Sunday, November 23, 2008

Almost Taj Mahal and Back to Bihar

Sunday, 11/02/08 – Besides the great event of the Noida group being organized as a branch which was covered in the previous post, this had been a week we were both looking forward to since we arrived in the mission. All of the senior couples are coming to Delhi tomorrow, Monday, November 3rd, for a Senior Missionary Couples Conference. We will have a full day of training Tuesday and then we are off as a group Wednesday morning for a 2 day trip and visit to the Taj Mahal in Agra.

Sunday evening, Sister Tanner became sick and spent most of the day Monday in bed. We did not go to Delhi to meet the couple we were supposed to host, but called and let the mission office know what was going on. I made a trip to the "chemist" to see what I could get for body aches and intestinal problems. I found out later the correct term in India is "loose motions". I managed to communicate to the druggist who didn’t speak English what I needed and don't ask how I did it.

Monday, 11/03/08 - The pain medication worked and the other problem seemed to abate so Monday evening Sister Tanner decided she was going try and go over for the conference on Tuesday morning. She was so determined to get to Agra and the Taj Mahal to take pictures for our granddaughter Emma Taylor who is doing something in school on the Taj Mahal. Now how cool to have a grandparent conveniently visiting it and you know how Sister Tanner will do anything for her children and grandchildren.

Tuesday, 11/04/08 - We got to President Rick’s home in Delhi ok this morning. Sister Tanner was not looking or acting her normal cheerful self and when we walked into the room, all of the sisters knew immediately something still wasn’t right. Then came offers of Imodium, etc. and they fixed her up with better medications. She seemed to have regained her normal, cheerful self by the afternoon. When we all went to dinner, she said she was feeling about 75% and seemed to be doing great. She ate and drank sparingly as expected, but did eat some. We then headed over to the apartment of one of the senior couples to sleep, anticipating a 7 AM departure for Agra and the Taj in the morning. The conference Tuesday was good and it was really enjoyable hanging out with some other senior missionaries.

Wednesday, 11/05/08 - Sister Tanner was up 3 times during the night and hardly slept, if at all. By the morning, she was wiped out and any thought of spending 5 hours on a bus was out of the question. She was in tears asking if it was alright if we went home. My heart just aches for her thinking of how selfless she is at times. Her disappointment was about not being to go for a granddaughter, not herself. We got ready and went to the mission office where everyone boarded the bus, except for the Tanners. We explained the situation and before we left, we went back into the mission office and President Ricks, Elder Zaugg, and I gave Sister Tanner a blessing. We all had tears in our eyes when it was finished.

President Ricks was kind enough to have the mission driver and car take us back to Noida and the Max Hospital which was closer to home. I had heard that Max was a good place to go for medical care which actually turned out to be fairly accurate. The driver waited to be sure we were going to be ok while I took Sister Tanner inside. We were directed back to the emergency room. It was around 8 AM when we got there. A lot was going on, but they were very attentive and the doctor on duty got to Sister Tanner pretty quick after others had drawn blood and done the usual intake stuff.

She was very dehydrated and they immediately started her on an IV. The final diagnosis was made when the blood tests came back around noon. Sister Tanner had a gastrointestinal infection which was the cause of it all. They wanted to keep her overnight, but there were no private rooms available and I was not going to have her in a shared room unless it became the only option. A dietitian came by and talked with Sister Tanner and shortly thereafter the food started coming. I think there were at least 4 trays, all soft diet things that came to her during the day.

One of the nurses, Tony, was a great guy. He was very patient, kind, and attentive. A rare combination if you were in the states. Sister Tanner really liked him. Actually, all of the staff were kind. By 2 PM Sister Tanner was still in a bed in the ER. There were only 2 beds in the small ER and you can imagine some of the things that had been going on for the past 6 hours. I finally went back to the admitting office and asked when we were going to get a room and the gal said it would be around 4:30 PM. I had been told in the morning that it would be a while because they did not have any private beds available until someone checked out, but that would happen and their first estimate was noon. I gave it until 4:30, but still nothing. I asked Sister Tanner how she felt and if going home was something she was ok with. She was all for it. Then I got the doctor on duty and asked her the same question. Any reason we couldn't leave and go home? She talked with Sister Tanner for a while and satisfied herself that she was doing well enough that leaving wasn't a problem. After I paid the bill, had the discharge paper, and we had been briefed on the medications they gave Sister Tanner, it was 5:30 PM. We went outside and caught an auto, one of the little 3 wheelers, to take us home.

