Thursday, September 24, 2015

Joy in the mourning!

KT and Helen were here for a day visiting.I was overjoyed to know that they had made a detour from Nagpur to come down to Lakhnadon albeit briefly .They must have been here for three hours at the most but it was a time of immense blessing.As always they poured out themselves for the people they briefly met.They could have but one meal and Rajkumari,our bai insisted she wanted to be the one to host them so I reluctantly agreed.
The time went by so easily and I did not even realise how it went by because my comfort level with them is high.
Seeing them relate with the class four staffs was immensely encouraging.They specifically asked for Rita Bai ,the lady who keeps the campus clean.She came with her husband and they had stories gallore from the times gone by.We get a glimpse of mission as it should be.Involvement in the lives of people who God places in our plate and to think He will ask us for an account.
Often we become so busy with things that have to be done that we have no time for the person and people who get it done when infact that is perhaps the most important part of the ministry the Lord has put us there for.People came up to me specifically to tell me how KT and Helen had invested in their lives to make that crucial difference when it mattered.
Thank you Lord for these saints of God,may their tribe increase amidst us.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Bidding farewell to Kamla and Lata in a span of 12 hours.

Lata and Kamla were two strong ladies I came to know in my short span of ministry in Lakhnadon .
Lata had been an obstetrician here for a little less than a decade.She and her husband left the ministry for a private practise nearby.She had a strong tie with the hospital.She came from a hindu background so called the hospital her home.When I was first asked to join the ministry here in Lakhnadon she was one of the person here to fill in during the transition.When I came to Lakhnadon,the ladies around fondly remembered her and kept asking after her.
Lata reiterated my belief that ladies are made of a stern stuff.She was a strong person and a brave girl to boot.While she gasped for breath within the BIPAP mask one youngster breezily entered the ICU and asked me,'Are you her sister?'I said 'Yes' and Lata smiled through her struggling gasps.
Kamla was a bright nurse who was full of life.She was a friend in many ways.Everytime I saw her she had her brilliant smile and I found her extremely resourceful.Anytime we wanted something done from Chappara we could always count on her .She would not dissappoint.One thing that touched me about her was that whenever she brought ANC patients for delivary from Chappara she would stay awake with the patient the whole night ,deliver the baby and then go for her duty bright and chirpy.She had her idiosyncracies but I always took it all with a pinch of salt because in a sense I was fond of her.For instance there was a time when one of the hospital vehicles were going on an auction .I received a phonecall from her saying that her husband was putting in his papers for the auction and could I make sure that he got it.I literally had my mouth open when I heard that . I explained to her that it would not work that way and it would go as per norms .
Next time we met there was no awkwardness.I always used to tease her about her dressing ,she looked after herself well.
The last time I met her was when Dr Ann Thyle visited with the idea of starting palliative care service in lakhnadon.We really thought she could be the point person and she had a list of twenty stroke patients from around Chappara.I called her to talk to her about it and the first thing she said was,'My heart fills with joy whenever you remember and call ...' I took it to be her normal chirpy way of greeting me.
That was how we were.Little did I realise that, that was the last image I would carry of her .I left for Delhi for some training and when I came back my colleagues updated me about how she had been suffering from fever and cold but was not mantaining saturation with breathlessness and so since I was not around they reffered her to Jabalpur.By the time I saw her she was knocked out on invasive ventilation.She never came out of that .
One other lasting image this lady kept for me was the sight of a poor man with a tattered clothes standing in a corner and weeping away during the funeral .I was deeply touched and keeping an eye on the person , later I realised he was the local 'dom' or the person who  burns the dead bodies in the crematorium by the river side.
That was one of the biggest testimonies of the life lived ,I have seen in a while.

Bidding farewell to Lata and Kamla in a day.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Learning to teach Alzebra.

I requested Max our junior doctor to help the children of our class four staffs with their school work post-duty hours and he was only too happy to oblige so all the little boys who live in the nearby villages come to him.Savitri Bai was not around when we started doing this so when I caught up with her I told her that if her son needed help with schoolwork doctor Max was open to helping him.
She immediately asked what about my daughters?They were in classes nine and eight and apparently has problems with maths and english.So I told her to send them over to me.
The older kid came with her maths text with a homework given by her teacher to solve three questions.
I had not anticipated that maths would be taught in hindi.Multiple xs and ys stared at me and I had no idea about what they wanted us to do with it.I asked for help from one of the nurses who had sat through a hindi medium and she was as blank.i wondered what the children would do with the xs and ys in their life later.
The child was clutching onto another book and then I realised she had a guide with her.I read the guide and then realised the sum was teaching her simple logic and the children had no idea about how the logic worked.
I had to deconstruct the sum and start .It is just the first day.
I am learning to learn as much as I am learning to teach.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Driving to the station..

