Credit goes to Lisa Bowers, RN for this wonderful series of daily diary entries from our medical mission October 2016. I've added a few photos. I hope you enjoy stepping into our world for a little while! If you'd like to experience Ghana while truly helping people in need, join us for a humanitarian mission. Healthy Villages, Inc. will organize every aspect of your mission and make sure you have a meaningful experience!
It's beautiful watching the sun come up here! But as soon as it started shining you knew it was going to be a scorcher!! I believe this day was the hottest of them all.
Janeas was definitely sick and wouldn't be joining us at the clinic. She was devastated over it but knew she couldn't. Sara gave her some computer work to do for her and she had strict orders to rest and drink. I had been annoyed with sinus drainage and woke up with laryngitis. I didn't feel bad; I just couldn't talk above a whisper. After a breakfast of eggs, bread and honey we set out for the village of Dordekope. We thought we were setting up clinic at the school in this community but ended up using the 2 room clinic in the village. The two rooms were used by Wendy and Jalil while registration, vitals, triage and pharmacy were set up under tents in front. Waiting clients were placed under a tent a short distance away which helped with crowd control and noise (well somewhat with noise, the goats weren't particularly cooperative!) The flow was much smoother today. Godfried did an excellent job with crowd control and flow. Since I couldn't talk I did vitals all day along with one of the Ghana Heath workers. They were so pleasant to work with! We did weight, BP, pulse and temp on adults and just weight, pulse and temp on kids. I got so amused at the folks who obviously never stepped on scales before! They would step on them backwards, step on top of the dial or stand sideways on them. My instructions by way of hand gestures was often as fruitless as my speaking a whispered English!
We saw 190 people and my sore ears from taking BPs attested to that. The afternoon sun was so hot I could feel it through the tent canopy as if it wasn't there. The rubber bladder in my BP cuff was so warm it kept rolling up and falling out. My shirt, underclothes and half of my pants stayed saturated from sweat. Thankfully Dale kept us supplied with bottles of water and Godfried had someone crack open coconuts for us to drink. I found the liquid rather tasteless and unpleasant but it seriously made me feel better after drinking it. It's chocked full of electrolytes and minerals--Gatorade in its purest form!!
I had one young woman come to me for vitals along with her obviously concerned husband. Just looking at her pale stressed face told me she was seriously ill. When vitals confirmed that I took her immediately to the testing table and had her tested for malaria. It was positive. So she quickly got seen and sent home with malaria medication and Tylenol. She was one of several adults and children we were sure averted death because of our intervention.
A 12 year old boy came to me and after I finished vitals proceeded to pull up his long shirt sleeve on his left arm. I stopped him and told him he needed to show it to the dr but not before seeing his arm was deformed. I suspected he had broken it without having it set but later found out from Wendy that it was much more serious. He had painful cysts growing up his entire arm. His father said it started at age 2. He had been to the hospital and aren't sure what, if anything they did. But Wendy, who works in oncology, felt pretty certain it was a slow growing cancer and his arm probably needed amputated to save his life. She gave him Ibuprofen, antibiotics and multivitamins and advised his dad that he really needed to take him back to the hospital. I still think about him.
I only had one wound today but it was a dilly!!! A young man came in with soiled gauze and rags tied around his foot and lower leg. I had to soak the last layer of gauze off with bottled water which turned to mud as it rolled off the bottom of his foot. The entire top of his foot and lower shin was severely burned. He told us through an interpreter that gunpowder exploded as he was setting off a cannon at a funeral six days ago. This is a common practice but Godfried found out his injury came from playing around with gunpowder while he was drunk--another common problem! He had second and third degree burns. After cleaning up his foot and cutting away some of the black dead skin I wrapped it up. There was a necrotic area that really needed debreding but it would have been too painful to do there. I applied silver aginate dressings and gave him enough supplies for several more dressing changes. I wanted him to go to the hospital for treatment but he refused so I encouraged him to at least come back to the clinic in a week to let them examine it. We put him on antibiotics and gave him ibuprofen.
The ladies from our compound brought us a tasty lunch of fried potatoes, fried chicken, tomato sauce and a delicious sauce of fried onions and peppers in palm oil. To use the restroom we had to walk back to the school about 1/4 mile away. It was a four seater outhouse but the first stall had a child size wooden seat( as opposed to just holes in the floor). Or there were some trees and bushes behind the outhouses. Usually by the time we got to the outhouse there was a following of school children giggling behind and around us!
The school is fundraising to build more classrooms so on the way back we stopped and met with the principal and a few teachers. We had gathered a donation between all of us along with some school supplies some of the nurses brought. Godfried presented this to them on behalf of SMYS and they were visibly surprised and appreciative. It felt good to do this but the reality of how small this gift actually was in our eyes compared to how huge it was to them was overwhelmingly humbling.
A stop at our favorite bar on the way back for a cold drink was definitely in order! I never knew if I should drink it, hold it against my parched body or pour it over me! Dinner that night was fish soup. You definitely had to like fish to enjoy that one! And was thankful for breakfast bars if you didn't! Talking around the table was great though and Wendy's account of the day had us in stitches. One young 17 yr old mother thought She was so beautiful that she offered Wendy her baby! Another older lady couldn't stop smiling at Wendy when she came to her for a consult. The first thing she told her through the interpreter was that she had a white woman friend named Alta. She wanted to know if Wendy knew her!! Wendy told her no she didn't but now she had two white friends--Alta and Wendy!! We found that Janeas had pretty much slept all day and seemed to be feeling some better. We still was quite worried about her though.