Jan 28, 2016

January 28th, 2016 by Kristen Allcorn-Killen



Thursday is a rounds and procedure day…which is supposed to mean a lighter day…but that is not always the case. While on rounds in the male ward, an attendant comes to me and says “Doctor, please come quickly, there is a woman who is unconscious and needs your help.” I look around and realize that he is talking to me…even though I am not quite a doctor yet. As soon as I register this, a cart is rolled into the ward with an older female patient; she is not responsive. As they were transferring her to a bed, I try to get info from the family about what happened; one of the Ghanaian doctors heard the commotion and came running. Apparently, she was not feeling well at home, so they were driving her to the hospital; on the way, she collapsed. She had no pulse and was not breathing, so the Ghanaian doctor started chest compressions, and I was bagging her (with a bag that was not connected to oxygen since the oxygen machine was in a different ward). After a few minutes we switch jobs; eventually, he checks her for a pulse and respirations and says it is finished. Everyone leaves the room as quickly as they had come. A sheet is wrapped around her body; her son comes and sits on the edge of the bed in utter disbelief. I walk over to offer a pat on the shoulder and my condolences, but that is all (since I cannot speak the language). After a few quiet minutes, the same cart that brought her to the ward wheeled her away and to a pick-up truck where she would be transported to the morgue.


At the same time as the code was happening, Chelsea was called to assess two gun shot victims. When I finally found her, I was shocked; We are not at a level 1 trauma center…far from it…but we just dealt with a code and two gun shot victims. Apparently, they were shooting a gun as part of a local ceremony and it backfired and hit people bear by…or something like that. One guy had bullet fragments in his face…and I did not see where the other one was shot; in any case, I was reminded that no matter how much we try to control life, there are things that happen that are out of our control. And regardless of what happens, that God is still good.


I finished rounding on patients for which I am stumped. One has entire body swelling with horrible kidney function and he probably needs dialysis (which we do not do here…so he will probably be transferred). Another woman has severe abdominal pain…with a massive spleen…I mean I and no one else in the room had ever seen a spleen so big; she likely has some bleeding disorder. We sent for some outside labs which will take days to return before we have any idea what is wrong. Another woman has body swelling, is 6 mo post-partum, and may or may not have had a seizure overnight that resulted in her being mute and weakening both of her hands…crazy, I know…and no, we still do not know if it is her kidneys, liver, or brain with psychiatric issues that is the problem. It is difficult to ask questions and get the answers I want through a translator sometimes…which makes diagnosis and treatment difficult. The last lady I saw was a new admit with lots of abdominal pain, no labs back yet, and a small child as well; I could only offer a few more tests and pain medicine. Hopefully we have some results back soon so we can start treating her.


At 11:30, I was “done” for the day and went back to the guesthouse to relax until the others returned for lunch. We are planning to go to TB village later today. TB village is a place where people who have tested positive for TB go and live for the duration of their TB treatment. This treatment program has shown to improve compliance and decrease drug resistance. It should be fun to visit the patients there. I am taking some small toys for the children…I cannot imagine how hard it would be to live apart from your family for months of treatment. Later tonight, we have our station meeting, where all the missionaries come to the guesthouse for dinner and fellowship. It should be a good rest of the day.


I appreciate your prayers through this time. Two weeks have passed, and I have about three more until I am back in the US. Time is flying, and I am trying to enjoy every minute. I am also working a lot (at least a lot more than most 4th year medical students). I am mostly emotionally exhausted from all the sad things I see here, yet I know that in the midst of the hurting, God is still good. I know that God has greater plans than we can ever imagine and I am so thankful to have this experience. Please pray for renewed energy for the full time physicians here. The hospital will be short staffed in the next few weeks; pray that the patients are still well cared for and that they come to know that Christ cares for them even more than we do. I appreciate your prayers!