Renu's Week

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Report of 20 Feb 2019

Good afternoon!

We are back after a wedding in San Diego.  A college friend's daughter got married and it was nice to be there in the midst of the merriment, seeing other college friends.  We had a nice time and were particularly delighted that Naren and Navin managed to come, too.  Flights in the U.S. are notoriously unpredictable - actually, I suppose flights anywhere are - and we are glad the boys reached.

That said, the service on American Airlines was (surprisingly) good.  Their movie selection was also extensive and made for some fairly comfortable travelling - hooray. 

We had a long layover in Hong Kong en route the U.S. and went in to the city.  We saw some nice sights and ate at the Y.  We also saw the Big Buddha; views on the sky lift heading to the Big Buddha were neat.  On our return, we went to Macau and that was cool, too.  I like checking places off my list.

After Macau, we returned to Hong Kong and ate street food.  Either that or the airline food proceeded to upset my stomach and I am recovering.  It is nice to be home.

The Banyan is good, and I hope to be back there tomorrow.

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Sunday, February 10, 2019

Report of 10 Feb 2019

Good evening!

There are birds flitting about at lower altitudes and the sea is darkening. 

We are well and hope the same with you.  It was a reduced work week for me as I was ill; this is happening more often than I'd like and I think comes from inhaling germs at public places.  I do believe this one came from the Kathak performance.  One day, I just had to stay in bed and felt better for it.

The Banyan is good.  I could not miss clinic, so off I went.  It was the usual frenzied activity, with several people from a nearby old folks' home coming in to be checked out; one of them had no complaints and had to be coerced to say something by her fellow resident - easily 60 years old - who said, "Say what's ailing you, the doctor is like our mother."  Ahem.  My assistant and I donned masks, and got through the day.  Private practice is fine, and I had to put in a reduced week there, too. 

Scott and I were privileged to see our friend, Meenakshi, this week - visiting from the U.S. and making arrangements to sell her late parents' apartment.  That could not have been easy, and yet Meenakshi made time for us.  It was a nice visit, catching up with each other's family news and getting a few chuckles in. 

After the days of plopping on the sofa, I felt well enough this weekend to attend the wedding reception of my school classmate DR's daughter.  Several former schoolmates had made the trip, and it was fun to see everyone + several spouses.  The food was delicious and there was also one of my favorite foods - chaat - available at dinner.  Chaat is a savory snack food, with sweet and sour chutneys (relishes), and all manner of fun foods in it - green mango, yogurt, spicy liquid.  There was also a Baskin Robbins counter and my husband was happy.  Not having daughters, I am living vicariously through those whose daughters marry.  I asked our sons a few weeks ago if we ought to be making some plans towards their weddings, etc., and they said they were not currently interested in nuptials.

Scott and I also saw a good movie called "Sarvam Thalamayam," featuring classical Indian music and touching on the caste system.  It was a good flick; it's nice when flicks are.  I thought the young man next to us was going to start recording the movie illegally on his phone - the instrument was pointed at the screen - and stepped up and said something.  He said he was not recording it.  We have a son in the acting business, and even otherwise, let's not be pirating things.

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Sunday, February 03, 2019

Report of 3 Feb 2019

And it's February already.

There are birds either trying to migrate or going for a joyride.  We live near backwaters and there are several migratory birds roosting nearby.  Very cool.  The sea seems tranquil, and we have got to see it clearly for the first time in days.

The Banyan is nice.  Clinic on Monday was busy, as usual.  One of my favorite patients came to be examined and then said, "You should live to be 100 years."  I said, "So should you."  And she said, "I have done nothing, you help people."  I said, "When you come in here, you make all of us very happy."  Indeed, she does - serene, grateful, accepting.  She collected her medicines and left.

When pleasant patients come in to the clinic, it truly does make the day better.

Adaikalam is also good.  A former patient came to celebrate her birthday with us, paying to feed the Banyan biryani (an expensive dish) and cutting a huge cake.  She is HIV +, undergoing treatment.  She would like to come to the B to work and we are investigating it. 

We are the Banyan family.  Several patients elect to stay on with us, instead of going home to their families, as the care at the Banyan is better than something their families might dish out.  It is a magnificent organisation and the 2 ladies who founded it, Vandana and Vaishnavi, knew what they were doing when they emphasized dignity of the patient first.

