Renu's Week

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Report of 11 Feb 2018

Good evening!

Though darkening, the sky is till blue, as is the sea.  Lights are starting to come on outside buildings and on streets, and it is a pretty time.

It is nice to write.  We were on errands last Sunday, catching a movie ("Phantom Thread") and then going to see a very sick patient in the hospital.  Thus, late getting home and then writing had to be sacrificed to getting ready for a busy Monday.  The patient is better, thank goodness.  I received an excellent update from the ICU resident, and he tolerated all my questions.  Not everybody would.

The Banyan is nice.  Vandana, one of the two founders, received a prestigious award and will head stateside next month.  We are extremely happy at the recognition!  All of us are somewhat hopeful that the exposure will help us toward our corpus goal of Rs. 40 crores, or approximately $7 million.  The lack of money has never stopped the work here, so we will plonk on. 

I was driving to my private practice the other day, when I spotted something on the roadside and was unsure what it was until I drove closer.  It was a woman, stark naked, and lying on the roadside.  I pulled over and phoned our Kovalam branch; I thought later of my option to cover the lady with my dupatta - a diaphanous shawl won over tunic and long pants.  These brilliant ideas only occur later.  Fortunately, the team did get there quickly and took the lady to Kovalam.  I will see her tomorrow.  It is mighty nice to work for an organisation that can help with such patients.

Private practice is fine.  Not many patients and I am grateful, really, as it means good health might be reigning.

I will talk to my father later this evening.  We spoke to the boys earlier today and that was grand fun - so much candor, laughter and love.  For this, as always, I will be grateful.

May you have many reasons to be grateful yourselves.

Unw -


Friday, January 26, 2018

Report of 26 Jan 2018

Hello from our sitting room -

The sea is visible, on our balcony table are a couple of drawers [from our dresser] that Scott uses and is to clean out, and I am blogging.  There is a game of cricket on downstairs and the whack of the ball + cheers are occasionally heard. 

Both boys are back to their lives elsewhere and that is good, overall.  We miss them, of course, and I was particularly happy to walk by their room in the mornings and see them asleep: our house, our sons, our family.  We did a lot of talking when they were here and it was - as always - wonderful.  The joy of raising boys - these 2, at any rate - is that all the issues are on the table.  My teenage hormone-laden fights with my parents were silent, dour, lengthy dramas.

Navin returned from Japan last week and we made a quick trip to Madurai so that he could take leave of my Dad and have the spirit of his late Grandmother be with him as he embarked stateside.  We had a good visit; the ladies who help my father's household have seen both our sons as pre-teens and Navin took leave of them as well.  We then attended the wedding of one of Navin's friends; it is always a joy for me to be included in these ceremonies, like one of our own children getting married.  Zaineb married Visvesh, crossing lines of faith and it was a beautiful evening, with good friends, our children's soulmates and excellent food.  Zaineb's parents made sure we felt welcome - very lovely. 

The Banyan is nice.  Vandana, one of the 2 founders, won a prestigious international award - please Google and you will get all the details.  Vandana and Vaishnavi have tirelessly crusaded for the mentally ill and the Banyan will be 25 years old this year.  Vaishnavi now works for disability rights and we are sure that cause will also go far. 

I was back at the B this week after holidays for Pongal.  Navin was leaving on Monday night, so I told the staff to finish accepting patients earlier in the day, and we saw many patients by the time I left at 11.15 AM: staff support was excellent and we clipped through.  As I have said before, patients with high blood pressure only need to be evaluated once a year; at our clinic, these folks come every week.  They are treated with great respect by my colleagues and catch up with each other in the waiting area, as most of them are from Kovalam or nearby villages; thus a little socialising, a little medicining - all good.  Some do come from far away and I am perennially impressed at that. 

I got home to find Navin still asleep :) and then he woke up, and together, we settled a giant mess with his airline ticket.

Private practice is also fine.  It is nice to practise medicine, it is a privilege to be in this profession.

Unw -


Sunday, January 14, 2018

Report of 14 Jan 2018

Well, time flies, doesn't it.

I had blogged on New Year's Day, and before you know it, here we are 2 weeks later.

