I’ve worked on ships in the Russian Arctic and I’ve also worked in Antarctica — I’m ‘bipolar’, as somebody once said to me. Antarctica is an amazing place. There are a lot of scientists down there doing different things and they often need help counting penguins or tagging seals. I’m a keen gardener, so when I’ve been down there, I’ve looked after the hydroponics. It’s a different life, and being isolated with a small number of people has its own challenges. You have to live with your patients and look at them across the dinner table three times a day. There are small things too. For example, I ordered something online to come in on the next ship. The bank cancelled my credit card because they didn’t recognise the place I was buying it from. I rang them and they said, ‘It’s alright, we’ll send one in the next post’. But that was in eight months’ time. I also had some major things happen on ships. I was on an icebreaker in a remote part of the Russian Arctic and we had a helicopter crash. Seven people injured with varying degrees of injury. There was me, as the passenger doctor, and a Russian doctor who normally looked after the crew. He didn’t speak any English and I didn’t speak any Russian, but we still managed to sort it out between the two of us.

Dr Eve Merfield
Dover, Tas