“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

Monday, June 21, 2010

06/21/2010: Been Here One Month!

This weekend my roommate, Kelly, and I went to the Volta Region to meet up with some people I met on my week long Mole National Park trip. We got there around 5 on Friday night and they were swimming at a pool at the local hotel so we met up with them and this place was beautiful. The entire region is flanked by mountains and hills, it is amazing and the hotel was right next to the Volta River. They also had this mini zoo with monkeys, crocodiles, birds and some rodent type animals. We had dinner at the neighboring restaurant and watched the soccer game. The next day Kelly and I went to Kpetoe to visit her friend that is in the Peace Corps, we arrived just after 2pm and Ghana was playing against Australia (they tied  ), but we watched the game in a kenta cloth factory. Later that day we walked to Togo (a country right next to Ghana), you can see from the picture above that I am in two places at once  It was a pretty relaxing weekend and a very nice ride back!

Today at work, it was super busy! I got there around 9am and right away I was watching a woman deliver her baby and an abortion happening in the same room at the same time, then Kelly and Nick when into the surgical room to see a c-section (I have already seen one and will get 100 more chances to see more). When they were in the surgical room, I saw 2 other women give birth and learned how to wash a newborn and set up the delivery room for a new delivery (there are pictures above showing the room). It was such an interesting day and time flew by!!!


Well today was really interesting. I get to work about 9am and me, Nick, and Ari round with Dr. Asorri through the maternity ward. We stop at Ward One which has all the mothers that just delivered babies or had c-sections and are spending at 3 days there. Not much examining goes on here, he pretty much writes “date: no major complaints today, well, plan: discharge.” Then we go to Ward Two which has women that are in the labor process or something has gone wrong with their deliveries. Again not much examining goes on here, except he does check to see how far along the delivers are going (2 cm, 3cm, etc). Then we move to the other wing and that’s where the surgical room is, the delivery room, and the preparation room. Then Dr. Asorri goes down to the OPD (outpatient department) and returns later in the day.
Another doctor was there and Nick and I watched him do surgery on a woman that had an ectopic pregnancy and removed some “debris” from her other fallopian tube, he removed her entire left ovary (the one that had the ectopic fetus) and I’m not sure if that was totally necessary or that is how it is done in the US, but he did it. Also she was awake during the process, they only gave her a spinal injection to numb her from her mid abdomen and beyond. So he finished up with her and Nick and I went to find Ari who was with Dr. Asorri and he was performing what he called a “missed abortion.” This lady was “pregnant” for 6 months but not fetus had been produced. The egg was without a yolk he said, so he needed to remove the material from her uterus. Initially I thought she was crying out in pain, but they gave her 2ml shot of Ked amine which is a horse tranquilizer and used as a party drug and she was hallucinating! It was crazy, I had to go get the nurse to get a shot of Valium to calm her down, so they give them this upper and mix with a downer…sometimes they can’t even keep these women on the ward after the procedure because they are hallucinating so badly. It’s really crazy and it was hard not to laugh because this just seems to normal to everyone there. So after that, Nick and I went back to surgery to see a hernia being repaired (the surgical ward was too full, so more non-maternity surgeries were performed up there). Then my day was over and we will back tomorrow to see more deliveries and surgeries.

Monday, June 14, 2010


This weekend was pretty relaxing, went to Cape Coast and toured around the city. Went had a pretty good experience getting out of the city, but Accra always has such big traffic problems we just spend 2 hours on a metro bus waiting to move. But we made it to the coast and got settled into the guesthouse and went out to dinner at a place called Castle Beach Restaurant. It was located right next to the Cape Coast Castle and the Atlantic Ocean, so we just listened to the waves crash against the beach and ate. The next morning I met up with some girls that were on our Mole trip and we walked the beach, watching all the Ghanaians fish which was pretty interesting. Then we toured the castle, which was a major exporting hub for slaves out of Africa to the Americas and Europe. It was really interesting tour and has a lot of history attached to it (there are pictures above). The rest of the time there we just went to shops and looked around for some art work, nothing too exciting which was okay because I am coming down with a cold.

