…This evening, we were called back to the hospital to observe an emergency appendectomy. When we arrived, we helped the senior technician prepare what they call the OT (Operating Theater). We retrieved the reusable gowns and equipment from a steaming hot autoclave, descended down ramps (there are no elevators) to the basement, removed our shoes, put on slippers, and entered the OT. The patient was already lying on the table with his IV hanging next to him. He remained silent for the next 20 minutes as dozens of tools, sutures, gowns, and vials were prepared. The anesthesiologist entered next and administered spinal anesthesia through a terrifying looking 9cm needle.

The OT was kept unusually hot for this procedure using portable electric heaters with built in fans. With everything prepared and draped, the surgeon entered and scrubbed in. The procedure was much less invasive than I had anticipated. About a 2 inch incision was made right of the patient’s navel at a slight angle from vertical. We watched as the internal oblique muscle, in an attempt to preserve the strength of the abdominal wall, was split and not cut at a right angle to the first incision. After some pulling and tearing, the appendix and some intestine were brought out of the body where work to close off and cut out the appendix was performed. The doctor generously described each action he performed and educated us at every opportunity.


First Indian Haircut…

…Last night, I had my first haircut in India and left chuckling at the novelty of the experience. To set the tone, it was Rs 50 (about 97 cents). I had seen dozens of roadside open-air barber stands but I ended up going to where the local cricket players and my host father get their haircuts.

–A typical roadside barber setup–

To my complete surprise, the barber shop looked just like a nice women’s salon back home except that it was entirely for men (the female salon was on a different floor). I had expected some rugged virile establishment speckled with rust and dirt, especially after having seen what was offered on the roadside. Instead, I saw masculine men getting facials, shaves, massages, and manicures. The experience became comical, however, when I spotted a nearly bald gentleman reading the paper under one of those spherical plastic drying devices. It almost didn’t seem possible for this to be happening in Faridabad.

Although I asked to keep the length of my hair about the same, and even verified to make sure he understood my English, the barber’s first swipe took hair practically down to the scalp. I just smiled and took it all in, figuring that it would have to grow back at least before I returned to the States.

Once the haircut was over, the unexpected and unforgettable head massage began. Instead of a soothing, pleasant massage, it felt and looked in the mirror as if this man was trying to crush my skull. He interlaced his fingers on top of my head and applied as much pressure as humanly possible to the sides of my cranium. This was followed by more bone-shattering work on my back, shoulders, and arms, including popping each of the joints in my fingers. Finally, as I thought the procedure was ending and was ready to celebrate my survival, he pulled my arms straight back and then readied his arms between my elbows and back. I could see that some horrific back-popping chiropractic work was imminent and was forced to cry uncle. With my arms helplessly locked behind me, I just begged for the whole thing to end.

Although I had been slightly upset by the short length of my hair, I was happy to pay and left very content that I had not been broken into two pieces.

–Another of many roadside barbers–