Renu's Week

Monday, January 03, 2011

Report of 3 Jan 2011

Happy New Year to all of you!

May good health and happiness come your way all through the year.

It has been a tumultous 3 weeks since the last write. A beloved colleague, R, committed suicide. He had been successfully treated for a mental illness at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH), joined us at the Banyan, married a Banyan resident and fathered a very cute baby. Marital troubles ensued and on a Monday, just after several counselling sessions for the family with senior staff, R went home and hanged himself. We were stricken; he was a great guy, with a cheerful disposition, and an ever-present smile.

My patient, Ms. G, rescued from the street, started to lose weight in front of my eyes and began looking skeletal. I strongly suspected cancer (I think this is in a previous blog) and then, propitiously or otherwise, Ms. G had vaginal bleeding. We sent her to the doctor, they sent her back with a non-committal opinion, I was furious and sent her elsewhere for a second opinion; they confirmed the cancer and sent her back. I had a diagnosis, which I often don't in others who die: getting a post-mortem here involves casting blame on the institution (whether the hospital or the Banyan) and all are loath to do that. Ms. G died days after the diagnosis. In the interim period, I gave up attempts to make her sit for a while and let her lie in bed, ordered her favorite foods, and sat with her whenever I went to the B. She would say that she wanted to come home with me, or that she wanted me to sit in the room, and I would point to my chair and say that I'd be right there, in the room with her; she'd then say, "Khiladi," which mentions "mischievous" or "fibber." I would sit and talk to her, and put my hand on her back, feel just her bones, tell her how all of us were around her, and try and ease her giant apprehension at being alone. As I told our able occupational therapist, Harini, I was glad Ms. G had a warm, loving place for her last days.

Training the health care workers (hcw's) went along well until R's demise, and then it had to be suspended as no one was in the mood to learn. The hcw's are tremendously good beings.

I had mailed candy from the U.S. - Easter candy on clearance, Christmas candy available in May!! It cost me about $60, which was not really within my budget, and I privately berated myself for sending idiotic stuff. The candy was for children of staff members (most of whom are impoverished), and was handed out just before Christmas. Several colleagues came up to me after the receptionist gave out the gifts, and were rapturous about the novel (American) candy, and stated how much their kids would love it: seeing all the smiles, and the parental joy, and the wonder at the novelties, the $60 became a worthwhile expense. I was delighted to share the goodies, and was very happy that all the parents thought well of the gifts.

Naren was in the annual city pantomime and I saw the show 4 times. He sang and danced with gay abandon, and that was fun to watch. The panto invites heckling from the audience and I obliged with gusto; several of the main characters (including Naren) heckled back and I loved it. One of them even said things like "Yo, hot lady at the back," which, of course, fills every vanity requirement in us older women.

The 3 Weiss men and I travelled to Coorg and saw relatives, then met the rest of the family at my sister Anu's place in Vellore on Christmas day. We did not really celebrate, due to my mother's passing last year, but enjoyed each other's company and ate like pigs. All came to our house for lunch the next day, as Chennai is quite the central point for onward train and plane journeys, and that was fun. Our cook, Ajitha, outdid herself with the meal and everyone ate some more. My sister-in-law, Susan, and her kids spent a couple of days with us and that was a blast: we went out to eat and saw a movie ("The Tourist"), which all enjoyed. The Weiss family went to Bhopal for a short holiday, and that was nice: so much grandeur in our own country.

It is now time to focus on Navin's exams for Class XII. They are mammoth, and require a lot of effort - from him and me. :) We worked on some essays together, and it was cool to spend that time with the boy, getting to see a different side of him.

Each day brings a new activity or requirement, and I am glad to have 3 months off to balance all of it. There are wonderful perks to being able to spend time with the family, whether in the midst of exams or not.

Hope your year is great!

Unw -



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