Monday, August 15, 2016

In my weakness you take my hand and lead me on.

Every once in a while in my responsibilities I feel extremely over-whelmed and there are times when you feel out of your depths and unable to move further.This has happened to me in the past.During my tenure in Satbarwa,I used to have a group of officers around me who used to literally carry me.It was a team ,earnest and never questioned me but stood through times when I felt it was just too much.I have often felt like that in Lakhnadon.Yesterday was one such night.The government hospital was all into mucking up simple cases and pushing them into our hospital.At one o'clock at night one previous caeserian section case given a trial labour and failed was pushed into the casualty.Much like any other caeserian case we posted her.The bystanders were insistant that she be steralised.We started the surgery well enough with an inexperienced assistant.Her haomoglobin was all of 7.5gm percent.She was bleeding from all over and inspite of all our efforts medically even after she was sutured up one corner would just not stop oozing.It was serious oozing.We finished three vicryls trying to stop the bleed ,but to no avail.I had to wake Divya up,get Harshlata to scrub and we decided to do a sub-total hysterectomy.We asked the bystanders to give blood,none of them were compatible.
We continued with the surgery with my able assistants.
By the time we were done it was five in the morning.By God's grace the lady coped very well inspite of less blood.The baby whom we were much concerned about because the foetal heart rate when the mother presented was below eighty was hale and hearty and cried vigourously at birth. I lost heart so many times during the surgery.These stellar ladies  quietly by their presence,just carried me along.
Thank you Lord Jesus for these blessings.
As I write this ,'Good shepherd of my my weakness you take my hand and lead me on' ..the Bethel group sings.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

The shepherd's heart.

I was dreading the last three days in the hospital with its unpredictability in the patient load.The last month or so have been hectic to say the least.I had allowed one of my juniors to take the much deserved leave for ten days and Divya was in her community stint.I could always call her if I needed her but I was alone for all practical purposes.Even when three of us were there,every evening I would come home by eight or so and I was severely sleep deprived.Whenever I could I would catch up.
By God's grace in the last three days,I could actually fill in on my sleep except for sunday when I was at it the day and the whole night.On fifteenth August I could get to my bed only at six in the morning.
On thirteenth of August evening as usual I came back from work at five and then without wasting time I decided to catch some sleep before I got the next call.
At seven forty sharp I got woken up by a spiritual nudge and an intense pressure to pray for Djongu.
Djongu is the hill opposite my hometown ,the place where my erstwhile people the lepchas live.I knew there was somekind of landslide going on but I thought it was the usual monsoon hullobullo that takes place in the hills.Lepchas are simple people,animists by faith and they worship nature in it's manifold forms.I was up wide awake and wondered why but immediately did what was bid.
At seven fifty I got a message from my friend Sheba that her father in law uncle Ray had been raised up in glory.
Now I had been accompanying the Eichers in my prayers throughout the journey and so the first question that came to my thought was how come the nudge was not prayer for them especially when they were going through that momentous event just at that exact time.Why Djongu?
I went back to the net to get an update and realized that the landslide in the area was serious and the people were actually being evacuated and shifted to safe areas.
More than that it was the heart of the shepherd that left the ninetynine sheep in the fold to go after the hundredth that was lost.I am sure uncle Ray would have wanted me to do the same too.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Coming through.

In my short time in the new region where I have worked I have wondered often how people meander about the paraphenalia with all it's implications to be effective in their ministries.We know they are effective because we see the fruits.Everytime our goodman came to the out-patient he always had a most wretched patient brought in for medication.It would be a destitute,a lunatic,a schizophrenic.Everytime he would have a positive report about the well-being of the patients often attributed to prayers.
One day he was in the out-patient giving us an update about his work.I had had a busy night and the day was busy.I was impatient but was trying my best to curb my baser instincts and practise politeness.Suddenly a gentleman entered the out-patient with another patient who had fever.
Our man was greeted with effusive  enthusiasm.When the patient had been dealt with and the duo left ,our good man shared how he knew this gentleman.Apparently he was one of those village practitioners.He had heard of our good man and therefore had one day come searching for him.His son who was apparently well qualified was not landing a job so he wanted our man to pray for him.Our goodman  put it in simple words.We prayed and he not only got a job but also came first in the interview.I was deeply touched and reminded of the three men in the book of Daniel who were put through fire and how Nebuchddnezzar saw the fourth man ,'the son of man ' is how he puts it.
I have often wondered how these good men and women were getting through fire unscathed in the field . I realised that 'the Lion of Judah ' was coming through for them .

