Renu's Week

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Report of 25 May 2019

Good morning!

In the bedroom of our small and cute apartment in Fort Wayne, the blinds are closed to prevent big light.  In the living room of said apartment, 2 young men are asleep and I have taken a photo of them.  The day is off to a great start already.

The struggle is perennial.  Do we stay in India, where the work is beyond fabulous?  Or do we come here, and give the boys a home to go to for an occasional weekend, the chat, some home food?  Or both?  The equation will probably change, as we have told the boys, if grandchildren come along. 

Work has been okay.  The hospital is busy and the patient stream is constant.  To admit patients aged 90 and above is not uncommon - perhaps 2 per day.  This is nice, isn't it - 90 is the new 70.  Yesterday, a memorable patient was a lady aged over 90 whom the physician assistant admitted: he thought she had an infection, which was reasonable.  By the time I saw her, she was struggling to breathe, her blood pressure was dropping and her heart was racing: she was "actively dying."  Her son, the physician assistant had earlier told me, wanted her kept comfortable.  The son had not been in the room earlier, but was present when I went in.  I always tell the patient "Let me wash my hands and then we will talk," after I finish my exam; when I said it this time, the son said, "Can we talk outside?"  We went outside the room and I told the son my assessment.  He thanked me for my candor and then got very teary.  As we started to leave, I asked him if I could give him a hug and he agreed.  It was a little odd: I hug no one in India and hug many a patient relative here. 

I am taking strength training classes with a person trainer.  The goal is 1 leg muscle - any one.  The lady sitting next to me on the flight over here took her luggage from the overhead compartment and then fell.  This instability can happen as we age, and I would like to guard against it.  The 3 Weiss men - being men - have good musculature and I - being a woman - do not.  So here we are in the quest for a muscle.  Naren asked how I felt about aging.  I rather enjoy being older and do not dye my hair, preferring to flaunt my age; I would, however, like to be a bit fit.  Travel itself can be exhausting and if we have to run between airport gates, I'd like to be able to do that.  Navin states he has tried to exercise daily to keep dementia - we have a family history of it - at bay.   

We saw the movie "White Crow" about Rudolf Nureyev.  It was very nice to see his story on screen.  When my aunt visited the former Soviet Union, she was at a museum looking at a display.  A man next to her said something to her and she turned around; he quickly told her not to, that Soviet citizens were told not to talk to foreigners, that he was extremely curious about my aunt's experiences and they chatted, all the while looking straight at the display and not at each other.  It was not in the least romantic, but friendly and interested.  This was a fascinating account.  Where would we be if we could not talk to people from other countries.  Look at the man I married. 

I hope you have some great times this week.

Unw -



Thursday, May 16, 2019

Report of 16 May 2019


Boy, it feels good to write.

It has been a few weeks since the last post.  After celebrating my father's birthday with him in Madurai, I left for Philly on 8 April.  Navin picked me up there, which I was very grateful for as jet lag was fierce.  He dropped me at the hotel where I was to stay and took me to the next hotel the next day.  The conference of the American College of Physicians was excellent - as always - and I was sorry to have been a bit jet-lagged through the last sessions of each day.  It was grand fun to catch up with Greg Brown, Beth and Glenn Gross, Angela Thurston, and the Jeff+Anne Lippay family.  And Navin.  I managed to Whatsapp Naren, who was busy working that entire week, including Saturday; talking to him was nice, also.

On to Fort Wayne, and I started my summer job a couple of weeks later.  It is busy, but that was to be expected.  A friend from last year, Rositsa, is now in charge of the program and it is good to help out.  My father told me before I started working here: "When things are difficult, just smile."  It is good advice. 

I managed to see Scott's Mom and sister, and my friend, Olivia, before I started working.  That was also grand fun. 

After 10 days of working, Scott and I drove to West Chester, PA.  Naren came down from NYC, Navin joined us after work and we drove to Cape May, NJ, where we spent a cold, wet and blustery Mother's Day.  Who cared about the weather - it was soul-filling to be with all 3 Weiss men.  We wandered around Cape May on Saturday, then veged in front of the TV.  The hotel treated us to breakfast and gave me a pretty bouquet of flowers on Mother's Day, which was nice.  We drove Naren back to Brooklyn and said Hi to his roommate, then Navin drove us back to West Chester.  We headed back to Fort Wayne on Monday, and on Tuesday - $5 movie day - saw "Shazam" and "Long shot."  Both were good, which was a relief.  Flicks like "Poms" and "The hustle" might make me question the waste of time. 

I joined the Y and have been working out.  One of the coaches there told me that nuts - a favorite food - were high in fat.  Chee.  I was eating lots of nuts as I thought they were healthy.  Apparently also fatty.