An hour after we got home and Sister Tanner had eaten some toast, a sleepless night and a trying day finally caught up with her. She took the medications the hospital gave her before going to bed and then crashed for over 14 hours.

We had heard about "Delhi Belly" since we got here and it was something that was bound to happen to one or both of us at some point and I'm sure this won’t be the last time, but wow, I’ll take food poisoning over this. It is so frustrating to Sister Tanner because she has been so cautious and diligent in keeping things clean, washing the food, etc. and now for her to be the one to get a bug like this which we think she got at the Young Single Adult conference.

Thursday, 11/06/08 - Not much going on today. Worked on a couple of projects, did a little shopping (seniors can go without their companion, at least I decided that), and spent time taking care of my sweetheart.

Friday, 11/07/08 – I’m afraid I got too optimistic last night because Sister Tanner is such a stoic person it is hard to read her sometimes. She slept in again today until almost 1 PM, got up, took her medicine and then went back to bed. I fixed her something to eat and she spent the afternoon relaxing and reading and seemed to be feeling better, but it wasn't so.

Problem was, the boiled egg, toast, and later some chicken soup didn't process the way they are supposed to. She finally told me the medication hadn't overcome the problem yet. We're hoping tomorrow is the turning point.

Saturday, 11/08/08 – The NRT team arrives in Delhi today and tomorrow I head to Patna with them for the neonatal resuscitation training they will conduct. Sister Tanner said she feels good enough to go, only as a figure of speech, there is no way she could make it. This sickness has really zapped her and she is still trying to recover her strength and the problem has not completely gone yet either. I’m anxious to have the doctors talk with her when we get back from Patna. Dr Bell and Dr Clark are coming down on Thursday evening to conduct training here in Noida on Friday. The rest of the team, Dr Warner, Dr Stokes, and Laura Nielsen RN will stay in Patna to finish the training Friday morning.

Finally got the logistics worked out. Elder Fairbanks, the Country Director, will go with me to Patna, but Sister Tanner will remain home alone as she feels well enough to handle things on her own. I’ll meet Fairbanks at the airport and I’ve got the tickets and rooms arranged. I’m packing a lot of gear up there to put training kits together for the doctors that will be trained who will then use them to conduct training when they go back to their districts and hospitals.

Sunday, 11/09/08 – went to church and attended Sacrament meeting. Sister Tanner was not feeling strong enough to go and now I’m a little worried about leaving her alone. Left church early to get to the airport and she assured me she would be ok until I got back Monday night. I’m not staying up there for the whole training period, just going to take the gear and get the kits set up and then come back.

Uneventful flight that had a stop in Ranchi before continuing back Patna. Got to the hotel and checked in. For Patna, surprisingly good accommodations. Dr Stokes and Laura Nielsen both brought their spouses along and it was a great group at dinner, but I really missed my companion. The room had a TV with 105 channels and several in English. I watched about 15 minutes and turned it off. First TV in over 2 months and I don’t miss it a bit.

Monday, 11/10/08 – We went to the hospital and got set up in a conference room. A number of the doctors that were to attend had transportation problems getting into Patna so the start time was pushed back to noon. The administrator of the Pediatrics section of the hospital offered to give us a tour. The building is old, very old, and you cannot imagine how it is unless you could be there. I doubt the pictures will portray it as it really is. I believe the hospital serves as a training facility for a medical college. It is a government facility that does not seem to have adequate funding by any means. In fact, I latter heard the Pediatrics administrator say the patients that can pay go to the private hospitals leaving them to deal with all the rest.

The tour just about did me in. The doctors and nurses are people who care, doing the best they can, but the conditions are terrible by any standard we could relate to. Just writing this puts a lump back in my throat as I recall walking past infants and children on beds and metal gurneys, and I use the term bed loosely, lined along the side of the hallways. The wards were even worse. One sister in our group went back to the hall with tears running down her face. I have never seen so many blank faces on parents with their children and I have no way to know the emotions they were hiding, but I can imagine. Finally, in the NICU, newborn intensive care unit, actually just a larger room with beds around the periphery dedicated to the age group, I met a mother who smiled. She was sitting on one end of a bed with her back to the wall and her infant lying in front of her. She was crooning to her child and had a smile on her face when she looked up at us and I read hope in her eyes. Her picture is included, but with only a hint of the smile she had. The picture of the father and his little child still brings tears to my eyes looking at it again and remembering.

