Back In Delhi

July 7th, 2007 by INMED
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The internet went down in the entire state of Bihar for nearly two weeks.  It just came up again now that I’m in Delhi.  I got to eat McDonald’s today. I took the girl that picked me up at the station for a feast.  The girl taking the order was laughing at us because I just kept ordering so much food. I’m so sick of rice. No more for a while.  You can only have so much rice and mangos.  Seriously.


Anyway, I’m safe in Delhi, staying at the YMCA again.  Some guy in the park proposed to me and started singing about how he loves me. Don’t worry Mom!  🙂  I already miss my new friends from the hospital.  They all took off work to see me off and Rimi came with me to the train station. I cried when she left. It’s been so long since I got to write home and so much happens every day that I don’t even know where to start to catch up. There’s one case that’s really been stuck in my head the past week. Pawa Kumar-botulism poisoning. They tried to send him to patna, but on the way, they didn’t use the ambu bag properly and had to turn around because he had a pneumothorax.  His eyes are opening now which is a good sign, but he’s still got such a poor prognosis and now a collapsed lung on top of it.  The staff is getting frustrated with the father b/c they keep explaining the poor prognosis to him and he won’t give up and keeps on them. It’s very sad. I finally got to see the father the other day.  He’s so sad and exhausted.  Of course he doesn’t want/can’t accept what they’re trying to tell him.  I’m exhausted from the train ride and the feast and the running away from the crazy man, so I’m going to get off here and go to my room and sleep like rip van winkle for awhile.

Community Health Adventures

June 26th, 2007 by INMED
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I’ve been dying to share some things with you. It seems way too long since I last wrote. A lot has happened in the past week or so. I went out to see what the community health programs are doing. One group teaches midwives safer practices, a skill here that’s passed down generationally with no formal training.  I think maybe I told you about this already, but women are so ignorant about deliveries.  It’s a really good target to reduce maternal deaths.


There’s also a physical therapy team and these guys are so cute!  They’ve trained two or three guys on exercises to do with disabled kids and they go out on their motorbikes to visit each kid weekly.  The families are generally very receptive.  It’s really important to motivate the family to take interest in their kids; otherwise, it just doesn’t work. On my last trip to the community I remember the last two houses clearly. The first was such a cute baby!  Dipa.  She’s a cerebral palsy patient. Once they started coming out and made some progress with her the family got so excited.  When I was there, the grandpa came running and couldn’t wait to show us that she could stand by herself.  They work with her every day and are so proud of her.  I couldn’t wait to find a connection that worked so I could write home about the poster child for physical therapy success.  Then I got to the next house.  The girl that we had come to visit died four days before.  I stood there like a total intruder, a foreigner in the wrong place at the wrong time. Even if I’d known the language, I wouldn’t have known what to say. I wanted to cry with them.


I spent the first part of this week in OB/GYN.  One patient that came in a few days ago is still haunting me.  Asha Devi (everyone here is either a Devi or a Khatoon).  Anyway, she’s 20 years old, married, 30 weeks pregnant with her husband’s child, and her chart reads, in broken English, ‘wants to abortion’.  Dr. Anand counseled her for a long time and gave her a track about Christianity.  She cried and cried.  It was obvious that she doesn’t want an abortion.  I learned something new about the culture here. Girls are married off as early as 13, but they don’t join their husbands until later; they continue to live with their families for some time.  When they do come together, there’s a ceremony and until then they are not supposed to consumate the marriage.  They hadn’t had their ceremony yet.  It’s so sad. She’s so far a long.   The next president of India may be a woman. Things may be changing for the better!


Now that I’ve written a novel for you, it hit me yesterday that I’ll be coming home soon.  I’m going to miss Raxaul.  At the same time, I’m really excited to come home again with a new appreciation for the things I’ve taken for granted.  Even here, I think I take things for granted, like electricity and food and showers and toilets, things that aren’t an issue for us in the hospital compound, but are hard to come by on the outside.

Good Things Going On

June 16th, 2007 by INMED
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Hello again!  The trials was an emotionally exhausting day.  The kids here are often literally at death’s door before they’re brought in.  And so much effort goes into reviving babies that are practically dead, that well babies don’t get the attention they need and crash too.  Please pray for 10 year old Ajay Kumar.  He was brought here and abandoned.  I met him two days ago wondering around the children’s ward with tennis balls in his pockets, a very sweet and innocent boy.  Today he is in ICU.  It’s shocking to see how quickly kids go here.  I think I’ve fallen in love with this one.  I wish I could adopt him.  He’s so innocent and so alone, the story of a lot of kids here, neglected until they’re practically dead.


The woman that I mentioned that was poisoned is still in the ICU. Today when I went in to check on Ajay, she was having a psychotic episode due to the drugs she was given (I’m told that this was actually a good thing, a sign that the drugs are working), anyway, she latched on to me and wouldn’t let go, screaming Didi Didi! (Sister, Sister!) and a bunch of other things I didn’t understand.  I tried to find out what she was saying, but was only told that she had gone mad. She seemed terrified.  I felt as if she was begging for someone to save her.  I asked Dr. Baby last night what will happen to her.  She said that in these cases, they are stabilized and they go away smilingly back to the families that poisoned them.  There’s not much else to do since there aren’t really any enforcements for women’s protection.  It’s very sad and scary for these women.


