Saturday, August 22, 2009

Delhi Days

We have been in our new apartment now for about 2 weeks now and are enjoying the relative luxury. We are based in North Delhi in an area called Kingsway Camp and our gated community is called Hudson Lane... not very Indian sounding. Our place is great... right opposite a park on the 1st floor of a 2 story block.

So what have we been up to.?. Well the kids and I have been spending a lot less time at the ashram due to my work and their school work. It's a bit of a shame not to be at the ashram as much, but we are so much more productive in the apartment. After three days we get a bit stir crazy though and need to get out.

One day last week we went to the ashram and were sitting outside the clinic doing our work when we heard a bit of a commotion and Sharlene came out really upset. We had a surgeon visiting that day to see if we could drum a relationship and have simple procedures done in-house rather than carting the patients all over Delhi in pain and in the heat. Sharlene showed him Jonny... a relatively new patient to the surgeon. Jonny presented with a crushed foot. His foot was literally split in two separating his toes. It was a nasty wound with lots of jagged flesh and visible bone. Jonny's other issue is uncontrolled diabetes, so a foot injury of this severity is not likely to heal well. Our visiting surgeon decided he needed to perform 'emergency surgery' on the spot. He asked the nurses for a few bits and pieces , got some guys to hold Jonny down and the proceeded to hack two of Jonny's toes off without any anesthetic. Of course he was in agony and screaming hysterically. Sharlene saw the whole thing as inhumane and yelled at the doctor to stop and give Jonny some anesthesia, but he continued as though it was completely normal. Sam and I of course went in to see what all the fuss was about and there was Jonny lying on the table white as a sheet with his leg off the side of a table over a bin with blood and flesh pouring into it. (Sam had a look in the bin later to see if he could see the toes but they were not visible for all the blood.) Below is a nice photo of Jonny's foot post 'surgery' (read brutalisation). There are so many patients here at the moment with missing Limbs. Who knows if he really needed to lose them or not.

They breed people tough here. in fact on of the doctors said to Shar "don’t give these guys any pain relief, it’s good for them to be reminded of the bad choices they’ve made”. I think these guys have probably learnt any lessons they need to learn and just need a bit of compassion.

If the photo of the toes make your stomach turn... my apologies... I have some more shocking photos of the worst bedsores you have ever seen... Another new patient Vinod was taken into the ashram after he had being laying in hospital rotting away for months without an attendant. Vinod's parents died when he was very young and he grew up on the streets fending for himself. He would now be in his mid to 20's. One night about 4 months ago he was sleeping on a roof and while asleep he fell off and broke his spine. Since then has spent months in and out of hospitals being treated very badly. He is paralysed from the waist down and has enormous bedsores. In hospital he was made to sleep on a stretcher, given none or very little food and then kicked out. Each time he was kicked out of one hospital he would make his way to another hospital, hoping that “this time” things could be better. When he first arrived at the ashram he was so dirty and wads of skin would come off his legs in chunks. After a few weeks he looks so much better and his wounds have improved. Hopefully soon he will be able to get into a wheel chair and get outside in the sun.

We have been so busy lately that we have not had much time for language learning. Hunter is way out in front in terms of vocabulary and practices with some of the patients. The other night she was chatting to Amachand; one of the long-term patients who speaks about 10 words of English. Hunter managed to explain what she would be doing between that afternoon until the next time we would be at the ashram in simple words and sign language.

Our most helpful Hindi teacher has gone to Agra for a month to work in an orphanage. Hopefully by the time he is back we will have a better routine and will be able to put a bit more time into language learning.

Ok... so much more news but I will leave it for that today. Until next time


Saturday, August 8, 2009

Too long...

Quick Update

Well, we have been back from Varanasi for a week now and time has flown by. This week the kids started 'school' as there are no english speaking schools nearby they are eligible for the NSW Department of Educations Distance Education Program. So Sam is enrolled in Queanbeyane High and Hunter is enrolled in Sydney Distance Eductaion Primary School. SEDPS has an amazing setup. Unlike Sam's school it is purely distance ed. All the teachers are together in one room creating individualised lessons for each of their students. Hunter's lessons are mailed to us on a USB with all the associated paperwork and books. She can even request library books... we have placed an order as she is devouring books at the moment and although books are cheap here its costing a small fortune.