Sunday, July 31, 2016

The widow's mite.

One busy out-patient morning I found Max examining one tribal lady with a high grade fever who looked toxic.In the passing ,I told Max,just keep her in the wards for the day till her fever subsides and then she can go home in the evening with her family.I became busy with other patients.When we went for rounds in the evening at around five ,she was sitting up in bed.Her husband was nowhere around.
When I asked after her husband she told us that he had gone home and had not returned.She had not eaten her lunch so I requested Geeta Bai to give her some food from the mess which she promptly did.I was on duty that night and it was a busy duty.I did not get a wink of sleep and so missed the morning rounds.Suddenly mid-morning the lady and her husband with a little kid bounced into my out-patient.The lady was very excited about the fact that we had fed her and looked after her and was narrating it to her husband.
The bill had gone up to Rs 2000  .The husband did not have a single ruppee on him .He excused himself saying that his kid would not let him alone so he could not make it to collect his wife the previous day.So we wrote off the bill seeing that he had paid four hundred ruppees for the medications on arrival.Both the husband and wife seemed a little short on attention.
Half and hour later much to our amusement,the husband entered my OPD and pushed a hundred ruppees note towards me.
This is a common phenomenon amongst the poor.
A few weeks ago we laboured with a young girl who was brought into the emergency unconcious with a high grade fever and a haemoglobin of 2 gm.The bystanders quietly arranged for blood.Seema regained conciousness the next morning but rapidly went into ARDS.We put her on high flow oxygen,gave the bystanders a bad prognosis but by God's grace she started making a dramatic recovery from the fouth day.
To cut long story short, she was discharged in another day or two with oral medications.A fortnight later they came for a follow up visit.Both the mother and daughter seemed extremely grateful .After examining her I had just bid her farewell when her mother caught hold of my hand .I thought she was going to shake it but I realised she had slipped a fifty ruppees note into my hand.I thanked them for the money and explained why I could not take it.They told me they would come again just like that, to see me.
Another time an extremely poor man slipped a ten ruppees note to me to express his gratitude.
We are so grateful to God that the poor come to us.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

This and that!

It has been a month of activity in various forms.It is raining cats and dogs.Thank God for that.
The flowers are blooming bravely through the rains.I am enjoying spending time with the plants in the morning.I remember trying drip irrigation for my roses through the summer heat.The plants have survived so many summers and brought so much of joy to our hearts everytime it beats the heat to brighten the paraphernalia and our days.
The hospital has never been so busy.We had almost ninety percent occupancy for a day or two and we also had some very sick patients.There were times when I have murmered ,'Oh Lord when will it end ' only to guiltily ask for the Lord's forgiveness for we have prayed for patients and He has sent them .
My juniors always tease me about how various very sick patients seem to respond only to my queries about their health during the rounds.One palliative care patient with stroke would start weeping as soon as I started talking to him and gradually as he recovered and started talking, he graciously mumbled that he felt nice talking to me.Divya ,keen and observant ,told me ',actually mam, you are the only one who talks to them'.
Now, why do I take pains to talk to these apparently non-functional patients?
The credit for it goes to a teacher I had in my post-graduate studies,Dr Luke Mathew.
In the high action ACU in ODC with Dr Luke trying to feed us with all the latest medical information and keeping us updated with the facts and figures,one afternoon, he called us altogether for a chat and made one of the visitng interns from the US read an article aloud to all of us.
I ,for one, can never forget that article.
The article was a write up on the various struggles, besides the apparent medical issue ,a patient faces when they become indisposed.I think there is a chapter in Harrison on it,I never read it and I have never suffered because of it.
Take for instance a middle aged man ,incharge of the family,suddenly having a stroke.
He could be the head of the family making all the decisions and overnight everything  changes.He has to depend on everybody else for everything.He has uncertainities about the finances,uncertanities about the family support .Suddenly he has no control over his family life ,he finds everyone else making decisions for him,what he wll eat,what he will wear,which doctor he will see ,etc.
To top it all,noone seems to address him directly anymore.Everyone seems to talk over him and about him '.He is de-humanized in a way.
Our Indian medical system do not have ethics and patient rights as an important curriculum.
Even if it is a curriculum in any of the elite institutions I, for one, have never heard of any doctor being taken to task for such insensitivities unless the patient has a voice .
Talking of the rights of the marginilised we have a long way to go...
I am greatful for all the great teachers who have taught me things I carry deep within me as a legacy and I deem these the most precious lessons I have learnt..