This is actually a hallway converted to a ward.

Another hallway shot with a mother holding an oxygen mask on her child. Click on this picture to go full screen and you can see the child more clearly.

The only parent I saw that smiled, but not for the picture.

If this shot doesn't get to you, you don't have a heart.

Setting the depressing conditions aside, I was very impressed during the tour by the way that Dr Bell especially asked questions and did so in a way that always resulted in a compliment to the Indian doctors for what they were doing. He was a great role model for dealing with people in a very positive way and finding means to continually compliment them on their efforts even though the conditions they worked under were such a handicap.

Dr Sherin with UNICEF said that 400 newborns and infants die every day in the state of Bihar. That is 16 every hour and after that tour I can believe it because I know the conditions are worse in the other district hospitals, at least in the 2 we visited in September, and I can’t imagine it being better in any other public hospital. And an infant mortality rate over 61 is believable once you’ve been there. That’s 61+ deaths per 1,000 live births. The church’s benchmark to qualify for an NRT project is an IMR of only 15.

Once the training got started, it actually went well, especially when the group broke up into practice sessions with the baby manikins. There is a protocol that is taught along with the use of a bag and mask for respiration and I was impressed with the way the trainers worked with their Indian professionals. A lot of hands on practice and self evaluation was accomplished within each group.

Dr Stokes leading a resuscitation practice session using the manikins and gear LDSC provided.

Laura Nielsen, RN, working with nurses through a Hindi translator. She had great rapport with the ladies.

Dr Warner with his practice group.

Dr Bell and his practice group on the balcony behind the conference room. The other practice groups were using corners of the hospital library.

With the help of Bryan Nielsen and Elder Fairbanks, we made quick work of putting the training kits together in the afternoon and after organizing the rest of the materials, exchanging notes with Dr Clark and Dr Bell, it was off to the airport for Elder Fairbanks and I. Elder Fairbanks had a real eye opening experience with a NRT project first hand.

We made our flight, got Elder Fairbanks to the Browns and reunited with Sister Fairbanks and then the driver got lost once we were in Noida and I didn’t get home until 1 AM. But it was so nice to be back with my sweetheart.

Wednesday, 11/12/08 – Sister Tanner was feeling good enough to venture out with me today. We went to meet with a man who was to have some sample newborn baby blankets that we need to purchase and send to Bihar as part of the flood relief. They will go to hospitals handling a lot of indigent cases and will be welcomed as winter is fast approaching. The samples were a little smaller than what we had given him to go by, but they will be very adequate for newborns and infants. Sure glad Sister Tanner, the baby blanket expert, was along to make the call.

I had a learning experience this week about a little nuance in humanitarian project funding. I learned that a request submitted in dollars and approved in dollars does not mean you will necessarily get the dollar amount, oops. Because of the worldwide nature of the humanitarian work, the money that is available to spend has to be put into the local currency and there is a standardized process used to determine that amount. I won’t bore you with that, but not being aware of it caused a project I submitted, that was approved, to actually come in at 85% of what I thought the dollar amount was going to be. The agency we were working with handled the shortfall very gracefully and understood.

Back to the blankets. Having learned my lesson, I checked into the documents on the blanket project and found out I was using the approved dollar amount and the current exchange rate which was not what was available to spend. Bottom line, the number of blankets we can acquire dropped from over 10,000 to around 8,500. Sure glad I learned that before the order was placed which will happen as soon as we get a checking account opened so Bangalore can transfer funds to us. To a large extent, there is still a lot of cash only business transacted in India. Case in point. Elder Zaugg in the mission office tried to pay a mission insurance policy premium with a check to the rep in the office and he refused a check and insisted on cash. Oh well, when in Rome …

Thursday, 11/13/08 – Sister Tanner lost a little ground and is slowed down this morning, but anticipates going to the Kailash Hospital with me tomorrow to meet Dr Bell and Dr Clark who will be doing an advanced NRT session with IAP (Indian Academy of Pediatricians) sponsorship. This will hopefully get the program started in Uttar Pradesh as all of the doctors attending will become NRT trainers.

Friday, 11/14/08 – We packed up our manikins and training kit bags and headed to the hospital. Being in Noida, it was a short trip, but we had the auto full with us and our gear. I even got invited up to say a few words as the LDSC representative during the opening exercises. Good recognition for LDSC and the church at this event.

