Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Vellore So Far

Today I am going to the tailor to pick up the first of my "suitings" which has been made for me. I hope to god they fit. The tailor did have to stretch quite a lot to get the tape round me. Also the material is lovely breezy cotton which will probably shrink as soon as it touches water, which as you can imagine will be as soon as it comes into contact with my body.

Yesterday, I spent the morning packing for my two week sojourn in Vellore, which was very strange. I packed almost everything but left a few things behind in my room to stake my claim on it. I then cadged a lift into Vellore with Dr Stephen who is a vascular surgeon (I don't think they call themselves "Mr" here when they become surgeons). He is a lovely man who spent three years in Adelaide Australia about which he is very interesting. Not least about the wastfulness of the disposible healthcare culture in which we in the west live. He tells me that there are many things which a company will market as single-use which can actually be sterilised/autoclaved and used again. Similarly, he brings lots of equipment which has reached it's sell by date but which is still completely usable, but it is a way of making the company have limitations on their stock and minimising litigation for them. In India however, it has a very useful place amongst people who don't care what the sell by date is as long as it saves their life. It is clear that we are over obsessed with risk reduction in the West and that there is a lot of waste as a result of it.

Sharing the car with us was a young man and his family. The young man was an inpatient at the RUHSA hospital with a kidney infection. Dr Stephen had seen him on the rounds that morning and was concerned about him as he was not improving. In fact, he kept spiking a temperature despite intravenous antibiotics. As a result Dr Stephen felt he should be referred to CMC for further management and investigations. Not having any ambulance service here, he was lucky to be able to squeeze into the back of the airconditioned car with his family (mother and father), all sitting on jump seats in the boot, because otherwise, despite a raging temperature, a canula in his hand and bare feet, he would have had to get on the bus.

In the evening I finally schlepped my rucksack to my new home, and carried it up to the third floor where I am staying. Ulike at RUHSA, I have both corridor mates and a view, see below:
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One of my corridor mates is a new girl like me, she is from Washington, and has just completed her pre-med degree. She has rather sensibly decided to come out to work in India in the hospital, interestingly also with Dr John on his TB program, in order to see whether medicine is for her. I guess it will be a real make or break scenario. It was great fun listening to her youthful enthusiasms, which seem highly focused without any direction, which is a combination only the young can get away with. It rang many bells for me, thinking about all those years ago when I was last here, except she is clearly more organised than I am even now! Funnily enough, it didn't make me feel old and nostalgic, just happy that people still wanted to leap off the diving board into life.

Anyway our bubbly, enthusiastic conversation came to an end as she wanted to go and find some water, having just arrived and having none in. I shut the door and had just pulled down my trousers in preparation for using the western loo - I didn't actually need to go, I just wanted to sit on it and croon - when there was a knock. Clutching my trousers, I opened the door and she was standing outside looking a little distracted.

"I'm feeling a little..." she said as she looked around behind her. I realised that she was about to faint, but unfortunately I couldn't get out of the door (which opens in 2 halves and therefore is very narrow) and hold my trousers up and catch her. She dropped like a stone to the floor banging her head on the concrete. It was horrifying. When she came round, she said, I'm so glad you're here, as you are a doctor. Yes, well, I shan't be putting that little incident on my CV, that's for sure. Luckily, she's totally fine apart from a bump and a bit of a headache.

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