My father is well, thank goodness.  He and I talked 2 days ago, prior to the movie-seeing.  He asked me to bring back proceedings of the conference and I acquiesced: his love of learning is unceasing.  Internal Medicine is not his speciality but he is keen to learn what I learnt.

The NBA has produced some surprising teams in the conference finals, though the darn Warriors continue to stay firmly entrenched there.  It would be very nice to have keenly-fought matches, instead of blowouts, which can be edifyingly boring.

I am at the Fort Wayne public library, a fine place.  Let me head off and read for a bit.

Unw -


Sunday, April 07, 2019

Report of 7 April 2019

Good evening!

The sun is shining, the sea is glistening, it will be tough to leave this tonight and head to the U.S.  However, the annual conference of the American College of Physicians is unfailingly excellent and I look forward to learning.

We are well.  There were many patients - as usual - at Kovalam last week.  The bereaved gentleman came for a checkup.  He mentioned loss of appetite, which is not usual for him.  I think he is grieving and requested our social workers and psychologists to see him.  The dosage of his blood pressure medicines had to be reduced, also; if one is not drinking or eating enough and starts losing weight, dosages of several medicines need to be redone. 

Adaikalam is also great.  One of our patients fell, sustained a head injury and had to have emergency surgery, since it was discovered later that her skull was fractured.  She also had bleeding on the brain and things were tenuous there for a bit.  She has, since, recovered nicely and was discharged last week.  I was extremely happy to see her: she is a pretty young lady and engaging at the best of times, and after her recovery, even more so.  No one is prettier than when they have recovered from a serious illness and return to the Banyan, filling all of us with joy and gratitude. 

Scott and I went to Madurai last week to celebrate my father's birthday with him.  It was a splendid time, with family - my sister-in-law, brother, nieces and nephew; 4 cakes; and lots of presents and visitors.  This weekend, he had some professional activities at the Department of Plastic Surgery, Government Rajaji Hospital, and I am sure he loved every minute of it.  He founded the department, and it has been doing well. 

Our sons Whatsapp'd their grandfather on his birthday and other relatives also got to say Hello.  All of it was nice.  We hung out with the boys this morning, and there was much chatter and laughter.  Naren has released a book of short stories and plays called "God is dead," and his writing is dark - quite unlike his personality.  I started to worry briefly, and all of us had a merry time with that discussion.  Navin went skydiving yesterday, and we lived vicariously through him, wanting every detail of this fun adventure.

We got together with my brother, sister-in-law and niece at the fine Writer's Cafe to celebrate my sister-in-law's birthday.  The cafe works to rehabilitate victims of burns and crimes, and the fare is delicious.  It was a nice evening.  We saw the Tamil movie "Super Deluxe" and it was excellent.  Thiagarajan Kumararaja, the director, made the award-winning "Aaranya Kaandam," years ago and his second feature is no less fine. 

I hope you have some fine times, also. 

Unw -


Sunday, March 31, 2019

Report of 31 March 2019

And another month is ending.

The day is sunny and bright.  I have just eaten a tub of watermelon.  Summer is on us and the mangoes are here, already, to my greed's great delight.  We bought some exorbitantly-priced ones yesterday and have eaten one.  Imam Pasand.  There are many varieties of mangoes - similar to bananas - and Imam Pasand is quite a royalty.

We are well.  Many dental issues.  The perils of eating massive amounts of sweets in younger days.  Scott is lucky that he had fluoride treatment as a child, thus he is relatively protected, knock on wood.

The Banyan is great.  Vandana was at Mogappair this week and it was good to see her.  She said Hi to me and a more exuberant Hi to Scott, causing me to burst out laughing.  They are very fond of each other, as were my mother and Scott.  Good.  Better that the Hi's are more exuberant for Scott than for me :).  Vandana is on several national panels to address mental health issues and I feel privileged to work for this visionary, fun, intelligent and funny person.  Vaishnavi, the other founder of the B, is off addressing disability-related issues, also on a national level, and it is a privilege to know her, as well - visionary, fun, intelligent and funny. 

I went to Mysore on Friday to take my aunts out to eat for their 85th and 80th birthdays.  My aunt, Indira, could not come to Mysore from Coorg as she was unwell, so my aunt, Chitra, and I celebrated her 85th birthday a bit early.  It was fun.  Reminiscences of my mother brought lots of laughter and good humor.  CA (Chitra Aunty) cooked me a fine breakfast and lunch, and I enjoyed both.  In the interval between the 2 meals, I visited my cousin, Nandu, and family.  It was great to see them, too, and there was much laughter at stories of our sons and other relatives.  Truly, family is a blessing.  As is being in touch with them.  I help take care of several hundred women who do not have this luxury. 

