Labrador History - 7.3 EARLY

Mary Taylor7.3 EARLY ‘62
Just as in a doctor’s general practice I saw many different types of patients.
Early in the New Year of 1962, I had a patient from Red Bay with a baby in the breech position (coming bottom first.) Things happened too fast for me to get her to St. Anthony, so I was quite concerned and made it a matter of prayer. Because the baby was small all progressed normally and she had a beautiful little girl, much to my relief.
I had two more antenatal patients from Red Bay that month, both waiting for their babies at the nursing station. The first had a normal delivery but bled after the placenta was delivered. I was worried for a while, but after an injection of ergometrine and an intravenous, the bleeding came under control. The other patient, much to my relief, had a normal delivery.
Dogs kept us busy too. That same winter two very upset parents brought three-year-old Joey to the clinic. He had been attacked by dogs and had severe bites on both legs. The boy had gone next door to show his grandmother the new sweater his mother had knit him for Christmas, and had gone on to his uncle’s house (next door) when he was attacked by nearby sled dogs. Dogs could be vicious at times and, because they were part wolf anyway, picked on anything smaller and weaker than themselves, especially if it was down. A small child was no match for them.
“Quick, the dogs have got Joey!” Joey’s grandmother was watching and called out to his Dad.
His father hurried, but had a job getting the dogs to release their hold. Once they have tasted blood they are like wolves and thirst for more.
The poor little boy was a mess. He had about a dozen bites, including one deep one on his knee, so I sedated him, injected some local anaesthetic and set about cleaning up and suturing. I also gave him a tetanus shot and, later, a course of Penicillin, but one of his bites became infected anyway, so I kept him at the nursing station for ten days. His uncle had to kill the dogs; for once they have tasted blood they may attack again This was very tough, as it left him without a dog team, which he needed for getting firewood and for hunting, but family members helped him out.
Things seem to come in twos and threes in medicine, and that winter I admitted two young men who had accidents while working in the woods. The first had a bad axe wound on his foot, involving the tendon. I sutured it as best I could and admitted him for rest and antibiotics. The second was deer hunting in the woods, when his new autoboggan got stuck. While he was trying to free it, the steel track went over his foot, but he did not realize the extent of his injury until he got home and took off his boot. He had a nasty cut, and his toe was broken. I sutured his toe and immobilized it as best as I could with a bandage, and put him to bed too. As the two men were in together they were company for each other, which made the time pass more quickly.
In February I admitted a patient from L’Anse-au-Loup who needed a forceps delivery. It was a big baby, a girl weighing over ten pounds. Another big baby from L’Anse-au-Loup! Then there were two patients with acute gallbladder attacks who I sent to St. Anthony and a man in his thirties with a peritonsillar abscess and an older man with a peptic ulcer.
Weather conditions and travelling on dog teams in cold, often damp weather makes a bad situation worse for arthritis sufferers, one of whom came in when all the above was happening. This woman, whose father also had arthritis - a hereditary condition - needed bed rest and analgesics. This must have helped because, after about a week, she was able to go home to look after her family. This woman’s sister also had arthritis and was a diabetic, the latter being difficult to control. I was often called out to see her when she was having an insulin reaction, but her arthritis complicated matters and became increasingly incapacitating. In later years she had both knees replaced which helped somewhat, but she was often in a lot of pain, and was very brave.
Towards the end of February, Wallace’s brother came with a suspected kidney stone, so I gave him lots of fluids to drink and injections for pain as needed. In spite of this he did not improve so I called the doctor in St. Anthony on the radio-telephone, and he arranged for the plane to pick him up.
“Aunt” Mary found a friend that winter, “Aunt” Laura, whom I had seen in Lance-au-Clair one day and who had pain in her chest. Suspecting she was having a heart attack, I brought her back to the nursing station and she was with us for five weeks, where she and “Aunt” Mary spent a lot of time together and enjoyed each other’s company. “Aunt” Mary spoke to her many times of the Saviour and had the joy of pointing her to Christ, so they continued their friendship after “Aunt” Laura went home.
“Aunt” Mary loved the Saviour and one day told me a story of an incident when she was a girl living in Newfoundland. A preacher, who was having cottage meetings, was staying with her parents, when a young girl, who attended the meetings and was deeply troubled, came by to talk. While she and the preacher were talking, the girl’s father rushed in, mad. But, as he came into the room, he himself was convicted and got saved on the spot!
That winter another of “Aunt” Mary’s nieces had a baby, and was company for her too. “Aunt” Mary was delighted when the baby boy arrived safely, and held him in her arms and enjoyed him so much. I would find her sitting in the kitchen, rocking him in her favourite rocking chair.
Mona did not get back to Forteau for her delivery after all so, naturally, I was disappointed. Five weeks before she was due, she went to Mary’s Harbour to see Ruth May for a check up, planning to come to Forteau for the delivery. Conditions, however, did not cooperate and she was in Mary’s Harbour until the baby was born. Sheila Cree, a Scottish midwife stationed in Cartwright, some distance north of Mary’s Harbour, was relieving Ruth while the latter was on her winter dog team trip to the other settlements in her district. Ruth got back the night before Mona went into labour so was able to deliver her little son after all, and Sheila was there for added support.
A few days later Bert flew George into Mary’s Harbour to see his young son, David, and they found themselves storm bound overnight. Next day Mona was ready for home. The two men were going to L’Anse-au-Loup for a wedding so Bert brought Mona and the baby to Forteau. When they landed on the pond in Forteau, to
their surprise, only one man met them! Everyone had gone to a funeral in L’Anse-au-Clair, and the wedding had been postponed until the next day.
A few days earlier there had been a tragedy in L’Anse-au-Clair, when two men died while deer hunting inland. Some men from Brador, a settlement in Quebec four or five miles west of Long Point, had seen them earlier and one of them tried to persuade the men to travel to Brador with him, but they declined, saying it was only a short trip to L’Anse-au-Clair. The next day, when some of their dogs came home without them, a search party was sent out and found the bodies. The weather was quite mild but it had been raining heavily, so the men must have got wet and died from exposure. It was a sad day for their wives and families, and indeed for the whole community. One of the widows had a young baby only a few months old.
After the wedding Mona and George returned to Charlottetown for a while, but moved to Forteau later that spring. One of “Uncle” Joe’s sons was planning to get married and was building a house at the time, and he let them move in to his partly finished home, where they had the use of three downstairs rooms. They stayed there for three or four months, after which they moved to Flower’s Cove in Newfoundland. I appreciated having them so close and visited quite often to enjoy the new baby! It was nice to have another nurse to talk to and with whom to be able to discuss medical problems. She even helped out later that summer, when I had two women in labour at the same time!
One night while we were at a prayer meeting in English Point, Charlotte, who earlier had come from Charlottetown to Forteau for delivery, signaled to me to go out. Her membranes had ruptured in meeting! All went well, however, and she had a little boy, another David.
It had been a busy and eventful winter!