My friend Sujata has successfully had surgery at Aysha Hosptial, a small hospital in Chennai. We traveled by train here from Bangalore on March 18, and she was admitted two days later. Owned and operated by one family, the hospital only can house about 75 patients.
Many of the staff have been here since it opened in 1985, which is a testimony to the employers and their mission. We have been amazed by the attentiveness and cheerfulness and talent of all workers...nurses, doctors, orderlies, sweepers and more. Every two hours, Sujata has her blood pressure monitored, without fail. The bathroom and floor are cleaned twice a day!
It is my privilege and honor to be staying in the room on a small cot as her nursing assistant. This arrangement allows me to be present for any of her needs. At this moment, I am using an internet cafe next to the hospital, while the nurses give her a sponge bath. She will change her gown, putting on one of the beautiful cotton nighties she has made for this occasion. Today, after three days of no food, she will have her first idli, like a spongy small pancake, made of ground rice and legume flour. It is steamed and very easy to digest.
One of my biggest jobs is to take prescriptions to the pharmacy on the first floor to be filled. Rather than supply any of her medicines or medical supplies, the hospital requires the patient buy them throughout their stay, as needed. Conveniently, Sujata's husband Ramana set up an account at the pharmacy, where I can charge items. Some days we have three or four prescriptions to be filled, including IV tubing, pain killers and drips.
Sujata and her family have many many good friends here in Chennai, who have been bringing us food, washing our clothes, providing hot water in the flask for tea, and offering to give me rides wherever I want to go. I keep telling them that I don't want to go anywhere, as my place is with her. When they persist, suggesting I need a break or a meal out, I have been saying, "You can't separate a mother from her newborn, and that is the way I feel." This analogy seems to work!
We will most probably be here through the end of the week, as her recovery takes time after major surgery. As I am able, I will post here. Please remember us and the loving, competent staff of Aysha.
p.s. the computer art here was created by my Vermont friend (who is also a poet and blogmaster!) Morgan Brown. It is entitled "New World," which seems so fitting. Why? Because, following this time in the hospital, Suja will be pain free and full of vitality again, ready to enter her New World of health and wellbeing.