We spent our last clinical day in Hyderabad back at Snehakiran clinic, this time with the nurse practitioner who also cares for patients there. It was the perfect last experience with a dose of optimism. Throughout our trip we have talked about the plight of India’s poor with access to less than adequate health care services, and the vastness of the changes that are necessary to improve this situation. However during our intro talk this day, the nurse practitioner did not just recount a bleak outlook even though the patients we saw that day were just as sick with equally as complicated social situations. Instead she told us how she works to empower her patients, encourages them to take control of their disease through medication compliance and financial planning, among other things. She relayed how she emphasizes to her patients that HIV is no longer an automatic death sentence and people can live many years when it is treated properly. While this positive outlook is made possible through the efforts of the clinic and the tools it provides, it was still a welcome change of perspective to conceptualize the patients different than simply as in need and receiving charity. It was a message of possibilities, successes and mutual collaboration.
To Chutneys: For coconut chutney
To Jalpan: For being the group interpreter – translating food, culture and language –allowing us to take rickshaws and impromptu trips out of the house, and making an Uber in India happen. Also for being a food network level Indian cuisine judge and Zomato expert.
To Jared: For being the group historian and tour guide. Also for supporting me in my claim that this Nizam bears a pretty believable resemblance to another group member during movember …
To Bassima: For being my India partner in crime, discussing the pluses and minuses of every Indian bathroom and always having hand sanitizer available. Also for being the only other diseased person and willing to share drinks with me the whole trip.
To Dr. James: For being an awesome teacher at all times, never missing an opportunity to drop some knowledge or impart some wisdom, being super cognizant of group naptime, and taking the brunt of physiotherapy. Also for making the sideways head nod look good on white people.
To Dr. Gopal: For sharing Hyderabad, planning an amazing trip and being an excellent story teller. Also, and mostly, for making me eat a hot pepper and creating Mandy 2.0. (I ate something hot enough two nights ago that I cried, and I didn’t hate it.) Oh, and for the Marriott.
To India: For Sounf
Last but not least, thank you to all the wonderful people who took care of us while we were here, in and outside of the health care world.
I will miss you India, but the good news is I have a 10 year visa…