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This year's trip had more than its fair share of medical ailments. We owe a big thank you to John Burton who made himself available at all hours for telephone advice. We would also like to thank Nick Howlett for his help in getting the medical kit together. In order of appearance, the complaints were as follows:
Insect bites mainly on the feet and ankles to which one person reacted badly. This resulted in blisters which swelled and burst and led to possible infected bites. Treatment, keeping bites clean, antihistamines and thicker socks.
Colds were passed around and led to a severe chest infection in one caver and a couple of the Vietnamese. The team member then damaged a rib cartilage with extreme coughing fits. This was very painful. Treatment rest and painkillers as required. He was out of action for several days.
A sore foot, thought to be a sprain, but potentially gout. Treated with Voltarol and paracetamol. Painful for several days.
One caver reacted badly to mosquito bites, resulting in a swollen face and also swollen hand. Treated with antihistamines.
One caver had a chipped Ulna after a fall with some muscle damage. X-rays from Dong Hoi hospital were sent back to England to John Burton for examination and advice. Treated with Co-Codamol and Voltarol Still recovering from muscle damage.
One caver developed an extremely swollen red leg, from groin to knee. Cause unknown. There was evidence of infection. Treated with Flucloxacillin and Erythromycin, which resolved the problem in a few days.
Some mild cases of diarrhoea lasting a day or so were resolved without treatment. Several cavers in the Xuong Valley developed more serious diarrhoea and vomiting. The water supply in this area is very dubious, and possibly the storage of fresh meat was not at its best. Further trips will need to look more closely at improved hygiene measures to avoid a repeat performance.
A small slip resulted in a very painful knee which was thought to be possible cruciate ligament damage. Very painful for several days. Treated with Voltarol, Co-codamol and paracetamol. Has taken 6 weeks to mend. Most likely a torn muscle on the knee.
One of the Japanese film crew fell on his shin whilst in Hang Son Doong, and his lower leg swelled to almost double the size in a couple of hours. 2 small marks made us worry about a snake bite, but luckily this was not the case. Within a few hours the swelling decreased and he was able to make his own way out after a days rest. Severe bruising appeared a day later.
Luckily nothing too severe, but the remoteness of the caving areas makes all medical problems a bigger issue. Walking out for 2 days with severe diarrhoea and vomiting or any of the other ailments is not an easy task!!
Various ailments which the team brought with them resulted in a regular queue at Son Trach pharmacy to stock up on Voltarol and antihistamines.
Ian Watson & Deb Limbert