Written Thursday May 29th 2014
I’ve been helping in the Emergency Department of the Jukwa Health Clinic, but helping there also means helping admit people to be seen by the doctor for any normal visit because the emergency room is used probably once or twice a day, and most often for dressing or redressing some too-big-for-a-Band-Aid cut. But there have been a few incidences which I would like to recall to you. The first that occurred was brought on the bed of a large grey truck along with a handful of other people helping to carry him into the clinic. He had been in some sort of automobile accident but it did not seem that he had any lacerations. It just seemed that his legs were pulled out of their sockets at the hip. He was in terrible pain. I think I may have said earlier that they don’t seem to have any anesthetic. I think I’m wrong because I believe they gave him a shot of morphine. After that they just referred him because there was nothing that could be done at the clinic, he needed x-rays and some other services which we cannot provide there.
The second incident that came in was much more exciting due to the fact that it was more graphic.
A gentleman came in who had a very large laceration in his neck, just under his left ear. It was angled down as it came towards the front of his body. There was another laceration under the navel, and another on his left eyebrow. The blood from his neck ran all the way to his left foot. It soaked his pants which were denim with some thin stripes of alternating colors every two inches or so. The blood was also soaked into his belt so when they stripped him, taking off the belt was like wringing out a cloth; blood dripped from it quite easily. He was not wearing a shirt so that the blood covered the left of his torso evenly. The cut was deep, uneven and wide. From my estimation, it was probably three to three and a half inches long and about an inch and a half wide at its widest. I was surprised at how much blood he had lost and how he was still able to remain very conscious and aware of his surroundings and not seeming to feel ill. When I donate blood I feel nauseated fairly quickly due to the low body weight that I have. He was not a large man, about my size 5’7’’ or 5’8’’ He couldn’t have weighed any more than 140 lbs He got these lacerations from being in a fight, the person he was fighting used a broken bottle to make the largest laceration (that in his neck). He was very lucky that the person missed the carotid artery, if that had happened the blow would have been fatal. The nurse (for the doctor wasn’t there that day) stuck a bunch of gauze (not sterile, just unused-I don’t think they have any sterile tools or supplies) into the wound and applied pressure. She then, while still applying pressure, continued to wipe the blood from his body, and strip him of his clothes. He was then given a new cloth that he could wrap around his waist, they taped the gauze in his neck and he got into a taxi to be referred to the nearest city hospital in Cape Coast.
Ironically, his friend wore a shirt that said “Respect More Attack Less”
I also got to watch a circumcision, I didn’t feel quite ready to help with something like that yet so I let the experienced do the work.
Sadly during the weekend I got very ill and had bouts of both vomiting and diarrhea. There is not a much better way to get extremely dehydrated so I spent the rest of Sunday and Monday resting and rehydrating myself. And I found out that there isn’t anything like being sick away from home that makes someone home sick. I would have loved to have some ice cream and Gatorade and even air conditioning because sweating doesn’t help with rehydrating.
I was able to go back to the clinic on Tuesday where it has been very quiet the past few days which has allowed me to do some monotonous and extremely tedious work of sorting through the thousands and thousands of patients cards that are in no logical order. It is quite a mystery to me how they ever found a card that they were looking for.
This weekend I am going to be taking some trips and then next week I will be working in the maternity ward of the clinic. We’ll see what happens next along my journey!