Renu's Week

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Report of 24 June 2012

Hello from the St. V library -

Nice to sit and read and study.  A young man next to me is taking an online class for radiology, and asked what I did, and thought I was a nurse.  I respect all nurses, and have historically worked, and continue to work, with some fine nurses; there is some perversity in the U.S. that a woman in the health professions is always considered to be a nurse, not a physician.

I deliberately did not blog last week.  Naren is here, and was part of a surprise for his Grandmother's 70th b'day.  I thought for sure I would blab something if I blogged/emailed and the surprise would be ruined.  He got in safely - thank you, all the Gods - and both boys have not really gushed at each other's presence, but been fairly serene with it.  The day after Naren reached, Scott left for Philly, so it was the boys and I, and it was fun.  We ate Ethiopian food in our nice multicultural neighborhood, saw "Rock of Ages" and enjoyed it, and got ready to host a couple of parties.  The boys are intensely opinionated - where did they get that? - and when I commented on some bawdiness in "Rock of Ages," they defended it as freedom of expression and Naren said he appreciated seeing the flick here, instead of post-censoring in India.  I mentioned that as a female, I appreciated the censoring as I did not want the deprived (and sometimes depraved) men in India to get unwanted ideas, and that provoked a lot of discussion.  It was cool.  We have also had winging arguments, and on discussing it with a colleague, he mentioned that the boys' antics (such as sleeping until 6 when all of us had to be out of the house at 6.30) sounded like typical young people stuff.  Therein lies the key: I should likely take some things in stride as "young people" stuff, not "young adult" slacking.

Work has been nice.  I had a patient, an 18 yo, with a brain tumor.  I did not look up the prognosis, or life expectancy, or other horrid things, as this young man was unfailingly polite and pleasant.  Anytime I asked, "How are you, X?," he answered, "Fine.  How are you?"  How am I, sweet boy?  I am okay.  None of the adult patients has asked, and you did.  I am not the one with the brain tumor, I am the one who whines about being late, you don't say a single bad thing, you are living life and enjoying it.  You play the video games, and say you are never too old for a hug, and laugh out loud when I narrate something my sons have done.  You are, to me, one of the joys in my every day.   

The young man and his family plan on his attending college in the Fall, and one of the physical therapists and I talked about it.  In India, all would sit around moaning his fate, and thinking of every nasty thing that could happen, blame his mother for much of it, and prepare for the patient dying; in the U.S., all are preparing for the patient to live.  And move on, and study.  I like it.

We had several friends over for dinner, and that was fun, but perhaps not so for the guests :).  Our apartment complex's numbering system is weird, so several guests got lost.  Our teeny apartment was cramped and I worried that the guests would be inconvenienced.  However, all appeared to have a good time, and Scott suggested I focus on that; the guests were, to a person, fine friends and colleagues and grand people to hang with.  We learnt from our mistakes at this party, and my mother-in-law's surprise 70th b'day party the next day (same place) was a slightly better-orchestrated affair.  Scott's aunt and uncle showed up with a box of chocolates for me, and I thought that was extraordinarily sweet (literallly), because though I buy whatever I need myself, that box of chocolates was thoughtful and considerate and a symbol of great affection. 

I got to talk to my Dad and that was nice.  I had not talked to him on Father's Day as the phone lines were down in Madurai, and I wished him today, and we talked and talked. 

Scott is back, and we look forward to doing things as a family again, after Naren returns from spending a week with his Grandmother and Grandaunt and -uncle, which he will undoubtedly enjoy.  Yesterday's party, with all the in-laws and an old friend or 2 from my mother-in-law's younger days, was a joyous affair - epitomising all my in-laws.

Unw -


Sunday, June 10, 2012

Report of 10 June 2012

Hello from our living room and the Taber table (i.e., the table lent to us by the Tabers) -

It is hot outside, but certainly not as hot as Chennai, and there is a breeze which always makes the ambient temp bearable.  I am, however, sitting in airconditioning. 

We are well, and hope the same with you.  In our residence now, the long curly hair in the bathtub is no longer just mine, the hairbands and ponytail holders are not mine.  The long-haired wonder, our 2nd son, is back.  (The other long-haired wonder, our 1st son, is not yet here.)  I tend to comb my hair on our balcony as it sheds, so I disavow all restroom floor hair with zeal. 

Work is wonderful.  Rehab'ing patients is good, and the pace is bearable.  These folks are complicated at baseline, and I have to investigate 3 different sources (the med list, labs, patient/relatives) in 3 different places for info on their condition, so I am grateful for a little time.  One of the patients took a turn for the worse last week, after being told he was not going home and would be going to an extended care facility, and I was preparing to leave for the day when it happened.  Our very competent charge nurse grabbed me in passing, and on assessing the patient, I thought he had aspirated (mouth contents going to the lungs, instead of the stomach); it felt good to be right there to assess the situation and decide the treatment option, instead of at the other end of a phone line.  In this case, we had to send the patient to the hospital, as we have no ICU or conventional, acute-care hospital amenities.  We do, however, have outstanding nurses and therapists (as do all the locum places I have worked at), and it is a privilege to work alongside these folks.

