Renu's Week

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Report of 27 Sept 2015

Good afternoon from the Terre Haute library -

The patient I told you about last week died early Monday morning.  Scott and I went for the viewing on Thursday.  It was very crowded and therapeutic; there is something soothing in grieving together.  One of the finest meals I have ever had was after a rural Texas funeral, when the community got together in a community hall and we ate, talked, remembered the deceased.

One of my former employers has stated they would not pay me for some work I did for them, though I have it in writing that they said they would.  This is a first experience for me and I would like to get the cash.  Any suggestions?  Better Business Bureau?  Small claims court?  I had hoped things would not be acrimonious, but I need to be paid fairly.  It is not quite usual for our family to be screwed in money matters, and especially not in the U.S.

I worked in our rural hospital last week and loved it.  It is small and cute, and the folks know each other well.  Some of the patients were challenging - at least one wanted to file for disability and he had no known disability that I could see - but the staff were fabulous.  There is a new illness afoot for what we call "secondary gain," or profit from a condition - stroke.  Folks come in complaining of weakness on one side or loss of function; such conditions previously used to involve back pain.

Scott and I spent yesterday at his relatives' farms and that was nice.  Today, we had breakfast with Navin, which was grand fun, and saw a movie, "The Intern," which was good.  Naren is in L.A., preparing to be an understudy in a play, for which we wished him well; he is staying with close friends David and Peter.  Last week, we saw our friend Olivia and that was fabulous: she is a kind, gentle sort and passes on hand-me-up clothing, which I unfailingly welcome.  I abhor shopping for myself and Olivia spares me that trauma.

Terre Haute has been good.  I could get used to living here, but home does call: both Scott and I agree on that.

Until next week -


Monday, September 21, 2015

Report of 21 Sept 2015

Good afternoon from the Terre Haute library -

As I write this, a patient is with Hospice at the hospital.  He is almost 85 years old, has a bleed in his brain and the family has elected Hospice instead of surgery.  It is the right decision, as the bleed is large.  This patient is also paralysed from the neck down, from an accident on a trampoline bought for his grandchildren 25 years ago.  The family is coping, and it reminds me of a time when we united in taking care of our own patient in the ICU.

Critical illness often unites.  There was, for us, an unspoken bond among all the relatives of the ICU patients.  We rejoiced in others' successes and were thunderstruck when a patient passed away.  There was a little boy who had been struck by a vehicle as he crossed the road at a religious event; he recovered nicely and walked out of the hospital, to everyone's great delight.  The lady who was riding pillion as her brother took her on his scooter to see his apartment, did not survive the accident where she was thrown off; her husband brought their 2 young sons to see her when she was hospitalised and the boys cried non-stop.  When she died, we were not present but came in later to see an empty bed, and asked the nurses; it was sad to hear the news.

Work has been good.  I contracted food poisoning, an annual rite of passage in the U.S., last week.  Those that would believe food poisoning is the exclusive purview of third world countries can now be educated otherwise.  I hobbled around yesterday, drinking vats of Sprite - what a beverage - and was grateful the census of patients was not heavy.

Our sons are well and busy doing what they do.  Scott works online and enjoys it.  I spoke to my father this morning and that was lovely.  He asked when I would be returning.

Unw -


Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Report of 8 Sept 2015

Good morning from Terre Haute -

Hope all of you are well.

I received word this morning that my mother's older sister, K, died today.  She was 90, and suffering from dementia.  She was ably cared for by her sister, C, aged 81.  K was fiery in her time, resigning from her position as hospital administrator when she found a politician dipping into a fund reserved to treat impoverished patients.  This made the front page of national newspapers, and she got marriage proposals from as far away as Australia.  Electing not to marry - either when she was younger or older, a position most uncommon for the Indian woman - she lived very happily alone, reading, playing cards, cooking, and being a genial hostess whenever we visited.  She took me to her neighbor, a homeopathy doctor, to treat vitiligo on my neck.  We talked of Independence Day, 15 August 1947; she described it as jubilation, and that happy crowds gathered in New Delhi - where she worked at the time - full of a sense of happiness.  Scott and I visited both my aunts in March, and ordered a cake 2 months early for K's 90th b'day.  She read the legend on it "Happy 90th birthday," looked up and said, "Thank you."  It was a magnificent moment.

While some passings are not unexpected, they certainly do rattle, don't they.  After my mother died, K told me little things that my mother had done for her while growing up - walking on her right side to school so that her right ear, often subject to pain, would not be beset by wind; hanging out with her as they were close in age (2 years apart), and many such stories.  They were nice.  I remember these times more than the times after the onset of dementia; my aunt would often cover up her memory lapses by asking "Do you think I don't know who you are?"  She seemed to be somewhat aware of her state.  She remained genial, fun and interactive even through her illness.

Dementia is a terrible disease.  It leaves the shell of the person afflicted by it.  C did a superlative job caring for K, and K could stay healthy and, as above, genial.

Work has been wonderful.  The team of hospitalists is good, and the hospital staff is fabulous.  To be able to take care of sick people, order tests without worrying about whether the patients can afford it, to be able to talk to specialists - all this is very professionally satisfying.

Naren was here last week and all 4 of us ate until we practically burst, saw movies, and shopped more than Scott and I have in the last 5 months :).  It was nice to spend time with both boys: they are intelligent and opinionated and candid, and are grand to listen to.

Hope you have fine times of your own.

Unw -