Recovering from a Facial Nerve Palsy

After heavy rains last year, a wall of a local primary school building fell on top of children who were in the classroom. The most severely injured patient was a young girl who sustained a closed head injury with a basilar skull fracture. She was treated with medicine to reduce the swelling of the brain and steadily showed improvement. She also developed meningitis during her hospital stay.

As she continued to improve over the following days, it became apparent that her facial nerve (which controls the muscles of the face) had been damaged in the accident. After a couple months, she complained about the inability to close her right eye when she sleeps and therefore the eye was watering. She is the granddaughter of one of out friends in town, so I was able to regularly provide saline drops for her eyes until they improved.

The facial nerve palsy is still recovering, but I see improvements every time I run into her in town. Each time I see her or talk to her grandmother, I am just thankful that she is alive and thriving.

Rectal Prolapse – Before & After

I recently posted about a boy with a rectal prolapse caused by his attempt to manage the pain of a large bladder stone. I realize many of our readers don’t know what a rectal prolapse is. It’s not pretty, that’s for sure, but I deal with them fairly often at our hospital. Here’s a good example of a case that illustrates the how much relief can be given to a patient by correcting this condition.

A 45 year-old man presented to the hospital with a long-standing history of intermittent rectal prolapse which had acutely become much worse and was not reducing (returning back inside the anus). The longer the rectum remains outside the anus, the more edematous or swollen it becomes. It bleeds easily and makes it impossible to sit down. Eventually, it causes intestinal obstruction. By the time the patient came to the hospital, it was beyond conservative measures and necessitated an operative solution.

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Welcome Nils & Marlen!

German NGOs Evivo & Weltwärts have sent two new volunteers to Nalerigu to work at a local private school and feeding center. We’ve served as mentors for each pair of volunteers for the last three years and it’s always been an fun experience.

Since we started, we’ve declared Sunday nights to be German Movie Night and we have the volunteers over for dinner and a movie (which is sometimes and actual German movie).

We’re happy to welcome Nils & Marlen as they start their year of service in Nalerigu. We look forward to many German Movie Nights together!

Dog Meat

As in many places with large Muslim populations, the local butchers observe halal practices, meaning that the meat is slaughtered and prepared according to the Islamic dietary law as dictated by the Quran. In Nalerigu, our primary butchers are in the central market and only deal in cow, sheep and goat meat. For “unclean” meat like pork, you have to find a non-Muslim butcher.

There’s a guy nicknamed Secretary that I go to for pork but on a recent visit, he said didn’t have any pork. I asked what was cooking in the pot and he replied, “Dog.” Always up for trying something new, I bought a hind quarter for about $3.50 and headed home.

It was Friday, which means pizza night, so Heidi put some of the meat on a pizza. Trey complained that it was a bit too chewy. I also took some ribs and flank and roasted them in the oven slathered in barbecue sauce. Trey loved that because it became more tender.

Cuisine in northern Ghana is always interesting!

* Note: My family has pledged not to eat our pet dog Buster.
** Additional Note: The dog we ate had been hit by car and had to be put down. He was not a stolen pet or raised for the purpose of becoming a pizza topping.

Uganda’s Adungu Harp

I was recently visiting churches in the refugee camps of northwestern Uganda and came across these wonderful instruments. Called an adungu (or ekidongo or ennenga in other languages) it is a sort of arched harp.

When arriving at one church, I heard music coming from inside. The bass was so clear that I assumed it was a speaker system. I looked around and saw no power lines at all and was curious how they were powering the audio system. Upon entering the church I saw three men playing adungus of different sizes. The largest (which was making the deep, clear bass tones) was so long that a little kid sat on the tail end and beat it like a drum!

But what is the relationship between magic and modernity in postcolonial Africa?

Magic, divination and the belief in spirits imbuing material objects and ancestors, is hardly ‘a hangover from the past’ but rather an attempt to locate meaning and prosperity in a modern, postcolonial world characterized by monetary forms and global market economies.

Bernhard M. Bierlich