On a less depressing note, I ventured out yesterday with Sofia for an adventure outside the compound.  We walked over to a lepor colony about 15 minutes from here.  I have to give them credit. They’re doing well for themselves there.  They’ve created their own little society. They raise chickens and cows, weave their own fabric, and sell it all. They’ve created their own local economy.  Each family has a house with two rooms and a kitchen.  It’s actually very impressive, the cleanest most civilized corner I’ve seen in Raxaul so far, by far. It’s run by catholics and funded completely by a source in Canada.


There really are good things going on.  It’s just hard to focus on the happy cases when there are cases like Ajay’s.  He was begging an old woman the other day, calling her grandmother, to stay with him.  I’ll have some more happy stories for you next week, I promise!  In the meantime, please keep these kids in your thoughts and prayers.  There’s a baby in the nursery whose mother died during delivery; we don’t know if the family will take him or not.  He’s such a sweet baby, number two on my ‘want to adopt’ list.

Day 1 In Paediatrics.

June 11th, 2007 by INMED
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We started the morning rounds in the ICU this morning. I told you about a young man whose family had poisoned him. Now there is a young woman in the ICU, also for poisoning from her family. This seems to be fairly common and very sad. I saw a baby die today. He had meningitis and had appeared to be doing much better this morning. I watched uselessly as Dr. Rimi tried to revive him this afternoon. They have very high death rates here.


I was reading in the ‘Hindustan Times’ paper yesterday. India finally came out with its own statistics about their HIV statistics and how they’re “only” (it actually said ONLY) 3 million and something, not the 5 million and something that came out in the UNAIDS report. I wonder how much time and energy and funding was poured into this report.


I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed for several reasons. Obviously, this is nothing like anything I’ll see in the US. On top of the sheer intensity of the cases and the people, not understanding their language is stressful. It’s exhausting even to talk with the doctors because of their accents and because they are so soft spoken. I feel very foreign here and I’m staying in the guest house alone. They tell me that there are usually other students, but for now I am the only one, so it’s a bit lonely, especially since there isn’t much to do outside of work. I’m realizing how much I have to learn too, also exhausting, but a good thing. I think I’ll leave here with a renewed focus. There’s so much to learn and review. I’m wishing I had my text books with me. I’m learning so much about medicine and life. Keep me in your thoughts and prayers.

Arrived At Duncan Hospital

June 6th, 2007 by INMED
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I’m sorry. Did I say 20 hour train ride? I meant 27! It was a long, crowded time to go without hearing any English. The people were very hospitable even on the train. I was offered many cups of chai and begged to try their Indian sweets and samosas. Bihar is good so far. I got in last night.


Today has been a general orientation of the campus, which is actually much more impressive than I had expected. There’s a lot going on here. I’m going to spend the rest of the week in the surgical ward, next week in pediatrics, the next week in the community health projects, and some time in OB/GYN and ophthomology as well, and then settle in wherever I’m most interested after that. I’ve already seen quite a bit just wandering around today. I’m very glad I was delayed in Delhi a couple of extra days. It gave me a little extra time to absorb some of the cultural norms and practices.


I think empowering and educating women will have a lot to do with improving the future of these people. This is a culture where children and women are very dependent on men. If a woman does not have a father or a husband or a son to take care of her, she is pretty much powerless here. It will be interesting to see how they percieve me. Anyway, on a lighter note, the cook here is notoriously grumpy. I was warned well in advance. I’m quite pleased though. He’s either smiling at me or laughing at me, but either way, at least he’s not being surly. I’ve already been invited to two houses for tea. The first was an eccentric old man who is a patient here. Neither one of us understand a thing the other is saying, but we were thoroughly entertained with each other. The second was Dr. Helen, an optholomologist here. I’m excited to meet with her. She is the senior doctor here, having been here for 30 years. Enough yammering though. I must go have some tea before the 6:00 faculty meeting.


June 1st, 2007 by INMED
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Namaste! (It means hello AND goodbye!) – I just wanted to let everybody know that I am in New Delhi, safe and sound. I am being well looked after by a pastor’s wife (Zarema) here. Last night and tonight I am at the YMCA (they’re everywhere) and it’s actually a very nice hostel. The next two nights I’ll spend at Zarema’s house, and then she’ll load me onto the train to Raxaul. She’s done very well so far at easing me into this chaotic culture, so well that it’s starting already to seem a bit less chaotic.


Life here is different in many ways, but at the root of it all we don’t seem so different after all. I saw my life flash before me in the taxi..several times..but alas, they really do seem to have driving insanely down to an art form. I went dress shopping today, a bit of an adventure in itself. The market is an interesting place. It’s full of color and life, but at the same time, you see many beggars and homeless people here.


On a happier note, I woke up to something much better than an alarm clock. At 5:00am it sounds like a tropical jungle outside. There was a man in the courtyard mocking one of the louder birds. I found it quite entertaining. So! Long story short, I am here and safe and already learning a lot. Thank you for your prayers…I’ll need them as long as there are taxis in this country 😉

Introducing Myself

May 31st, 2007 by INMED
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hicks_jennyHello! My name is Jenny Hicks. I am a medical student at Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine, and I’m starting my INMED service-learning experience with Emmanuel Hospital Association at Duncan Hospital in India beginning in June 2007.