We finally made it to India! Our flight landed here at about 10:00 pm local time Wednesday November 28th — there is 12.5 hours difference in time zones from home. The flight was out of Newark, New Jersey and we traveled northeast out of the US, up toward Greenland, across the Atlantic, south of Iceland, north of the United Kingdom, across the North Sea, across Scandinavia, (Norway, Sweden, and Finland), on over the Baltic states, (Belarus and others). This was the last view of land we had, after that it was over mostly cloud cover. Then we flew southeast across Russia; south of Moscow, angling towards the lower, former Russian republics that use to form Russia’s southern borders, and over Afghanistan, (this was kind of weird knowing there were American soldiers fighting and dying below us). After we crossed another very high range of mountains, (not the Himalayas, they are further east), we dropped into India, and on to New Delhi. I thought our flight plan was going to take us south from the US, across the mid-Atlantic, then across Africa to India; maybe that is the return path.New Delhi is a crazy place!!!!!! The drivers drive right next to one another; beeping their horns, cutting off and in front of each other, disregard all traffic lights (unless there is someone coming who could crash into them), and driving on the left side of the road. The city is incredibly dirty, smelling of very strong wood smoke and petroleum emmisions, and visibility is limited due to the pollution and dust. The crush of humanity is unbelievable!! It didn’t matter what we read, nothing could have prepared us for the number of people here. The mass of people at the airport was staggering. If someone hadn’t been there to meet us I don’t know how we would have managed. This morning at the hospital, the staff began doing basic investigation of my medical history — especially all my drugs, this seems to fascinate them. Some medical tests already done in the States will be redone, especially on the blood clots in my right leg; these could be a problem from what I can deduce from the conversations. You have to pay attention to what is being said, even though most speak English, it is very heavily accented and both sides have to ask for clarification. The hospital room is small, probably 10×12. It is tough to get all our luggage stowed and still have room to move. Kathy sleeps on a fold-out pad, on the floor. The bathroom barely accommodates my wheelchair and the toilet situation was bad; I could not sit on the toilet (even with my toilet seat from home) and do a bowel program. Staff modified the situation by bringing in a different commode. There is a guy from California here with the same level of injury, T-10. Hopefully he’ll have pointers that will help us, especially with the bathroom. We haven’t eaten any food, other than what we brought, so don’t know how we will react to it. Scary thought!!!!!!!
We are trying to get my medical records, from the time of my initial injury, sent from St. Mary’s and Craig Hospital(s) so they can study them and determine my therapy needs. Also, we are having some issues with our e-mail, the incoming ones are coming through, but ones we intiate or try to reply to aren’t going out. Hopefully, we get this glitch worked out soon, but in the meantime we are trying to get information dissimilated from this site. With regards to contacting people, we are able to use “Skype”; our address is “rustyandkathy.leech”. This is an amazing program that our daughter Kari informed us of and utilized while she was in Costa Rica. You call people from your computer to either their telephones or computers and just talk as you would from any phone at home. Pretty cool to a “computer illiterate” like me.
Dr. Shroff said my stem cell treatments will probably start on Monday, December 3, 2007, (on Kathy’s birthday, she thinks that is so cool that we are embarking on this treatment on her day), when they get all the necessary information and test results processed. If you need an ultrasound or an EKG, someone (a contractor that the hospital calls up) pops into your room, with the necessary equipment and performs the required test. You don’t have to schedule with the hospital to go in on a certain day – according to the availability of the person or department that’s doing the test. It is discerning when we are used to having to schedule things in advance versus having them done within the hour of a doctor wanting them.
While travelling from the airport to the hospital we saw so many bewildering sights. As we were zipping down a very busy street, two gentlemen were squatting in the left traffic lane, at 11:30 pm, next to a traffic-warning cone, using a hand hammer and chisel to remove a concrete road patch so someone could work on the road. They had obviously been there for quite some time as you cou
ld see where they had removed chunks of concrete from a 10 sq.ft. area. It blows your mind to think how at home we would have had a mile of pre-warning cones and message boards announcing the upcoming work, then several CDOT vehicles and men with power tools performing the work, AND it wouldn’t be at 11:30 at night. Labor and “life” is obviously very cheap here – our car missed the one man by inches and he didn’t even look up.
We are going to attempt to go to a local market for food and necessities with another patient we’ve met here. Chris is from California and has a T-10 injury from a mountain bike accident, similar to mine. He has been here for 5 weeks so he is a wizened veteran to the ways of the world. He said we will roll down the street, (there are no sidewalks), with the rest of the crazy idiots and get our supplies. I hope this isn’t my first and last post, time will tell. Kathy is the eternal optomist, everything is an adventure and exciting – I’m the eternal pessimist, if something bad is going to happen it will happen to us.
Stay tuned to our ever-evolving story in India – maybe we can entertain and enlighten you at the same time. Thanks for the e-mails, encouragement, and prayers, they mean a lot to us.