ga-fa-ra (sorry)

7 Jul

Yesterday was [happily] relatively uneventful.  We rounded on our kids in the morning, as usual, after another six a.m. run (a little harder, as we get more tired).  Our little boy with meningitis, belly distention, and abnormal chest x-ray continues to look better with each day.  Interestingly, Dr. Hewitt (the physician who has been here for 20 years) thought his belly pain/distention could be the result of some remedy from a traditional healer (maybe sought out for his other symptoms).

We went to clinic, and found we were expected to start seeing our own patients already (despite our observing only 7 patients in clinic on Monday)!  Fortunately, we were assigned one room for the two of us… Apparently, they have noticed that we are connected at the hip, and thrive as a team (rather than apart). 🙂  By the end of the day, we felt like we had the hang of it, and were pretty efficient for our first day.  We saw patients with malaria, abscesses, some more malaria, rashes (not sure exactly what some were), a little more malaria, yeast infection, musculoskeletal pain, asthma… and did we mention malaria?  It’s rainy season — what can we say?

We were initially asked to take our first call, but ultimately convinced them that we’re not quite ready to take care of the whole hospital (including elderly, maternity ward, surgical patients, etc), but that we could take the peds ward for the night.  [After all, the peds ward when full — which it was — has 37 patients all on its own!]  We went to round on the twelve new admissions at eight p.m., and finished around nine-thirty.  To our surprise, we awoke this morning after no phone calls.  We arrived to the ward this morning, however, to discover that our premie baby with NEC had passed away overnight.  Death is so common here, that they don’t feel it’s necessary to call the physician when it occurs.  We talked about it for a while today, because it is so strange to us.  In some ways, it is frustrating, because we feel responsible when a child dies in our care.  And yet, at the end of the day, there was nothing we could have done to prevent it, because resources are limited here, and the child was very sick.  If we’re honest with ourselves, the baby may not have even made it in the U.S.  Nonetheless, it is hard to hear.  We pray for the mothers and fathers, because the loss is significant, even when death is common.

One of the other things we’ve noticed here is that the children are incredibly well-behaved — even stoic at times.  They rarely cry when getting IVs placed or blood drawn, they lay still for exams, and never run around the room or holler.  Today, we had a four year-old boy that went for incision and drainage of his abscesses.  We remarked on how calm and quiet he was being, as he waited on the operating table with a light shining down on him.  But as we approached to start the procedure, we realized how scared he was — we found tears rolling down the side of his face.  It is both wonderful and sad how brave they can be.  When kids do cry, they don’t flinch or try to get away from you; they sit there still, but their cry breaks your heart, because the word they cry out (in Mampruli) sounds like “Why? Why?”.   All we can do is say “ga-fa-ra” and hope their pain is over soon.

On another note, we’re feeling the joys of foreign food and water.  Stomach cramps are making their rounds, keeping Rachel up all one night and in the bathroom the next day, and coming and going for Courtney today.  Fortunately, we brought enough peanut butter and crackers to bring us through, till we can tolerate the spicy Ghanian food again.  We are looking forward to the chocolate cake after dinner tonight.  And we were hoping for some guacamole after market day (we hear the avocados are good here), but unfortunately they brought us carrots instead and informed us that avocados are not in season.  Guess we’ll have to wait anxiously for a big plate of Mexican food when we return.

We’re keeping a running count of all the mosquito bites that Rachel is accruing — she serves as OFF!  for everyone around. 🙂  No worries, she’s taking malarone (and the rest are too).

We girls are hoping to find some cloth at the next market (Saturday), so Joyce (the wife of Issah, our cook) can make us Ghanian dresses.  We bought necklaces from her today.

Wish you could all see Ghana with us…  It is an amazing experience.  Thanks for reading, and thanks for all your fun/sweet/encouraging comments.  We love reading them.

6 Responses to “ga-fa-ra (sorry)”

  1. April July 7, 2011 at 4:00 pm #

    Hi Courtney! I am enjoying your updates and keeping you all in my prayers. I have to ask Daniel to translate some of this stuff for me. Are you taking blog post requests? If so, can we get some Monkey updates. I don’t even know Adam and that story killed!

  2. Karen Tucker July 7, 2011 at 5:59 pm #

    Chicas – Well, after reading the blog for today, I’m pretty sure you know where I’m going with this comment: Rachel – you need to be BATHING in mosquito repellant. Nothing like hearing your baby girl is getting mosquito bites in Africa to get a Mother worried! While I am super thrilled about your experiences there, I would prefer that you not come down with any more illness than you’ve already had – can you double up your dose of maleron? Kidding – kind of!

    Love you all – praying about mosquitos now too 🙂
    Mamasita

  3. Karen Tucker July 7, 2011 at 6:05 pm #

    Chicas – One last thing – we’re going to have to work on that Mexican food thing whenever we’re in Africa so you need to come home with VAST knowledge about avacado season..

    Just saying,
    Mamasita

  4. carl & Elaine Baldridge July 7, 2011 at 6:36 pm #

    We continue to be in awe of all that you are doing, seeing and learning and the blessing that you all are to the children in your care and their families. We feel close to you as you share what you are doing and appreciate the time it takes to keep us in the loop.
    Congrats Aaron, on your students tests. (Yes, your wife is bragging about you again)!
    Love, Mom and Dad B.

  5. Jen July 7, 2011 at 8:57 pm #

    Oh ladies… so sorry about the GI stuff… yikes. I can only imagine how your body’s are reacting to such a crazy change in diet! Hang in there… I’m sure you’ll be sick of PB by the time you come home.

    And very sorry to hear about your little baby with NEC… I have no doubt that God used you both in that family’s life despite the outcome. God knows His plans… trust in that.

  6. Jenny W. July 9, 2011 at 11:27 am #

    Hiya! Sounds like you guys are well entrenched in the Ghanian experience. Send some pictures of the country side! I am praying for you and know that God will give you the strength and wisdom you need to carry on through the month. A few things I’m sure you know but that occur to me while I’m reading the blog:

    – if you can’t purify the water (or question it’s purity) you can leave it in direct sunlight in a clear bottle for 8hrs and it will kill most things (that’s how the Peace Core does it)
    – if you find yourself in need of PR Ativan you can use liquid valium instead (usually more available) and administer it PR with a syringe cause that also works
    – If you can find permethrin spray you can acutally spray your clothes down with it and it will help keep the mosquitos away for 2-3 washes.

    Love you! I’m gonna shoot you an email but wasn’t sure you’d get it. I look forward to hearing about more people/primates slapping Adam and Aaron around the continent.

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