Sunday, July 3, 2016


It's five in the morning.I pull my deck chair to the verandah of my quarter to take in the cool ,fresh monsoon air of the morning.I tilt my head to listen to the sound of the nature,the bird in earnest conversation,the rustle of the leaves,dew-drops quietly tiptoeing to settle into the grass in the lawn,the lone birdling singing away to glory.My senses alert, I do not take it for granted anymore.It has been some time since I have been able to really listen ,to the nature beyond the voices of my own head and the manyfold noises of the paraphenalia and the constant tinnitus in my left ear.
It is a beautiful morning ,it is a beautiful day and it is a beautiful life.So much to be thankful to God for.
We are working towards a women's workshop in August in Lakhnadon ."Women-a method of God"-Two stellar ladies Mrs Renuka Sanghi and Mrs Waghmare have agreed to guide us through various topics.We are sincerely praying for the right candidates to attend the conference.
God just wants us to pray.In the cacophony that surrounds us, he wants us to retreat to that sanctum sanctorium, to commune with the Holy of Holies .To listen to Him...Whatever it takes for Him to get our attention.
May our steps be firm ,may our ground be the solid Rock ,may our beacon be the Eternal Light and may Christ come forth in glory to stand before us in all that we say and do because we have listened.
If so, then 'If Christ be for us who can be against us?...'

Monday, June 27, 2016

The Quiet place.

Every once in a while you want to carry on through the corridor ,stroddle the two steps onto the bridge but stop just ten yards before the cafeteria into a heavy door on the wall which reads ‘Quiet room’.In the action filled acute medicine setting it helps to spend a portion of your lunch break beyond that wooden door.It is a chapel of sorts,a room to be exact.Carpetted but with very sparse furniture.A lectern with a bible,a side table which holds church addresses,brochures for church activities,small booklets on various subjects like bereivement,etc.
As you scour the place what really strikes you is the board .It has flaps of tiny hand-written prayer requests,cards ..people who have just poured their hearts out to ‘you will not believe ,who?’.It is letters to Jesus.
One of them reads , ‘Dear Lord Jesus,please be with my eighty year old mother who is having a hip replacement.She has never been to a hospital before.Please look after her and help her to heal.’Sam
Another one reads,’Dear Jesus,I have lost my son John to a road traffic accident and it is extremely difficult for me and especially my wife to understand why this has happened.Please help us as we go through this sad time.Please help my mother who is devastated by this loss.I feel helpless.’James Thomas.
‘Dear Jesus,my wife and I have been blessed with a tiny baby girl who decided to be born premature.She is fighting to breathe well and in an incubator.Please keep her safe. Love Jerry.
Dear Jesus,I want to thank you for blessing my sister with a lovely baby girl.I love U.Tabitha .
Then there are others addressed to God.
Dear God ,I lost my temper with the staff in the ward no thought they were careless in the way they handled my son’s linen.Please help me not to get angry with them and help me to forgive them.I am sorry.Rita.
Dear God ,Thank you,thank you thank much........for looking after Herbert through the difficult surgery.Muah .....Liz.
I kneel down on the carpet and say a prayer for Liz,Rita,Tabitha,Jerry,James and Sam.