Renu's Week

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Report of 30 Jan '05

Hello from sunny Chennai -

I am convinced that the non-stop sunlight contributes to the sunny dispositions here as well. Remind me of this in May, when 110 deg and no airconditioning might cause a change in my disposition. :)

We were delighted to get a package from Ruth at St. Vincent, and she sent some professional journals, some non-p mags given to her by Louise, and some American candy which the boys fell on w/ total glee. What joy! Packages here are a big treat, and historically for me as well, as mailing packages is very rare here. When I first got to the U.S., American friends would mail me tiny things - artificial flowers, little packs of candy - as they knew I liked getting packages. This is not to be construed as any kind of hint, it is a statement of great appreciation for kindnesses shown to us from far away.

The Banyan is doing well. Their annual fundraiser is next Saturday, and they are still short several hundred thousand rupees. I have tried to solicit, but the charity rupee or dollar is hard to come by. Not very much fazes the 2 young women who started the orgn, and their work will go on. They also work to rehabilitate the mentally ill women who CAN be rehab'd, and last week, one such lady was sent to work at a donor's house. She returned to the Banyan when I was at work, w/ her face completely puffed out and eyes itching. Methinks there were some plants or some clothing at the work site which caused an allergic reaction, so I asked that she be placed in the "sick room" (our ward) and started IV steroids. I received a call the next day that she was much better, the same day that I received total silence from several people I had approached for funding or a job for May. I tell you, perspective is everything: I was delighted that the patient was better, glad the news came then, and somewhat resigned to the silences from overseas. If I had a penny for every time I heard "No, we can't fund you" or total silence w/ the same msg, I would be a very rich woman. My riches now are coming from my patients' health, which is not at all a bad thing.

When I was in Madurai, I attended a clinical meeting at the hospital where my father works. I welcome such formal learning opportunities, especially as I don't get them working with the poverty-stricken. One of the cases was that of an abdominal aneurysm, which is an enlargement and subsequent weakening of the wall of a blood vessel, usually an artery. The senior surgeon stated that the diagnosis was confirmed by a Cat scan, they made the decision to operate and then they got an MRI, a very expensive test. At the end of the presentation, which my father was chairing, there was an opportunity for questions and I asked why the MRI had been ordered, if the decision had already been made to operate; the surgeon replied that it was for his teaching files and that the patient could afford it. I was furious; it is drilled into us during training that we must only order a test if the results of it are going to change our management, and here was one of my esteemed colleagues ordering it for his personal benefit, because the patient could afford it. Why I must expect ethics from my professional compadres is beyond me, given the diversity of personalities, but it would be a special treat, wouldn't it.

The tutoring is waxing and waning. Today, we will go around trying to resurrect the effort. At least one child should be lifted out of poverty or kept out of prostitution - this is my goal.

The boys had their annual Sports Festival and I was the team doctor on all 3 days. It was fun. Naren and his teammate Nikhila won the table tennis gold and Navin and his team won a basketball event. Neither son did the running events, but perhaps next year - I had to cajole Naren for this, esp as his legs are now as long as his mother. I had a lot of side business, talking to a parent separated from her husband and one who lost his wife 2 years ago. (We've had both parents' children over for sleepovers and they have been fun.) I was also approached by a lady who just moved here from the U.S.; her son hates it here and she wants advice on how to help him cope. Beyond urging her to involve him in activities for the underprivileged, I have no idea what to say. Her son will feed off the top, and our sons knew it was not a democracy in our house, that we were moving regardless and that they could either like it or like it. No, there's no typo there.

Scott and I spent yesterday totally blowing off necessary errands (boys' haircuts, photographs, grocery shopping) and taking in a movie and a lovely meal (2 sandwiches and 2 chocolate mousses surely made in paradise - total cost 285 bucks). The movie - National Treasure - was completely implausible and ludicrous, but Million Dollar Baby, Ray, and The Aviator are not here yet. That bugs me, that I have to wait several months for American movies to show up here. Scott and I used to have our picks in hand on Oscar day, but this year, I did not even know which movies were nominated or what they were about. I was delighted to see that Mr. Foxx secured the nomination for Collateral and for Ray. He is surely my pick this year. (I did think, tho', that Ms. Berry's win was racially motivated, but what the heck.)

Someone asked me if things were stressful - no money, no registration, indifference from the U.S. towards one trained there working here, etc. Au contraire - I have a fun, funny husband; 2 children who are developing undercurrents of compassion just by living here; an American education which I always thank God for; patients that are healing; relatives that we are within a train ride of; and friends who sustain us w/ notes and Sour Brite Crawlers. Things could be much, much worse.

"I've reached the age where competence is a turn-on." - Billy Joel

Best to you all. May you have Sour Brite Crawlers of your own.


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