Renu's Week

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Report of 29 July 2012

Hello from Olympics heaven!

We do not have a functional TV at home in Chennai, we have one here donated by my former attending (staff) physicians, eminent geriatricians, the Healeys.  We have sat here and watched some very cool competitions, including funky things like handball.  The best part I like is the multitude of athletes from various countries, all enjoying being at the competition, the respect shown to each other and the true spirit of sportsmanship often manifesting.

What has been difficult is the hour of broadcast - it is tough to stay awake late.  I managed to stay awake long enough to see India and the United States at the parade of nations, and was very pleased that Danny Boyle chose to portray the National Health Service (including actual doctors and nurses) as one of the accomplishments of the U.K.  He redeemed himself there for me, because the first part of the ceremonies seemed a bit chaotic.  Navin said he enjoyed all of it, and I should learn from the young.

Work has been fabulous.  One day, a patient took a turn for the worse; she was not my patient, but I was present and I could not in clear conscience say, "This is not my patient, I cannot run the code (direct the resuscitation attempt)."  So, I responded when the charge nurse came by announcing that the patient was sweaty and not quite herself, and went in.  Our team of nurses and techs responded magnificently, we stabilised the patient and sent her to the ER.  She ended up fine, with heartburn being pronounced as the reason for her severe chest pain.  The person in charge of the unit where I work is Dr. Angela Carbone and she is an extremely competent physician and very nice person, leading by example.  The rest of the staff - nurses and techs - are also efficient, and nice.  I am very fortunate in my colleagues here at RHI, and the Banyan; the benefit of working with good, nay grand, folks cannot be overstated.

Naren's girlfriend, Aishvarrya, sings in a band called "Staccato," and this band beat out hundreds of others and was selected to perform at the Olympics (not the opening ceremonies, but during the Games).  Aishvarrya and band have left India, and I am excited for them, that they accomplished this monumental achievement and will get to play at a prestigious venue.  I had sent her some clothes and makeup through Naren: not having a daughter, I had gone buck wild at the store, buying things for Aishvarrya.  On Friday, I got a very sweet note from her, thanking me warmly; that note made my day.  Today, we Skyped with Naren, which was nice, and I said to both boys that there must be a gender difference in appreciating: Aishvarrya's gratitude was warm and genuine, and the boys' is sometimes nonexistent.  Naren said male gratitude is often gruff, and women sound like they mean it.  It was a cool discussion.

Last week, our old friend, Kevin Kuhns, and we had lunch.  Kevin and I worked together in the computer field when Scott was a student at Purdue and we met up often with his family.  Kevin and Ramona are very devout folks, and I have been envious of their faith through thick and thin.  Kevin has done well in the IT world, has - expectedly - stayed the same wonderful person, and it was grand to catch up with him.

I got to talk to my Dad and that was nice.  He is also an avid sports fan, and was watching the Olympics when I called.  He asked about Aishvarrya's band, that he could not see them during the Opening Ceremonies, and I explained.

We were at the farm yesterday, ensuring that Scott's aunt and uncle were okay in the absence of Scott's Mom (she is on a cruise to Alaska with other family members).  Scott and Navin stacked bales of hay in the barn, I cooked an easy dinner in the crockpot and all of us got to talk some, too; it was a beautiful day outside and the farm looked lovely.  Scott's aunt and uncle are always appreciative of help, and unfailingly express it, and are very sweet; it was extremely easy and nice to do for them.  "Use labor when you have it," I told them, as we wrapped up chores and headed home.  It was a splendid day.  Navin said, "My pleasure," when Uncle Norb thanked him, and it was indeed his pleasure; we are fortunate in our sons.

Unw -


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Report of 22 July 2012

Good afternoon -

It is a time to ponder, a time to wonder why a young man little older than our sons would open fire and kill folks at a movie theater.  It is also a time to feel fortunate that our sons are who and where they are.  In India, after the Mumbai terrorist shootings and the capture of the lone terrorist who survived, people also prayed for said terrorist.  I think that would be good, to pray for this 24 year old, and for his family.  It would also be appropriate to pray for and remember the victims and their families in this time of their darkness.

