Sunday, October 20, 2013

Bad But Good News

From Barry. Lynne was attacked by 6 dogs at the residence where we were to spend the night this past Thursday in Thio. The dogs pulled her to the ground and were biting viciously. I went to her aid and tried to kick the dogs away from Lynne and was myself attacked and pulled to the ground. Fortunately, the woman at the residence got the dogs to retreat after about one minute and before life threatening injuries occurred. Lynne sustained major trauma to her left calf and both arms along with other substantial bites. Lynne's hands and fingers were only slightly injured. We were given first aid at the clinic in Thio immediately. Lynne was taken by a 1 1/2 hour ambulance ride to the hospital in Noumea while I followed in the rental car. She started receiving treatment as soon as she arrived and underwent surgery that night to clean out wounds and get sewn back together. She has not suffered major muscle or nerve damage. My injuries were superficial on the right ankle and shin. Considering the severity of the dog pack attack, we are both very fortunate that the attack did not continue for a significantly longer time, we did not get bitten on the face or neck and the damage is not substantially more severe with major disabilities the rest of our lives. Lynne will have significant permanent scars on her arms and calf.

Lynne has been well cared for by the medical system in New Caledonia, from first aid, ambulance service, prompt emergency room service, surgical care and recuperative care. The surgeon did such a good job sewing all of the pieces together that he should work on Humpty Dumpty next. Lynne had so much thread sticking out from her body initially that she looked like a porcupine. By comparison, Lurch looks like a normal person. Lynne is able to get up and walk to the toilet and use her arms and fingers. She is still leaking a little blood in a number of places. The surgeon said that Lynne might be able to leave the hospital on Wednesday, but time will tell. The nurse that handles wound care is excellent and Lynne shows no signs of significant infection. A lot of the thread that was initially sticking out of Lynne's body after surgery has now been removed. We speculate that it was being used to wick fluids out of the wounds.

We have re-booked our flight to Auckland, New Zealand for Thursday morning on the chance that Lynne would be discharged from the hospital Wednesday. Whether we spend any significant time in New Zealand, or fly to California ASAP has not been determined yet. We do know that Lynne will not be on Sunrise anytime soon, if ever again. We are also very fortunate that this incident occurred in New Caledonia near Noumea, which is very First World, and not in Vanuatu, which is definitely Third world.

While we were at the medical clinic in Thio receiving first aid, two Gendarmes arrived and said that we needed to make a report in Noumea. When I arrived at the Gendarmerie in morning and asked for directions at the recruiting office, they called an appropriate person. Soon, several men in succession arrived and spoke with me. I was asked to come back at 11:00 am when a translator would be available. I returned at that time and was questioned for 3 hours by 3 or more Gendarmes and the translator. At least two of the Gendarmes were from Thio. One was the commander of the Gendarmerie in Thio. They had come to Noumea to take our reports personally. None had the slightest resemblance to Inspector Clouseou in Peter Sellers' famous Pink Panther movies. One of the men I had spoken to earlier came out for the third time, gave me his card and said to call if I thought of anything else or needed anything. His card said that he was the Commander of the Gendarmerie for New Caledonia, Wallis and Futuna. I was given the name of a person in the French-American organization in Noumea to call if we needed any help. I received a call from the US embassy in Fiji asking if we needed any assistance. I was also given the phone number of the Fijian embassy or consulate in New Caledonia to call if we needed any help. Fiji handles US diplomatic affairs in New Caledonia. Then the Gendarmes went to the hospital and spent another 1 1/2 hours taking a report from Lynne. We estimate that they have put in 40 man hours so far dealing with a serious dog bite incident.

Sunrise has arrived in Opua. The delivery crew said that they had a nice passage for the most part, with no significant problems.

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