Renu's Week

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Report of 20 Mar '05

Hello on Monday am -

I could not access Hotmail yesterday, to my chagrin - Sundays are a great day for me to write and vent and share. So this report is going out today.

Life last week started off well. Scott took Monday and Tuesday off, Tues being Naren's b'day, and I told the Banyan that I would not be in. Scott and I went out to lunch both days - eating out here is a big treat - and watched a movie, ran errands and generally did things by ourselves, sans children. It was pretty therapeutic and absolutely lovely. Naren's b'day was celebrated w/ a big b'fast and his opening presents: he wanted movies and his own room. He got the movies and some books. :) We cut a luscious cake in the pm; the bakery we get b'day cakes from does an excellent job, using real chocolate and the works, and they know it.

The patients at the Banyan are healing nicely; the woman w/ TB of the gut is now discovering a voracious appetite and we have placed no restrictions on her diet. She is about my height, 5'3", and weighed 35 kgs (77 lbs) at the height of her illness. She now weighs 44 kgs and I requested a photograph to document her appearance. I may just present this case at some conference because TB of the gut fascinates ME. The other day, she had not eaten b'fast and I asked why; she replied that it was a sweet dish and that she did not like sweets. The Banyan gets leftovers from a local company's cafeteria after their b'fast hours are over, and I asked the nurse if it was possible to get something non-sweet. It was produced immediately and the patient was profusely thankful. It was wonderful to be able to satisfy a need. After she ate, I noticed at one point that she was watching me keenly; I turned and met her eye and we exchanged a look - mine one of great gratitude and relief that she was healing so well, and hers one of some curiosity, I think.

Mentioning the chaos last week at Udavum Karangal worked wonders. This week, all the patients and files were ready, and I had about 40 people waiting. A pediatrician also came to UK; her name is Dr. Sailakshmi and she's a neat lady. Has lopped all her hair off, dresses in comfy non-traditional clothes, and wears no jewellery in a country where that defines a woman. She is passionate about care of the underprivileged, and aims to build a hospital; at the medical meeting I attended, a cancer specialist mentioned that the biggest prognostic factor in whether a child overcomes leukemia is the financial state of the parents - staggeringly sad, but true. We had great fun talking and connecting, including about the environment at UK, where there is so much centralised decision-making and worship of the founder. She is also comfortable seeing adult patients, and she helped me get through my clientele, as she had only 3 patients; I sure appreciated the help.

The tutoring continues well. 6 children come regularly, and the ones whose mother invited me to the ear piercing ceremony and got no gift from me have stopped coming. Some of the older children are pretty passionate about learning, and by golly, I hope we will provide some benefit to those who can choose this option over prematurely working or worse - prostitution.

The week was a bit brutal in terms of the number of No's that came my way - requests for funding have always yielded that answer, so that was expected; there are no locum (temporary job) opps yet and I have now publicised the fact that I'll even work gratis as I need precious U.S. experience (to keep the knowledge up) and references. I was so ticked one day that I sent off a politically incorrect email, prompting my husband to give me a bit of a lecture on sentiments in the U.S., etc. I realised suddenly that in my work w/ the enormously downtrodden, I work with so many folks who go the extra mile routinely (as you see above) that I have foolishly started expecting that in all my interactions. It was good that all this happened when it did, because it will reorient my thinking by the time I head to the U.S., instead of causing me to expect all kinds of help. Certainly, there are many, many people that go the extra mile for me in the U.S., and many of you are on this mailing list, but there are certainly many whose convenience must be accommodated also. I told Scott that if a piece of good news comes over email, I will outright faint. This is also as it should be, as it is causing me to find good news in my patients' healing, and my family.

Scott brought his American colleague to spend the weekend w/ us and that was fun. Matt is 22 (closer to our kids' ages, we realised!!) and very accommodating of Indian ways, food and culture. We were at the beach on Saturday and he was mobbed by a little girl beggar - yes, a mob of one. The other little girl who sells strands of jasmine there was particularly enthralled by a family's kite; it was a bright colorful thing which caught the wind nicely and bobbed along, and the little girl forgot that she was supposed to be working and sat down near the family to watch the kite. Rightfully so. The family, none of whose female members had hair long enough to wear the jasmine in, bought some jasmine from her - precisely what I'd have done. I thought to myself as I watched the number of child workers and vendors at the beach - how dare we forget what it is like to be a child, how dare we tolerate child labor, how dare we force a child to sell jasmine and not watch a bright red kite.

Ok, I am going to wrap. Any of you with locum ideas, pls pass them on; I do need to buff up my knowledge of Western medicine. Thanks.

"I'm tired of all this nonsense about beauty being only skin-deep. That's enough. What do you want, an adorable pancreas?" - Jean Kerr

Have a good week -


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