Renu's Week

Monday, June 26, 2006

Report of 25 June '06

Hello from sunny Indiana -

It has been a most therapeutic weekend, spent w/ my in-laws at their farms in Southeastern Indiana. They are warm, fun, funny people. Shilpa, the new Indian intern at St. V, went w/ me and had a great time, she said. We celebrated my mother-in-law's b'day yesterday, and our friends, Colleen Taber and Dr. Ruth Stevens (the very visionary CEO of the clinic where I work), joined us. All present had a ripping sense of humor, so a fine time was had, over vats of food - in verdant surroundings, sitting in garden chairs, feet up on picnic benches, the breeze playing on our faces and the humming bird trying to figure out whether to dive-bomb our butts or not.

Work is ok. My patient w/ fibromyalgia returned, but had to see another doctor as I was not available. I had a bright young woman come in w/ a cold, and when I asked what she did for a living, she mentioned working at Wal-mart. I asked why she wasn't in school and she gaped; I imagine your normal physician doesn't ask such questions. (As my sons will attest, normal is not a word they'd use to describe me.) I explained that someone as obviously intelligent, sensible and grounded as her really ought to consider going to college. She stated she'd investigate the local community college and I darn near whooped: I did all my premed work at a community college and absolutely loved it. Fine teachers, committed to teaching, cheap fees, nice classmates. I told my pt to return in a month, because among other things, I want to find out if she did go to the school to investigate it.

Citizens also has a clinic at the local housing project, and I went over there one day. Sometimes the pts come just to chat and hang out, and the ladies there interact w/ everyone ably. One of them had cut his finger on a can, and it was pouring blood. We managed to stop it w/ ice, and put some steri-strips (strips of bandaids) across the cut. The pt kept up a chatter the whole time, and that was fine - better than passing out on us at the sight of all the blood.

My friend Colleen and I went to see Day 2 of the AT&T USA Outdoor Track Meet here in Indy, and got to see Marion Jones and Justin Gatlin run. I'm not a huge fan of either athlete, finding them arrogant, but did enjoy all the runs, throws and jumps, and marvelled at the extremely well-toned bodies. As the lady next to me commented on the last place person in the women's 5000 m, I mentioned that she was still faster than me. It's nice to have world-class athletics in the city of one's residence.

The 3 Weiss men are ok, and figuring out how to get along. Scott had established a schedule for when N and N could be on the phone and the Internet, and all of it was disregarded by 2 teenagers. Scott sent me a copy of the email he was drafting to send to them, and I laughed out loud - "It doesn't take a genius to figure out what happened, but I'm willing to hear your explanation." I believe the 3 of them need to figure out some rules and regulations, and coexist, and my in-laws fully support this position. See why I love 'em dearly? Scott's sense of humor is legendary, even in sticky situations, and is a fine thing in a spouse.

Unw -

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Report of 18 June '06

Happy Father's Day to all the great fathers on this list (and there are many) -

Hope y'all are doing well. I am fine and enjoying some productive medical time in this country. The new intern class is about to enter St. V, and I took one of them out on Saturday. Shilpa is from India and relatively new to this country. I remember w/ great appreciation how a couple of lovely folks in Dayton, Ohio, ensured that I adjusted well to the U.S. and that I did not miss home food too much. I remain in touch w/ them and consider it a great privilege, so was merely passing on the good turn.

The patients at Citizens have been great, too. One of them, WH, a favorite from last year, returned to see one of the other docs and I saw his wife sitting in the hallway and stopped to hug and chat. She told me her husband was in one of the exam rooms, and I stepped in. It was hard to figure out who hugged longer - he or I. He has spent some time in prison, is determined to make a life for himself and his family, he and his ex-wife have remarried, and his current plans include educating himself. How fabulous!! - I told him I'd done all my premed work at a community college, loved it, Scott taught at one in Indy, and that if WH needed a letter of introduction, I'd be happy to write it. His back pain is on the mend, and we had a good chat. He offered last year to do my airconditioning for me, and since I was the Tabers' houseguest then, I passed on the good word to them.

We had a 69 yo lady from Jamaica come in, and she has multiple health issues, many dormant, some ignored w/ the hope that they'd go away on their own. We addressed the whole lot, and when it came to the fact that she might have diabetes, her daughter burst into tears. We reassured both of them that it was a very manageable condition, roped in the Health Educator to speak to them, and the pharmacist enrolled the pt in a low-charge-for-meds plan. All of us were merely doing our jobs, but these 2 ladies seemed so grateful one would have thought we were weaving a gossamery, shimmery, welcome web of miracles.

And then this am, I came in to find out our cook in India was away visiting her ailing father, so our fine young men were eating toast ad infinitum in Chennai (very happily, mind you, because the local bakery sells excellent, fresh bread, and Scott recently invested in a toaster) while Scott does some work in Bangalore. It's amazing how one little piece of news about one's offspring having their routine (like balanced diets) out of whack can sort of fill up one's whole mind. I emailed the neighbors, as the young people were going to be bashful about it, and Scott told them to take some groceries across to them for them to cook. So a balanced diet reigned again. As much as it is great to be here, soaking up medical knowledge and making a few bucks, a piece of news from home can cause me to rethink my mission. Scott told me not to pack my bags just yet.

Saw "Take the Lead" w/ Shilpa, and "The Lake House." You know, drippy love stories can only work if they have a decent premise and a solid supporting cast, not to mention good lead actors: "The Lake House" had none of this. Christopher Plummer railed around a bit as a grumpy old man, but poor Keanu could not act. I watched the Mavs lose 3 in a row to the Heat, and caught some friendly heat of my own from our fine podiatrist - who supports the Heat. I'll watch again tonight, and hope that the Mavs can recover; I really like their coach, who is an ex-Spur.

