Ghana Blog: My Very First Surgery: WOW

July 11th, 2017

Hi family and friends!

Signing on here for my last blog post and wow how bittersweet it is because this trip is so much more than I could have ever asked for in a study abroad, but I also miss you all so very much!

I've taken the time to write most of my blog posts on the adventures we've had outside of our medical work, but these past few weeks in the hospitals have been way too cool not to share with all of you! From seeing lab technicians interpreting blood tests, ER doctors calming worried parents when their child is having a hard time breathing, to even radiologists examining chest and spine x-rays, last week was nothing short of exciting. I worked in radiology the most while I was there, and it amazed me how well they worked around not having films to print the x-rays. There were so many emergency cases that they would sometimes just have the doctor come down to radiology and read the x-ray off the screen himself. The technician also designed his own protective lead covering for the sex organs of babies. The work they do there is truly incredible and they do it in much harsher conditions than we are used to, like without AC or much space at all. The rest of this week I'll be working in the larger hospital that has just been rebuilt and renamed Greater Accra Regional Hospital. This hospital, to my surprise is very similar to ones in the US and the employees are all so passionate about their jobs. Later in the week I’ll be shadowing in general surgery, labor and delivery, and the NICU, but I am most excited to share with you what I got to observe today!

I have shadowed in many hospitals in the US before, but never have I come close to experiencing what I did today. I was stationed in the obstetrics surgery unit today and got to observe two caesarean sections, one was an emergency as the baby was in distress and in the second, the baby was breached. These were my first surgeries I’ve ever had the chance to scrub in on and I was in awe every second I was in there. The staff were extremely nice and allowed me to have a great view of every step the doctor took and also answered any and every question I had. They even went above and beyond to explain aspects of the surgery that I wouldn’t have thought to ask. That’s what makes learning by observation so much better. Special thanks particularly to Helen for holding me the first few minutes to be certain I wasn’t going to pass out on her. The anesthesiologist was extremely skilled and showed me precisely where to insert the spinal anesthetic to avoid hitting the spinal cord. The team then made an incision in the mother’s lower abdomen and began the process of the C-section. Every professional in the room had a specific job and everything moved more than smoothly. The baby that was breached was pulled out feet first and it was no question, the most beautiful moment I’ve ever experienced. I was so intrigued by how fast the midwife got the baby cleaned, weighed, measured, and warmed as I watched the doctors stitch back up the mother’s uterus. This process was so different from what I expected and I’m so blessed to have had this opportunity here, because I’m years away from being able to have this same opportunity in the US. This day has made me really fall in love with obstetrics and also with surgery. I am so thankful for an experiential-learning summer abroad that exposes me to such intriguing medical experiences like the ones today. I can’t wait to see how these shadowing experiences will affect my future career. I’ve learned so many invaluable aspects while here, especially just being able to jump into new experiences and go with it. Communicating with medical professionals, strangers, or people who speak a much different language from you have all seemed like such a minute part of this trip, but in reality these are going to be key qualities in my profession. I’d never learn how to deal with these situations if I didn’t push myself to experience these circumstances early on. Medase, Ghana. Hope to be back more than soon. Xo

Jenna 

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