Hot in India
Got a few updates from India. It has been a busy couple of weeks at C.M.C. I have been all over the place. I don’t think I have left one department untouched. This last week I was in the accounts department (which they were confused why a nurse wanted to be in the accounts dept.), the mental health center, and Karigiri.
I spent the day in accounts to try and get a feel for how much services cost and how much staff gets paid at CMC. I was also interested in learning how much the hospital gave away in concessions to the poor. Well I got all of my answers. It turns out that if I would have broken my leg in India it would have cost me about three thousand including airfare. The director was adamant that next time I need medical care; I should simply come to C.M.C. and get it done. He said he can even run my insurance card and I wouldn’t have to pay anything; how bout that for flattening of the world, right Zach. I have an appointment at the Schell Ophthalmology Hospital next Wednesday to have a routine eye exam and get a prescription for contact lenses. All costing me about 350 Rs, about 7 dollars! I would most definitely come to CMC for medical care, I have complete confidence in the institution.
The day in the mental health center was a very interesting day as well. I started off the day by seeing three Electro Convulsion Therapy treatments. A treatment that is not used quite as much in the States anymore; but is still very much apart of the medical regimen at CMC. They have a very much family oriented mental health system. Indian families still operate as joint family systems. Where many of times you will have grandparents, children, Aunts and Uncles living in the same house or very close by. It is a really beautiful thing actually. A family member is with the client every hour of the day while admitted at the M.H.C. They are actively involved with care and being taught how to take care of their loved one once home. The average stay is 6 week to 3 months; a time period I think is adequate to considerably help someone with a mental illness. Unlike the U.S. where you might get a week inpatient stay if you are lucky.
Today I was at Karigiri. This place was phenomenal! It is a hospital about 20 km away from the main hospital that was started to treat and research leprosy patients. The hospital broke ground in 1952; behind a vision from a dermatologist named Dr. Cochrane and an orthopedic surgeon named Dr. Paul Brand. Two men that saw the pressing need to research this disease that was devastating both physically and psychologically to its sufferers. They have a very high tech molecular biology research center here with research going on continuously; they are in partnership with Louisiana State University. They also boast a rubber mill (much of the machinery was donated by USAID) to produce a special micro particle rubber used to engineer shoes and prosthetics, which protect leprosy patient’s anesthetic extremities. The technology has also been used to treat diabetic ulcers. Amazing experience!
Next is on to the Kerala trip last weekend; we covered quite a distance in a long weekend. First we took an overnight train to Cochin, one of the largest cities in Kerala. The monsoon was in full effect. The first day we traveled to Allepey and watched the Indian go crazy for the annual snake boat race. You would have thought it was NASCAR or something. An experience non-the-less. The next day we went by boat through the backwaters of Kerala. It was rainy the entire day.
I traveled again with Uli the German doctor, Sagier a doctor from Cambridge, and we picked up Amit along the way, an Israeli who was traveling alone on holiday to get away from the conflict in her home country. This was a great learning experience for me. We were able to all talk about the situation between Lebanon and Israel and really get a first hand account of the conflict. Not what is fed to us by CNN or BBC World. Sagier was from a Muslim background so we got his insights and opinions as well. Definitely a learning experience!
Anyways, then Uli and I broke off and went by bus to Kanyakumari, the southern most tip of India; where the Bay of Bengal, the Indian Ocean, and the Arabian Sea meet. There is a monument and a statue to the great Tamil Poet, Thiruvalluvar, which stood 130 feet tall. This was also a disaster site where the Tsunami came through, killing 1000 people in the area. A resident said that the wave was at the level of the feet of the statue, unbelievable.
We then went to Varkala beach just in time for the sunset. Only thing that would have made this better would have been if Sarah was here. We ate fresh tuna and prawn which were wonderful. We also ran into a guy from France who was traveling alone, since his girlfriend had to leave early. His English was good and we had a great conversation. I have learned so much this trip about the world. Running into people from around the world and getting to talk to them about their lives wherever they are from has been brilliant. From there we went back to Cochin and boarded an overnight train to Vellore, to be back to CMC in the morning.
I put a few pictures of the food here, by request. No Camiadas...thankfully. I am getting very proficient with my using my hand as a utensil. Not the left one though because it is your poop hand (ha ha). You were right, Dr. Mani, the food here would be different. I have for the most part really enjoyed it though.
Sorry it was so long, if it is boring just let me know.