sings songs with children and adults alike. Today it was more formal. Denis  visited a school and was introduced by the teacher to the children as Monsieur Pamplemoose.  The teacher had asked Denis what his name was beforehand so she could introduce him to the children and that was the answer he gave. She did a double take and blinked rapidly and said “Really? Is that your name?” and Denis meekly said “Yes”. Of course as soon as M. Pamplemoose was introduced he had the children laughing. After a little bit of banter, and when Denis was sure he had their attention, he gave a talk about  preventative dental care and gave tooth brushes and tooth brushes to the little ones. Later the teacher came to the clinic and had a tooth out then nursing a sore mouth came to Megan for an eye test. Megan asked her how her day was going and she explained in delighted tones that, someone called M. Pamplemoose had visited the class and had the children in stitches! Well done M. Pamplemoose . We might have a surplus of pamplemoose on board but there is only one Monsieur Pamplemoose. Monsieur P has a son who will soon be living in Vanuatu for his work. And it is his birthday. In true on board tradition we celebrate any birthday which comes within cooee. Happy birthday Simon. We wish you a very happy day. Cheers.

Smooth seas, fair breeze and M. Pamplemoose

To read older Ships Log posts go to …

To see additional photos of Mission 1 go to …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.