A trip to the Island Doctor

Posted on Posted in Medical

Accidents will happen.


That is what I keep telling myself. It doesn’t matter where in the world we might be, our children will inevitably hurt themselves. It’s up to us as parents to try and reduce the risk of injury and make sure our cherubs survive every little bump, scratch and fall.


We have three very active girls. Holly the eldest is the most sensible, but pretty clumsy. Holly has twice needed stitches in her face, once for splitting her eyebrow open on the cupboard in her room and another time when she misjudged a dive into some pillows at home and hit her head on the wall.


Chloe our middle child is everything you would imagine a middle child to be, and more. Chloe is wild. Chloe takes risks and pushes all the boundaries. Chloe loves going to the doctor, she is fascinated my needles. She is seriously a worry.


Gemma doesn’t often hurt herself but has been the one to spend the most time in hospital. Gemma is susceptible to breathing issues, but that is another story.  


Touch wood our girls are in good health, between them they have not had any broken bones and until recently none of them had ever required any antibiotics.


Six months into our travels and we have already had our fair share of accidents and a few minor injuries. Today we find ourselves on an island in Indonesia. We arrived here with the plan to swim and snorkel for a couple of weeks, instead we sit poolside staring at our devices as Chloe recovers from stitches in her chin and Gemma tends to an infected ant bite on her foot -both girls are on Amoxicillin.

Our three girls are good little swimmers and can keep themselves entertained in the pool for hours. Yesterday however, Chloe slipped and split her chin open on the side of the pool. It was bad. We cleaned her up and made our way to the doctor. I was doubling Chloe on the back of my bike as we chit chatted, she was excited for the prospect of finally getting some stitches, like her big sister -it was a right of passage I guess. I tried to explain to Chloe, the doctor here will be nothing like the doctors she is used to in Switzerland. I was probably asking too much to expect our five year old to understand that. Back in Switzerland when Holly had required stitches in her head, she was massively doped up on laughing gas, Iain filmed her and we have been laughing about it since. Perhaps Chloe was looking forward to being legally high and totally funny. 


We found a little office attached to a local restaurant, the sign said doctor, but it was the most basic clinic. There was mold on the walls and loads of mosquitos flying around inside. The office was connected to the restaurant, I could smell the nasi goreng. The doctor put out his cigarette and took a look at Chloe’s chin. He confirmed, she needed stitches. I wasn’t so sure about putting Chloe through the trauma, but without stitching her up we would be risking infection and scarring. We could try travel to a doctor off the island, but that might be leaving it too long.  


The doctor assured me he would do his best job, he would use the smallest needle he could find. He borrowed my bike and set off in search of a small needle. Finally he returned ready to stitch up Chloe’s chin. I won’t go into the details, but it was horrific. I don’t wish that experience on any child or parent ever.


We almost had to relive the stress yesterday evening when Gemma accidentally kicked Chloe in the face, causing the stitches to bleed. We decided to tend to the mess ourselves rather than visit the clinic again. I am more than a little squeamish when it comes to needles, blood, vomit and puss so I wasn’t sure how I would manage when our kids hurt themselves, as it turns out I am doing a lot better at nurse mum that I ever thought I would.


Probably the biggest concern for any parent is the welfare of their child. I often feel guilty about putting our children at undue risk when we travel. But in reality, they are not really at any greater risk of injury while travelling than they would be at home. Perhaps the medical care here isn’t what we are used to, but it has done the locals well and there is no reason we should expect more than that. As I look back on the incidents we have faced, I’m not sure we wouldn’t have had similar experiences if we had stayed in Switzerland enjoying life in our little village there.




Accidents/incidents while travelling:



Iain backed the hire car into another car -no one hurt.



Holly fell through a manhole at the St Louis city museum splitting her chin open.



Chloe fell from the top bunk of a hostel in the night. Minor bruising


Sri Lanka.

Iain, Rachel, Holly and Chloe got food poisoning after eating dodgy vegetable roti



While on a cruise in Halong bay our boat collided with a barge. Boat damaged but no one injured



Chloe fell from the mezzanine in our apartment while building a fort. Breaking her toe.



Carrying a glass bottle of OJ, Chloe fell cutting her hands.



While cycling along the Mekong Delta, Chloe got her foot stuck in the wheel of her bike. Ripping her trainer and taking the skin off her heel.



Chloe opened the door of our taxi, clotheslining a motorbike, sending the rider skidding through an intersection. (Chloe wasn’t hurt, rider was bruised and shaken)



Gemma got a parasite in her foot, needing anti parasite medication and minor surgery



Our boat broke down leaving us stranded as sun set. Finally rescued, no one hurt.



Gemma got an ant bite on her foot, which became infected.



Chloe split her chin on the swimming pool. 3 Stitches.



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