Renu's Week

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Report of 5 Oct '09

Hello from the Banyan -

Trust all are well. I got back to work last week, and it has been fabulous. It is wonderful when work rounds out a part of your soul, fills a part of you that was otherwise empty or had been beaten up, when folks who have very little can be made to heal.

As I tried to get caught up at the Banyan, saying hello to the myriad folks, catching up on people's lives and healed mental illnesses, I noticed a young woman sitting in the middle of the chaos in one of our upstairs rooms and studying. One of the psychologists/social workers told me that the young lady had had a relapse, and was back at the B from her family's home. The B is treating her, wants her father to come in for a meeting, and he has refused. The young lady is studying for her pharmacy degree, and I was very impressed that she could find the wherewithal to focus in the middle of a multitude of people wandering back and forth, yelling on occasion, or bustling about as they went from activity to activity. The social worker saw my admiration and asked if I wanted to be introduced; I said yes, and went and met the patient. I told her how happy I was that she was studying, that if any of us could help in any way, not to hesitate to let us know. I am always tremendously impressed when folks overcome staggering odds - in this case, mental illness and an unsupportive family - to pursue education.

One of the sweepers (custodial staff), Ms. K, had lost her son before I left for the U.S. I had condoled with her then, and told her of my own mother's loss of her first-born, and we had comiserated. The bereaved have a unique and tragic bond with each other. She came up to me again this time, and reminded me of that conversation: "I still miss my son," she said, "he should have done the last rites for me, and I had to do his last rites." "That is exactly what my mother said, too," I told her, holding her hands in both of mine, "and this is something all of us must live with." "It has been a year," she said, "and I still think of him." "It has been 11 years," I said, "and my mother too misses her son."

We are pleased to tell you that Lufthansa donated some cash for our upkeep, and we have managed to get some windows repaired at the B. This is crucial, because the monsoon is almost on us, and I find it imperative to keep our women dry and warm. Thanks to those who see fit to help us.

Some fine times last week. 2 Oct was Gandhi Jayanthi, Gandhi's b'day, and a holiday. My widowed sister-in-law, Susan, came to visit us with my niece, Sanjana, for a couple of days. Susan is a lovely person and good fun, thus the visit was nice, and Sanjana enjoyed being with her cousins. On the 2nd, Anu and family, and my younger brother, Vinu, joined us for lunch. It was grand fun, and we overate, talked and laughed. It is customary to poke fun at each other at such times, and this occasion was no different. I feel particularly happy that Scott gets along with in-laws and can tolerate their presence for extended stretches. We also went to the beach as Sanjana wanted to go, and saw a very nice Tamil movie - "Thiru thiru, thuru thuru."

One of the hospitals that treats our patients for free, SMF, held its annual conference over the weekend and it was excellent, as usual. Starting on time is quintessentially rare in India, and SMF is the exception, to my great delight. One of the highlights was a cardiologist from a small town who has trained several local primary care providers from villages around to recognise major heart problems; he presented a nice talk on heart attacks, and 3 of the primary care docs joined him for a case discussion which was the highlight of the conference. They discussed extremely pertinent ways to diagnose serious heart conditions in the absence of fancy imaging equipment and other technology, with purely physical diagnosis; this was invaluable for me, as my patients simply cannot afford expensive tests.

The men and I had Game Night yesterday, playing Taboo. It was a hilarious exercise and a very fun time. I have been privileged to get nice emails from the U.S., and there were several people I met at the gym while working out there who have written. Teri (a personal trainer of considerable skill), Joe, Chris, Natalie and David are exceedingly nice people, with kind hearts and souls and spirits that one recognises as kindred, and I have enjoyed the notes.

Until next week (Unw) -



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