Renu's Week

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Report of 14 Jan 2017

Good evening from our sea-view balcony -

I love Chrome; it auto-fills.

Scott and I are sitting here on our respective computers.  The evening light is fading and some buildings have their outer lights on.

Like a blur, our sons' visit has ended.  It was great while they were here and I had waited for it.  Navin had to return to school, Naren hung around for just a little longer.  The newly-wed couple (my nephew and his charming wife) took extended family out for dinner at a very upscale restaurant and the good times continued, with our meeting the in-laws and having a very merry time.

The Banyan is grand.  We lost a dear patient a couple of weeks ago; she was older, had been with us for a while and even through her dementia, her sense of mischief and fun stayed intact.  As my colleague, Leela, and I said, we are a family, greying together, acquiring glasses together and mourning the passing of loved ones.

I love working at the B because I can order the tests I want within reasonable limits; in private practice, the patients refuse sometimes.

Private practice is also fun.  Being able to practice medicine in India is a blast and I like Swaram Hospital a bunch.  I even go in on Saturday mornings as it is not onerous; I did not go for a few days when the boys were here.

Scott and I saw a couple of movies (La La Land was fun) and have taken to eating a lot at "Writer's Cafe," a cafe run by burns victims trained to provide excellent pastries and other good food.

We hope you have merry times!

Unw -


Friday, November 25, 2016

Report of 25 Nov 2016

Good afternoon from the medical world!

Happy Thanksgiving to all in the U.S. and all who celebrate it.

I am now employed as a doctor in a hospital apart from the Banyan.  It is nice, and the folks who run it are good, ethical and fun colleagues.  Swaram Hospital is near our house - a big plus - and has outstanding staff.  The Banyan will always be a part of my life and its focus is mental health; Swaram's is physical health, also done very well.

The Banyan is grand, as always.  I was alone this week at Kovalam, the resident from SMF having other commitments.  We had lots of patients that day, including young college students who had come to the beach; one had fallen and cut his chin, and we tended to it.  It was nice to have young people in our midst and when they asked for the bill, I said there was no charge, that we were an ngo (non-governmental organisation) and that the young 'uns could bring fruit or sweets for our patients the next time they visited.

Our other facility, Adaikalam, was also grand with lots of teaching.  One of the health care workers (hcw) had asked me to speak on food groups, which ingredients were in certain foods, their benefits, etc., and class was grand fun.  When I went down the list of what not to eat, the hcw who had asked for the lecture stated she was getting more despondent as all her favorite foods (cake, biscuits, chips, pickle) were on the list.  It was hilarious.

Scott is well, and envious of my student populace who are markedly more interested, apparently, than his are.  Our sons are fine, and with good people for the gorge-day: my cousin, Prita, and her family are hosting Naren, and my sister-in-law, Diane, and her family are hosting Navin.  I am glad the boys will be with warm, loving people.

We saw "Fantastic Beasts ..." with excellent service from the theater staff at Sathyam; regretfully, Eddie Redmayne appears to have only one expression across movies.  I was impressed with Dan Fogler and hope to see more of him.  I do wish some good Tamil movies would come out; I greatly enjoy those.

Hope you folks have a great week!

Unw -


Sunday, November 13, 2016

Report of 13 Nov 2016

Good evening!

The sea is a spectacular blue, there is no haze on the horizon, the son is shining sharply from the west and I am on the balcony where the clothes have dried.  It is a beautiful evening.

The election in the U.S. is over.  I do not vote there, and am not as despondent as many, as I feel good sense will prevail.  Trump's speech after winning was quite conciliatory and inclusive.  Being a woman in an organisation of strong women, I thought it would be bloody cool if a woman won; perhaps the U.S. is not ready for that yet.

