Removing a 7kg Ovarian Tumor

After several months of noticing that her abdomen was increasing in size – looking like she was pregnant but knowing she was not – my 16 year-old patient finally presented to the hospital with abdominal pain.  She was admitted by the medical assistant with the presumed diagnosis of a typhoid induced ileal perforation. One look at her abdomen and I knew that it was a more chronic problem that was causing her pain. Instead of a generalized distention and tenderness of the abdomen which comes from having intestinal contents pouring into one’s abdominal cavity, she looked more like she was 6 months pregnant. On examination of the abdomen, I could feel a large mass that moved when I pushed it and then bounced back into position. The mass was tender. Otherwise the patient appeared healthy. We did an ultrasound to confirm our suspicion and found a large mass with both solid and cystic components. We explained her condition to her and asked for her and her family’s consent to take her to surgery.

** WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES **
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A Jingle from Ghana’s Famine of ’77

Forty years ago, Ghana (and much of West Africa) was suffering under a famine. Starting around 1970, the Sahel Drought brought a dramatic change in rainfall and crops began failing year after year. By the late 70s, it was a serious crisis and the people of northern Ghana were suffering horribly.

This all came to my attention recently when a Mamprusi friend shared an jingle he remembered from his youth:

Alikaama zamaanni, Baba yi kyɛŋŋi Gambaga
Alikaama zamaanni, Baba yi kyɛŋŋi Gambaga
“Baba, kulim ka labi na, kyɛm ka labi na”
Ka Baba gyɛ suuri.
“Kulim ka labi na, kyɛm ka labi na”
Ka Baba gyɛ suuri.

I asked another friend who lived in Gambaga at the time if she was familiar with the tune and she sang it for me to record.

It translates to:

At wheat time, Baba went to Gambaga,
“Baba, go home and come back, go and come back”
And Baba was ticked off.

They both recalled how in 1977-78 the government promised food relief and rations of wheat to the starving people of Mamprugu. They would head to Gambaga, the district capitol, for the handouts but they were disappointed over and over at the lack of aid.

One friend recalls that they hired the youth to unload the grain from the trucks. She would haul huge heavy bags all day long until the trucks were empty. Then they would pay her in grain. It was just a small bag that she’d receive but she recalls being happy because they were so desperate at the time. Read More

Animal Names in Mampruli Medical Terminology

We often forget that the fancy medical terms we use in English usually have their roots in Latin and Greek and are actually just simple descriptors. Epilepsy is a classic example coming from the Greek epilēpsia, which is comprised of epi ‘upon’ + lambanein ‘take hold of’.

Mampruli also does that with several sicknesses. For example, stomach issues are described as pukpeeŋŋu  – literally, “hard stomach” – and malaria is called dunsidooru or “mosquito sickness.”

There are also several diseases that are simply named after creatures believed to either cause the illness or that reflect the disease’s symptoms. In traditional African medicine, the preventative and/or curative measures can also be influenced by the animal namesake of the sickness. Read More

“Dr. Haun” by Dr. Melinda Roney

Grandparents Visit

We’ve been blessed to have the kids’ grandparents visit us each year that we’ve been in West Africa. This year was my parents’ turn and they timed it so that KJ and “Granny Sarah” could celebrate their birthdays together.

During their two weeks with us we toured around northern Ghana a bit taking them to Pikworo Slave Camp, Navrongo’s minor basilica, the Gambaga Escarpment and Mole National Park. My father also preached at our local church one Sunday. I think their favorite thing was just time at our house spent playing with the grandkids.

Here are their photos from their visit: Read More

Poaa kuuri u daana ka wa la ya?

If the hernia kills its host, where will it go?

Mampruli Proverb