Private practice is also fine.  We had a meeting with the leaders of the transgender community - historically ostracised - and that was illuminating and fun.  My boss is an endocrinologist and plans to do gender medicine also.  This group of folks were men wishing to become women; on Friday, I saw a young woman who has taken active steps to become a man.  She has had her breasts, uterus and ovaries removed, and my boss started her on testosterone treatment.  The patient and I had an extremely informative conversation; he mentioned being an only child and his mother not yet having fully accepted his decision.  I spoke up for mothers everywhere, telling him that her love would always be there, that it was her setting a milieu that helped him be free to voice his gender identity crisis. 

Scott and I toodled off to have our eye exams by my former schoolmate and that was good.  As I age, new things are happening - dry eye, now.  Already the hearing appeared to be on the wane, and then I realised that the men in my life are a foot taller than I am and speak at that altitude.  Thus, I am hopeful that the hearing ain't an issue, but the dry eye is.  Ostensibly, the distance between my right upper and lower eyelids is vast, and thus, the eye surface is drying out quicker.  Big eyes used to be an advantage, but not as we age: eye drops are going in now. 

We then went to a beautiful Kathak dance performance.  The dancer Kumudini Lakhia is 89 years old and she has a dance troupe, which performed.  Ms. KL has experimented with fusion and other maneuvers and the result is most pleasing to the eye.  We enjoyed the performance immensely, though we were a wee bit late getting there from the ophthalmologist.

We hung out with both boys individually this weekend and that was fun.  Lots of chatter. 

Have a very good week, with chatter in it!

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Saturday, January 26, 2019

Report of 26 Jan 2019

I see the sea, the sea sees me. 

It's the first day in a long time that we have been able to get a good, clear glimpse of the water: prior days have been hazy.  This view is why we live here - well outside the city, a long distance from the concerts and plays and movie theaters that show offbeat movies.

That and the 2 pools in this complex.  I swam this week after more than a week and loved it. 

We are well and hope the same with you.  The Banyan continues wonderfully.  Mr. Complainer Patient came speaking of dizziness.  He has not gone to the rehab center, as ordered: "The exercises are too difficult."  He went to another doctor, who gave him 3 of 5 injections, charged him 580 bucks and the dizziness is not better.  I emphasized that he'd had a stroke, that he was likely to stay dizzy, that the exercises taught by the rehab center would help.  I also said he was normally full of complaints and he said, "This, too, is a complaint."  I said, "Well, I didn't pay Rs. 580 to a doctor and come out of there with the complaint unchanged, did I," to which he laughed and said, "True." 

Humor is vital.  I like when the patients laugh and share funny situations. 

I have a new job, as stated.  My boss is a senior endocrinologist and we get patients with all sorts of complaints, which are nice to try and treat.  One of them, whom I saw late yesterday, came with the complaint of weight gain, treating which is a passion for me.  In the course of the conversation, it came out that the patient was HIV + and her husband had died of it; poor lady, I spoke of the cholesterol abnormalities that HIV treatment ("Anti retroviral treatment" or "ART" ) can cause, we ordered some blood tests and she will come back from her home in the neighboring state. 

Adaikalam and I saw each other only once this week.  Some politicians were protesting something on Thursday and the roads were chock full of traffic; I went 5 km (a little over 3 miles) in 47 minutes, turned around and went home.  I did get manage to get to Adaikalam on Tuesday and appreciated that; I do not like missing work at the Banyan.  Politicians should get that. 

Last week was Pongal, and after that, we went to Madurai to visit my father.  All of us went to the cemetery - today marks 20 years since my brother died.  I bawl every time we go to the cemetery, for what might have been.  We then had to solve some household and other issues.  My father stays active; he likes when we visit and he likes when we leave.   :)

Yesterday, I attended a good talk on diabetes given by my boss and today, we watched Naomi Osaka win the Australian Open women's singles title.  The match was very good. 

We did not get to hang out with our sons last week and I missed that.  Hopefully, tomorrow.

May you hang out with fun people.

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Sunday, January 13, 2019

Report of 13 Jan 2019

Good afternoon!

A bit of a funk today - might be the greyness outside.  It's cloudy and not sunny; this might be doing me in. 

