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National Day for Doctors… a day worth celebrating in Ghana

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He entered the emergency room with a quick dash. His eyes were bloodshot but apparently he had never sniffed alcohol before. He was sweating profusely and his tank top was ripped from the middle down to the hem. He looked confused and perturbed. He screamed “Help, my wife is dying”. He had laid his wife down helplessly at the entrance to the emergency. One of the nurses rushed to the door to see what was happening with her. She was having severe shortness of breath and looked to be almost gasping. The only doctor on duty was called from the ward where he was attending to a young teenage girl having a sickle cell crises. The husband was asked to pull a folder from the record room for her. Her temperature was soaring, her blood pressure was dropping and her oxygen saturation levels kept going low, according to the nurse. The doctor magically knew what to do next, and at this point I wished I had an idea what medical school had imbibed in him. The next thing I knew was this woman was expertly transferred unto a bed with the head end propped up. He performed a concise but very revealing examination. He was sleek in his movement and decisive in initiating treatment. A mask was placed on her face, which covered her nose and mouth with bubbling of fluid from the top of a cylinder. I noticed the nurse trying to adjust a hovering ball to precision. A needle was skillfully placed at the back of her hand secured with some strips of white plaster; this was after some drops of blood were placed in about four bottles apparently meant for the laboratory tests. All I noticed was a small wince. Some bags of fluid were placed and connected to the small tube plastered to the back of her right hand. Her husband finally reappeared, after about twenty minutes, with a blue file in hand. The doctor had a quick word with him and asked that he remain calm while they attended to his wife. Well, you cannot easily calm an agitated man who is worried about the wellbeing of his wife. He had panic written all over his face though he kept reiterating he was fine. He was invited politely to take a seat and told a few questions will be thrown his way to help in the management of his wife. After a session of question and answer the doctor gave the man some prescriptions and other instructions I knew next to nothing about. He walked to his wife’s bed and asked her if she was ok. She managed a smile and said she feels a tad better. I saw the relief on this man’s face as he headed to the pharmacy. The treatment was continued when the husband returned from the pharmacy. The doctor got hold of the chest xray that was taken on the day of arrival and the lab results the next day. I must say the woman looked better than she did previously. That pale and eerie demeanour around her had disappeared. Another prescription was handed to the husband and this time around he spent almost half a day combing the streets of Accra looking for a tube meant for the chest. He arrived after the search. This same doctor who had been around since the morning of the previous day stayed on the fix the tube to get rid of some fluid collection in this woman’s lungs. He also performed the ward rounds and made sure my sister, the young woman with the sickle cell crises, had received her medication and was responding well to treatment. A few days later when my sister, fit as a fiddle, was being discharged, I saw this woman who couldn’t breath earlier hopping around energetically with a tube sticking out from her chest. She had found life again. Something caught my attention which made me stay a few more minutes. Another doctor was telling the husband that his wife will be discharged the next morning to come for a review on a later date. On hearing this, the man ran straight to the nurse’s station and asked for the doctor who had taken care of his wife initially. He said to the nurse who told him that particular doctor will be coming to work in the evening of the next day. “In case we are discharged before he reports for his night duty, tell him his reward is beyond imagination. Tell him I heard a great deal of negative things about doctors but he and his nurses have debunked all I heard. Tears rolled down my eyes on my way here thinking I would lose my dear wife that day but he brought back hope to my heart and she’s got a second chance at life thanks to their intervention. He is a gem and should remain so. My sincerest gratitude for his committed service to mankind”. I walked away speechless but with a heart full of gratitude too to the doctor and his team for getting my sister out of her sick bed. We will be forever grateful. ©Elorm Nortey-Adom, 2018 It is National day for Doctors in the United States today but by extension I feel we need to lead the charge to appreciate Doctors in our own country Ghana. It is not always a story of sadness and anger. So many lives have been saved. I dare say more than have been lost. We need to appreciate these selfless people for their service]]>

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