Sunday, November 11, 2007

If it was in my Village

Value which is defined by the “American heritage school Dictionary” as a principle standard or quality considered worthwhile, plays an essential role in the rural African communities. Each of the complicated societies in the African world has its basic value and numerous ways, tribally distinctive, just as more than 800 African languages and cultures. We should also emphasize that traditionally, Africans tend to view human natural as neither inherently good nor evil. According to most Africans (like the people of my village), human nature is simply neutral. Although a good man in tribal Africa is the one who fulfills all his obligations to his kinship circle, human beings nonetheless are fallible and capable of error. To most Africans, the human nature is relatively crumbled or strong. However, it can become weaker or stronger. The most essential part of a man’s judgment in relationships to his being good or evil, generous or selfish, depends mainly on the social outcomes of his actions.
For many years, I witnessed lots of people die from Diseases that could be prevented, cured or simply treated if only there were train medical personnels to handle the issues. On more than five different occasions, I saw people die from a disease that recently appeared in my khakis. I began recollecting memories of past instances where I experienced severe pain in my abdominal. In my Village, when I was much younger and smaller, it was treated with some leaves and salty hot water. After escaping into refuge “in Ghana”, I began reading about different diseases. None of my readings was directed to Appendix. Deep in my khaki pants, near my penis, there was a hidden or extended intestine already developed and waiting to rapture.
Fortunately for me, my appendix relaxed quietly while I was hustling in refuge to meet the expense of my survival and education. Quality health care and Medical insurance was something that never cross my and that of thousands of refugees minds.
On October 9, 2007 at about 7:55 pm, I was rushed to the bayhealth medical center in Dover, Delaware where I was admitted. Few tests were administered to me whilst other procedures were arranged. One of those procedures was the CT scan.
CT scan is a computerized axial tomography scan more commonly known by its abbreviated name, CT scan or CAT scan. It is an x-ray procedure which combines many x-ray images with the aid of a computer to generate cross-sectional views and, if needed, three-dimensional images of the internal organs and structures of the body. A CT scan is used to define normal and abnormal structures in the body and/or assist in procedures by helping to accurately guide the placement of instruments or treatments. A large donut-shaped x-ray machine takes x-ray images at many different angles around the body. These images are processed by a computer to produce cross-sectional pictures of the body. In each of these pictures the body is seen as an x-ray "slice" of the body, which is recorded on a film. This recorded image is called a tomogram. "Computerized Axial Tomography" refers to the recorded tomogram "sections" at different levels of the body.
When these levels are further "added" together, a three-dimensional picture of an organ or abnormal body structure can be obtained.
Few hours after the CT scan, the Medical Doctor ‘on duty’ slowly walked into my room and closed my door. He announced to me that “I had appendicitis”. He quickly noticed the change in my facial expression. As a professional, he pulsed for few seconds to observe my reaction. Minutes later, he asked me weather I’ve ever had surgery before? I responded by saying no? He said “well, you are about to have one done here in few hours”. Where in my Village would I ever have such an opportunity?

What is appendicitis?

Appendix is a closed-ended, narrow tube up to several inches in length that attaches to the cecum (the first part of the colon) like a worm. (The anatomical name for the appendix, vermiform appendix, means worm-like appendage.) The inner lining of the appendix produces a small amount of mucus that flows through the open center of the appendix and into the cecum. The wall of the appendix contains lymphatic tissue that is part of the immune system for making antibodies. Like the rest of the colon, the wall of the appendix also contains a layer of muscle, but the muscle is poorly developed.

Digestion takes place almost continuously in a watery, slushy environment. The large intestine absorbs water from its inner contents and stores the rest until it is convenient to dispose of it. Attached to the first portion of the large intestine is a troublesome pouch called the (veriform) appendix. The appendix has no function in modern humans, however it is believed to have been part of the digestive system in our primitive ancestors.
Appendicitis means inflammation of the appendix. It is thought that appendicitis begins when the opening from the appendix into the cecum becomes blocked. The blockage may be due to a build-up of thick mucus within the appendix or to stool that enters the appendix from the cecum. The mucus or stool hardens, becomes rock-like, and blocks the opening. This rock is called a fecalith (literally, a rock of stool). At other times, the lymphatic tissue in the appendix may swell and block the appendix. After the blockage occurs, bacteria which normally are found within the appendix begin to invade (infect) the wall of the appendix. The body responds to the invasion by mounting an attack on the bacteria, an attack called inflammation. An alternative theory for the cause of appendicitis is an initial rupture of the appendix followed by spread of bacteria outside the appendix.. The cause of such a rupture is unclear, but it may relate to changes that occur in the lymphatic tissue, for example, inflammation, that line the wall of the appendix.)
If the inflammation and infection spread through the wall of the appendix, the appendix can rupture. After rupture, infection can spread throughout the abdomen; however, it usually is confined to a small area surrounding the appendix (forming a peri-appendiceal abscess).
Sometimes, the body is successful in containing ("healing") the appendicitis without surgical treatment if the infection and accompanying inflammation do not spread throughout the abdomen. The inflammation, pain and symptoms may disappear. This is particularly true in elderly patients and when antibiotics are used. The patients then may come to the doctor long after the episode of appendicitis with a lump or a mass in the right lower abdomen that is due to the scarring that occurs during healing. This lump might raise the suspicion of cancer.
How is appendicitis diagnosed?
The diagnosis of appendicitis begins with a thorough history and physical examination. Patients often have an elevated temperature, and there usually will be moderate to severe tenderness in the right lower abdomen when the doctor pushes there. If inflammation has spread to the peritoneum, there is frequently rebound tenderness. Rebound tenderness is pain that is worse when the doctor quickly releases his hand after gently pressing on the abdomen over the area of tenderness.

