And Mummy smiled…

Friday I returned to Port Antonio. I alternate Friday’s working between the Hospital (top of the hill) and Health Centre (bottom of the hill). Since its a 2 hour drive from my base in Tower Isle, Fridays involve a lot of commuting. It’s a beautiful hilly winding drive, though, especially in eastern Portland Parish where Port Antonio is. “Lush” is the word that comes to mind. The “bush” as it is called here, is filled with palms, orchids, wild bananas, and huge flowering tropical trees. Portland Parish is called “the Garden Parish” and is decidedly less developed than the western end of the north coast. The bush itself is very dense and wild feeling. I’ve read that Port Antonio was THE tourist center in the 1940s and 50s . The actor Errol Flynn ran his yacht ashore off of Port Antonio and liked it so much he ended up staying. His Hollywood friends followed and Port Antonio became THE destination of the rich and famous. Today its pretty quiet though a yacht harbor here bears his name. The town itself has become somewhat of a backwater despite its natural beauty. There are no pediatricians here that I”m aware of. I function as a consultant while here rotating between the local health centre and the hospital/ED. Sicker kids are referred to Annotto Bay or Bustamante Children’s Hospital in Kingston. Finally, I was asked a question this week by a concerned Mom (Mummy) in Jamaica. I had just finished seeing her daughter who had a very obvious case of impetigo on her face and arms. I had completed her prescription and talked about treatment with Mummy. “But wait, doctor, what about her sugar medicine”. Whoa! did I miss something important? She sure didn’t look like a new diabetic, there had been no history of diabetes, she sure wasn’t ketotic….. As I started to ask Mummy about symptoms and diabetes, she replied “no doctor, every time she eats sugar this comes”. Her favorite food? Sweets of course…..problem solved!! No more medicines needed, Mummy, just stop the sweets!! and Mummy smiled
Gary Nichols

I'm a semi-retired paediatrician/sports medicine doc based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I've worked as a volunteer doc in Haiti, Ghana, Nepal, and Bhutan over the last 6 years as well as serving as a sports medicine doc for high schools in Minnesota and major events such as the Olympics, Ironman World Championships in Hawaii, and many others. I love International Medicine and am very grateful to have the opportunity to work in Jamaican with Issa Trust and Heart to Heart Int'l. I have 2 wonderful sons and love hiking, mountaineering, sailing, skiing, and virtually any outdoor activity!!

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