Graphic: Cobar landscape
For 10 years Kathy struggled to live a normal life. She suffered debilitating and unexplained pain in her pelvis, lower back and abdomen, and felt extremely tired. Eventually she was diagnosed with severe endometriosis and almost died when she developed rare complications from her treatment.
“Every day was a struggle and at times I would be in such intense pain that I would vomit and almost pass out.” Kathy said.
Pain and discomfort had become a regular part of Kathy’s life. She went to various doctors who couldn’t explain what was wrong with her.
“It’s so hard to live life with an invisible, but chronic illness. I was juggling full-time work, university studies, my ongoing pain, and providing support to my elderly parents and my young daughter, who also have medical conditions requiring medical appointments.” Kathy said.
Graphic: Kathy and her daughter
Employed as a Social Worker in Cobar, Bourke and Dubbo, Kathy’s unexplained symptoms made the long days and travel extremely difficult.
After blood tests, surgery and ultrasounds, Kathy was diagnosed with severe endometriosis, a painful disorder in which the tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus grows outside it in other parts of the body, including the ovaries, bowel, and bladder.
"Endometriosis took away many aspects of me having a normal life. It impacts your physical and mental health, relationships, employment, and finances. You typically wouldn’t know if a woman was even suffering because, like me, she would put on a brave face.” Kathy said.
It was decided that Kathy should travel to Dubbo Private Hospital to have surgery, including a partial hysterectomy to treat her condition and reduce her pain.
All seemed to have gone well post-surgery and Kathy returned to Cobar, until one afternoon, three weeks later, when Kathy had a feeling something was not right. Kathy was sitting on the side of her bed when suddenly she realised she was bleeding heavily.
Kathy was rushed by ambulance to Cobar District Hospital. She needed a vital blood transfusion to make up for the blood loss, but unfortunately, Cobar Hospital didn’t keep blood on site.
“I was in excruciating pain and thought I was going to die. I didn’t want my daughter, who was only nine at the time, to grow up without her mum.” Kathy said.
The Flying Doctor was called and a King Air was dispatched with two medical officers and a blood bag for a transfusion. The medical officers met the ambulance at the airport, began the transfusion, and provided pain relief as they took off for Dubbo Base Hospital.
“At one stage during the trip, I started to feel sick and sweat profusely, and felt like I was fading away. I told the RFDS doctor, and within minutes they had a second blood transfusion going into my other arm.”
On arrival at Dubbo Base Hospital the specialist told her she had haemorrhaged and required immediate surgery to locate the source of the bleeding.
"Without the Flying Doctor it is likely I would not be alive today. I am so grateful for the service and I always will be."Kathy
Kathy’s recovery has been physically and mentally demanding, including six months of driving to Dubbo for follow-up treatments, requiring the help of her supportive husband who took months off work to care for her. Thankfully, Kathy has recovered and feels a lot better. She says it is reassuring to know the Flying Doctor is there if she ever needs them.
“The Flying Doctor is the difference between life and death for people in remote communities, bridging the gap between services that smaller hospitals cannot provide.” Kathy said.
“Without the Flying Doctor it is likely I would not be alive today. I am so grateful for the service and I always will be.” Because of the support of donors like you, we were able to be there for Kathy and her family when they needed us most. Thank you for helping us save a life.