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Published: October 9th 2013
Where most if our patients receive infusions
Things here in Ghana are fine. "Fine " seems to be the word everyone uses to describe things around here... If I ask my sick febrile patient with malaria "eti sen?" (How are you?) the is ALWAYS "eh ye" (I'm fine.) Nobody in Ghana complains about anything. Everything is always "fine"
On Monday I helped suture up an 8 year olds eyebrow laceration. They have almost no pain management here. The kid was an angel, he just say there while we used huge sutures (like the kid you see used to close abdomens of obese patients after abdominal surgery) to stitch up his face. Didn't even cry, didn't say a word. At the end I asked him how he was and he just said "I'm fine, thank you" in twi. Makes me really feel like we're a bunch of babies in the us in terms if pain tolerance.
Women are frequently giving birth in our clinic, all with no pain management. I have not heard a single person cry or scream out-its absolutely astounding.
The clinic itself is very limited in terms of supplies. It has taken some gettin used to. The staff are amazing though-
they have weekly meetings regarding performance and how to improve technique and asepsis. The clinic itself has dirty concrete floors, rickety wooden tables, and the oldest stretchers you've ever seen. Every morning we sweep the floors, wash down the metal parts of the beds, and wipe down the tables. However, there are simply not enough supplies to prevent the spread of infection.
For instance, when you go to place an IV, you only get one needle. If you miss the vein, you simply take it out, recap the needle, pick another site, and use the SAME NEEDLE and same piece of alcohol soaked cotton to clean the next site. That took some getting used to. It's also very difficult to get veins on the first try because the room where I am placing lines is dark, with one light bulb suspended from the ceiling. We frequently lose power. Also, a lot of my patients are less than three years old, dehydrated from malaria and typhoid, and are sometimes actively seizing due to the high malaria content that has "gone cerebral" as they like to say here. I'm getting
Much better at getting in lines, but it's not easy
under those circumstances!
The sheets on the bed get changed every morning, and that's it. Frequently the patients bleed on the bed, so most of our patients bring their own cloths to cover the blood stains left from previous patients. All of the patients sit in the same room with a total of 6 beds that are back to back, and when we run out of room we either place two people to a bed or put them outside in a metal shed that we use for suturing/ dressing changes. I have been told that the shed outside is used because 1. The lighting is better and 2. If the patient screams they will not disturb the other patients as much. It basically looks like the set of a horror film.
Washing our hands is something else! There is a large canteen with a tap attached to it in the clinic. You collect buckets of water from the well outside to fill the canteen, then wash your hands with soap and pour well water over your hands to rinse. Every day I am given a washcloth to use to dry my hands, and I use the same cloth
for the entire day. I should also mention that the well water most likely has typhoid in it... Needless to say I am burning through the hand sanitizer I bought.
The lab is located down the street. Patients walk outside in the hot sun to get their finger pricked, and the blood is placed on a slide and examined under a microscope. The common blood tests we use are mps (for malaria) widal (for typhoid), hemoglobin, and white blood cell count. The average hemoglobin levels I have seen are 7.5 to 8; which is very low- almost to the point that the patient would receive a transfusion in the us. This is quite normal here due to poor nutrition, I kind of want to get my bloodwork done when I get home in December just to see how much mine has dropped! Haha
Speaking of nutrition, it's kind of rough here. Most of the food is empty carbs- white rice, bread, yams, etc. I like the food but you can't help feeling hungry almost all the time. Even when I stuff my face, I'm hungry about two hours later because you just burn through te carbs- none of
the food is very sustainable. I try to eat a lot of peanut butter and we get a small chicken wing once a day which helps, but there are no safe vegetables for me to eat because they are all cleaned with well water. I can eat any fruit that I can peel, so I've been eating a ton of bananas and pineapples. The fruit here is some of the best I've ever had.... But even with eating a lot of fruit and peanut butter I still have not been able to help losing a considerable amount of weight- I'm already down 15 pounds! Eek!
We drink a ton of water!!! I have probably 3 to 4 liters a day. It all comes in these 500ml plastic bags called "water sachets" which you bite open with your teeth. We have quickly found out which brands are better than others. My favorite is called "the living." Haha
The orphanage is amazing. I feel so fortunate that I get to stay there. These kids literally have nothing- they sleep on mats on the floor and cycle through two or three outfits. They now have cubbies to separate their belongings, which we will hopefully be painting today. Thanks to the extremely generous donations from friends and family, we have also purchased a mattress for every child. We will be sewing leather over them to make them more sustainable because the kids wet the bed a lot. We have received even more donations than we needed for the mattresses, so soon we will be going to market to buy some sheets and pillows. I plan on haggling the shit out of the fabric man in kasoa, the closest market. At first I was uncomfortable askin for a better price, but now I don't feel that way at all. Haggling is actually kind of fun and it's part of the culture here. It's a good way to talk To people and get to know them.
I will try I write more in this blog... It's just so hard because I'm always so tired! I don't think I've ever been this exhausted in my entire life, and that's saying something, seeing as I'm a nurse. The experience is difficult but I have absolutely no regrets. Thank you again to everyone for your support as generosity! Your money goes sofar here and really makes a difference in these kids' lives! If you're interested in donating the website is www.gofundme.com/4hu05w
Tot: 1.301s; Tpl: 0.047s; cc: 9; qc: 48; dbt: 0.0257s; 1; m:saturn w:www (188.8.131.52); sld: 2;
; mem: 1.4mb