My other plan on campus was to meet Lydia, the head of OT education. I quickly found the OT department, and upon entering asked to speak with Lydia. I was told she had not arrived yet, but to go have a seat inside as prayer was about to begin. Let me remind you that this is a Christian Medical College, and as I soon found out, it is not just Christian in name. As student, staff or faculty you are not required to participate in the Christian aspect of life at the Hospital, only to respect them. As a Christian, I fully welcome them. I took a seat on a mat table next to other OT students and staff and watched quietly as mores students and staff quietly filed in. A hymnal was handed to me and number “89” was pointed out. Number 89 happened to be “I don’t know about tomorrow, but I know who hold tomorrow, and I know He holds my hand.” Together we sang this old familiar hymn with a few new-to-me verses, them in their Indian accents, me through choked back tears. After the hymn, a young male OT read some scriptures and then prayed. Every day is started with prayer at 8:00 with the first patients being seen at 8:15. This is a tradition I could really get used to.
I spent my first day observing the OT Out-Patient unit and then quickly visiting the other OT units on the hospital campus as well as the library. I will not go into detail on any one unit today, but rather try to give you a general overview of OT at the CMC. From what I can decipher, there are five major areas of OT practiced at the CMC; three are on the College campus, two are at the hospital. On the college Campus there is the Rehabilitative Institute (basically inpatient rehabilitation for patients with traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injury), Psychiatric Ward, and CHAD (Community Health and Development). At the hospital there is OT Out-Patient and two sections of acute care. The difference between the two acute care units is facility conditions. A2 is for patients who can actually pay, therefore the facilities are a little nicer. Q3 is for the rest of the population and for what I could tell, the facilities are a bit rough.
I was given a brief tour of all areas of OT at the hospital and for the first part of next week I will spend a little more time in each area learning more about them. From there I will get to decide which area I would like to spend my time. Some of you may be asking, what about the leprosy patients? As I suspected, my desire to work with leprosy patients was lost in translation. I will get some exposure to leprosy patients, but for the most part I will be participating in other areas of OT rehab. I am not disappointed. I have enough new stuff to learn that exposure to a new diagnoses (one I have not been about to work with) may be too much. I am pleased with the way they have arranged things for me. It is a “chose your own adventure” style and I rather like that idea. I will likely split my time here between two or three postings.
Hospital hours on campus are 8:00 to 12:00 on Saturday. For me, working on Saturdays and holidays is optional. At noon, one of the full-time OT staff, Divya, befriended me and when she found out I needed to get a cell phone, she offered to go with me. Divya is an OT in the pediatric Out-Patient, and her husband, Paul, is an OT in A2. He met us at the OT department and they told me they were going to chapel, but would help me when they were done. I could wait or go with them. I wasn't sure if “chapel” meant a service, frankly, I didn't know what they meant but “going to chapel” but I mustered up the courage to ask a few questions. As it turns out, “chapel” is a quiet church in the middle of the Hospital campus that is reserved for quiet prayer time when services are not conducted. Divya and Paul are young Christians who head to the chapel after work to pray together. I told them I was a Christian and would like to join them as I was feeling the need for more prayer in my life.
As they quietly bowed their heads in the pew in front of me, I choked back more unexpected tears and bowed my head to pray. I guess my tears didn't get choked back enough because as we were about to leave, a young women slid up next to me and asked me if I was ok. I told her that I was, but that I had just arrived here and was feeling overwhelmed. She asked if she could pray with me. I readily agreed and she proceeded to pray one of the most beautiful and timely prayers I have heard. Her words were perfect for me, for that moment. The whole experience was exactly what I needed. I don’t know who she is, other than a CMC staff member from the radiology department, but I do know her timing was perfect.
Divya and I caught an auto rickshaw to a cell phone store, King Mobiles, where I have now purchased an internet-compatible cell phone. I don’t have a SIM card yet; apparently you do not purchase cell phone and service all in the same place. I will get the SIM card tonight; in fact, Divya’s friend is letting me borrow a SIM he does not use. I will be able to use the phone to make calls in India, but I’m not sure I will be able to call the US. If all goes as planned, I will be able to use my phone for internet at my hotel as well.
Lunch was provided by Divya and a few other OT/PT staff that work at CMC and live in the same apartment complex as Paul and Divya. I’m not sure what it was we ate, but supposedly it was rice with a “fish gravy” which didn't look like gravy or taste like fish. It was spicy and warm. Good enough for me. Over lunch we discussed the fine motor skills necessary for eating with your hands, and they taught me a few different techniques to try out as I eat fewer meals with utensils. It was fun to throw around OT lingo with my new friends and realized that even though I am a world away, I’m not that far from home.
I’m currently sitting in the Modale living room, bumming off their internet and catching up on my blogging. Dinner is in limbo yet. Julian and Teresa, having been here for a while, are craving Western food and are in search of pizza. I may join them as I have not heard back from Divya regarding my SIM card. It is challenging to make plans with people without phone service!
I pray that tonight is more peaceful and restful for me. Many of those unanswered questions have answers now. My stomach is still a little uneasy, but nothing like it was. Teresa told me that every international student usually goes through some GI discomfort as they get used to the food, even if they are Indian.
As the hymn we sung at the beginning of the day states, I'm not sure what tomorrow will bring, but I know that I will be stronger than I am today. I will face the challenges and learn from them. I will walk forward knowing He holds my hand.
For now, good night.