Saturday, August 1, 2015

Elyse '17 - Global Health - Diabetes Management at Kenchanahalli

Surrounded on all sides my rolling hills divided into bright patches of farmland, the tranquil setting of Vivekananda Memorial Hospital at Kenchanahalli is truly its own small world. Most of the staff lives on the campus, including three families, giving the hospital a true feeling of community, completely unlike anything that I have ever seen in the USA. All of the doctors who live on the campus are doctors of Ayurvedic medicine—traditional Indian medicine—with visiting allopathic physicians coming every weekday. My project this summer has been to develop patient education material describing the integrated approach of diabetes management using both ayurvedic and allopathic medicine. My project has enabled me to learn about a disease so common in the US, from the perspective of a completely different system. The ayurvedic physicians have taken so much time to explain the system of ayurveda to me, which depends on the balance of three doshas in the body. Several of the doctors here have taken the painstaking effort to translate Sanskrit texts on Mudhameha—or “honey urine”—the ayurvedic analog to diabetes. It has been fascinating to learn the modern problem of diabetes as it fits into a large and ancient body of knowledge. This has provided a striking contrast to the time I have spent shadowing allopathic physicians in the out patient departments at the hospital as they treat diabetic patients. Although the two systems often seem at odds, I have been impressed by the smooth and productive integration at VMH. My own contribution has been to combine instruction for diabetes management from both the Allopathic and Ayurvedic systems into a flashy, engaging Prezi, to catch patient’s attention.

In addition to the time spent on my project, my experience at Kenchanahalli has introduced me to some many other interesting aspects of medicine, health, and India. I have been fortunate enough to shadow OBGYN, orthopedists, ayurvedic, and general physicians in my time at VMH. This has given me a much deeper understanding of the successes and challenges faced in delivering health care to rural and tribal populations. I have also been able to explore my own interest in surgery by observing a hysterectomy at the larger SVYM hospital in Sargur. However, what I truly never expected was the way in which we have been welcomed into the family-like community here at Kenchanahalli. Learning to make chapati and gulab jamun, playing cricket, and even attempting to teach Mansi—the extremely hyper 8-year-old daughter of my mentor—some new English phrases, have been some of the most memorable moments of my time here.