Wednesday- June 23rd, 2010
Wow, what an incredible day I had. Today was definitely the best day of placement thus far. This morning, I decided to go to the hospital to try and see a surgery, since Wednesdays are common surgery days. When I arrived at the hospital around 8AM, I went straight to the surgery department to see what was scheduled today. They told me that they have a patient coming in around 9AM with a hernia to be removed. In the mean time, I went to the pharmacy for an hour to observe. Once I got there, the pharmacist named Solomon was extremely friendly and explained the whole process of what he does and how he became a pharmacist.
Solomon started me off with a quick tour of the small stock room (I forgot to mention it was air conditioned, felt so nice!) and then he had me count pills. Every day, the pharmacy dispenses about 40 packets of vitamins to pregnant women in their first trimester. They are given a one month supply of a multivitamin, vitamin c, folic acid, and ferric sulfate (iron). For almost an hour, I labeled the small plastic bags with the proper vitamin/supplement, filled 30 pills in each bag, and placed them on the counter to be given to the patients. Basically, all I was given to count with was a metal spoon. I scooped up some vitamins in the spoon and poured them into the plastic bag. I accidentally dropped one in my lap and the pharmacist told me to use it and put it back into the bag for the patient. I then saw the pharmacist technician count some pills also and used his bare hands, not even washing before dispensing- definitely would not be allowed in the states. I asked Solomon what the most popular medication dispensed here is besides vitamins- he stated that ibuprofen and acetaminophen are the most popular, along with anti-malaria drugs. Also, Solomon told me that to become a pharmacist in Ghana, you only need 4 years of undergraduate classes. It was interesting to see how the pharmacy department works, but definitely loved the air conditioning the most!
I came back to the surgery department at 9AM. The patient was waiting, prepped for surgery, but no sign of the doctor. As I mentioned before in my journal entry, there are no particular surgeons per say at the hospital- the doctors do their own surgeries. Around 10AM, Dr.Dankoo finally showed up. At this time, the patient has been under anesthesia for over an hour. Once the doctor arrived, the nurses had me go scrub up which consisted of me putting on a full surgical gown, gloves, a hair net, and a surgical mask. There were two other nurses and I that first went into the surgical theater to prep the patient for surgery. Already under anesthesia, the man was laying there fully naked. The nurses and I washed the patients groin area with halothane and methylene to prep for the doctor's incision. Dr. Dankoo arrived into the surgical theater all ready to perform. He first made about a two inch long incision in the patients left groin area. The hernia seemed to be in the lower small intestine, almost near the rectum. About five minutes into the surgery, the doctor pulled out a somewhat large cylindrical shaped bump connected to the intestines. He snipped the hernia off and that's when I got splattered on my gown with some blood. At that time, I was standing right next to the doctor, right over the patient. There sure was a lot of blood, but boy was it cool to watch. The doctor then stitched up the patient and in no time he was off to the recovery room. The whole surgery took only about 10 minutes, it was extremely fast.
Right when the hernia patient was finished, the head nurse notified the doctor that there was a c-section to be done now. This was when I got so excited! I have always wanted to see a c-section and I finally had the opportunity to see one! I had to change my gown since I had some blood on it from the last patient, so we scrubbed in again, and the woman came in on the stretcher. We removed her clothes and transferred her to the surgical table in the theater. While she was given some anesthesia for pain, we cleaned and prepped her huge belly for the incision. Dr.Dankoo came back into the surgical theater and had me stand right next to him. The incision he made must have been about 8 or 9 inches long. I won't get into too many details since some reading may have a weak stomach for this, but as he cut open her belly, a whole lot of fat and blood started to gush out. The doctor put the fat to the side and worked his way into the uterus. This was a huge pink ball in which the baby was inside. He cut open the uterus and tried to pull out the baby head first. I was in awe and so happy once I saw the head start to come out of the mother's uterus. The doctor and surgical nurse each grabbed a side of the opening of the uterus and pulled to make the opening larger for the baby to come thru. The doctor shoved his hands around the baby and pulled out the crying beautiful little girl. The nurse cut the umbilical cord, showed the mother her new daughter, and transferred the baby to the table to get cleaned up. At that time, I almost had tears in my eyes because of how happy I was to be there experiencing a live birth.
The doctor then proceeded to finish the surgery of the mother. There was still a huge pink ball in the mother- the uterus. The doctor stitched back up the uterus and then proceeded to stitch up the mother. This took quite a while since the doctor made a large incision on her belly. After the doctor finished stitching up the mother, she headed back to the recovery room to be with her daughter.
This was definitely the best experience of my trip so far. It was such a beautiful site seeing life come into this world. I will never forget my first time observing a birth.