Work has been wonderful.  The clinic in Kovalam is very busy and fun.  A young family came in last week, referred to me by the social worker as the man was alcoholic and had stopped his TB (tuberculosis) treatment on his own.  His wife was wonderfully articulate and expressed clearly all their fears.  I explained to the man that his 5 year old was likely to contract TB from him, that children usually got it from adults, that as parents we strive to protect our kids not infect them.  Let us see how far that got.  We will see the family again next week.  Nothing surprises me in this profession any more; when the man's wife said the man was treating himself as though he were a doctor, I told him I would get up, he could sit in my chair and dispense medical advice and treatment to all who walked through our doors.

We went to Madurai on Friday to see my Dad.  That was grand fun.  He was, as usual, chairing a clinical meeting; the speaker was his colleague, an excellent internist.  I enjoyed the talk and then we came home, to eat a nice lunch and get caught up on life as we knew it.  We left the next day, returned to Chennai and saw a very good movie, "Billy Lynn's long halftime walk."  It was excellent and sad.  Ang Lee knows how to extract fine performances from his cast: I was impressed by Vin Diesel and Steve Martin, not to mention the horde of youngsters and Garrett Hedlund.

This "nearing menopause stage" or "perimenopause" is weird.  Strange things happen to the body.  Anyone else?

Unw -


Sunday, November 06, 2016

Report of 6 Nov 2016

Good evening from our balcony!

The sea is under a haze, our beautiful bedspread gifted by my friend Joan is drying here, and it is nice to write.

Work has been great, as always.  This week's class was on stroke.  The health care workers are a diligent, enthusiastic, interested bunch: a total dream for a teacher.  The session was lively, interactive, and some of the questions made me recall points I had missed, e.g., that physiotherapy plays an integral role in helping stroke-afflicted patients recover. 

Kovalam was also nice - the seaside village has its own joys: a fisherfolk population, a tendency for folks to look out for each other, everyone knows everyone, etc.  I usually get there between 0730 and 0800 and there are already patients waiting.  Folks also tend to listen to what we have to say, and I like that.  There are a fair number of noncompliant patients, and we turn them over to our community workers, who likely have a better understanding of the patients' psyche than we nonresidents do.

Both sons emailed this week and we also saw their posts on FB.  While the profanity and choice of matter is not quite our preference, it is still nice to see the young men express themselves.  We discussed the movies Scott and I saw yesterday - "Dr. Strange" and "Mr. Church" - and Naren informed us that the character of the Ancient One was originally Tibetan.  Perhaps, some year, the casting powers will stick with authenticity instead of name draws, like Matt Damon being cast in a Chinese flick.

We went out to eat this week, not doing that too often because I cook regularly; the buffet was good and we enjoyed it.  Scott deliberately wore pants he could loosen :).

All the best to all in the U.S. for the elections!

Unw -

Friday, October 28, 2016

Report of 29 Oct 2016

Hello from Chennai!

Happy Diwali, though a day early.  May the festival of lights bring all of you joy.

We are well. It is nice to blog.  I was on our balcony, then it got hot, so I came in.  We are back in Chennai and, of course, enjoying it.  I swam this morning in our complex's outdoor pool and nearly froze, it being a bit nippy in the mornings; however, a swim is still a joyous swim.

I saw my Dad today and picked him up at a conference in Chennai to take him to the airport.  The conference was on Cleft palate and associated anomalies, and he received a lifetime achievement award, having done thousands of surgeries on cleft palates.  It was good to see him, though for a short time only.

The Banyan is grand, as always, floridly under-resourced and chaotic, but fun.  We had a patient sent to us from another NGO, as they could not cope with her mental illness.  She was treated here and recovered well.  She is from the Northeast, where the people look oriental and are slender, and was a total treat, singing and dancing, and taking care of troublesome folks.  She told me she'd been a teacher, and stated in English that she wanted a job; I'd followed up the local hospital's treatment of the wounds on her foot and she was healing well.  At one point there, she looked at me and said, "Thank you."  It was a powerful moment, worth every bit of 4 years of med school.  This patient is back with the NGO that sent her to us, and her brother plans to come from far away to pick her up and take her home. 

