Friday, May 24, 2013

Guest blogger: Any way you want to tie it

Dr. Katy Rivlin writing from Accra, Ghana


5/22 --> Any way you want to tie it

    In the mornings, I awake to the sound of a traveling saleswoman from the North (Sari says you can tell by her accent). She cries “plaaaaaaastic chairs, PLAAAAAASTIC CHAIRS!!!” The metal worker beats out his offerings with a wooden stick on a wooden box, and the shoe repair man has a little metal clanger. The goat (who turned out to be a sheep) has gone to a better place and bleats to me no more. 
    In the family planning unit this morning we did a tubal ligation. It’s a surgery that I’ve only done laparoscopically in the US, so using a mini abdominal incision was new to me. Only later in the case when I jabbed my finger into the woman’s abdomen to fish out her fallopian tube did I realize she had nothing but local anesthesia and some IV sedation. Geeeeze!!  It’s a whole different skill set here: low cost, fast surgery, as gently as you can. Turns out there’s a special instrument other than your finger that you can use to snag the tube. My apologies to you and your peritoneal cavity Madame. 
    After work, Emmanuel drove me out to a suburb of Accra to meet his family and to see the house they just built. His oldest daughter, Ama is 15 and away at secondary school, but his son Naana is only 5 and came with us to dinner. We ate Chinese food spiced Ghanaian style, talked about the contested election here, Chinese immigrants and how to lose weight. Well, I think we did. The conversation was half Twi and half English so as usual, I did a lot of smiling and eyeball crossing. When Emmanuel’s wife packed me off at the end of the night, she made sure I had a half gallon of strawberry ice cream to take with me. 
    In other news, I think Maala has finally gotten her sea legs. She told me a story about the water and electricity running out at her house (a fancy gated expat community with AC and running water). It happened right as she was taking her post call shower, and “my hair was full of lather” (don’t forget, she’s British). With no other water around she resorted to rinsing her hair out with mouth wash. All day today her scalp was tingling. Bravo Maala, this makes my bucket showers seem like a Carnival Cruise. 

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