One of our female patients had been getting feistier in preparation to going home, and I liked it.  One day, I was bending over to speak to a different patient, and I felt something land on my rear end; I whirled around and saw that it was Ms. Feisty who had planted a kick on my rear.  I burst out laughing, and she said, in response (I guess with acceptance that she had not been chastised), "You know, I want to work here."  Had it been a male patient, I think my response would have been different: I have a visceral anathema - brought from younger days in India - to being in close proximity to strange men.

We saw "Prometheus" yesterday and I enjoyed Mr. Fassbender's performance; I am biased, however, because I quite love the man.  I made a similar comment at work about a colleague/Denzel/any man du jour, and our secretary started to look very concerned about my morals.  (Married, not buried, and I will always enjoy a good view.)  Scott suggested that I be careful what I say, and at this point, I must say I am grateful to all of you for tolerating my comments about the opposite sex and for knowing that I have as few plans for running away with a poster of Chris Hemsworth/Hugh Jackman/Suriya (the closest I'll get to those men) as I do anyone else.

I spoke to my Dad last week and that was wonderful.  He was preparing to honor a colleague on having received an award - my Dad is an excellent speaker and gets asked to quite a few such events - and he said he was listed in the invite as "pre-eminent."  As he demurred, and spoke of the skill of younger surgeons and physicians with their powerful Internet skills, I told him he was indeed eminent, that the fine art of a history and physical exam was fundamental to all of medicine.

We also spoke to Naren, on the speaker phone, and will Skype tonight.  He had just finished acting in a play.  He also writes now for magazines, and writes quite well.

My friend, Sid, and I had lunch last week and that was nice.  Sid is a bright administrator, and overall good guy, and it was good to get his take on work and life and family.

We saw "The Intouchables" today, about a disabled man and his caregiver.  Though the flick was panned for racially stereotyping the Black caregiver, we enjoyed it immensely.  We are sorry that the Spurs are out of the tournament - they are and always will be our beloved team - but the Thunder is fairly likable.

Unw -

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Report 03 June 2012

Hello from the Carmel library!

Such bliss, this library. And free.

Work has been good. Our patients who are discharged sometimes return for outpatient therapy. The other day, one of them was leaving said outpatient appointment as I was, and we stopped to chat. She looked good, and was toodling along with a walker pretty well. I commended her, and said pretty soon she'd be dancing, and I did a (somewhat doofus-looking) dance move. She danced right along with me, and it was fabulous. The move, the spirit, the coordination - all of it. We laughed and hugged, and she got into her daughter's car and off she went.

"Don't give me people who want to dance, give me people who have to dance."

We have kept up with folks from home, and Naren emails fairly regularly. He now cooks, and enjoys it. Navin is with us, and our tiny 1-bedroom apartment might seem cramped to some, but I love it: there is no furniture barring a Taber table and chairs, thus plenty of space, and enough closets and cabinets for our clothes and pots and pans. The best part: no one knows what I do and the population is so much less dense here that Scott and I can go for a walk and encounter no one. Or maybe 1 person. In Chennai, I can walk out the door and run into 8 people in seconds. Yes, the people are usually smiling and happy, and it is a grand state of affairs, but for now, I am enjoying the wealth of personal space. We are also sleeping on the floor and loving it; last year, we had a furnished apartment and it seemed very tiny for 3 people. Not the case this year.

Yesterday, the men and I saw "Snow White and the Huntsman," which was excellent: Charlize Theron's wistful take on the evil queen was wonderful and well-enacted. And Chris Hemsworth - enough said. Then we went down to see the in-laws and cook them dinner, so easy here. Trader Joe's, a beloved store, provided lots of good, healthy and tasty groceries and a giant cheesecake (likely neither good nor healthy, but certainly tasty.) We had a splendid visit, and these are among my favorite people in the world, as previously stated. Lots of laughter, enjoyment of each other, intelligent chatter. We left energized and returned to watch the Spurs lose - rats.

Yesterday, "The Breakup song," by the Greg Kihn band, came on and I asked Navin to dance in our living room - which has historically happened often with the men. As he did what he called "The white boy shuffle," and then Scott obligingly came by to do dance duty, he told Navin, "Watch, your wife/girlfriend will make you dance." As Navin looked horrified, and said, "Never," Scott said, as he twirled me around, "Yeah, that's what I said long ago, too," and both the engineers looked at each other and tried to figure out what sort of woman could make them dance when they absolutely did not want to. It was nice.

Unw -