Happy Pongal!  It is the harvest festival today, and we have eaten the customary sweet rice - with jaggery, raisins and cashews - and I have eaten at least 2 sticks of sugarcane.  We hope farmers the world over have a bountiful harvest. 

Naren left on 2 Jan, and Navin spent that week vegging and hanging with friends.  My sister and her family came to town, we met them at a local restaurant.  Then, Navin and I went to Mysore and Coorg.  Coorg is a hill station, my mother was from there.  There was speculation that the Coorgs were descended from Greeks (when Alexander the Great made it to India), and that has since been disproven, apparently.  The Coorgis (or Kodavas) are a good-looking people.  Coffee is grown in Coorg and a whole lot besides - rice, pepper, cardamom.  Oranges and guavas grow wild.  It is a pretty place.  Navin and I visited relatives, he touched feet before leaving; he will start a new job soon and must take everyone's blessings.  We spent the night in Mysore, first having dinner with my cousin Nandu and his family, including his son Ashwin, who has special needs.  Ashwin is unfailingly happy to see my sons and we had a rollicking good time.  We stayed with my aunt, Chitra, who made a phenomenal breakfast the next morning and took us out for lunch.  Then Navin and I took a comfortable day train back to Chennai.

Work has been good.  I had not been at Kovalam's Monday clinic for 3 weeks - from 18 Dec to 8 Jan - and had let all the patients know I would not be there on 25/12 and 1/1.  Otherwise, I would have heard about it from them.  No one is particularly bashful about berating the doctor here, and I like it.  We saw hordes of patients, including one poor lady who's had a stroke and was accompanied by her 9 year old son.  I asked why the son was out of school and both said it was because he had to accompany her to the doctor.  The Nalam worker - a community/village worker, part of a program made possible by Grand Challenges, Canada - was contacted and we made arrangements for someone to check on the patient + accompany her to appointments so that the 9 year old did not have to be primary caregiver. 

Private practice is also therapeutic.  We had a fair number of patients last week, and a memorable one was a 16 year old who had attempted self-harm.  On probing, it turns out that she and siblings are here working, her parents have died and her Grandmother back in the village raised this family.  My heart was yanked out of my chest: when my sons were teenagers, their interests were appropriately video games and such, and here was a teenager, working to support herself and her family.  I referred her to the Banyan and the case manager is following up.  There is nothing like knowing there is a little support for the patient and family to feel a bit stronger.

Naren is well and has company.  Scott and I returned to work 2 weeks ago.  Family Day will soon be celebrated at the Banyan - with biryani and fruit and chocolate, and games and carnival rides for the children of the staff.  It is nice to be at the providing end of this equation.

What have I accomplished in my time in the world - educated some women enough to be of nursing caliber, treated some patients, married a fun young man whom my family loves, bred 2 children who will hopefully never turn their backs on someone in need, and danced and written.  It has been a good life.

Unw -


Monday, January 01, 2018

Report of 1 Jan 2018

Happy New Year!

Time flies, eh?  Here we are at the start of another year.  Both boys are in the house, as is Scott; this is a fine way to ring in the new year.  Naren leaves early tomorrow and Navin will be here for about 3 weeks longer.

The schedule got a bit frenetic the last few weeks, with getting things ready for Christmas and juggling 2 jobs, thus I could not blog.  Navin flew in first, landing on the 21st, and Naren came on the 23rd.  My father came on the 24th morning, then other relatives filtered in.  We hosted the Christmas celebration and that was grand fun: all those available to come did so.  There was very genial conversation, a lot of food and I managed to find the time to exercise, too.  The young people went out to a hookah bar on 25th night - this hookah is a thing, by the looks of it.

Work has been good.  I have tried to fit it in while juggling the paramount want to be home when the boys wake up, make them breakfast, etc.  We saw "Star Wars" together and enjoyed it.  We also visited some dear friends who unfailingly wish the boys well, and those visits made for some great memories.  Then the boys hung out with their own friends, which was fine.  They spent New Year's Eve celebrating with friends, and have stayed with us all day New Year's Day. 

