Wednesday, April 8, 2009


Charcoal sketch of Salt & Pepper Hills/Sketched on 9 April 09

My husband and I have been in Coober Pedy for 4 days since last Sunday. Coober Pedy is in central Australia. It is in a desert. The population in Coober Pedy is about 3,800 and comprised surprisingly of 40 over different nationalities. There are also about 500 aborigines here. Many of them still live in the outback.

As an epilepsy activist, I never fail to ask new faces I meet about epilepsy. It was on my second afternoon here that I had the opportunity to have a chat with Debby who helps run the family owned motel.

Epilepsy was not new or unheard off for Debby because she has a sister who has uncontrollable seizures for most of her life. So, as a very young kid, Debby already knew what a seizure is all about. She also recalled the difficult time her mum had in caring for her epileptic sister. Her sister is on medication but she still has seizures.

On our third afternoon here, I had the pleasure to catch up with our tour guide who was on a few hours break in a coffee area. Jimmy, 64, was our tour guide for a half day tour of Coober Pedy. Besides being a tour guide Jimmy had for 30 over years served as an ambulance assistant and volunteer in the local hospital. The hospital here is a very small one. It has a small operating theatre room where only very minor surgeries are done. Any major surgeries will require a flying doctor from Adelaide to fly in or the patient will have to be flown to Adelaide instead.

Jimmy shared with me his medical knowledge he had gained about epilepsy and how he had helped several people with epilepsy in states of seizures. Jimmy mentioned there was a man in a restaurant who had a seizure while chewing a buttered roll during lunch. The roll was stuck in the man's throat and the man was losing oxygen fast because his face had turned very blue. Jimmy dashed forward to that man and forced open his mouth. He used his finger to dig out the big clump of roll from the man's mouth. Immediately after that, the man was foaming and breathing normally again. Then when the seizure had stopped, Jimmy turned the man on his side.

Jimmy had also helped some aboriginal epileptics too but he commented that it was very hard to always be of help to these people because most of the time they are heavily intoxicated with liquor. The over consumption of liquor had so often trigger seizures in the epileptic aborigines.

I was very happy to have the pleasant opportunities to talk to two wonderful people here with the knowledge of epilepsy. Many people do know a lot about epilepsy but because they are not asked about epilepsy, they just keep quiet about it. So, it is my advice to everyone to grab opportunities to ask people about epilepsy. You never know what you will find out until you ask.

Thanks to Debby and Jimmy, my trip to Coober Pedy has been made extra memorable and unforgetable

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