Symptoms of appendicitis

The main symptom of appendicitis is abdominal pain. The pain is at first diffuse and poorly localized, that is, not confined to one spot. (Poorly localized pain is typical whenever a problem is confined to the small intestine or colon, including the appendix.) The pain is so difficult to pinpoint that when asked to point to the area of the pain, most people indicate the location of the pain with a circular motion of their hand around the central part of their abdomen. A second, common, early symptom of appendicitis is loss of appetite which may progress to nausea and even vomiting. Nausea and vomiting also may occur later due to intestinal obstruction.
As appendiceal inflammation increases, it extends through the appendix to its outer covering and then to the lining of the abdomen, a thin membrane called the peritoneum. Once the peritoneum becomes inflamed, the pain changes and then can be localized clearly to one small area. Generally, this area is between the front of the right hip bone and the belly button. The exact point is named after Dr. Charles McBurney--McBurney's point. If the appendix ruptures and infection spreads throughout the abdomen, the pain becomes diffuse again as the entire lining of the abdomen becomes inflamed.

Complications of appendicitis

The most frequent complication of appendicitis is perforation. Perforation of the appendix can lead to a periappendiceal abscess (a collection of infected pus) or diffuse peritonitis (infection of the entire lining of the abdomen and the pelvis). The major reason for appendiceal perforation is delay in diagnosis and treatment. In general, the longer the delay between diagnosis and surgery, the more likely is perforation. The risk of perforation 36 hours after the onset of symptoms is at least 15%. Therefore, once appendicitis is diagnosed, surgery should be done without unnecessary delay.
A less common complication of appendicitis is blockage of the intestine. Blockage occurs when the inflammation surrounding the appendix causes the intestinal muscle to stop working, and this prevents the intestinal contents from passing. If the intestine above the blockage begins to fill with liquid and gas, the abdomen distends and nausea and vomiting may occur. It then may be necessary to drain the contents of the intestine through a tube passed through the nose and esophagus and into the stomach and intestine.
A feared complication of appendicitis is sepsis, a condition in which infecting bacteria enter the blood and travel to other parts of the body. This is a very serious, even life-threatening complication. Fortunately, it occurs infrequently.

Appendicitis treatments

Once a diagnosis of appendicitis is made, an appendectomy usually is performed. Antibiotics almost always are begun prior to surgery and as soon as appendicitis is suspected.
There is a small group of patients in whom the inflammation and infection of appendicitis remain mild and localized to a small area. The body is able not only to contain the inflammation and infection but to resolve it as well. These patients usually are not very ill and improve during several days of observation. This type of appendicitis is referred to as "confined appendicitis" and may be treated with antibiotics alone. The appendix may or may not be removed at a later time.
On occasion, a person may not see their doctor until appendicitis with rupture has been present for many days or even weeks. In this situation, an abscess usually has formed, and the appendiceal perforation may have closed over. If the abscess is small, it initially can be treated with antibiotics; however, the abscess usually requires drainage. A drain (a small plastic or rubber tube) usually is inserted through the skin and into the abscess with the aid of an ultrasound or CT scan that can determine the exact location of the abscess. The drain allows pus to flow from the abscess out of the body. The appendix may be removed several weeks or months after the abscess has resolved. This is called an interval appendectomy and is done to prevent a second attack of appendicitis.

Appendectomy procedure

During an appendectomy, an incision two to three inches in length is made through the skin and the layers of the abdominal wall over the area of the appendix. The surgeon enters the abdomen and looks for the appendix which usually is in the right lower abdomen. After examining the area around the appendix to be certain that no additional problem is present, the appendix is removed. This is done by freeing the appendix from its mesenteric attachment to the abdomen and colon, cutting the appendix from the colon, and sewing over the hole in the colon. If an abscess is present, the pus can be drained with drains that pass from the abscess and out through the skin. The abdominal incision then is closed.
Newer techniques for removing the appendix involve the use of the laparoscope. The laparoscope is a thin telescope attached to a video camera that allows the surgeon to inspect the inside of the abdomen through a small puncture wound (instead of a larger incision). If appendicitis is found, the appendix can be removed with special instruments that can be passed into the abdomen, just like the laparoscope, through small puncture wounds. The benefits of the laparoscopic technique include less post-operative pain (since much of the post-surgery pain comes from incisions) and a speedier return to normal activities. An additional advantage of laparoscopy is that it allows the surgeon to look inside the abdomen to make a clear diagnosis in cases in which the diagnosis of appendicitis is in doubt. For example, laparoscopy is especially helpful in menstruating women in whom a rupture of an ovarian cysts may mimic appendicitis.
If the appendix is not ruptured (perforated) at the time of surgery, the patient generally is sent home from the hospital after surgery in one or two days. Patients whose appendix has perforated are sicker than patients without perforation, and their hospital stay often is prolonged (four to seven days), particularly if peritonitis has occurred. Intravenous antibiotics are given in the hospital to fight infection and assist in resolving any abscess.
Occasionally, the surgeon may find a normal-appearing appendix and no other cause for the patient's problem. In this situation, the surgeon may remove the appendix. The reasoning in these cases is that it is better to remove a normal-appearing appendix than to miss and not treat appropriately an early or mild case of appendicitis.
All of these are done through advance technologies and access to good medical facilities. At about 3:00 am on Friday “11/9/07”, my surgery was performed without knowing how long, who did the surgery, and what was used. What if this was in my Village, would I survive?
After leaving my recovery room, I landed in the soft hands of “not only an RN” but a professional
To be continued.


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