Home' Teacher : September 2010 Contents 30 TEACHER SEPTEMBER 2010
Paul, a villager from the southern coastline of Papua New Guinea (PNG), returns with a
possum-like marsupial called a cuscus dangling warmly by the tail. The hunting dog stays
obediently by his side as members of Paul's family, who've been keeping a watchful eye on
me, prepare the evening meal of sweet potato and a little cuscus meat.
The swelling around my knee had been getting worse during the day. Now, it's a struggle to
move. I take a photo of the infected knee and upload it to the laptop, connect it to the satellite
phone and hobble to the open beach to send a report back to the Expedition Class website.
'It's been five days since the first symptoms of the mystery knee ailment,' it reads. 'It
began as a small, yellow, pus-filled lump on my left knee. After draining it and applying
antibiotic cream, I thought no more of it. Next day the redness grew to the size of a 20 cent
piece, and it was hot and sensitive to touch. Applied more cream and thought perhaps it
was a small coral infection from snorkelling on that lovely island. It began to make walk-
ing just a little tentative. Now, putting any pressure on leg is very painful. Knee bend is
restricted to 30 hard-won degrees.
'After finding a dead husk of a spider in cockpit (hard to tell how long it had been there),
I am suspicious of spider bite. There are no other symptoms, except resting heart rate is
around 75 when it is usually between 50 and 60. Have done the sensible thing today and
stayed tent bound with leg slightly raised (and reading Moby Dick).
'The reason for these nasty details is that I'd really like a medical opinion and advice on
best treatment. If you're a doctor, know a doctor, have had a similar condition, or have read
Moby D ick (I think it's going to be an excellent book), let me know your thoughts. Any info
is welcome; nothing I try seems to help. For self-treatment I have the following: Bactobran
ointment, Fasigyn antibiotics, Riamet and Larium for malaria, anti-inflammatory gel and
tablets, bandages, Panadeine (running low), antiseptic cream, strapping tape, paw-paw oint-
ment, Blistex, toothpaste, Berocca, and heaps of coconuts. I'll try experimental therapy, and
will gladly cut my leg off with pocket knife and scissors on your say so. Awaiting your reply.'
It's two weeks into a planned three-month sea kayaking expedition around the coastline
of PNG and a real-life drama is unfolding. The actions, reactions and decisions that follow in
the next few days will have consequences that matter in a way that textbooks cannot replicate.
Welcome to the world of adventure learning.
NEW TECHNOLOGIES ARE TRANSFORMING EXPERIENTIAL AND INQUIRY-
BASED LEARNING BY ENGAGING STUDENTS WITH REMOTE CULTURES
AND ENVIRONMENTS. ANDREW HUGHES EXPLAINS.
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