We hung out with the boys this morning and that was a treat.  Much candor, which I will unfailingly be grateful for. 

Have a very good week!

Unw -


Sunday, March 24, 2019

Report of 24 March 2019

Good evening!

Crystal clear day.  The sea is blue. there are boats in the backwaters at Muttukadu.  There is a cricket game downstairs.  Chennai Super Kings defeated Royal Challengers Bangalore yesterday in a T20 format cricket match here in Chennai; that would have been cool to see - I love live sports - but we were doing other things.

We are well.  It was a week spent in Chennai, but you would not have known it.  I had a tooth emergency and had to run to the dentist.  My home health business had a patient.  I battled a virus and that got annoying.  There was a nice artsy Tamil movie that I wanted to see and it has been whisked off; artsy does not last, action does.  That said, I am waiting for a movie called "Super Deluxe" to come out; it is directed by Thiagarajan Kumararaja, who directed the magnificent "Aaranya Kaandam," which won multiple awards.  It was a quirky, fun, Coen brothers/Tarantino-ish flick. 

The Banyan is fabulous.  Almost all my favorite patients were at Kovalam last week and I nearly took a photo.  One of them said she did not want the iron syrup as it was making her hungry.  She has the average undernourished look that some Indians have and I love the increased appetite - especially as her family has the food resources for it - but she does not.  Our able assistant and I chuckled as the lady gestured at how hungry she was - "I eat everything gabba gabba" - using both her hands for effect.  At the end of clinic, the nurse came in complaining of feeling feverish.  A check of her blood pressure revealed a slightly low number and I ordered IV fluids.  Truly, fluids can often make a difference. 

Adaikalam is also groovy.  One of our more talkative patients has discovered an activity that keeps her engaged and we are grateful: her non-stop chatter - literally, non-stop - would otherwise start in the morning and go on and on, preventing any meaningful work on anyone else's part.  She now has an activity sorting dhal (lentils) into paper cups and is engaged - hooray.  Our therapists are good sorts.  Another patient - actually, a college-mate of one of my aunts and a former college professor (to our nurse's amazement) - was visited by a few of her friends; they brought her clothes and sweets and she is happy.  Actually, she is probably the happiest of all her friends; I know for a fact that some of them have side issues that vex them.   

Scott's beloved aunt Anita died yesterday.  She had cancer, and it was an expected outcome, but we were saddened nonetheless.  She and her late husband, Norb, had a farm which hosted me many a time.  They were hospitable, fun and loving folks.  It would have been great to see her one last time; we did see her last May when we took her out for dinner for her 80th birthday.  Those were some fine memories.  She was in the care of Hospice; I hear it was a peaceful and pain-free demise, which is good.

We were at a craft show yesterday and bought jewellery from 2 ladies whom we have patronised before.  Scott has a phenomenon known as "kai rasi" - literally "hand luck" - which means that he draws paying customers to a vendor that he buys from.  These ladies affirmed it yesterday - they'd had good sales after Scott paid them last time for our purchase - and requested that we stop by their booth every time we see them.  Their wares are quite fine, so we stop. 

We hung out with the boys this morning and that was a fun fest.  They mentioned being grateful to have seen their grand aunt, Anita, at Christmas; she had a trans-generational appeal.  After her husband died, she sold us her car, which Navin now drives.  Lots of little links to a fine lady.

Hope you have a great week!

Unw -


Monday, March 18, 2019

Report of 18 March 2019


Boy, is the sea blue, and clear.  As is the sky, with more than 1 shade of blue. 

We are well and hope the same with you.  We were in Kuwait last week to attend the wedding of the daughter of Scott's childhood friend, Susan, and her husband, Ghassan.  That was a blast.  Palestinian weddings are unbridled joy, and we certainly did not notice the lateness of the hour.  The couple was escorted in with music and dancing at 9 PM, all continued to dance until 11 PM and dinner was served at 11 PM.  Then more dancing; Scott and I left at 1 AM and the party was far from over.  The day after, the hosts invited several of us to dinner and then over to their house; it was nice to talk and share.  A very fun 3 days.

We saw the Kuwait tower, the souk (marketplace) Mubarakiya and the Grand Mosque.  It was all fun, and the food was excellent. 

I was back at clinic today, and it was the same busy-ness.  The gentleman who lost his wife did not come for follow-up last week, and I was concerned.  I know he is grieving.  So, I requested help from colleagues, one of them lives near his house, and lo and behold, in he walked.  He is better and going around, visiting friends, one of whom was also at the clinic.  He said something very poignant last time: when his wife used to tell him to sit in a spot, he viewed it as affection; when his daughter-in-law says the same thing now, it sounds coarser, as an edict.  All of us are - as a community - ensuring that the gentleman is okay.  I do believe we would do the same if the bereaved were a lady.  A colleague lost her father and many of us were checking on her mother. 

