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!
Today is Sunday and the last day we'll be doing clinic. After breakfast we divided all the record books of the patients we had seen in 4 days of clinic and came up with a way of recording pertinent information. We wanted to know what were the biggest health issues we encountered and what medications we most used. So we worked on our front porches (with our fans)in twos, each couple took a village and recorded data that would be put into a spreadsheet for further evaluation and help with future missions. That was about 600 booklets and was rather exhausting so we all ended up resting/sleeping after we finished until time for lunch.
We went back to the clinic in Dogbekope after lunch and we're ready to roll by 2:00. We saw the people who were here yesterday first and there were plenty more to follow. Once things were moving smoothly Wendy and I had volunteered to go with Philimon on some home visits. Godfried had asked that we make a few visits to these people in his village that he knew were unable to come to the clinic. He told us that there was probably very little we would be able to do to help them physically but that our visit would lift their spirits and would be remembered a long time. So we packed a medical bag and off we went.
Our first visit was a rather long walk through trees, fields and goats. We arrive at a home surrounded by a hand made fence of palm fronds. Philimon shouts our arrival and we enter and are greeted by a lady whose mother is ill. The mother is sitting on the concrete floor between her bedroom and the porch. She was emaciated and couldn't walk. She was diagnosed with an esophageal cancerous tumor in August. She went to the hospital because she couldn't swallow. Her daughter showed us the endoscopy report which said the tumor was 100% occluding the esophagus. She had a feeding tube in her stomach through which her daughter was feeding her. We recommended that her daughter double up her fluid intake including at least one coconut liquid a day and try to incorporate more protein. She had two pressure ulcers on her bottom so I cleaned them and applied duoderm bandages and suggested someone get her something soft to sit on. It was obvious this lady wouldn't live long. Cancer is not treated in this country unless you have the money to get to a big hospital. We left her with vitamins, antibiotics and dressings for her ulcers. Wendy gave some advice to Philimon about what to expect as the tumor progresses. (We found out a week after returning home that she died a few days after our visit.)
Our next home visit was to family of the chief who had requested we come. She was well nourished but had some difficulty with respiratory issues and cough. Her BP was high and she complained of headache and waist pain (low back). Since we couldn't prescribed BP meds, Wendy gave her aspirin to take daily in hopes of helping to prevent a stroke, antibiotics for upper respiratory infection and ibuprofen for back pain. We then saw a lady, also well nourished, who was sitting on the concrete floor inside her doorway but on foam pads. She'd had a stroke and was paralyzed on her left side. Her only request was for a pill that would make her walk again. So heart wrenching but we gave her aspirin as well. Our next visit was to another concrete home where an elderly blind lady was sitting in her bed (a mattress on the floor) where she obviously stays 24/7. She was extremely thin and her BP was 240/120. She had never been on blood pressure medication. Her concrete bedroom reminded me of a jail cell minus the bars at the window and door. There were rarely any glass in the windows of these homes, just curtains and no doors in the doorways inside the homes. It was dark, oppressive and hot. She complained of joint pain so we left her with ibuprofen, vitamins and aspirin. We also recommended her family take her outside in a chair every day. Even though she couldn't see at least she could feel the sun and breeze and get some fresh air. Our last visit was also a stroke victim. A healthy looking male who was paralyzed on his right side and had difficulty talking. His BP was also extremely high and he was ON medication.
We arrived back at the clinic around 4 and they were still in full swing. Everyone looked exhausted. They were seeing a lot of malaria cases again--the most in any village yet. Thankfully we all were taking our malaria preventative medicine as we'd all been bitten by mosquitoes over and over. They come out in droves when the sun goes down and love all the bushes in our compound. I guess our white legs were very appealing to them!""
We finally finished up at 5:30. 100 more came through today which made the total for this village 258 plus the 5 home visits and several who came to the compound to be seen. Over 800 patients in 5 days of clinic. Incredible. Dale, Janeas and I walked back to the compound and stopped for our last cold drink from the bar. A well deserved treat! Then after supper and some debriefing time we started packing for home! I have to admit we were pretty excited about that!!
Next, the final installment! I hope you're enjoying this journey to Ghana - we have another mission planned for April 2017, so please contact us if you're interested in coming along!