Sunday, July 02, 2006

The Monsoon and Tibetan medicine

The Hakeem brothers, who run our modest guest house, say the monsoon is coming, but I think it has arrived. Thunder, rain storms have become daily affairs since last Saturday; just watching the clouds move in is a visual delight. Margi loves it; (it does interfere with my outdoor painting a bit so I am learning to find shelter wherever I go), tells me that she loves weather.

One morning last week, we brave a morning storm to visit a Tibetan doctor. Margi says that she has done her 6 rounds of chemo (the sledgehammer) to reduce her CA-125 levels to single digits; now she would like to try something else. We arrive at the doctor's office; it is jammed with patients. Margi is about to turn back; it doesn't appear likely that she will be seen, and the concept of being around all those other sick people is very discouraging. But we stay a moment; I notice that most of the crowd is now receiving medicine and paying bills; maybe it is not so crowded after all. Margi braves it; walks in, tells someone she has cancer, she cannot wait, and she is immediately ushered into the office, past other waiting patients.

After a short while, she emerges, prescription in hand. The doctor is none other than Dr. Yeshi Donden, formerly the physician of the Dalai Lama, and professor to the other doctors at the Tibetan Institute of Medicine. We both examine the doctor's writing, trying to de-code it. We give up. So does everyone else in town Margi asks. For comfort, or entertainment, we decide that the curly marks above his writing are birds; this makes us both smile.

So here is her routine: she takes 4 different medicines a day. We tease her that all the round little pills that she must chew look like dirt. She claims they taste like dirt as well. But, nothing can be worse than chemo, she reminds us. Her appetite is very good these days. She had a very rough morning last Wednesday, and that seemed to be the "inspiration" she needed to follow through and see this doctor. She has a follow-up appointment for next Thursday (with urine sample!) Dr. Donden has treated other women with ovarian cancer before; this gives Margi some hope. She has now had 3 good days in a row, and that makes us both happy.

Margi's future plans (as far as I, or anyone else, could possibly know):
She goes to Delhi for a check up on July 11. Her appointment is for the 12th, and her good friend, Brian, will accompany her for the journey. They will be in Delhi for at least another day to wait for the lab results, and then return to Mcleod Ganj. Margi may then stay in Dharamkot at her friend Angus' place for a few days; he leaves for a long trip back to Australia, beginning today.

Margi has two exhibitions scheduled for Los Angeles, so she will be back in the states through November. (ok, as of this writing, this is what she has told me) She has been working out her opening dates; one will be on a Thursday night, the other on a Saturday night; about 2 weeks apart. For the non-profit venue, she is thinking about installation, photos, an artist's talk, readings, etc., so it is going to be quite an event. They will both be great celebrations; be sure to invite everyone you know!

I see monkeys every day, everywhere I go, it seems. They walk by me when I sit and draw, and steal my left over lunch (ok: that was more of a bargain: lunch for photos) I have, unexpectedly, grown very attached to this place. I love the mountains, the forests, the waterfalls, the mix of Indian, Tibetan, Israeli (I call Dharamkot "ittle Israel") and Kashmiri cultures, and the friends of Margi's that I have met. I am even beginning to love the monsoon.

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