Our flight back from Kuwait was great.  IndiGo is a domestic Indian airline, now flying overseas.  The pilot was a lady, and she got us in early.  There was a mild medical emergency on the flight, with a lady unable to tolerate the ear pressure.  She was in traditional Muslim clothes and the very well-dressed and coiffed crew treated her with kindness and expertise, giving her water to swallow.  She felt better and I gave her a lozenge, that saliva might continue to be generated and swallowed so that the pressure on the ears would equalize. 

I spoke to my father yesterday.  He is well, thank goodness.  We will go visit in a couple of weeks.  We also chatted with the boys and that was grand fun.  Naren turned 28 last week, we wished him from Kuwait and then got the scoop yesterday on how he had celebrated.  Navin had given him a gift - the right size and color - and that was cool to hear.  Acquaintances with small children talk of how much the children fight; ours did, too, and appear to have become the closer for it, or in spite of it.     

Have a great week!

Unw -


Monday, March 11, 2019

Report of 12 March 2019

Good morning!

Summer is on us.  Last week was particularly hot and it can get this way in March.  In Madurai, my hometown, the temperature last week was apparently 41 deg Celsius, 105.8 deg Fahrenheit.  My father does not like using airconditioning and the fans in the living quarters were likely in full use.

We are well.  Family Day happened at the Banyan the last 2 Sundays, thus my blogging time was appropriated.  They were fun days.  Friends donate magnanimously to make this happen, and the full sense of their generosity and regard for us adds to the happiness of the day.  Families of staff come on a Sunday, we have games and mehendi (henna for the hands), popcorn and cotton candy; for lunch, biryani, and for tea, cake donated by Adyar bakery.  All unusual fare for many of us, and we wallop.  Then we dance.  There is a stage and performers from among the staff stage a "variety entertainment."  It is fun to see otherwise very professional colleagues shake a leg in perfect rhythm to some Tamil song, or sing a song of their choice. 

The Banyan is good.  Clinic was fine.  A long-time patient came by last Monday; his wife, also a patient, has died and we were thunderstruck when told.  Being an outpatient facility, we are not the first hospital the community accesses when a patient is ill outside clinic hours; we are also a free facility, and that brings with it its own set of perceptions - "free" = "not always good" or "limited."  The lady had been appropriately taken to a hospital and I am not clear yet about the cause of death.  She had apparently mentioned to the treating doctor that she was on a diabetic med, and she was not diabetic; the man stated that we were the only facility to have treated her and that she got the med from us.  Certainly, ingesting wrong medication can go so far as to be fatal; we investigated, turning our clinic notes and the pharmacy register upside down, and found that we had absolutely not prescribed or given the med.  The man talked to our senior coordinator and assured her he was not blaming us; that was fine, we still needed to do a review of our procedures and remind ourselves to be 10,000 times careful. 

I can tell you, it was a tremendous relief to look over the late patient's notebook (our patient record, which I write in, and which remains with the patient) and find that I had not prescribed the diabetic med.  Any of us can make mistakes.

We were in Madurai about 10 days ago and my father, on the Governing board of my alma mater, Lady Doak College, was very busy with meetings there.  We saw him for about 3 hours that weekend and had a merry time talking.  He continues to be busy, which is good.  I discussed my work situation with him and he had excellent advice.  My sister and brother-in-law were in Chennai en route Australia, and my brother's family, Scott and I met them for tea, on our return from Madurai.  That was fun - lots of laughter and eating and chatter, my definition of a good time. 

My private practice is on hiatus a bit due to my upcoming travels.  It was wonderful to see patients and get good histories from them.  Medicine in India remains joyous for now.   

I have painted fingernails on 1 hand.  At Kovalam's Family Day, a colleague's daughter worked a "nail art" stall and I got my fingernails painted.  Not having daughters (but loving my sons no less), I revel in female attention of this kind.  The young ladies are growing up fearless - their father has abandoned them and no one is poorer for it - and both Scott and I are happy to see this. 

Last weekend, we went to a craft show, a photo exhibit and then saw 2 Tamil movies called "Thadam" and "To Let."  They were good.  We ate at our favorite Writers' Cafe, where women with burn injuries work and get marvellously rehabilitiated, and were fortunate to get a chat with the managerial staff, all of whom are altruistic and magnificent folks.  It was a very fun meal. 

We got to talk to the boys both weekends and they are well.  Opinions were freely expressed and I am grateful. 

Unw -