Sam's programme is a mix between textbook work and online lessons. It seems a little more complicated than Hunter's but hopefully we will have it all worked out soon. I think it is suiting him though... not having other people around for him to distract, I imagine he will be far more productive.

So news of the ashram... patients are always coming and going and everyday we get to know them a little better. This week we have got to know Shzoon-Shzoon (Sunhil). Sunhil arrived at the ashram about 2 weeks ago. He came from one of the big Delhi hospitals. One night about 2 months ago Sunhil was out with his mates and had too much to drink. He was on a train with his friends and they where being silly by the open doors. While the train was stopped Sunhil leaned out the doorway and fell, his friend tried to catch him but he fell too. Unfortunately as they fell a train was approaching on the parallel track. Sunhil lost both his legs half way between the knees and ankles. His friend was less fortunate he was literaly sliced in half from head to toe. Sunhil was taken to hospital and had an opperation to close off the wounds of his severed legs. While in hospital patients are expected to have an attendant with them at all times... effectively acting as their nurse. Sunhil's uncle was sent to be his attendant but soon left, so the hospital asked if the ashram could take him to care for him until his wounds healed. He has been here now for 2 weeks and he is the most remarkable person. You would never guess he has only been without his legs for 2 months, he throws his stumps around as though he never had legs and he is always so happy and social. He seems to have taken this life changing incident so easily as though it was nothing more than a scratch on his knee.

As for his nick-name... Szhoon-szhoon that is the word used to describe the phantom pains he feels and it has kind of stuck as his nick-name. Szhhon-szhoon literally means ouch-ouch.

He is a very social guy, always chatting and interacting with patients and non-hindi speaking volunteers alike. He was sitting in the mandeer with Sam the other day and started gining Sam a massage... Sam said it was amazing. We have sinced discovered he is a hairdresser and massage therapist. Being such a social guy he is fairly keen to return to his old life, if he misses anything it is not his legs but his social life. His wounds are almost healed now so he is nearly ready to leave... but he does have the option of being fitted for prosthetic legs, which means he will have to stay for a few more months.

One quick note on amputations....we have quite a few amputees passing through the ashram... In fact just the other week we took one of our patients to the small hospital in the local village and he came back the same day with half his leg gone. I am thinking amputations are not outpatient/day surgery in Australia

A few days latter...

We have had all sorts of drama with the internet lately, thats why all my posts are merging into one. Seriously, if you ever have been frustrated with Optus or Telstra you have never been as frustrated as we have been with India's Reliance. Hopefully now we have ironed out all the problems... though I doubt it.

So what has been happening... well has been ridiculously hot again. It has been too long between monsoon rains. Thankfully there is quite a good breeze blowing today. For a while there I was having trouble sleeping I would literally be wake up 20 times a night having to rollover or find a dry patch on my pillow. I would make myself drink nearly a litre of water before bed but I would still wake up so dehydrated. Hunter and I are now sleeping without mosquito nets as it is so much cooler and we don't seem to be getting eaten.

Yesterday was Hunter's 10th birthday. She had a really nice day. She got the electronic version of the Game of Life which we were lucky enough to find at Khan market and season 1 of Hannah Montana. For her birthday we went to Splash, a kind of wet 'n' wild fun park. She had a really nice time... Though really not my thing with the crowds, loud music the crowds... I could go on it was quite an eye opener.

Back at the ashram we bought 30 kilos of Papaya to cut up and Hunter handed them out to the patients... Cake really wasn't an option.

Last night we started the move to our new apartment. We are housesitting/renting a place in North Delhi for the next 3 and a half months while the tenants are in Korea. It is the perfect option for us. It is only half an hour from the ashram and gives us the opportunity to try out the area before we commit to a long term lease. It is fully furnished which allows us time to slowly collect some furniture. Our address is Hudson Lane, Kingsway Camp.... not very Indian sounding.

So what's news with you?