We are otherwise well, and hope the same with you.  Sometimes, events cause different responses in folks depending on demographics.  I know the Colorado situation will resonate with every parent who has given no thought to permitting their children to catch a long-awaited first screening of a movie.  We are avid movie buffs, and cannot imagine the horror of waking up to this kind of news.

Work has been fine, and I have had a couple of doctor patients.  One of them started to dictate management and I asked that he let me do my job, as I would not dream of telling him how to do his.  I had a willing ally in his wife, a former nurse, and together, we got through this patient's hospitalisation.  The other patient's wife was different - she slipped him herbal laxatives that she used to sell, she challenged his counselling as she had a master's degree in counselling psychology, she thought his anti-depressant caused his belly ache.  Sigh.  I understood her concern as a spouse and said so, but had to ask again that this lady let us do our jobs.  As I have often said, the sick patients are fine; I do not like healthy people. 

We did see "Batman" and enjoyed it immensely.  I counted 4 Academy Award winners - Caine, Cotillard, Bale, Freeman - and 1 nominee - Oldman, in the flick.  We then got some lunch, and headed to the farm.  Scott's Mom and many of his family members are off on a cruise to Alaska, and I wanted to ensure that his aunt and uncle were okay.  These are a couple of my favorite folks.  It was a spectacular day; we sat outside while Scott, Navin and Uncle Norb tried to repair some farm equipment and then ate dinner.  We cooked a couple of meals for the folks to eat later in the week; it is so easy to cook here, and the crockpot (slow cooker) makes it even easier. 

We ate breakfast at Cracker Barrel today, and I am very glad many restaurants now have healthy options.  Navin is at work, and Scott and I hung out at a bookstore and are now at the library.  I got to talk to my Dad today and that was fabulous; just chatter and geniality and bonhomie.  We also got to talk to Naren, and there was more bonhomie and geniality, though it was a short call - he was off to watch the finals of a play competition.  Navin and I spent last Thursday evening loafing around Target and that was nice; one on one time with the young man showed me that he has indeed stayed genial, helpful, kind, loving and funny.  Nothing like some time alone to reaffirm that, and I am glad the good feelings were indeed reaffirmed; it helps me stay the course with trying to understand his plans.

Hope all of you are well.

Unw -

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Report of 14 July 2012

Hello from the Carmel library!

What a place - books, mags, Internet, free.

Quite amazing how your kids' issues can make or break you, yes?  Navin has been firm about joining ROTC as a way to finance his way through college.  After first balking, and then trying to understand his sentiment, I spoke to Scott's friend, Craig, an Army alum, and he told me I was right to balk, that Navin could indeed be deployed.  Then Craig spoke to Navin on our request; both our sons adore Craig because he epitomises how they want to be: firmly single, attractive, financially successful with loads of nice gadgets in his "cool" place, and irreverent and funny.  After that talk, when I asked Navin what he thought, he said, "I'm still firm about joining ROTC."  He is fairly quiet and thunderously obstinate when his ways are questioned.  One of his best friends from elementary and high school - a young lady with straight A grades and known prodigious intellect - used to urge him to study, to put his own intellect to good use, and Navin would simply not. 

Sigh.  To live in a country where a 19 year old is deemed able to make his own, legally binding decisions - well, that has pros and cons.

Navin had also investigated the co-op option, where he would study a term and work a term in his field.  However, that is taking a back seat to some lack of self-confidence, complete trepidation with approaching employers (Navin views every question coming from his mouth as an inconvenience to *someone, anyone*), and robustly doing nothing to improve his "skill set."  To know how to handle a quiet child takes quite some doing, I tell you.

There is a sign on the door of our flat in Chennai, written by me, stating that there were only 2 precious entities in our lives, and that they came on the boys' birthdays.  I have sat the boys down on more than 1 occasion, and stated that my jewellery and our car and our music/movie collection were nothing compared to what the boys were (irreplaceable and precious), and for them to please not be tempted to put their lives in jeopardy - either by unrestrained car travel, or unhelmeted motorcycle rides, or anything else.  I told Navin yesterday that the sign still held.

I hate fights.  Hate 'em. 

