Renu's Week

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Report of 29 March 2010

Hello from Chennai -

Go Butler! The Indianapolis college has made it into the Final Four of the National Collegiate Athletic Association basketball tournament in the U.S. We do not have a TV, but hope to watch the games next weekend, if someone televises them internationally, at a friend's house.

The Banyan goes along swimmingly. There is a young assistant, a patient now employed at the B, in the sick room. Ms. M.u. cleans and helps out, and generally makes herself useful. Our residents' files are very thick and full of papers, and require considerable skill to open them. After I have finished writing in the file, I hand it over to Ms. M.u., and she flips all the pages back and closes the file. At the completion of each file-closing, she draws my attention to it like a child, and I then rave about her efforts. Her smile then is a picture of accomplishment and self-satisfaction; a job well-done does give the doer a lot of confidence, doesn't it. This job is simple - close files - but the amount of Booster Hormones it gives Ms. M.u. is a treat to see.

How fortunate are we, eh, that we can so charge a young lady's self-esteem with the simplest of means.

There is a young woman at our administrative office who is contracted to clean. She had asked me for my sons' outgrown clothes, as she has 4 children (3 boys); this number of children prompted a discussion between her and me, as I push for smaller families *especially for those who cannot afford large ones.* She has variously seen me "curb-side" for rashes, or fatigue, or cough. Today, she told me that she could not catch her breath all night, and coughed when she lay down. I examined her, detected a faint wheeze, and told her she needed an inhaler for such times. She shuddered, said she could not afford an inhaler, and asked for some "pills," instead. Her colleague told her not to think of the cost but of her health, and educated her about the benefits of an inhaler. Sometimes, my best allies are those affiliated with the patient; I can drone on about the medical benefits of the treatment I prescribe, but a few choice words from a lay person often help much more to convince the patient.

The 3 Weiss men are well. Naren has exams this week; non-professional courses in India are very easy, and exams are generally not difficult. Navin has gone out of town with his school, and they will visit some villages with economic hardship, so that young minds can see challenges that our fellow citizens face and perhaps come up with some solutions for them. I like such trips. Scott is well, and losing weight in this high heat; there was not a whole lot of weight to start with, and now much of that is going as well, so he looks emaciated. One of my mother's goals used to be to get Scott to gain weight, and she acknowledged his high metabolic rate as a challenge there.

Nice to get along with one's in-laws, isn't it.

Happy Easter to all of you!

Unw -


Sunday, March 21, 2010

Report of 22 Mar '10

Hello all -

Exactly 4 weeks since my mother passed away. I find it easier to remember when she was ill, for then I can remember her passing as merciful and a release. I can't yet dwell on the good times, because then I might start missing her. All the condolences shared with us by those who knew her mention her directness and honesty. Scott and the boys remember her sense of humor and her great love of making faces at my father.

So, I have glasses now. I noticed that I had to start holding printed matter farther and farther away from my eyes, and took myself off to my schoolmate (from 10-year-old days!), D. Ramesh. He is now an opthalmologist of considerable calibre, and our family ophthal. Initially, only Naren and Scott were his patients and now I. D, as we call him, and we had a long conversation before the medical part of the appointment started - discussing parents, death, medicine, the medical system here and in the U.S., Obama, illnesses, etc. He then examined both Scott and me; Scott's vision is maintaining, and I need reading glasses. D gave me a pair, and I quite like them: they magnify the print, and I no longer need to hold things far away, or sit far back from the computer's monitor. On flights last year, I had to watch the TV of the person in the row in front of me, as I could not focus on my own, however back I tilted my seat. D also told me I had to wear the glasses low on my nose, and then look over them at people talking to me, or other things I might want to see. That is a bit of a challenge, but it is a bearable one.

