Renu's Week

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Report of 23 Jan '05

Hello all -

It is sunny out, the 3 Weiss men are reading here, we just ingested some excellent British chocolate (kind courtesy Doug) and are here in a mellow, high-sugar state of mind.

The week has been eventful. I learned that 2 of my patients at the Banyan died over the weekend. One was the lady who yelled non-stop for food. The other was a patient who was suspected of having TB, but when I saw her lack of weight gain and completely emaciated state, I was convinced something else was up. On digging through some back records (from waaaay back), I saw that an xray had looked like cancer but this had not been followed up on, I guess as treatment options were limited. This lady's face had bone right under the skin (the rest of us have at least some fat or other tissue below) and looked like a skull w/ skin pulled taut over it. Ostensibly, she had been in some pain right before death. The redeeming feature here is that both women died in surroundings of kindness and compassion, and were well taken care of (thanks to the phenomenal Banyan staff) right until and at the end. What more can one ask for, in one's passing.

Please check out if you are so inclined and email them as well. They do absolutely wonderful work, are fairly chronically short of funds but are not inclined to whine about it (unlike some of us .... :) ).

My cousin, his wife and their 13 yo son (named Ashwin), severely afflicted w/ cerebral palsy, were here to get the child evaluated by a local orthopedic surgeon to examine options to help him walk. I accompanied them to the appointment as it sometimes helps to have a physician relative on hand, and was particularly urged to do so by my scientist aunt. Continued physical therapy, not surgery, has been recommended for the child for now. It has been 15 years since I saw my cousin, we were decades younger then, and are now family folks. He has become very wealthy, knock on wood, by working in Papua New Guinea, and while the rest of the family oohs and aahs at all his possessions (2-3 apartments, an SUV), I'm glad for him that he has the resources to care for his son. The couple's marriage has become severely strained and I spoke to both parties separately, and urged counselling, which helped Scott and me in the melancholy months following my brother Manu's demise, which was followed by several deaths in the family. Beyond that, I feel I can only be here to assist as necessary and simply cannot singlehandedly save the marriage (might it even be worth saving is a question only they can answer). Dr. Vohra, a pulmonologist of Indian descent at St. Vincent, told me before I moved to India to do something about only those things which I COULD do something about and not try to take on more than I could handle. This was priceless advice, which I still value. It is a strange feeling to watch a dear cousin's marriage disintegrate, but I can only provide a listening ear and help if asked.

And entertainment for their son!! Our boys outdid themselves in keeping their disabled cousin amused. We had the visiting family, my brother and Tina, and Coorgi neighbors over for a meal and it was fun. Ashwin spent the entire evening in N and N's room, and the evening was punctuated w/ guffaws from that quarter and periodic squeals from all 3. I was very happy that our sons did not feel any difference between themselves and their cousin, and picked up on his style of communication very quickly. In San Antonio, we had some wonderful neighbors who had a daughter w/ CP and I imagine that's where N and N learned of this condition. Anyway, all 3 boys had a blast.

I spent Friday in Madurai w/ my parents. 26 Jan is the anniversary of Manu's demise and my father and I went to the cemetery, my mother feeling too tired to go. My father's gait faltered at the entrance and he busily looked elsewhere. I imagine it must be hugely difficult to think of one's firstborn child as having died. Anyway, we cleaned off the grave and the tombstone (the back of which had graffiti by local children), put a rose garland on it and I prayed, sort of. Anu asked my parents to excuse her for not going to Madurai then as she states she has a visceral response at the cemetery, and Vinu and Tina will go on the 26th. It was difficult to think of my robust, handsome, dance-loving brother as deceased, but I suppose our task now is to take care of his family. Please pardon me if you find my mention of my brother onerous; it has been 6 years since his demise, but he was a sibling and all our siblingy bickerings notwithstanding, we were a fairly closeknit lot.

The tutoring putters on. We will have a meeting w/ those who are used to doing such work and figure out what we can do to ensure steady attendance. We must educate at least 1 child and pull him/her out of poverty. The founder of the Little Theatre, which stages plays to raise money for poor kids' scholarships, mentioned one of her beneficiaries as having graduated and having secured a good job. I was mightily thrilled to hear that.

Have a good week. We're sorry that the Colts are out of the running in the Super Bowl, but Go Eagles! We haven't had TV since we moved here (it exists here, as does cable, but we find that the boys read more in its absence and so are choosing to do without - I do miss watching sports, tho'), so I have no idea what the teams look like, but I hear the Pats look invincible. Is this so?

"A man in love is incomplete until he has married. Then he's finished." - Zsa Zsa Gabor
"When I eventually met Mr. Right, I had no idea that his first name was Always." - Rita Rudner


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