So it’s World Cup time and all of Africa has soccer fever! We watched the USA vs. England game on this stilled outdoor sitting area, with the game projected onto this white wall. I sat there with other Americans, Ghanaians, and Europeans, listening to the ocean waves crash against the beach and watch USA and England play. It was probably the first time that I planned out a day to revolve around a soccer game, but it was really cool to be a part of a culture that loves this sport. And the next time I listened to the Ghana vs. Serbia game on the radio in a Tro on the way back home and the game is broadcasted in a different language but I definitely could tell when people scored and when Ghana scored their goal, our Tro stopped and everyone in the town came running out in the streets, it was so crazy!! Hours blaring, people screaming, everybody was going crazy and they hadn’t even won the game yet. I got home just in time to see the rest of the game and my entire family was crowded around the TV watching it. They have such amazing pride for their time and for the first time I wished America was more into soccer. So I’m so excited for the next soccer game to come on :)

Other then that, just back to work, I’m in the maternity ward and I observed a girl getting an abortion, and on Friday of last week, saw a couple of C-sections. So it’s pretty busy up there and I get to see a lot of how this ward works, so I’m excited. We had running water at our house for about 5 minutes yesterday and I took a shower, but right after I put conditioner in I saw my water pressure drop drastically so I started filling up a bucket of water just incase the water did go and lucky I did because it definitely stopped so back to bucket showers.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Day Ten 6/2/2010

Today I was back in the OPD, and since I am leaving for a week long trip I thought instead of shadowing any doctors I would work at the nurse’s station all day, so I took a lot of BP’s, temperatures and patient histories. We are getting a new roommate from Japan so I am moving out of my room and moving into the other room with Kelly (Nievah’s is leaving to go to Accra), so hopefully when I get back from my trip I can meet him.
I am leaving tomorrow to go to Mole National Park with 5 other people and we are leaving Mamfe around 4am so we can catch our 9am bus. So packing tonight, and moving my stuff and hopefully my laundry will air dry fast because I need to pack that stuff for my week long adventure!!!

I just got back from my week long adventure around Ghana! We started at 3am, catching a Tro to Koforidua, where we caught another Tro to Kumasi, then we got into a STC charter bus to Tamale where we spent the night, to get up at 4am to get another Tro Mole National Park. But once at Mole, it is was worth all the driving! Mole is Ghana’s largest wildlife sanctuary, and it is largely flat savanna with a hotel combined on the land. There are more than 90 mammal species and at least 344 bird species. But the biggest attraction they have is the more then 800 elephants that claim Mole as home.
So back to the trip, we got to Tamale and this Australian man named Stewart (he was on the STC bus with us) decided to join up with our group of 6. We got a hotel there and it was decent for 11 cedis a night ($7-8), but it rained really hard that night and my room’s ceiling leaked all over the bed so I didn’t get the best night sleep! But we got up at 4am to get bus tickets from metro station, but the conductor showed up late and refused to sell tickets to us, so we had to baragin in the Tro drivers and they were asking $300 for the ride, but we finally settled with one from $128. We also picked up two Canadian girls named Victoria and Carolyn at the metro station. Most of the drive was ok, but the last 2 hours were hell, the road (especially during the rainy season) is filled with huge pot holes in the road and make for a really bumping ride, but we made it and it was just an amazing place. The pictures above show some of the place, the 6 girls got 2 rooms (3 each) and the 4 boys got a room together, we went for a walk into the park with our guide, but we didn’t see any elephants. Lots of African deer, baboons, birds etc, it was really great. The park is huge and isn’t gated off so these animals are free to come and go, but most stay here because it’s a good place to raise young.
We got up early the next day for our really trek into the park. We got to ride in an open backed vehicle and in about 2 minutes of the ride into the park, 3 huge male elephants walked across the road  So we (just the girls) went on a tracking adventure into African wild to find the elephants. There are just a few of the pictures I took, but they are just the most amazing creatures alive! It was truly amazing to be standing so close to these giants, so it was definitely worth the 12 hour total drive it took. This place is a really cool place to go, the hotel was very reasonable, the food was good, the rooms were nice, there is a pool, and wild boar and baboons are climbing all over the hotel premise (we woke up every morning to baboons on our porch). So after two days at Mole we got up at 4am again to catch the metro bus to Bolgatanga/Paga area (which is at the very top of the western region of Ghana).
The northern part of Ghana has such a different atmosphere from the south, they are much more chill and the area is covered with farm land and adobe style huts. I really liked it up there, the people do try and sell you things, but they aren’t as persistent as the sellers in the south, and it’s really nice sometimes to just be able to walk the streets of a town and not being hassled into buying things. Paga features a crocodile reserve, so we took a 4 hour Tro ride (it was suppose to be 2 hours) up to Paga for the day to see crocodiles, and see the Pio’s Palace. The crocodile place was really cool because they get the crocodiles to come out of the water with live chickens and then they let ups hold their tails and sit on them to take pictures!!! It was so creepy being so close to a crocodile and actually touching it was so amazing, we had to pay for the cameras so a boy on the trip with us has a really nice camera so once he uploads them, I will get some up here. Went back to Bolgatanga for the night and got up around 8am to catch the STC bus down to Accra.
We got into Accra at 1am this morning and since no Tros are operating at this time we spent the night at the bus station, to finally get on a Tro at 8ish. So I am back home and even through this trip was super fun and really amazing, it’s good to be home. I will go back to work tomorrow and I think to Cape Coast this weekend.