I got back to work at the Banyan last week and it is mighty therapeutic. The senior health care workers came and talked for quite a while with me; our bond is strong - we are on the providing side of the medical world, and I think they know my tremendous respect for them. There were patients to be seen and psychoses to be dealt with, and at least one violent person in the sick room. As I looked at Ms. A, and the disruption she was causing - from not letting me see her bed sore to using rank profanity - I thought to myself that I was very glad she was at the B, and not somewhere where her actions would provoke ire, or violence, or misunderstanding. How fortunate are we that we can take care of those whom others absolutely will not, or cannot. In a brief moment, the senior health care worker did manage to expose Ms. A's bed sore, and it is healing well. I was also very pleased about that.

Ms. M, the very cheerful patient who always smiles very widely when she sees me, came by the computer terminal where I was working (about 8-10 of us have to share this machine) and beamed her beautiful smile at me. I was delighted, and stood up to ask how she was, whether she had eaten, etc. That is the extent of my Hindi, but we revel in each other's company, and don't much care which language we are speaking in - Hindi or Gestures.

I have started to get very irritable. Maybe that's a form of grieving. I have low tolerance for repeating myself a billion times, and for clutter. Our apartment is far from beautiful, and that is irking me. The daily exercise helps immensely, as does music.

My sister, Anu, and family were in town yesterday and it was good to see them. They were off to see a movie, a treat for them as their small town, Vellore, does not have giant movie screens or English movies which play in English (they are dubbed in Tamil). Vellore is known for the medical college and hospital where Anu and Benji work, and several industries have come up around those: schools, hotels, restaurants, pharmacies. I found it to be a sweet little town with friendly people; I imagine that those who live there might occasionally want to see a non-dubbed flick, or eat multi-grain bread, or do something that those of us in Chennai take for granted.

I saw my friend, Joan, last week and that was therapeutic. Joan and I were in college together; she lost her father early, and her mother raised 8 children ably. Her mother passed away 2 years ago, and Joan and I sat and talked about what that's like. We also ate a vat of tasty food, and she gave me another vat to take home. It was a nice afternoon.

Unw -


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Report of 15 March 2010

Hello from Chennai -

The last time I blogged was the day my mother passed away. I am back at work today, and worked from home part of last week. Not much is getting done by me today: it might be the lack of sleep, or something else. Scott and I talked yesterday when we had some time by ourselves in the house, and I said that I had had time to prepare myself for my mother's passing but grief hits at strange times. 4.30 or 5 PM phone calls instantly cause my heart to race with an unrealistic and irrational hope.

The Coorg ceremony was nice, and it was therapeutic to hang out with my mother's relatives, all of whom were intensely solicitous of us. It was fabulous to return to Chennai, and to resume the routine of kids, work, housework, etc. A couple of times last week, I made macaroni and cheese, which is a great favorite in our house. It is actually a dreadful dish, and I don't eat it, but the men devour it and I was happy to make something they enjoy.

On Saturday, we had dinner served to the employees of the Banyan, who had been praying for my mother twice a day. My friend, Joan, owns a hotel and their kitchen catered the meal. I was particular that meat was served, as our impoverished employees can simply not afford to eat it otherwise. Meat was indeed served, and ice cream, and good things, and the meal was delicious; all were dressed well and ate to their hearts' content, they said. I was very pleased, as my mother would have been, to see that. We were privileged and happy to have the distinguished company of both the founders of the Banyan, Vandana and Vaishnavi, and I told the boys to remember that they were in the presence of icons. The boys adore both young women, and a nice evening was had by all.

I was delighted to have the family together; we went to listen to some live music, ate out at a burger joint, and caught a couple of Tamil movies over the weekend. I love the fact that both boys are getting more fluent with Tamil, and adopt street slang with ease. Naren turns 19 today, and there is a chocolate truffle cake (made by our favorite bakery which trains underprivileged young people) at home with his name on it.

There have been patients coming and going by our house, and the B, and today, at least, I dispensed medicine in a daze. Perhaps things will improve as the days go by.

If you have people in your life that you cherish, please tell them.

Unw -