Work has been grand.  The other day, a little lady was discharged and went to another facility from here as family could not take care of her.  She is a darling, and lucid in the mornings - "How are you?"  "Fine, how are you?" - and then utterly confused as the day goes on.  You can tell, though, that she was raised with strict emphasis on manners, as many Black folks are, and there is a lot of "Please" and "Thank you" from her in the course of a day.  Makes work so much more fun when that happens.  She has recuperated well enough to be elsewhere, and that is good for her, but all of us miss her a lot.

My knee is injured.  I cannot run, or walk.  That is probably adding to my foul mood.  Exercise is an integral part of the start of my day and all this rest is essential, of course, and annoying.  The therapists at work have been fabulous with giving me a strengthening regimen, and I can tell my knee is healing - or my quads are taking over some of the function - but not soon enough.  She ain't known for patience, Scott will be quick to tell you.  Several of my peers have, at various times, expressed inability to squat with ease, etc., and I used to always take such functions for granted.  No more, I assure you.

I spoke to my Dad and that was fabulous.  I had sent him a note through Naren, and he said he would frame it.  It was a simple note, expressing appreciation and respect, and I am glad to have said it, as I did when my Mom was alive.

Unw -


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Report of 10 July 2012

Hello from Indianapolis!

We are well, and hope the same with you.

Last week was a fine week.  All 4 of us were in the same country, nay the same house.  A tiny 1-bedroom affair, but hey, a change from being across several continents.  And the roof did not leak, there was no stench nearby, etc. 

On the 4th of July, Scott and I celebrated a wedding anniversary.  We didn't pick that date just for kicks; my mother consulted the astrologer, he came up with a date and time (6 something in the am) and we got married then.  Scott and our friend, Farshid, had stayed up watching Wimbledon; I had slept and then gone with my aunt to the temple (my aunt is a devout person), and the priest had seen the mehendi (henna) on my hands and given me a flower in addition to the kumkum (red powder we place on our foreheads after worship), which I considered grand good luck.  We then got married, had a reception in the evening and were Mr. and Mrs.

We were fortunate to have the boys with us this anniversary, and saw "Spiderman," which was good, and then went to Bravo, a favorite restaurant, to eat.  The waiter's name was Jibran, to Naren's great delight: he has a friend named Gibran, pronounced the same way.  We had a great meal, and then went to Macy's where we took advantage of some fine sales and got suits for the boys.  They looked good, and we took family pics later in the week in said suits - a mother's fond wish.  Navin was kind enough to put up with all the running around at the mall.  One of my joys currently is being able to buy stuff for other people, including my sons; that's one of the perks of having some extra cash.  (Most of my clothes are hand-me-downs from stylish friends like Olivia and Emily; this works well as I abhor shopping and like clothes. :) ) 

We live in a multicultural neighborhood, and had Peruvian food with my colleague, Christine, who is about to embark to Pakistan on a medical assignment.  The boys clued her in on the transition from the West to the East, and it was cool to listen to them.  Naren is talkative, and Navin did have a pertinent point or two also.  I remember all the advice given to us by Indian friends who absolutely do not want to return to India (and that's fine with us, that's their choice): "Don't go." "The boys will be teased." "You'll find life difficult there." "You'll give up the opportunities here."  Well, we did go; the boys loved life there; life was warm, welcoming and wealthy in other ways; and we gave up no opportunities but found several new ones. 

On our way to get the pictures taken, as we tried to figure out the shortest route possible, we came upon an accident.  There was a figure lying in the middle of the street, and people clustered around.  We were on a tight schedule, but no fiber of my being would have let me pass this scene, so Scott stopped the car and I went over.  It was a motorcycle accident, where the rider skidded to avoid a car, and thankfully, the man was wearing a helmet.  So, he was essentially okay barring some scrapes, and I stayed until the ambulance got there and then all of us toodled on to pics.  Scott had called the studio and explained the circumstances, and we walked in and got pics taken after much getting ready.  (Long hair had to be combed; not my long hair.)

It is always a grand affirmation of my purpose in life when I stop at accident scenes, and can impart some knowledge to evaluate the situation.  I will always be a wife and mother first, but by golly, "Doctor," now there's a privilege.  There are always desperate people at accident scenes, and being able to assist is fabulous.  In India, accident scenes generate massive crowds, with all manner of extremely well-intentioned advice being given (which I love - folks are so, so intent on helping), and I have to step in and yell that I am a doctor, and then start giving instructions.  At one accident, some young men living nearby actually tore a perfectly good shirt so that I could bandage the young patient's wounded leg.  All lovely.