I cannot think of a better way to ring in the New Year.  We wish you good health and abundant happiness in 2018!


R and the 3 Weiss men

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Report of 10 Dec 2017

Hello from our balcony!

The green is green, the sea is merging with the sky in a haze, this is a great place to sit and write.  Scott is puttering about in the kitchen.

Work is good.  We had a patient come in to the Banyan the other day; she is a fish vendor, carrying a basket on her head daily, had complained of aches and pains, and some breathing issues.  I had prescribed some meds, including an inhaler; she had tried to do without the inhaler and I said, "You couldn't, could you."  She affirmed that, and then, in her speech, used an English word most appropriately.  I asked what level of education she had completed and she said, "10th."  I was riveted: she was forthright, comprehending, communicative, clear.  As I sat mulling over some options, my assistants in the room thought I had not understood the patient and gestured "10" with their fingers, repeated "10" in Tamil, and tried in all manner of ways to bring the doctor down from whichever ether she had landed on.  I stated that I had understood, and sent the young lady to one of our coordinators to mull over some employment options, such as community work or outreach.  Let us see what comes of this.  Empowering a woman is extremely life- and work-affirming.

Adaikalam, the facility I am farther off from, is also good.  The cook and a couple of others came by to see me, to get their blood pressures checked and treated.  It is fairly amazing that one can save a life or prevent catastrophic illnesses like strokes just by controlling blood pressure.

Private practice is nice.  My junior colleague had astutely evaluated a patient who had come in with trouble breathing, found that she'd had a heart attack and had consulted the cardiologist.  The patient and family were pleased with the care that our small hospital had given, and were a pleasure to interact with.  Gratitude is a fine motivator, as is niceness.

On Friday, Scott and I were invited to hear a medical talk by a colleague of my sister, Anu.  It was  a prelude to the annual conference of Sundaram Medical Foundation, which is always a good show.  I attended the conference yesterday, got quite a bit of knowledge out of it and then, Scott and I went to see  a pantomime by The Little Theatre.  This is also an annual outing for us, and we heckle mercilessly from the audience.  Naren acted in this production a couple of times and we enjoy going.  All of it is good, as is the fact that the producer uses the proceeds of the show to support the education of underprivileged children, who might otherwise not be able to attend college.  Fine endeavor, needed results.

We Skyped with the boys today, all 4 together for the first time in a while.  I enjoy listening to the boys interact with each other; there is a fair amount of questionable language like "B***h" but that appears to be the norm now and does not reduce the respect or regard each has for the other.  Naren narrated an unfortunate incident at the school where he teaches, and we talked quite a bit about that.  After this discussion, there were other topics, and a lot of laughter, which I unfailingly appreciate.  I also talked to my father earlier last week, told him I was not going to resign and he breathed a sigh of relief.

May you have much laughter and relief yourselves.

Unw -

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Report of 3 Dec 2017

So, being on Gmail, suddenly Blogger does not recognise me and says I have no blogs under my authorship.  The tech husband is trying to work on a fix, so in the meantime, here is the blog entry on email.

I am viscerally finding the need to write.  For some time now, resigning from the Banyan has been on my mind.  This is an organisation I expected to leave only with rigor mortis (the stiffness of death), and am now seriously considering resignation.  As a mentor said when he left a hospital that he had been associated with for a long time, maybe it's me.  I know that I am not happy at one branch, have started berating the patients and that is not good for anyone.  I plan to continue at the other branch, as that is "home" to me.

On the 18th, I dashed off to the U.S. to see my sons and realign the cosmos.  For a year or 2 now, I have wanted to give them a quasi home at Thanksgiving and we hung out this year.  There is a hotel in Carmel, Indiana, that we consider home, the service is excellent, we know most people there and we chilled.  I swam in the pool to my heart's content, we partook of the breakfast ad infinitum and on the day that all 3 of us were there - Black Friday - we spent an hour and a half at the breakfast table, talking, laughing, eating, drinking.  It was grand fun and I returned refreshed, with a suitcase loaded with treats for others.  We also saw my in-laws and watched "The Brave" there as it had not been screened in India; it was cool to see Naren on TV and hang out with the in-laws.    