Unw -


Monday, June 12, 2006

Report of 11 June '06

Hello from sunny Indiana, not sunny India -

Trust life is good for all of you. I am doing very well, having just returned from the wedding of Nathaniel Christadoss and Michelle Lanham in Midland, Texas. Nat is the son of our friends Jennifer and Prem, whom we met in Houston 15 years ago. They are lovely people, have some wonderful relatives, and I was happy to attend the merriment. I used to wonder why my parents took great pains to attend their friends' kids' weddings and now I know why; it's bloody good fun.

Work is good. We have our share of young patients discussing health issues and one of them said she did not know her family's medical history. On probing, it came out that she'd been in foster care, and it was inordinately saddening. To not have parents to guide and influence one, to not have some unconditional love and affection, to not have an occasional treat or 2 - this was deprivation. Indeed, she might have had these things off and on, but I did not get that impression. We discussed the issues as best as we could, especially intimacy issues, and I told her she could return any time she wanted.

Then there was the young man who came in w/ a sore throat. We went through the standard visit protocol, and when I asked whom he lived with (to determine if that person had also been sick), he said, "One person." I said, "Girlfriend?" He replied, "Wife." In my patient populace, I am used to folks living w/ boyfriends and girlfriends and I switch pretty automatically to the U.S. mode when I work here, taking this, premarital sex, multiple partners, wonderful honesty, good senses of humor, great driving conditions, tasty chocolate chip cookies, all in stride (or at least, try to). This reply caused me to do a double take, and the patient and I talked at length about his priorities and perspective, which aren't quite mainstream-my-patient. It was great! I also commented on his size 18 shoes, the largest I've seen so far (haven't seen Shaq in person) and we concluded the visit.

I was privileged this week to have dinner w/ Louise Hass, the former librarian from St. Vincent Hospital. Louise is a well-travelled, well-read, witty woman who unfailingly takes me to dinner when I am here, and we had a great evening. We sat outside, had Greek food and talked up a storm. I have also moved out of the Tabers' house into the home of my residency classmate, Kris Rea, her husband Gabe and their daughter, Isabella. Like the Tabers' home, this one is also full of affection and warmth. The neighborhood, Broad Ripple, is pretty and each house is unique and has character. It is easy to talk to Kris and Gabe, both of whom I love very dearly, and the company is a treat.

The Mavericks gave me some thrills in their first 2 games, especially handling their victories w/ great dignity. I was inclined to simply wish for a great series, but my Texan roots are showing. There is some chaos brewing w/ our Texans in India, w/ their cooking gas running out; the cylinders need to be ordered in advance, and I had tried to do it before I left but nobody had answered the phone in the gas office. I was tempted to micromanage it from here - you know, email our absolutely phenomenal neighbors and request someone to send the men some food - but I figured the 3 Weiss men must just learn to handle such emergencies, and handle it they will. It doesn't mean their plight will vanish from my consciousness, though.

Unw -

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Report of 4 June '06

Hello from the Carmel lib -

Well, I'd been less enthused w/ this lib after discovering they have no filters on their computers, but a librarian told me that hits to legitimate sites like "breast cancer" are blocked if filters are placed. So they have computers w/ filters in the kids' section (which I had not known about) and unrestricted computers in the general area.

We were privileged last week, before the boys left, to see the Janis. It's hard to believe that Deepali Jani used to be my patient, we are so into each other's families now. She refers to my sons as hers, and had some awesome bhelpuri (a crunchy Indian snack food) for them. Her husband and sons took time off to spend the entire evening w/ us, and when one is surrounded by such genuine affection, it truly leaves some fine memories. We were also delighted to see my residency classmate, Olivia Fondoble, and her parents when they came in for "the race." They took us out to eat, which was lovely, and it was a mellow, fun time w/ lots of laughing and the feeling that we've known her gregarious parents forever. Olivia is a gentle sort w/ a sense of humor that belies her quiet demeanor, and often has me burst into laughter at a moment's notice. Both Olivia and Deepali had goodies for all of us, including clothes for me from their closets - so it's the best of all worlds, new clothes w/o the shopping.

Work has been fun. One of my patients came in w/ belly pain; he also has cerebral palsy and made sure he kept his mother informed on his cell phone about what was happening during his visit. I found that very sweet. He practically gave me his diagnosis: belly pain worse after eating greasy food, which can be indicative of gallstones, and I find time and again that if I let the patient talk, out will come the diagnosis. So I sent the young man for an ultrasound, and will see him on his return. I also spoke to his mother after the visit and sent her a note: I find it imperative to keep communication clear and ongoing w/ a patient and his/her relatives. It is nice to work in this poor neighborhood, and to get the impression one can make a difference in the health of impoverished folks.

The Tabers' neighbors, Chris and John, and the Ingers, Sonia and Mikhail, kindly let me watch some basketball on their TV's. So I watched the Heat dethrone the Pistons and the Suns lose to the Mavs. I really like Steve Nash of the Suns, esp after hearing that he donated a lot of his endorsement $ to a children's hospital in Paraguay, but he could not do it on his own. My sons are Texan, so I imagine that my loyalties are pretty set for the finals.

I saw "The Breakup" and a nice little gem at the $1 cinema called "Inside Man." I like these strong actors: Denzel, Jodie, Clive Owen, Christopher Plummer. The 3 Weiss men send me lovely notes - not goopy and dripping w/ sentiment, but more chatty and talking about their day, plans for school, the lovely omelettes Scott made 'em, and often, a little memento from Scott that reminds me how fortunate I am that this nice young man wants to spend not just an evening w/ me but his whole life.

Unw -