Saturday, May 26, 2012

Crash course on life

The past few days have been extremely enlightening and tough all at the same time. Yesterday, for the first time, I did both morning and afternoon service at Kaligaht. Bth shifts were very intense for very different reasons. In the morning, there were a lot of patients that were unable to et out of bed...never a good sign. One patient in particular was a man that every voulenteer has gotten close to. His name is King. Unlike the majority of the other patients there, he is all "there" mentally. He also speaks fairly good English and even a little Spanish. As I arrived there yesterday morning, King was no where to be found. Eventually, after looking for a little while, I found him in his bed with 3 or 4 sisters working diligently over him. He had explained to me, a few days before, that he had been in a car accident hat had broken his femur and left him with some sever gallbladder problems. He said that sometimes the pain meds work, sometimes they don't. He'd seen he scar on my leg from my surgery and we bonded instantly. Anyway, he was in some serious pain lying in bed with the sisters working on him. I could hear his cries no matter where I was. It was so tough because I know almost exactly what kind of pain he is experiencing. I know what it's like to not have the pain pills work and be in that sort of excruciating pain. It was the first time that I really found myself understanding exactly what one of these patients was going through. Anoher part that made it so difficult was the fact that King is always so cheery and talkative. He's always helping voulenteers and showing them who sleeps in what bed and cracking jokes at you if you do something wrong. It reminded me, in a very harsh way, how fragile and valuable life is and how quickly it can turn south...even for someone as amazing as King.
As if that was not enough, I decided to go back to Kaligaht in afternoon so I could really push myself. What happened in the afternoon was even more shocking than the morning. A man, whom I had helped change his shirt in the morning, was unable and refusing to get out of bed. When it came time to give medicine, he couldn't swallow his pills... He was struggling to breathe so myself and another voulenteer notified the sisters. After crushing up his pills so he could take them, they too realized something was wrong. They ended up putting him on oxygen and giving him a few shots. Then though, they just left him. They left to go about their business and take care of the other patients. It was just myself and this other voulenteer sitting with this man as he struggled with us to to and take the oxygen mask off. We sat there for all 2.5 hours with this man just holding his hands and trying to put him at ease. I honestly thought I was going to see this man die right in front of me. He struggled at times to try and take his oxygen mask off and we had to hold his hands down so he wouldn't tamper with it.
As we were being kicked out at promptly 530 we insisted that someone stay with he man, but as far as I know, no one did. As we were leaving, the man grabbed both mine and the other voulenteers hands and squeezed them. It was an absolutely beautiful moment. Even though he had been fighting us most of the time we were with him he understood that we were there to help him and I honestly think he was grateful. He even brought his hands together and nodded at us which is a sort of sign of respect here in India.
I was afraid I would not see him, or King, when I returned this morning, but luckily both were still there. King was in much better spirits and was up, crutching around and smiling as usual. The other man was still in bed when I got there and still not breathing well. He seemed much more stable than yesterday though, which is good. I sat with him for a few moments and he woke up and seemed to recognize me. He reached out again for my hand and gave them a little squeeze before falling back asleep.
This trip, and Kolkata as a whole, has really forced me to realize just how lucky we all are. Everyone reading this blog right now is blessed in more ways than can be counted. Blessed for being able to read, blessed for being able to use their eyes, blessed for having a computer, blessed for being able to use their hands to type, for being able to walk, to breathe....I could go on forever. I can't speak for everyone but I have truly taken for granted the things I am blessed with one a day to day basis. Despite the fact that I am not the most religious person, I still recognize how privledged and lucky I really am.
This trip is changing me. I can feel myself growing everyday when I go to sleep and when I wake up. I can only hope that I am making as big of an impact on the lives of the people I am serving as they are on mine. Less than a week in I've already done things that I never thought I would be capable of doing.
I feel as if I am beginning to ramble now so I think it's best to end this entry here. Tomorrow, Sunday, we are going to an orphanage to hang out with some children. That should be a nice change of pace and a chance to get my butt kicked in basketball by kids half my size.
Still sending love back home,
Brian Meloche


  1. Brian, I am typing this through tears. I am so proud of you for opening your heart to all of this. Your blog post is so moving and shows the fragility of life. This country and its people will forever be a part of you. It was such a treat to talk to you via facetime and know that there are so many of us here who are thinking and praying for you and all the others! My God keep you safe and bless you. Love you to pieces - MOM

  2. Brian, she was crying so I guess that's a good sign. Anyways, keep up the work and enjoy your time. I was going to wait until you got home to lay down any sappy stuff but our mother is a hell of an incentive to throw out some love to you (what I mean is that Mom is hounding me to post something, not that I don't care, it's just not my thing.).

    All in all, hope you're having a good time. Try not to burn up in the sun out there. Come back with all your vital organs. Stay healthy and don't die... yeah.

    Your Dearest Brother

  3. great job my man. im glad to hear everything is going well. youre doing an amazing thing keep up the good work and get home safe


  4. Brian, Mrs. Bazinet said the whole Social Studies department at her school are following this blog, as well as the students who are studying India! All of you are making a change in our lives by simply reading about your experiences. We wish everyone a wonderful last week! Love you, MOM

  5. What an amazing journey for you Brian. You surely touched the lives of many people there. Lisa Spear