Renu's Week

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Report of 2 April '08

Hello from the Banyan -

Hope all are well. I got April Fool'd by Ms. L, a deaf and mute resident of the B. She gestured frantically at my shoulder and when I looked, of course there was nothing there. She let out a peal of laughter and I was enlightened by someone that it was an April Fool's joke. Naren and Navin had vowed to get me, after I got them very early in the morning, and it ended up being Ms. L - with her abilities limited in some areas and clearly not limited in other areas - to do the deed. I enjoyed every minute of it.

Our patient, Ms. V, returned from the hospital after being admitted for fever and lethargy. An extensive workup has been done, but the discharge summary is a little scant, and I have had to look through all the investigations for details. This I do not mind. Ms. V was found to have leptospirosis and a urinary tract infection (UTI), and they were treated; her loss of appetite has not eased, and she was sent back to the B with a feeding tube and a urinary catheter in place. Both were removed (my geriatrics training at St. Vincent Hospital) and I am now attempting to find the cause of her loss of appetite. Wish me luck. Our other patient with a similar problem, Ms. M, is not only eating now but back to sprightly activities like buying me coffee; I do not drink coffee usually, but am always touched that those with such little money will think to spend a ton of it on my comforts.

Ms. V above is also mentally retarded. We have found that families with children or young people with mental illness or even epilepsy will not send the kids to school, and cognitive development is severely affected. Consanguinous marriages (where the couple is related to each other) are also alive and well here; when the offspring of the union has a defect, quite often the family is quick to abandon him/her. This phenomenon irritates the daylights out of me, and when I spoke at Lady Doak College, I urged the young women there to please not succumb to the family elders' arranging a marriage with their cousins. I did state that I knew I'd be stoned when I walked out, but that was a risk I was willing to take. There is little I crusade for here, but marrying one's cousin is, in my opinion, just a tad unnecessary.

We are getting set for our trip. School is winding down, and end-of-term parties were held for both our sons (aged 17 and 14) at our house. It was nice, and watching the easy camaraderie between the boys and girls was absolutely lovely. Scott and I are under no delusion that the sexual angle does not exist in Chennai, but it has not (yet) hit our sons' classmates, and we are grateful for this. One of Naren's friends and I were discussing "Nsbm" and I told him to ask Naren what it meant; he said he knew it very well because it was said a lot last year - "No sex before marriage." A giant family caucus was had this morning on various issues (school, the trip, spending money, etc.), and I truly should be grateful that communication is as yet open with us.

Naren tried to volunteer at the local cancer center (a very famous and prestigious place), and was given the run-around; the desire to volunteer has vanished. Navin faced the same when he tried to donate money there: he was sent to 6 places within the center, the last of which was directly across the lobby from where he started. This is common in India, regretfully, and whips any sense of philanthropy from the kiddos. Another thing common in India is extremely boring history lectures and books; our history is so vast, magnificent and ancient that it would be nice to learn of it. History in the U.S. was presented so slickly and wonderfully (e.g., Jeopardy quiz shows, the Martin Luther King center in Atlanta) that I know more of U.S. history than Indian - pretty pathetic situation, in my opinion.

We need a contact in Brussels: can anyone help, please? Thanks.

Unw -



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