Sunday, June 7, 2015

Case 458

Last year when I was hospitalized because of the rat bite my days were spent laying in a bed, connected to wires and IVs, in a room on the fourth floor of Apollo Gleneagles hospital. I'd lay on my side and stare out the window. By then, since it was the end of June, the monsoon clouds would begin to creep closer and closer, my signal that the day was half over and perhaps in the morning I would be released and go home. Laura, the TA, spent as much time at the hospital as she could, it was still an hour taxi ride from our apartment and she had many responsibilities with the other students so she could not always be there during the day. 

I quickly became lonely and bored. And just as quickly, I made two friends. Two wonderful Didis from Kerala who were nurses on my wing, 4L. One in particular, Jyothika, would take her time when inserting new channels (IVs) into my already bruised and marked arms and hands. And each day, as she slowly worked, we began to get to know each other. We talked about my life in The States and about her home state in Kerala. I'd just returned from a trip to Kerala and had many photos. She happily looked at all of my photos of the food we'd eaten there. 

Over the next few days I spent less time staring and waiting for the monsoon clouds to bruise the sky and more time waiting for my friend Jyoti to come to my room to change my IV bags or give me my pills or just to say Hi. When I heard the door opening, I wished with all of my heart that it would be Jyothika or Greeshma. My favorite Didis. Five minutes of interaction with people who spoke English and who laughed with me at the terribly bland food I was being fed (rice and boiled chicken only...tea with no sugar or milk). Who held my hands when a procedure hurt. Who fixed my blankets, brushed my hair and took such amazing care of me.

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One day Jyothika showed up for her shift with two rosaries. One for me and one for Laura. I put mine around my neck and didn't remove it until I got home from the hospital. 

I became known at Apollo as "Case 458" or "Rat Bite Case". Hospital employees would come to my room and peek in the door to get a glance at the girl from America who'd been bitten by a rat in Calcutta. Some of them snapped photos with their phones. Jyoti and Greeshma quickly put a stop to it, and they began to stand guard so that no other people would come and gawk at me. 

The day that I left Apollo, I was able to get Jyoti's phone number and we have kept in contact all year. We usually chat about once a week. She sends me photos of her family, I send her photos of mine. She sends me photos of her lunches and dinners and I send her photos of my strange looking American food. When I told her I was coming back, she couldn't believe it. I think that back then, I could not either. 

And finally yesterday, we were able to meet. Jyotikha and Greeshma brought two of their nurse friends who also work at Appollo, and I brought four of the students with me to meet them. We met at a large mall near the hospital and it was a heart exploding type of reunion!

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We caught up, took many photos, and shopped around a bit at the mall. It was so good to see them. They will always be my Didis...even though technically Didi means "older sister", it's a term used for nurses in India. Once they realized last year that actually, I am older than them by 4-5 years, we began to joke that really, I am the Didi. ;-)

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Once again I am left with an experience here in India that has left me nearly speechless and my heart exploding and full all at the same time. 


Jen A. said...

It must have meant so much to them to see you again, whole and healthy! I love that even the worst part of your stay last year is a beautiful story :)

Mom said...

Beautiful photos and story! So glad you were able to spend some time with them.

Meghan LP said...

So glad you reconnected with these beautiful friends! I know how much your time with them in the hospital meant to you! XOXO

Meghan LP said...

Also, it has to be said, even in the hospital sick as a dog, you still look gorgeous in that pic. I am not sure how you accomplished that, but good work.