As I sit here in Bamaga hospital watching my 2-year old daughter sleep, I kept thinking how did we end up here? How could she get so sick so quickly? She went from being ok to being incredibly sick in what felt like the blink of an eye.
For nearly a year we have been planning to come to Cape York. Reading and researching all the amazing places to visit and looking forward to all the fishing. In the lead up to our much-awaited trip, we were so busy planning, stocking up and packing we let the excitement take over. We completely forgot to pack the one item we had purchased for this trip.
We had decided to travel out to Captain Billys after the family we were travelling with headed south. It was the end of the season and there were not that many tourists left in the camps. The day we decided to leave Bamaga for some random reason (miracle) we all slept in. When you are in a tent with a 2-year-old and 3-year-old the chances of sleeping past 5 am just doesn’t happen, this is why I say it was a miracle. By the time breakfast was done it was getting hot and we decided another night would be a better option.
3 hours later our 2-year old went and laid on her mattress and fell asleep. For a child that never had a day nap, we thought she must have been really tired to take herself off to bed. Unbeknown to us she was getting sick. When she woke a few hours later she was really cranky and kept saying she was hurting all over but we couldn’t find anything wrong with her. Within the hour she had sorted herself out and went and played on the beach.
That night she took a turn for the worse and became really unwell with high temperatures. Luckily for us, we had our thermometer and Panadol handy but it didn’t seem to relieve her pain. We nursed her all night trying to find the best option for her. As parents you’re always told by doctors fevers just mean a viral, let it run its course and they’ll be fine.
By morning she hadn’t improved and her pain was worse. Lucky for us we found a hospital, because it was so early in the morning then needed to call the doctor in as she was registering a 41-degree temperature and screaming her lungs out. The nurse gave her some Nurofen and within seconds she vomited it all back up again. As I looked at my daughter trying to console her pain I started to panic. Right in front of my eyes, I could see a rash growing all over her tiny body. Within seconds she was bright RED just like a beetroot and her skin was extremely hot.
As I rushed for the emergency button the doctor arrived. He was calm and had an armful of toys at the ready. He quickly distracted her as he put in an IV line in her arm. Because she was so hot she was cooking herself and was dehydrating really quickly. In a matter of minutes, he had calmed us both down and gave us a diagnosis.
The Doctor explained to me that if we had gone to Captain Billys landing, we most likely would have thought to go to Weipa hospital to which no doubt they wouldn’t have been able to diagnose her condition. In the likelihood they couldn’t have worked it out they would have flown her to Cairns as the antibiotics they would have given her would not have worked. The doctor explained that my 2-year old had contracted SCARLETT FEVER. It’s a rare condition but one that still in north Queensland. With being so tiny she was dehydrating so quickly and needed the correct antibiotics.
Within 2 days of us getting her medical help, she started turning back to a normal colour, the fever had reduced and she was still covered with an unusual rash. The doctor advised us that because she had such a high fever we needed to leave the Cape as soon as we left the hospital. She would have a really low immune system and she needed a lot of rest.
Our story could be much worse than what it was. And we learnt our lesson that we need to make sure we are fully packed. 6 months before doing our Cape York trip we purchased a satellite phone. We would have been out in the middle of nowhere with an emergency with no phone service and no Satellite phone, silly!
So many people have an opinion on whether to buy a satellite phone or not. But before you think you’ll never need one just take a moment and think of where you’re travelling. Just because other travellers might be there you can’t rely on them having something to use for an emergency.
So please, learn from our blessing that the next time you know you are travelling to somewhere that has limited phone service buy a Satellite phone (and pack it) or a Personal Eprib.
Wouldn’t you rather have had it and not used it than regret not purchasing anything at all?