Monday, November 10, 2008

A major MILESTONE on the journey....

November 10, 2008 GRADUATION DAY, CMC Vellore.
Three Cheers for the Silver and Blue!!

Today - I have been given the Degree of Master of General Surgery (M.S. Surgery) by my Alma Mater. It's a HUGE deal. It's not so much the achievement or the relief of being done with a major part of my education - it's the disbelief that I could walk onto stage and walk off having received the accreditation that I have satisfactorily completed my training.
When I started to write this blog, I was uncertain of so much..... questions and doubts were always on my mind - would I complete chemo? what about the radiation? Costs of treatment? what would happen to the baby we were expecting in all this chaos?....My mind kept me busy enough to push finishing my training to an obscure spot maybe in the background - living seemed a priority over the learning!! I took time off (6 months) my course to be treated and it was done in the faith that I would get back to training some day..... I remember sitting after my shots of Vincristine (a chemo drug), my fingers numb and devoid of sensation (a side effect that can be permanent) - banging the keys of the computer as I blogged- without a tactile feedback and silently wondered if the side effects of lost sensation of my chemo, would wear off and let me get back to feeling human tissue as I would cut it...... Today I have my sense of touch as good if not better as the day I started my training...
As I graduate, and look at the 'plot' of the past 3 years- I realize what insignificant a role I play in the list of credits - 'I' actually play the smallest role in putting me on that graduation stage..... My family has undoubtedly been my strength and fuel. Anne, My parents, Anne's parents, Tripti and Santosh, Cherry were so much like solid anchors that I never felt tossed around as the waves hit. My God has, without doubt been my boat. I have had the comfort of feeling his security as I travelled this journey.
As I share this milestone with the world - I really hope that it can be an inspiration that there is NO IMPOSSIBLE, with our creator. The Lymphoma I had could be beaten and similarly I feel the problems that we all face can be challenged. It's just a question of believing, hanging on for the ride and not quitting early on.
Love from Tarun, Anne and Koby.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

What's in the crystal ball?

