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Thursday, March 09, 2006

Busy, Busy, Busy

As my days here in Vellore dwindle down to a precious few, they get fuller and fuller. There is so much I'd like to get done, and less and less time left to do it. I'm trying, but it sounds as though I may be back in Vellore next winter working away...

I spent the morning at the LCECU putting together a test for the nurses. I had joked about giving them a quiz at our last meeting, which got translated "there will be a test." Yesterday afternoon the head nurse came by and asked for copies of the labor flow chart I had devised for them. This morning they were all carrying it around, and questioning Sara (our Ma'am) about it. Sara and I decided it would be a good thing to do a test, so tomorrow I will be quizzing them about labor management.

Then Kiruba and I scanned our new OBs. We have been scanning all of them, partly as practice for her, and partly because we think it will be a good thing for all of our patients to have an EDC established as early as possible. We've found new features on t he scan machine (a beautiful, new GE unit that Sara had gotten some Californian millionaires to donate) every time we've used it. We can now find all of our calculated results (the gestational age based on BPD and femur length), and even scroll through the images, but we still haven't figured out how to do a circumference, or how to save results. It was too hectic to really puzzle it out today, but we have a couple of sessions left to do so.

We've been showing the patients their babies, something they really enjoy. We're not allowed, by law, to tell them the gender of the baby; selective abortion for gender is a problem in India, and the male-female ratios have gotten skewed. There are, based on the expected population ratio, a half a million missing women in India; which means a lot of lonely bachelors in years to come. Maybe then baby girls will be valued more.

Have I mentioned how hot it is in Vellore? Well, it still is. At least the power cuts today were only momentary.

We spent a bit of time in the ANC, but it was mostly scanning today. We did cut the scanning short because there was a social event to attend. Sara had gotten a very generous donation to LCECU from a local family, the owners of Thirumai Chemicals in Ranipet, and they were making the official presentation today. The reception began in the library, where we had a prayer, a welcome from Dr. George Chandy (the head of CMC and, it seems, head gardener), and then a short history of the LCECU.

Our donors then spoke. Mr. R Sampath told us about his family's long history of philanthropy (they started and run several schools and colleges) and their history with and appreciation for CMCH.

His wife, Booma Parthasarathy, then spoke, and told us of how impressed she had been when she first visited LCECU and saw the work it was doing for the local community.

Our community volunteers, who speak no english, then put on a show. As Sara read their script, they acted for us––first scenes of Vellore (the fort and temple,

the prison, CMCH

and the untouchables) and then showed us, through mime, the work they do helping handicapped people function in society, through physical therapy, adaptations, and even "innovative use of a pillow"

They gave examples of the handicapped helping each other––a blind woman and a crippled one helping each other move around, and two women with stiff arms feeding each other:

Two patients spoke as well––Murugan, who is blind, and Rani, who had been severely injured but recovered thanks to therapy and exercise.

This was followed, of course, by drinks and snacks. Sara had brought out photos documenting the recent history of LCECU, and Ingrid and Sashi had put them onto posterboard. These were displayed for everyone to see, along with other educational posters staff had made. It was a lovely evening.

Sarah with our donors


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