Ghana Blog: All in the details

July 7th, 2017 Contact: Alex Anderson  |  706-542-7614  | More about Alex

Hey everyone! Me again. So I've been thinking a lot about timing. How we get to where we are. It's genuinely crazy if you think about it. Millions of small details align for even the smallest event to occur. Everyone has gone through countless circumstances to get them to their current situation in life. For example, I wouldn't be sitting in Ghana right now if I hadn't happened to get on Facebook and stumble across a high school classmate's post about her acceptance to a UGA service learning program. But I did, and now I'm in Africa. 

I wouldn't want to be an occupational therapist, and might not have even heard of the field, if my mom hadn't gotten incredibly sick with pneumonia my junior year of high school. She was in a medically induced coma which caused her muscles to atrophy. She needed occupational therapy to re-gain the strength to do basic motor functions, like making brownies. I learned about my future career from my mother needing life saving care. Thanks for taking one for the team, mama! (She knows I'm joking, and yes she's perfectly okay now). 

This past week we spent in Princess Marie Louise Children's Hospital in Accra, thanks to Dr. Anderson's connections. We took a tour of the nutrition rehabilitation clinic on Tuesday, where mothers learn how and what to cook for their malnourished children. It was surprising to me how many of the children didn't get to this situation by pure poverty. In fact, a lot of the mothers are overweight--they just don't know what to feed their children. They've never been taught what a healthy palate looks like, so their kids just don't get the proper nutrition they need sometimes. Other times, the mothers have been taught, but they are too stubborn to even accept that their babies are skin and bones. 

I've spent the past two days in the physical therapy center of the hospital, where I've learned so much. I wouldn't have gotten to spend the second day there if one of my peers hadn't chosen to shadow a midwife at another local hospital that day. There just happened to be another opening in PT the day the doctor I was supposed to shadow didn't show up. 

In the PT unit, the most common disorder that brings children in is cerebral palsy, caused by fetal oxygen deprivation. The culture in Ghana is still learning the positive effects of western medicine, but when C-sections were introduced here, there were a lot of complications. Women often died from the surgery, though the children often survived. Now, a lot of women are afraid to get a C-section, even if a doctor tells them it must be done to get the baby out. What ends up happening is that the baby spends too much time in the womb, leading to fetal distress, leading to oxygen deprivation, leading to cerebral palsy. 

When I first started writing this post before spending much time at the children's hospital, I was planning on ending it in some cheesy "it's crazy how everything works out in the end based on the timing of our life experiences." But after seeing the conditions of the hospital-taking a 2 year old's X-ray and finding out that he basically doesn't have an L4 vertebra, seeing a baby boy running around with massively swollen glands in his chin from HIV, working with 5 year olds having such developmental delay that they still can't stand on their own-it's hard for me to say that timing is always perfect. It's just not. Not everything works out the way we envision it, but who knows? You might be surprised by the positives that come from the millions of details that align to get you to where you are. 

So instead, I'm going to end this post by thanking my family and friends for getting me to where I am today, for all the countless factors that went into the person that I am in the place that I am. 

To my friends: thank you for being genuinely excited for me as I was preparing for this trip. Thank you for always supporting me and being there to fall back on when I get homesick or just want to talk about my day. You guys are the best. 

To my unbelievable family: I really really love you guys and I can't thank you enough for the love, support (emotionally and financially!), and encouragement you've given me. You've instilled a desire in me for helping people and traveling the world, and you've done everything you can to help me accomplish those passions of mine. 

Thank you to everyone who's helped me get to where I am today. Until next time, 
Kerri Reid