I am aware that this post is 9 months after my last. However this blog has never slipped my mind. That's an amazing thing about blogsphere in that over the past 9 months - even though I have not written anything in - people continue to mail in to check how I am doing or let me know that they are in CMC and need a boost of morale. But hey - as Cherry (my brother in Law) reminded me lately "From everyone who has been given much, much will be required..,Luke 12:48)" What is happening in the Tarun Jacob family?? Well, I have just completed my exams - (in addendum... and passed.) I have joined the surgical endocrine unit in CMC till Anne finishes her exams. The pain of the 'sit and cram' is over for the moment. Though it's difficult to believe. Anne has 6 months more to go for her Obstetric course to be completed - and has completed her thesis submission and just has the exams left in March / April. Koby is two and a half now, going to school and as naughty as anyone that age could possibly be. He makes each day worthwhile - and though he often behaves as though the world revolved around him, he would be surprised to know how close to the truth that is for Anne and me. He is a miracle that was born in such a period of uncertainty that he reminds us every day that a rose can spring forth from ashes! The reason I have blogged now is to say that I've peeked into the crystal ball of our future. I just made a trip to Baripada, Orissa to visit the Graham Stain's Memorial Hospital and had an idea of what the future has in store for us. God willing we will go there after Anne finishes her course - and work in that hospital. Baripada is north Orissa, and boarders the states of West Bengal (Midnapore) and Jharkand. The place is incredibly beautiful and green - and the closest station is Balasore - that is on the coast (60Km) away. The roads are not really great in some places and resembles the surface of the moon with its craters and sand. There is a lot of malaria in the area and the hospital lab technician prides himself in being able to pick up cases from the blood tests each day.
The trip from Vellore took over 26 hours - by train. There was
good weather during my stay, even though it was the monsoon season. The hospital a little over 10 beds for in patients. There were only 2 admitted when I visited (one a small child with multi-drug resistant malaria!). The picture alongside shows the hospital compound, with the hospital to the far right and in the left is a baptist church within the same compound. The hospital has a simple staffing structure. 2 doctors (Dani and Dheeraj). Dani has been there for about 5 years now and has recently been joined by his wife Baamini. A single lab tech, Medical record keeper, store keeper and 4 nurses keep the medical work moving along smoothly. They have not ventured into accepting surgical cases or deliveries. Anne and I will do that, once we get there. There is a simple operation theater room and a delivery room. These need a bit more funds and equipment to become operational, but the point is that there is great potential there. The hospital lies in the first floor, while the residential area is in the floor above. There is a need for a little more building - but funds are limited and there is a general difficulty to get funds for residential buildings. A pity though that's reality as things stand. There are sister concerns in Leprosy home, rehabilitation and a boys hostel. The Leprosy home is home to many inmates who do small farm work on the campus land and at various small scale projects and make an income for themselves. Graham Stains family did an incredible ministry there, his care for those affected by leprosy showed in so many little ways around the compound. There is a patient who has mastered making Micro cellular rubber (MCR) footwear, and others with gardening, skills etc. There are groups (pic to the right) who make grass based bags, place- mats,floor mats etc. The self sufficiency and renewed purpose in these lives is commendable. There is a lot of aspects that I can help out surgically with - Leprosy patients tend to get claw deformities of their digits and bad infections on their feet, because of the decreased sensation. Another compound of the mission is a boys home - about 21 boys till grade 6 live there and go to the local government school. The live and study in the home. Their parents support them as far as they can - they study and live in the home. The picture alongside is a few of them, the rest had gone home for the short Puja holiday.
The team at the hospital shown below. So.. I am glad I made the trip this time. I went to a school that Koby can potentially go to - an ICSE school, about 5 km away. We met the principal, I am quite relieved that schooling will not be an issue. The entire trip left me at peace and itching to go get started! There is a great challenge ahead of us - and with God's help and wisdom I'm sure we can face it.
So whats in the crystal ball?..... as I look, I see what's always been there - that we sometimes fail to see.... A promise that God's along with us as we take the journey of life.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

2 years past and doing great!

It's been nearly a year since I had last written. Koby is going to be 2 years old in a few months and it also marks a land mark for me -post treatment 2 years and going strong by Gods grace.
The snap above is one taken of the family this Christmas. Koby in his Chinese costume my aunt in Singapore had sent down for him. Santosh and Tripti now together in Vellore as he works in CHAD, CMC.
My General Surgery post graduation course is nearly over - I am done with the surgery part, but need to mop up some time due in 'peripheral posting' i.e Orthopedics and Neurosurgery that I missed during my course due to chemo time. I write exams in September and with that hope to be done with studies for a while.
Anne has a year left and will complete her training in gynecology and Obstetrics in march 2009. Koby as you can see alongside, has grown faster than we could imagine! He is talking nineteen to a dozen now and has a whole bunch of friends to play with in the building we stay. He spends some of his weekends in parents house - where he is spoilt rotten by his grandparents and enjoys goofing around with Santo acchachan and Peepi (Tripti) ammama.

It has been a really good 2 years of being well. There have been the occasional scares and checks, but God has seen us through. The good parts of these 2 years have been the friends made -patients that have come through this hospital, read the Blog and got in touch. Anne and I lost a good friend too in this time, due to lymphoma having spread pretty badly to his brain and rest of his body. But in all out friendships we hope that we have instilled a sense of purpose and a encouragement. God has made our lives examples that show that he is the light of the world. The bad part's of this time was some scary nodes that cropped up in my axilla - one minor surgery later, we were reassured that they were not tumour and not significant!
Anne and I are reminded every day as we spend precious moments with our Son, how God has gifted us a second chance. And I doubt that second chances are to be wasted in feeling sorry about one's self or worried about how long it will last, but to savor the fragrance of the moment and look in gratitude to the giver.