Day Nine 6/1/2010

Today I went to the maternity ward to visit my roommate Niaveh, and I was only planning on staying for about 5 minutes, but plans changed once I got there. She was back in the delivery room, looking after this newborn girl. She was 3 weeks past her due date, so already we could tell there were some developmental problems. Her pupils were dilated, she didn’t follow our finger with her eyes, and when we got close to her eye she never blinked. She had been born in the early morning hours and we get to work around 9 and she was just left all alone in the delivery room with no monitors hooked up to her to watch her and her breathing nose tube was made for a child not a newborn so it didn’t even fit. Niaveh came to work and not one person in the maternity ward seemed to care that she couldn’t breathe or that there was something definitely wrong with her. So we stayed there all day, watching her struggle for air with each breath she took and when the doctor finally came to make rounds, this little girl was the very last person he saw. So Niaveh and I made her comfortable, fit the breathing tube in her nose and walked away for about 10 minutes to see another procedure, when we returned she had turned almost white/blue, didn’t have a heartbeat that we could feel and the only sounds she made were when we pushed on her abdomen region the little air left in her lungs would escape. It was terrifying, and no one came to help us, we were in charge of making sure she was ok. It was painful to watch as the nurses and midwives just walked past us and they did nothing for her. I mean it is clear she is going to die and maybe we were just prolonging what was going to happen anyway, but I was not about to walk away from her during my shift and let her choke to death on her own spit. So here Niaveh and I are doing CPR on this baby with equipment that is not functioning at all, and the doctor finally comes back and we are like, “what do we do?” He tells us that she will need to be on a ventilator (which wasn’t going to happen) so nothing really, and we were asking if we should be helping her breath with the oxygen bag and he just responded with “well if you want too.” No, what do you want us to do! It’s clear that us volunteers working in the hospital setting need to make life or death decisions for ourselves, so Niaveh and I got her back. But we knew what was going to happen once we left, no one checked on her when we were there and once we left, she would die. We watched her take her last breaths of air and it was heartbreaking to see this little life end so fast, but maybe even more disturbing was the way the staff there views life and who is “worthy” of saving or not. I realize that they don’t have the equipment or even the proper medical staff to do things, but maybe if whoever told the mother to “come back when she felt labor pains,” knew better the little girl might not of been more almost a month late.
After that day, my roommates and I decided that a got hike was in order, so we hoped a Tro to a nearby town and climbed Bodi Falls. WOAH, was some parts pretty intense and just straight rock to climb up. We were all sucking air and pretty tried when we reached the top to a place called Umbrella Rock, which is you look at the pictures above, it’s a fitting name. It took about 40 minutes to get to the top and then we hiked to a little further in to see the 3-headed palm tree. Then we started our climb back down to see Bodi Waterfall, once we got to the bottom, we had to climb down 250 steps, but it was worth it. In the pictures you can see it is a twin waterfall and the bigger one is the female and the other the male. It was about 6pm so we decided to head home! It was good to get that hike in to release some of that energy after being in that maternity ward, but I’m heading there in a week so I better be prepared to see that more often.