In a hospital with a view…

My kid cousin fell ill yesterday night and he has been complaining of cyclic headaches all this while. By cyclic I mean, he shouts out because of an unbearable pain that hits him for about 10 secs during which time he clenches his forehead with such force that it is bound to melt anybody just watching him suffer. Then he is all right for a while before he suffers an other attack. Its been going on for quite a while now and the list of doctors who can offer any solution is decreasing by the hour.

All the top corporate hospitals are done and we are now checking out private clinics. The routine is the same. Be it Neuro Physician, Gastro- Specialist or a Pediatrician – Admit him right now and we will perform all the tests that we can at the hospital, get a few more if there are any new ones left some where and then redo them all over again if we don’t find symptoms of anything we know. Then after two days we will do all the tests once again to ascertain that we are on the right course and then do another round of tests to see that his condition is improving.

He is 5 yrs old, playful, you can still find traces of Holi festivities in his nails and eats anything and everything that he is forbidden too.

Yes he is suffering, but do you trust a child’s manifestation of pain or do you first come up with a prognosis based of the symptoms, diagnose what you can and follow a particular course. And the worst part, every doctor suggests a fresh CBP ( complete blood picture ) but none suggested a Blood Culture?

Blood Culture – the first step you logically should do when faced with symptoms of unwellness. Blood Culture should be done before any medication to keep a sample of blood in sterile environment to observe the mutations of strands of bacteria that may be present to see what direction the bacteria is heading to so that you can guard yourself by following that particular line of treatment.

I have learned this through bitter experience. Lost a grand mother because of negligence of doctor’s, faced Jaundice, numerous bouts of viral fever, successfully got my dad out of a close call through a major surgery and seen quite a few relatives facing similar situations. And not a single doctor even now prescribes blood culture the first time you visit him/her. They suggest it 4-5 days later when the bacteria is battered down by heavy dosages of “guessed” medications after which only god knows how its going to manifest.

Anyways, my brother was asked to undergo a CT Scan and we took him to this swanky diagnostic center complete with waiting lounges, television sets and loads of reading material. And there was no other patient around. This place boasted of having the best medical diagnostic equipment comparable to anywhere in the world and its coolly costs 50% more on every service that’s available outside.

I was in that place for 2 hrs and except the CT Scan machine that my brother was in all the other lab equipment – MRI Machines, another CT Scanner, Digital X-Ray Machines ( there were quite a few ), endoscopes, Real time blood analyzers and various other high funda equipment was all lying useless. The clients I have heard are few but well healed and all of them want posh environments with minimal fuss and waiting times.

It was eerie there or so I felt. Here I was, waiting in this lounge kind of area, surrounded by some of the most sophisticated equipment that had in them the power to diagnose anything that is wrong with a person and save lives and none of it was being used.

A couple of kms form this place was NIMS – the general hospital of Hyderabad where even a dying person would have to take a token in a line and then join another queue to get an X-ray, to determine which bones of his body are broken so that he can get them fixed. All the while he has to endure the pain just to wait his turn and if he were to die, the person behind him would thank his stars that he would have to wait that one turn less. And mind you, he is not heartless. He is just going through the same pain as the one before him is going through.

I sound hypocritical. Would I stand in that line because I am cribbing of what I am getting at this swanky center. Nope, I definitely would NOT. I would not mind shelling out another thousand bucks but would get the scan done at a neat & tidy place and get the best radiologist to advice me on the situation. That’s me. Us – All of you who might read this. But you just can’t stop feeling can you.

Just when I was thinking about this, a long car drew up in the portico and a really fat lady alighted from it. She was overweight, all dressed up – that typical rich P3 kind of lady who you see at such places. And she walks up to the radiologist and demands that she needs an MRI because she feels that she has a problem with her back and that her spine is giving her trouble. Rs. 8,000 for an MRI. She swipes her card and in she walks. Spine’s troubling her! What the hell was she expecting making a 1 inch support structure bear the load of 50 humans.

And at that exact moment there would have been at least one person dead – a hard working common man, hurt while getting down from a over-crowded RTC bus, not properly operated on because of the lack of a proper MRI for the surgeons to take cue from. And you again can’t stop thinking about all such stuff.

At the end of the day all you want is your near & dear ones to be happy. You are educated, well read, intelligent and smart. You don’t want to take chances with health. You know you are going over board with tests and all that stuff, but your mind does not let you take any chances. If there is a way to confirm something or the lack of something, you would go to any extent to get it done. That’s our tendency. But what about that common man on the street.

After the tests, I made a conscious decision to pass through the grounds of NIMS and the sight at night is quite over-whelming. There are more than a thousand people – all sleeping at any place that they find – most are patients, some are attendants of patients lying inside and some are well-wishers, all sleeping this night with a hope that tomorrow a kind doctor will cure them of their aliments and that they can go on with their lives.

Most of them there are living on their last savings, sold everything that they have got and are here. Most need MRI’s, CT Scan’s endoscopies but Rs 8,000 is what they could only be having for their entire life. Their entire savings. Can they afford a test like that?

Yes, compared to the west, the medical costs are very less but the per-capita is also proportional. The poor here still can’t afford basic healthcare. What of them? Who will care for them?

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