Last night was my “duty” night or 24 hour shift. Well, sort of. There was a random 3 hour break in the middle of the day in which Sari took Maala and I fabric shopping and then to Constance the seamstress. She works from a wooden shack in the middle of a field and has a steady inflow of obruni doctors coming to her thanks to Sari. Maala played it safe with a light blue fabric covered in tiny blue flowers, I went for a very African yellow, orange and black print that will bring tears to your eyes. I hope my dress has lots of ruffles.
With rounds in the morning and Ob clinic in the afternoon (two patients and two doctors to a room, pelvic exams and all) we didn’t get to L&D until 5pm. Sign out involved the outgoing resident telling Parker about all the patients on the floor (this one, she delivered, this one, she has imminent eclampsia, this one, she has a stillbirth, this one, she is for an elective c-section for a bad obstetrical history) and then leaving. Not much to go on.
Other than the heat, the lack of water for scrubbing (someone pours it over your hands for you before a c-section), and the colorful fabric sheets that each patient brings for herself and to wrap her baby, L&D in Ghana is quite similar to L&D in the States. Babies come, some from the vagina, some from the abdomen. Sometimes women bleed and you try to stop it, sometimes their blood pressure gets really high and you try to stop it. Lucky for us in the States, there is never a magnesium shortage and we always have IV antihypertensives. I guess that’s a difference too.
I tried to teach Maala cervical exams and how to rupture membranes with limited success. They use a Kocher clamp to rupture here (in other words, a heavy metal instrument with wooly mammoth like teeth) which I think left Maala more traumatized than the non flushing toilets. We spent the whole night doing c-section after c-section, until everyone got tired of it and went to sleep. Then we woke up and did some more.
Finally Emmanuel sent me home to “take a bath” and I am to be back for a Family Planning meeting this morning. I think I’m getting too intolerably pungent for anyone to stand anymore.