Treating a Cerebral Vascular Accident

First this one morning, a man made his way into the clinic leaning heavily on the shoulder of a young boy.  As he entered, my attention, initially grabbed by the brilliant violet tunic top he wore, subsequently fell on the telltale curl of his left arm and the dragging of his left leg.  

Falling into a chair, he explained that in the night he awoke with the sensation that the left side of his body was heavy and weak.  Now, he was breathless, dizzy, his head hurt and his heart felt too large for his chest.  There was also a burning sensation internally and especially in the left thigh.


 One hot and slow afternoon at the clinic in Mafi Seva, a taxi drove up with an old woman accompanied by three of her adult children.   While she lay sprawled out in the back seat, the children got out and approached us to ask if it might be possible to treat their mother.

They explained that while walking in the fields about three years earlier, she had experienced a sharp pricking pain on the tip of the large toe of her left foot. It had immediately become quite inflamed, and she went to the hospital for treatment. The inflammation subsequently had subsided until about four months ago when with no apparent cause it re-emerged. This time though the inflammation spread and treatment at the hospital had proved ineffective.

First Impressions

It didn’t take long for me to realize that I wasn’t in Kansas anymore.

As the plane was touching down at Accra airport the giant carcass of a jetliner was lying by the side of the runway. Helluva thing to see while landing, but maybe it was just being cannibalized for parts… Or, perhaps the remains of a misadventure not yet cleared away? Taxing to a stop, there weren’t any other commercial airplanes to be seen, just a fleet of various sized jets bearing the United Nations logo. We deboarded down a flight of stairs onto a steamy tarmac where castoff Korean buses were waiting to deliver us to the terminal and into the hands of immigration officers who either ill temperedly or lackadaisically processed our various documents. One young man waved me through with a shrug although I hadn’t been given and therefore hadn’t filled out and consequently didn’t submit the form that apparently it was his sole job to collect. Welcome to Ghana.


Homeopathic Surgery

Night had already fallen when the motorcycle slowly puttered up to the clinic. It was during the periodic “lights out” that beset the village every 72 hours or thereabouts, so electricity had been shut down until dawn. In the darkness, one could manage to make out three riders dismounting from the bike.

I had only arrived in the village a day or two before, but later I would learn that patients often arrived at the clinic in this manner. They’d be sandwiched between the driver and someone riding shotgun who kept them upright.