The Banyan is fine.  I started working at a different hospital, thus have to be efficient with my time at the B in order to get to my other responsibilities.  Chennai traffic is like NY traffic; I imagine any big city has this mess.  Thus, I spend a lot of time on the roads. 

Kovalam was good.  We had a team of students from Rutgers visiting us last week and it is always good fun to speak to this crowd: they are intelligent, opinionated, fun and curious.  Our Tamil-speaking colleagues were also present at the interaction, and that was good: they always have a lot of very pertinent input.  We were happy to flaunt the joy of the B.

Adaikalam was also fine.  One of the patients at our Medical Care Unit (MCU) is unfortunately being hassled by 2 others there.  This patient, Ms. X, is usually a quiet, fun person and she is frankly scared of the obscenities being hurled at her by the others; naturally.  There has even been a suggestion of moving her to a different dorm and our CEO, thankfully, vetoed it; he stated that all have to coexist, that the MCU is not any one person's home to dictate who enters and who does not.  I coaxed Ms. X to use the restroom at the MCU one day, instead of going to a different one at some distance, offering to accompany her through the gauntlet of verbal abuse; unfortunately, the abuse did continue and Ms. X ended up being very angry with me.  Poor lady.  I had not understood the psyche of the abusers or exactly why quiet and fun Ms. X riled up the opposition. 

We went to a Russian dance festival, to see a visiting troupe dance.  I simply love seeing dances of other countries and cultures.  The folk dances were nice, but then the troupe ended up doing some hip hop sorts of things and those were not good at all.  I have seen excellent hip hop - both in the U.S. and here - and this was not it.  Scott and I left before the end.  Yesterday, we went to see the tabla maestro, Zakir Hussain, in concert and enjoyed it.  We left before that one ended, too, to beat the traffic. 

Yesterday, my brother and family, and my visiting sister and brother-in-law, came for breakfast.  That was grand fun.  I enjoy cooking, per se, and breakfast is a meal that I particularly enjoy making.  I get a bit zealously creative with recipes - sprout salad, meat dishes, etc. - and went to town.  Thankfully, much of the food got eaten and we packed off several leftovers with my brother's family.  My young niece, Ahana, was the only one of her generation present and tolerated us.  It was a very fun morning and I will always appreciate being on good terms with the family.  I spoke to my Dad just now and he was in the middle of a nap while waiting for my sister and brother-in-law; I asked if he wanted to return to sleep and he said yes.  So we ended the call. 

We hung out with the boys this morning and that was so fine.  Candor and chatter and laughter.  And much love across the waves.  It was nice. 

May you have much love, too.

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Sunday, January 06, 2019

Report of 6 Jan 2019

Good evening from the Bay sighting!

We are in the living room with our respective laptops.  The evening is turning to night, the sea and sky are not very distinct any more. 

We are okay.  The Banyan is also fine.  We lost a patient this week.  She had had black stools, and I suspected an internal gut bleed.  Her blood pressure was low, but she was talking, and walking.  Thus, I ordered fluids for her, and asked for a blood pressure to be called to me after the fluids.  The pressure was still a bit low, but she continued to walk, and talk, and drink.  I mulled over the option of sending her to the hospital, but she looked good and they would have continued to watch her, too.  Later that night, I got a phone call that there was no blood pressure or pulse after the patient had gone to the restroom.  I asked that she be taken emergently to the hospital, but braced for the outcome.  She died, gently, and painlessly.  I suppose we have to be grateful for that.  The staff informed me later that the patient had also vomited brown colored fluid immediately before demise, and the bleeding diagnosis is solidified. 

We are a family.  All of us grow old together, we have to get glasses on as we age, and we move slower; we celebrate with each other as colleagues or their children get married.  We also lose family members in the circle of life.

I remain perennially grateful that the patients who die do not die miserable, lonely and pathetic deaths on the street, but pass away in clean environs, surrounded by surrogate family who love them and take care of them, and do the rituals necessary for a deceased soul to go to heaven. 

Private practice is fine.  One of the patients came in with fever; she is also undergoing fertility treatments and is a precious person (all are, actually).  I gave her IV fluids, and checked some blood tests; more are to come, and I hope to come to a cause of the fever.  It is nice to be in a speciality where one has to sleuth.

