One of the main groups of people that MAF transport up here, are people travelling for medical treatment or doctor’s visits. This was a fact I knew, but got to experience for myself last week. After my recent spate of illness, the doctor here recommended I see a specialist. She wrote out the referral and said the clinic would let me know when an appointment was made. I hoped an appointment would come before we left here, but didn’t get my hopes up too much.
A few weeks ago, Jason got a phone call letting him know that I was booked in to go to Darwin for an xray, so I headed to the clinic to find out what the real story was. I was booked in to see a specialist on Groote Eylandt, who flies out from Darwin for consultations every few months. I was told to be at the airport at 8.30am and be prepared to wait for the day, to return on the doctor’s plane at 4pm in the afternoon.
On Friday morning, we headed off. I had my backpack loaded with lunch, water, a book, my Bible, and a notepad. Supplies to keep me busy for a day. Jason had a day off, so he was able to look after Sam, they had plans to catch fish all day. Sam was rather baffled by the fact that it was Mummy going on the plane, rather than Daddy. Jason was a little jealous that it was me who got to have a fly in a twin engine low wing plane before him. I flew with Katherine Aviation, as they have the contract to fly the doctors from Groote Eylandt to Numbulwar each Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
The morning was a beautiful one for flying. It was clear and calm. Just how I like it! It was an experience flying in a different plane. But I was happy to look out the window and read my book for the 20ish minute flight across the gulf.
I was met at the airport by a nurse who drove me to the clinic. Then we sat and waited for awhile until I could see the doctor. Appointment time. Drive back to the airport. Sat outside for an hour and a bit watching planes come and go. It was nice in the shade, with the wind blowing to keep me cool. Katherine Aviation pilots came and went. Some chatted to me as they knew I was Jason’s wife. If Jason or Rachel have time to kill in Groote Eylandt they often spend time chatting with the other pilots and now know them pretty well. A few other people waiting for planes chatted to me also and their faces lit up in recognition when they heard I was Jason’s wife. “Jason, he’s a good guy,” was the quote from several people. I like hearing that! I even met one lady who I had spoken to on the phone once, trying to help her book a flight when Jason was busy. Small world hey?
The flight back was super quick as we had a tail wind pushing us across the sea. It was a lot bumpier on take off and I discovered that having the wings underneath you makes the bumps more noticeable. Thankfully I was able to catch an earlier flight back, as one of the doctors needed to return earlier, so by one oclock was back home in Numbulwar. With Sam declaring, “Mama I missed you,” and Jason holding his freshly caught bream. It was nice to be home.
It was an exhausting morning and seems like a lot of hassle to get to see a doctor for twenty minutes. But that is one of the realities of living in a remote place. People here catch a plane like those in major cities would catch a bus, train or tram. It is one of the most commonly used forms of transport and enables people to have access to medical care that they need. I am glad that MAF is able to help people in this way and grateful for my chance to see this specialist, who had some clues about what might be going on in this body of mine.