I got talking to a taxi driver ,a sikh gentleman who has ferried around a lot of my kiths and kins in the past and so seems to have a vague sketch of the family line ,that's what I got to know this time.Two days of ferrying to Gurgaon was done in silence ,I had exams to attend to and so must have looked forbidding.On my final journey to the station he suddenly got chatty.He seems to have gathered I am a doctor so he invited me to start a hospital and a school in his village,apparently in Haryana and Punjab border with the nearest good school or a hospital being some sixty kilometres away.He said the folks in his village could not send girls to school because it was very far away.
He had a lot to say about Punjab and his sikh religion.According to him he is a pure sikh so avoids meat and alcohol.Most of his free time is spent helping out in a langer preparing food for the poor of Delhi.He talked about the festivals they celebrate ,how they open stalls all over the gurdwara.
In the meantime some beggars came by pleading through the window.He was of the opinion that it was their way of thinking that was wrong ,even if they had enough of everything they would continue to do what they were doing.
'In our Punjab' was what he said  'even the sheds where animals are kept are squeeky clean and our cows enjoy fans and coolers during hot season so knowing that they are loved they produce a lot of milk.Even labourers who come to help during harvest season know that they will get enough and more to eat in Punjab.No landowner will keep an account of what his labourers are eating.They pick up whole sacks of wheat flour and give it to the workers'. I believed him .
Then he asked me if I had been to a gurdwara ,when I said 'yes, in Dehradun' he immediately quipped 'Paonta Sahib'.He asked me if I went to a temple,when I said ,'I am a christian ' he said ,'oh!'.
Then he gave me another monologue on how in the recent past a young Father(priest)from Dehradun had hired his taxi for a whole day with another guest and at the end of the day had taken all of them for a dinner.
During dinner the Father had offered him 'hard drinks' saying it was allright for them to drink alcohol,but he being a pure sikh had declined politely.Then in the same breath he said the Father tipped him Rs 500 and he had kept it in his purse because someone had told him that when Fathers gift anyone anything  one should keep it  ,it would bring blessings.He asked me if it was true?
Is this how normal people make a conversation or am I missing something in life?
Kudos to the Punjab da putra I remember everything he said.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015


Last but one week has been crazy to say the least.Everything seems to be moving at frantic pace and I am frankly out of breath and feel like I am walking on cloud.I was in Delhi for my BLS and ACLS accredition by the American Heart Association.I had a first day which was a challenge and second and third day went in a haze with a terrible migraine but things we do instinctively by now does not need too much of effort and by God's grace I cleared it so now I am officially allowed to resusciate patients.In the meantime visited Lata in Stephens who was on a CPAP struggling for breath and barely mantaining saturation.One thing that struck me was she was a brave girl ,I guess having three children below the age of fifteen makes you brave ,every effort was a struggle and yet she was at it looking after herself,acknowledging our prayers ,responding to our scarce queries.Apart from praying with her all I could manage was to express my appreciation of how brave she was and how people were praying for her.
Now ,as I write this she has had a respiratory arrest and is on a ventilator.
I made the journey back to Lakhnadon and was immediately informed about one of our staffs whose pneumonia had taken a turn for the worse and had been reffered to Jabalpur.She was on a ventilator and they were suspecting swine flu.In the meantime our administrator has been transferred to Utraulla .
In between spurts of communication from critical patients we continue with our work of trying to save patients and we continue to pray.
It  makes us realise how fragile our lives are.
My beautiful neice tied the knot on my sister's birthday which is the 12th of September in faraway Sydney.We made do with the snaps that came through.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Life's little surprises....

You can get surprised by life .Just the other day I had this racking headache.Mosquitoes are having a field-day biting us every now and then.In between looking after guests,running the hospital ,clinics I hastily gave blood in the lab for infective work up.The reports surprised me suddenly with a hemoglobin of 9.6.The lab person checked it twice because he knows  I mantain a steady 12gm always.I pushed aside the result from my mind because I was actually resuscitating a patient then.All work done,at midnight, I remembered I better go and check my reports.It showed significantly low mcv and mch.It was definately iron defficiency anaemia but it was through a relatively short period of two months.To my knowledge I had not bled anywhere,I could have been malnutrioned or have a hookworm.I am keeping the safer options and treading carefully.I have started taking anti-helmenthics and iron syrup ,if it persists I  will happily go for scopies.
But I am ready for anything.