Work has been good, and right along with handling stroke patients undergoing rehab, we had to deal with a patient whose wife had syringes in her purse and had left it with her husband - a recovering drug addict.  Hmmm.  The syringes had to be sent off for analysis.  I talked to this young man, explained that he'd had a stroke from an infection on his heart valve caused by drug use, and asked that he stay clean.  Beyond that, though, is up to him: the rest of the year, I work in a resource-poor environment and I simply do not have the means - or the inclination - to coax compliance.  "Here's the deal: here's what you have to do.  Can't do it, okay then, you may get a stroke or diabetes."  Or have a heart attack.  Or die.

I am very happy that the health care law passed; I work with too many uninsured people to be anything but happy.  The American College of Physicians has come out with a ringing endorsement of the law.  I am hopeful that all U.S. residents will now be able to afford health insurance.  Some of the sentiments expressed to me have been alarming.  A couple of years ago, an acquaintance said, "Oh, poor us actually - they'll take our health insurance and give it to those who don't have it."  And this time around, otherwise rational folks are quoting confusing articles to back their disapproval.  I am especially unable to reconcile how deeply religious individuals whose tenet it is to care for the disadvantaged come out hammer and tongs against the law.  Please do not email me your view of the situation if you are intent on telling me how misguided the law is, or want to diss its author (I have no political views).  Thanks.

Naren left on Saturday, and the rest of us watched Wimbledon, etc.  The women's match was good, and the men's was edifyingly boring; I wondered if both men could lose.  We spent Sunday afternoon at Carmel library, reading and revelling.  I talked to Naren on Monday, the day after he landed, and he was at a party (wedding reception).  Navin found this prioritization pretty spot on.

Unw -


Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Report of 3 July 2012

Good evening!

It has been a fine few days.  Having both our sons with us has been a treat, the last time all of us were in the same place was Aug 2011, and even taking a car ride with all has been good.

Naren spent last week at his grandmother's farm, helping with chores and helping his granduncle bale hay.  I was happy he did all of that.  Scott picked him up on Friday, they got Navin, then me, and we went to Chicago.  The boys stayed with one of Naren's former classmates near the U of Chicago, and Scott and I stayed at a nice motel in a fairly rough neighborhood.  We had breakfast at a local restaurant the following morning, and it was spectacularly tasty.  The menu also had instructions for buffet patrons, stating that there would be a charge for wasted food, and I loved it. 

The boys' school in India is very unique.  It is founded on the philosophy of J. Krishnamurthy, which I don't completely understand.  It helps the students introspect through all situations, good and bad.  I have never heard of a punishment there, and the kids are free to cut class and sit under a tree if they can justify it.  Anyone making mistakes has a 1 on 1 chat with the principal or a teacher, and there is a lot of soul-searching.  In the real world, these folks appear to be misfits because they simply do not compete, and are happy with themselves.  ("You can tell a KFI student a mile off," is a common refrain.)  Students and former students gravitate towards each other, even between ages, and share a very unique, soothing bond.

We got the boys and returned home on Saturday, chilling out that evening.  The following day was a busy dash of breakfast at Patachou, movie ("Magic Mike," which all enjoyed), shopping, Euro cup finals (go, Spain!) and dinner with my former boss, Ed Stone, and his lovely wife, Mary.  It was a fine evening, with Ed and Scott matching each other's senses of humor, and probably the best Greek food I have ever had.  Ed and Mary were also very gracious with our sons, including them in conversation and Mary passing over her food for the boys to taste: once a Mom, always a Mom.

Yesterday, 2 of us (Navin and I) went to work, Scott working from home.  In the evening, we visited the Bartons in Greenwood and that was nice.  They are sweet and hospitable people, and 3 of us know them already; Naren discovered why we like them so much.  We then went to see "Think like a man," and enjoyed it. 

Work has been fine, made that much better by the thought that 3 Weiss men would be at home when I got done with my day.  Our patient census has increased, and I am privileged to be paid for doing something I enjoy. 

Unw -