Scott is back at work teaching.  I had picked up a virus from work earlier this week and had to ask Scott to bring home some take-out food from their canteen (cafeteria); he brought it and it was tasty.  It was not in the least fun being sick; it does, however, teach me what my patients undergo.  Scott enjoys the teaching, and feels the grad students are more serious than undergrads.

Several new movies will be released tomorrow; we will not go then as they will be sold out, but hopefully during the week or next weekend, we will see a flick or 2.

Have a great weekend!

Unw -

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Report of 10 Sept 2016

Hello from Indianapolis, and our kitchen/dining table -

We are well and hope the same with you.

We are post-Iceland.  We went on a friend's suggestion, and were happy to make it a family vacation with both sons.  Iceland was friendly, beautiful and expensive.  As it is a small island, much of everything has to be imported and we bought produce there that was originally from the U.S.  The stories of vikings and the pretty Reykjavik, as well as the scenery around, were nice.  Fermented shark was a delicacy there and we tasted it.  Scott rented an apartment and a car, and both were good ideas, because we could go at our pace, see what we liked and leave the dwelling when we liked, without worrying about having to get up early enough to eat the proferred breakfast.

Work has been fine - frenetically busy, but the pace eased up.  One of my patients had newly diagnosed cancer everywhere and his wife quickly asked for a note to get out of a court date.  Valid excuse.  The priorities there were just a tad surprising for me.

It was nice spending time with both sons, and talking and laughing.  They drank Icelandic beer and one had wine with a meal on our return.  Neither Scott nor I drink alcohol with our meals, and I was amused at our sons' sophisticated tastes.  Both boys are since back at their respective lives - one auditioning madly and one studying.

My friend, Olivia, and I went to get some of my shopping accomplished.  I abhor the chore, and was happy to have Olivia's gentle presence alongside.  We ate, talked, laughed and drove, and pretty soon, the job was done.

I was in Terre Haute today, saw Navin and we went to see "Sully."  It was good.  Easily the best movie of the summer is "Hell or High water," which I saw earlier this week.  Set in Texas, with the folksy William H. Macy-esque stories (he is not in this flick), it was beautifully done and made me miss Texas.

My father and I spoke earlier in the week; he is well and travelling quite a bit.  Scott and I will be home soon.

Unw -


Monday, August 15, 2016

Report of 15 Aug 2016


Happy Independence Day to all - 15 August.  Every time I return to the homeland, I feel awe to be able to do that.  So many cannot.  I love living in a free country.

We are well and hope the same with you.  This was my week off and spent watching the Olympics, skewed though coverage was: they even showed the American gymnastics team *waiting* to perform.  Sheesh.  In that time, a portion of the dazzling talent produced by other countries could have been shown.  But no.

This was my week off and a lot of of errands were run, as well as movies watched.  Surprisingly, I have fallen asleep at movies on Tuesdays; I think work is so exhausting that the first day off - Tuesday - provides the first chance of relaxing.  Usually, movies are a favorite pastime and I have never fallen asleep during one, prior to this year.

We saw Navin last weekend, which was fun as always, and then travelled to Columbus, OH, to see college friends Craig, Cathy and Mike.  That was a grand time.  Yesterday, we got together with Shilpa and Ravi Mallur, and their kids, Keerthi, Surya and Akash.  That was also fabulous.  Getting together with good friends and family is panacea.

Work was good.  The portion of young people dabbling in illicit drugs is on the increase, I fear.  We had a young patient admitted with air in his chest; not his lungs, where air belongs, but the chest.  His urine drug screen (UDS) was positive for methamphetamine.  Something had happened to puncture a hole either in his esophagus or trachea and cause air to leak into his chest.  Usually, the management is "Wait and watch."  On seeing the UDS, I offered the young man some counselling by a psychiatrist; he declined, stating that the meth smoking and snorting had been "for fun."  Indeed.  Some fun, that.  My thinking these days is that if an adult patient declines an intervention that could benefit - counselling, for instance - they are certainly entitled to, and can take the consequences that come with that decline (no pun intended).

Why are the movies these days so terrible?  I am hopeful that Naren may make a good one sometime.

Unw -