July 30, 2007
So much has happened, I am afraid that this post will not be able to contain it all.
My feelings about Manna continued to make it a hard place for me to be. I ran into some financial troubles on a Friday (meaning I had no money, and I had no Erl*), and I decided I needed to go back to the Baptist guest house and write a check to get more. It would have been a great solution…if Jimmy had been at the guest house. But Jimmy was not at the guest house. He is the man who is in charge of running the guest house in Accra, and he had locked the office and the money safe. It turned out that I had used my last few cedis for the taxi ride to get out to the guest house, so I decided my best and only option was to remain there until I could figure some way to get more money.
How I eventually got money is a long, complicated, and mostly boring story which ended in me walking away from a Ghanaian bank, triumphantly packing an envelope stuffed with cedis.
The weekend I spent at the guest house in Accra came to be more than just me getting money, however. On Monday morning I met a medical student named Tristan, who is from London. He was telling Fusheni how was supposed to be going up to the BMC, and that he was interested in saving money on the flight by taking a bus.
This was my chance, and I took it! I made the decision to travel back to Nalerigu for my last few days in Africa, and then travel back down with Tiffany and Dr. Parkin. I was so excited, it felt like I had decided to go home! I discovered a home-sickness at Manna that I have never experienced before. Nalerigu really has become my home away from home, and my longing for it combined with the opportunity to travel safely with a companion made for an easy decision.
Monday was spent purchasing tickets and making sure everything was lined up for my return trip. I also experienced a different side of Ghana! There is a five star resort hotel on the coast near Accra, with rooms that cost 250-300 dollars a night. The trick is, though…you can use the pool for only $8 for the whole day! This may not sound like much, but if you can picture a multi-teired, multiple waterfall, palm tree, exotic, entirely amazing five star pool, then perhaps you could understand my enthusiasm.
Tuesday Fusheni took Tristan and I to the bus station for our trip to Tamale. Now, I had not experienced the finer side of bus travel in Ghana yet, and when we found our seats in the back row, I hardly knew what to do with all of that leg room and air conditioning! That was a loooooong bus ride, but Tristan turned out to be this amazingly entertaining British guy with a hilarious sense of humor, so the trip did not seem as long as it would have without him. They also played some African movies on the ride, which was entertaining. I wish I could bring some African Magic tv home to show you guys, because there really isn’t any way to explain adequately what it is like. It is very melodramatic, and it makes me think of the middle school counselor who was a budding play write and who had come up with the theatrical genius of a line that starts “Now-uh Tony was-uh married to Maria…”. For those of you who do not know what I am refering to, it means that Africa Magic is magically lame.
We got to Tamale late on Tuesday night, and stayed in the guest house there. The next day a couple of people from BMC came to drive us up to Nalerigu!
I was so excited, I couldn’t stop thinking about seeing the twins again, and the main road through town, with the women sewing and making foo foo, and the children waving and yelling “Salminga!”. Also, I was looking forward to being re-united with all the friends I had made during my month and a half there. Rainy season had finally come full on in the north, and it rained for most of the drive. As we turned East from Walewale, I could hardly stand it. It was an overwhelming feeling to be riding over those red dirt roads again, and it felt like I was going home.
I nearly cried when we made the turn into Nalerigu. There it all was, just as I had left it only two weeks ago. It felt like I had been gone for an eternity! Looking back towards the market, I saw Yisah’s wife, Joyce; it took her a second to recognize me, then she was smiling and waving, welcoming me home.
On arrival to House 6, there were lots and lots of hugs going around, and that evening was spent catching up with Tiffany. It was so good to have a female listening ear and companionship! Tiffany, if you read this later, I know you will get my meaning. When I first met Tiffany, I was like….I’m not too sure about this girl. I tend to be very selective on which girls I will be good friends with, and when I first met her I must admit I was skeptical. But after spending several days with her, I realized that she was just the kind of girl who could become a very good friend to me. And returning to her friendship was something I needed. We had lots to talk about, and I really feel like she taught me some important things about myself, and let me see some things in her life that has taken her to where she is now. It was quite a blessing and an encouragement to have her as a friend.
Dr. Faile and Dr. Hewitt were still gone from BMC, but there was a large team of doctors and nurses from the states, some from Georgia, and some from Boston. I was able to shadow several of them on rounds at the hospital. On the last day, I even got to perform my first incision! It was an I&D, which stand for incision and drainage, of an abscess on this young girl’s neck. It seemed a little counter-intuitive that my first incision be made in the vicinity of the carotid artery, but her, you have to start somewhere!
Some melancholy news that Tiffany had for me the night I arrived was that Fusena and Asena had become well enough to go home, and my girls were no longer at the Nutrition Center. I really was happy that they had improved enough to leave, but it was hard to take because I had looked forward to seeing them again. The best friend of the twins’ mother, Fhati, was still there with her son, Iduisu. When I saw her again, she cried, and she kept grabbing my hand and holding onto it. It affected my very much how everyone welcomed me back so gladly. It was funny, some people felt they were seeing a ghost, looking at me, then staring, then interrogating me!
The boy that David and I had visited every day in isolation ward was still there. He looks so much better! He is still needing dressings, but his wounds are finally closing. God must have done some good work, because that boy had so much pus in his body, logic says that he really should have died.
I need to go for now, but I will continue the story in a short while.