This is just one of the conference rooms at Kailash Hospital in Noida, a private hospital. Compare it with what was shown for Patna whose single conference room was on a par with the other pictures.

Once the training was in process, Sister Tanner and I slipped out to go to a market about a mile away and see about getting our checking account opened, copies made of the student workbook for Sister Tanner’s English class, and to pick up a quotation document for the newborn baby blankets. It will take a minimum of 4 days to get the checking account opened and that is after we present our original passports for verification which were locked up in the mission office in Delhi. Got totally misled by someone I called trying to be sure we had everything in order, bummer. By the time we finished running around the Sector 18 market area, Sister Tanner was worn out so we headed home to let her rest and then I went back to the hospital.

One interesting thing happened while we were in the market place. Walking through the market area to pick up the baby blanket quotation, we noticed the vendors that had their stuff on boxes, etc. lining the walkway were pulling everything down and packing it away. We noticed this especially during the last 100’ or so as we walked before turning down a passageway to our destination store. The vendors almost seemed frantic and it was very unusual. The man who gave us the quote had no explanation when I asked him about the activity we had seen. By the time we got back out to the walkway/street, there wasn’t a vendor in sight. They and their goods were all gone. It was amazing to see what had been such a busy place now barren. I later learned something that explained it.

There was a bombing reported in Sector 12 about this time. When we learned the details, it was actually some old fireworks that went off in a dump area and hurt a couple of kids. It was nothing involving terrorists. But the word must have gotten over to Sector 18 and the vendors there were clearing out. The terrorists typically place their bombs in the crowded market places and the word of a bombing nearby caused a minor panic.

After the training at the hospital was over, both doctors came over to our house and read the hospital discharge papers for Sister Tanner and talked with her. They gave her some US drugs they had with them so if something happens again, we’ll be better prepared. The problem though is getting her strength and energy back. This morning at the hospital and running around the market area wore Sister Tanner out.

Saturday, 11/15/08 – Dr Bell went home last night and Dr Clark slept at the Smith’s home up the street. They graciously put him up. Getting a good hotel over here had proven to be problem. Dr Clark stayed the extra day because IAP has a formal “to do” at the Raddison Hotel tonight and they invited him to attend and to speak. Sister Tanner had English classes scheduled and I needed to remain with her so we politely declined an invitation to attend and asked Dr Clark to express our regrets.

In the meantime, Dr Naveen Thacker had arranged a privately guided tour for us at the Akshardham temple, a huge new temple (mandir) of a Hindu sect. We had passed by the huge complex and seen the temple from a distance several times and wondered about it. The senior missionaries went there as a group after the conference we missed. It was great that we had a private tour and the VIP treatment. We were all impressed with the temple and the complex. The stone work was absolutely a wonder. It was unbelievable that it was built in 5 years with 11,000 people working on it. Much of the stonework was done off-site and then brought and assembled in Delhi. The only distraction to me was that the sect has commercialized it. Our hosts even apologetically referred to it as a spiritual theme park. Imagine a boat ride through a church history display, etc. with an admission fee on Temple Square. They claim their founder, born in 1791, was god himself come to earth and impressively tell his story and that of the religion he established. They have temples in Houston, LA, and Chicago as well as multiples in India. You can find pictures on their website. Just Google Akshardham and check it out.

We did not really expect anyone for the English classes, this night anyway for several reasons. But just in case, we went down to the church building to be sure and found the elders teaching 2 investigators. Good job elders!

Dr Clark made it back from the IAP function to get his bags and head to the airport, but he came with a beautiful bouquet of flowers for Sister Tanner. He is a very thoughtful and kind man and we both wished he could stay around, but he has a family, a practice, and a myriad other activities to get back to. I don’t know how he keeps up with it all.

Sunday, 11/16/08 – We both went to church today and Sister Tanner was the accompanist for the services. The keyboard sounds like a real organ. Amazing how they have advanced over the years. By the time the block was over, Sister Tanner was out of energy and had a good nap when we got home. Hey, that’s what we’ve been told to do, but I can’t seem to do it so I write this blog instead. All in all, it has been a very interesting 2 weeks, very trying with worry and concern for my companion, but very productive. But I’d trade all that for a healthy sweetheart again.

I want to thank all of you for your expressions of concern, interest, and prayers in Sister Tanner’s behalf. I know she would not be as well off as she is now without some extra help and I hope it continues until she is back to 100%.

Our love to everyone reading this,
Elder and Sister Tanner

1 comment:

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