We were at a farmers' festival yesterday at a local college, and that was very nice.  There was also traditional music and folk dancing, and every cell in my body responded.  As we watched a performance, I felt a finger dig into my left waist.  I turned, and knew that the creepy fellow on my right had done it; I abhor this kind of stuff, and raised my voice, yelling and telling him that somebody in his family would likely come to grievous harm on account of his actions.  I need to vary my curse and tell such types that something bad would happen to them, though the greatest blow to such jerks is when something happens to a family member.  Curses and words are big business in India.  A crowd gathered, all reprimanded this guy; Security was far away, thus we had to take matters into our hands.  Then Scott and I walked away, trying to enjoy the rest of the fest. 

The boys and we "hung out" this morning; that was fun.  The session had to be postponed after we got on, as I got a phone call; I was quite disconcerted, but Scott gestured to me that the session was cut and we could resume after my call.  That was nice.  There was a lot of talk and laughter, and Navin even ate a sandwich through the conversation; Scott and I sometimes eat breakfast during this session.  Naren mentioned the victory that our beloved Spurs had got over the Raptors, and we got into a lengthy discussion about the Kawhi Leonard issue.  It was fun.  We are great admirers of Gregg Popovich, and he is showing his usual classiness by wishing Kawhi well. 

It is a New Year.  May new, nice things come your way.

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Tuesday, January 01, 2019

Report of 1 Jan 2019

Hello and happy New Year!

The sea is blue, a goat is bleating downstairs and it is a pretty, sunny day outside.  My favorite husband is poring over accounts, I have caught up on newspapers and am happily blogging.

Last week was fine.  Kovalam is a great place to work and our reach appears to be expanding.  We perennially have many patients.  After watching Dr. Usha, another Chennai doctor, at work in her clinic - never reprimanding patients, never a stern voice - I resolved to be thus.  Yesterday, we did not stop seeing patients - sometimes, we have to stop taking names at 12 PM, to ensure everyone is seen and we have time for lunch - and we plonked on.  There is a fairly genial fisherman who comes often; he has had a stroke and is now dizzy.  He unfailingly states complaints in a tone that indicates we are responsible for them: "Yes, I am dizzy!!"  Yesterday, I kind of had had it, and said, "You know, Sir, all of us slave for all of you.  There is never a word of gratitude or kindness from your mouth.  If there were, I would faint."  The other patient in the room quickly said appreciative things about us and we resumed work. 

I imagine whether the service is free or not, people will find fault if they wish to.  That is our nature.  One year, my father had a fairly precious ticket to see the Indian cricket team in action; he was the commentator for the match.  I went to see the match, and was bored by lunch-time, so left; I'd rather play cricket than watch it.  I then gave the ticket to our neighbor's son, and asked him later how the match was; his accusing reply - "Well, I could only watch it from half-time onwards."  Yes, I think now, it might have been better than not being able to watch it at all?   

Adaikalam is also okay.  I have not been for a couple of weeks and will go on Thursday. 

After the clinic last Monday, Scott and I went peeling off to Bangalore.  My sister-in-law hosted Christmas and we had a merry time.  My brother and his family came from Mysore, where they were vacationing, my father came from Madurai and we met in Bangalore.  Lots of food and drink.  My sister-in-law is a very hospitable sort, and an excellent cook, so you know we ate to excess.  Neither of us serves alcohol, so we did not drink to excess, and that is a good thing.  After Christmas, all of us went our separate ways - either home, or short vacations.

Scott and I went to the Maldives for a holiday.  Whoever blatantly categorizes Muslims as violent individuals clearly has not been to the Maldives: it is a Muslim country, with the women in hijabs, and peaceful, clean, tourist-friendly, happy and very laissez-faire.  The currency, the Rufiyah, is robust and the food immensely tasty.  We had a wonderful time there and returned rejuvenated.  I like water, thus am always soothed at beaches: the country of Maldives comprises many islands.  That said, I find mountains picturesque, too. 

We went to sleep at 8.30 PM on New Year's Eve, and "hung out" with the boys today.  Both boys were home on NY Eve, watching TV or playing video games, and I laughed; ostensibly, none of us wanted to go partake of any merriment on 31 Dec.  It was nice to see the boys; they had been with Scott's cousin and family for Christmas, and we caught up on all the news.

May I take this opportunity to thank all of you for being in my life, for your goodness and geniality and grace, and wish you and your families a happy, healthy and successful 2019!

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