Private practice is nice.  A memorable patient this week was a lady who works at the Cancer Center, who was diagnosed newly with diabetes at our hospital.  One of her well-meaning family members, knowing little about the illness, asked if she could bring her juice and I said no; she mentioned that the patient had declined, but that the relative wanted to check.  I liked the patient immensely: she was motivated to bring her illness under control, was prepared to do it with diet and exercise, and did all that we told her.

We saw 5 movies in the U.S. - Victoria and Abdul, Justice League, Murder on the Orient Express, Thor Ragnarok (2nd time for me, clearly I had to be forced to go and see the handsome and very funny Chris Hemsworth), and 3 billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri.  Navin did not care for the last flick at all, believing in the milk of human kindness; I rather liked the acting there and did agree that the premise (a rape and murder) was gruesome.

The sea is blue, the view is clear and the Christmas season is on us.  Scott and I headed townward yesterday to see a play benefiting charity, the tickets were sold out, we were happy for that, and headed home.  I got up very early this morning to swim, as I think the lack of exercise in my jet-lagged state this week truly hampered my mood.  I also got to talk to my father, there were lots of chuckles and we will see him in about 3 weeks.  

Have a great week!



Sunday, November 12, 2017

Report of 12 Nov 2017

Good evening from Greyland -

Everything is grey - the sky, the faintly visible sea, our immediate outdoors.  There was a new depression in the Bay of Bengal and we became due for more rain, which has happened.  I did manage to get a swim in this morning: that was lovely, because our apartment complex's pool becomes a lot cleaner with rainwater.

And we have Internet back in the house, courtesy a certain Scott Weiss.  Our router had conked out, and young Weiss was on the job.  Actually, neither of us is young any more, but that's okay.  Middle-aged, I think is the term.

Work is busy and fine.  The Banyan's clinic last Monday had fewer patients due to rain, no one complained.  The census is usually heavy and we have little time to actually chat with the patients, which we like to do.  Often, the time is taken up with having to figure out why some patients did not do the blood tests we had ordered, etc., and that is a time-drain.  Still, they are happy to see us and we are glad to provide care.  Some are so unfortunately impoverished that my questions such as "Do you eat fruit every day?" have to be substituted with "Do you think you could eat a small banana every other day?  Is that possible?" 

The other facility of the Banyan had a visitor a couple of weeks ago; Ms. X had been with us last year and came back just to visit.  She has HIV, has been disowned by her family, her husband has died and her in-laws are raising her children, whom she does not see.  The B treated her for various illnesses, had her reviewed by the Government hospital for HIV, and she now has a tailoring job in Hyderabad; she makes excellent money and brought fairly lavish gifts for many of us, including her favorite fellow patients.  A very pretty box of chocolate for me, which was unnecessary, but - of course - very sweet (literally and figuratively).  She was flying back to Hyderabad from Chennai.  Air travel is out of financial reach of most of our staff and all our patients; I am glad Ms. X is well and financially well.  A second marriage is on the cards, the groom-to-be told Ms. X that she could not visit the Banyan henceforth and she has told him what she thought of that idea.  Thusly, there is to be no 2nd marriage.

Private practice is great.  We had a patient (not wealthy) roll in with very high blood sugar and he was panting; I frankly thought the shortness of breath was due to something else.  He did get better breathing-wise after his sugar was controlled.  His wife had been very worried since the start of the hospitalisation and asked me repeatedly if he would be okay; I cannot with blithe confidence say, "Of course he will," and hoped for the best.  The day before discharge, when it was clear that the patient was better, his wife finally smiled and it was a very nice sight.

We saw a concert last night - Lail Arad and J.F. Robitaille.  There is another one tonight (Bennie Dayal and Anil Srinivasan), but the rain and distance are making me have second thoughts.  We also saw "Thor - Ragnarok," and that was simply fabulous.  What comedic timing that stud Chris Hemsworth has - wooo.  We Skyped with both boys this morning and that was also wonderful; lots of chatter, laughter, sharing.

May you have many sharing moments of your own.

Unw -