Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

January 17, 2022
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Animals gone wild!

And they seemed so harmless when they were way over there.

Let sleeping dogs lie
So there we were on the Serengeti in Tanzania. My best friend and I were tucked in for the night in our army-style tent, pitched under a tree. We'd had an exciting day on safari capped off with passing a small group of elephants on our way to the campsite.

At about midnight, Joanna shook me awake.

"What's that noise?" she whispered. I could hear a muffled munching sound. I carefully unzipped the canvas window and peeked out. Glowing white against the night were two tusks, not three metres away.

"It's one of the elephants snacking on our tree!" We watched him pull off another strip of leaves with his trunk.

"What do we do?" she asked.

"I guess we sit quietly and hope he doesn't step on us!" We sat mesmerized, watching the elephant beside our tent. About 20 minutes later, park rangers drove into the campsite and shone their headlights onto the elephant, causing him to turn and trundle off into the trees.

The next morning, we excitedly recounted our experience to our guide Henry, finishing with "we couldn't believe how close he was to the tent!"

"Close?" Henry said nonchalantly, "You should have seen where the hyena was."

We didn't ask.

Laura Loijens, GP, Toronto, ON

The bear necessities
Our holiday from hell was a canoe trip in Algonquin Park. With a three-month-old and a three-year-old, we portaged into Penn Lake. Little did we know that a black bear wanted to share our camp site. We followed all the "bear-safe" instructions, but the bear hadn't read the book! We wound up spending hours floating on the lake while the bear flattened our tent.

By the time we could return to camp, it was too dark to travel back out. We spent a sleepless night, the bear returning at 3am and pushing against our tent. We retreated to the canoe again until it was light enough to retrieve what we could of our gear and head back.

Our next camping trip was to "Kill Bear" Provincial Park.

Patricia Heard, GP, Calgary, AB

Up a creek with a paddle
In 1999, I went with five medical colleagues on a 250-kilometre canoe trip down the Zambezi River, located on the northern border of Zimbabwe.

One day, a friend and I were together in a canoe trying, very cautiously and very slowly, to get around a whole playground full of hippos when suddenly we were lifted out of the water by an incredibly big hippo.

The moment that canoe made contact with the surface of the river again, we were paddling so hard you couldn't have caught us with a speedboat! Fortunately, the beast didn't chase us and we didn't capsize.

Run for your life!
The scariest adventure I had was a jungle walk in Nepal's Chitwan National Jungle. My sisters and I thought: "A walk in the jungle, how nice!"

That is, until we came face to face with a rhinoceros and had to run for our lives -- while being pushed aside by our "guides" in their haste to get away, too!

Shital Gandhi, internist, Toronto, ON

Shepherding the flock
A friend and I recently rented a cottage in the Yorkshire moors. We took a leisurely drive in the country and parked the car. My friend went to take some photos of the sheep and I stayed by the car, snacking on some dried fruit.

The next thing I knew, sheep from all over the moors -- even the ones my friend was trying to photograph -- were stampeding towards me. There were at least 75 or 80 of them. They surrounded me and the car, butting their heads to get closer and trying to reach the fruit they thought I was going to feed them.

I stood there screaming, with my arms in the air, until my friend rescued me. I do still think I'd like to see the sheep in New Zealand.



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