June, 27, 1961 – First illness (Gene)

Record of Illness – 27 June, 1961 (written July 2)

As well as I can recall, my attack of acute bacillary diarrhea began to make its appearance on Tuesday, 27 June. Illness is not a forte of mine, and I tended to ignore the small pains that played around the back of my neck and shoulders. During the first week in India I had been aware that, even tho I perspired a great deal, my consumption of water had not been as much as was usual back in the States. On Tuesday I seemed somehow much more thirsty and drank accordingly. My food intake had also been correspondingly less than at home until then, but on Tuesday I found myself eating heavily to assuage a growing hunger. But, there were no signs of what was to come.

I awoke at 6 am on Wednesday with a very full feeling in my stomach and an impending sense of malaise which was realized when I got to the bathroom. Following that, on my way back to the bedroom I had waves of dizziness and slight nausea. This I assumed would pass, and I bathed and got ready to take the motor pool car to TCM in order to meet with Dr. Leonard and go to the Central Institute of Education for my first encounter with Mr. Athalye, Director of the National Institute of Audio-Visual Education. Dr. Leonard had purposely arranged this first meeting away from the IAVE. Despite a slightly cloudy feeling, all seemed ok and at about 10 am the meeting got underway. By 10:30 the bathroom urge grew again and I excused myself. Dr. Leonard informed me that the toilets were Eastern style and handed me a roll of toilet paper from his bookcase. I headed down the hall and entered the head, but was intercepted by an earnest young fellow who kept painfully saying, “yay-dee….yaydee….yay-dee.” I, equally earnestly, kept saying distinctly that I was sorry, but I did not understand. Finally, in my growing agony of pressure, I realized that he was telling me that I was heading into the ladies room. I headed gracefully upstairs to the men’s room carrying my roll of paper. I found the Eastern toilet to consist of a flattened, elongated ceramic toilet aperture inserted into the floor so that it was flush with the level of the floor. No toilet paper, just a water pipe with faucet, inches from the floor. Underneath the faucet sat a tin cup with handle. Straddling the toilet opening in the floor were two tile footsteps, each with a wide cross-hatch pattern. One mounts these and squats, pulling clothing forward out of the way. All this was to little avail, in this instance.

I made it back to the conference, was brought up to date and stayed with it as alertly as I could the rest of the way. Athalaye left by 11:00 am and Leonard busied himself with his other duties. Arrangemetns had been made for the driver of the TCM car to pick us up at 12:15. I sat in D’Acosta’s office (Leonard’s Indian administrative assistant) in a funk, head in hands for the most part of an hour, dimly hearing Leonard cope ably with an Indian student who desired to undertake a PhD program. From time to time I wandered the hall briefly. In my fog, it never entered my mind to ask for an early pick-up and return to 1 Mansingh. After several false departures the Indian student (I recall a strident voice with fluent English in an accent just off-beat enough to make it a strain to understand) finally left and Leonard busied himself with the wrap-up signing of papers he’d assigned to D’Acosta at the beginning of the morning. At 12:30 we finally got in a hot command-type car and headed back to TCM Then I had to wait ten yearly minutes before the pool pick-up car started on the lunchtime return route to home. There I hit the sack, with many trips to the head, each violent. Headache grew, temperature rose, and Anita called Dr. Prakash, who made it over by 6:00 pm. I recall wondering dully about the extent of brain damage that might occur.

Prakash found me in a nauseous state, prescribed anti-spasmodics, anti-biotics, paragoric and kaopectate and asked for frequent reports, which Anita phoned in. I don’t recall much of Thursday or Friday except Anita’s constant and tender care. Saturday and today (Sunday) have been progressively better. Today at lunch I took my first solid food my weakness is steadily disappearing. Tomorrow I go back to work.

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