Posts Tagged ‘Medical Tourism’

I recently had the uplifting experience of being confined to a public hospital of repute. I call the experience “uplifting” because of the simple reason that if I were to forget the medical problem and just concentrate on the overall experience, both the body and the soul were truly enriched by the time my confinement had ended.

I have stayed in private as well as in public hospitals. We often speak of the latter in deprecatory terms. The term “government hospital” invariably leads us to imagine dingy corridors, dust-covered wards, negligent and indifferent doctors and nurses, and equipment which is seldom found in working order. Well, a recent experience of mine has been rather different. The doctors have a richer exposure, and commercial considerations do not overtake health issues.

I found that staying in a public hospital eventually disperses the pall of gloom which envelopes one on knowing of a medical problem. Moreover, the experience has its funnier aspects which leave one convinced that a brief stay of ten days not only changes one’s outlook on life but also reveals its sunnier side!

In Safe Hands!

The pre-admission check-ups led me to various “speciality” departments of the hospital. Even though my problem pertained to the abdomen, my eyes, teeth, heart, lungs, kidney, liver as well as my feet were all subjected to a complex battery of tests. Surprisingly, the doctors did not think there was anything wrong with my grey matter, so the brain was – thankfully – let off the hook. All the brisk walking that I had to do within the hospital campus left me in a much fitter shape than I ever was.

Interspersed with social distractions, it took as many as ten visits spread over six weeks before I could secure the coveted admission slip. I confess this feat would not have been possible without a strong will-power. Of particular help were the juices of patience and perseverance sloshing about within us. The underlying spirit of perfection which permeated the whole pre-admission process left me in awe of the robust systems which are in place. The fact that an allopathic view of the body is highly segmented and organ-centric did lead to inconvenience. However, at the end of it all, I felt that I was in safe hands!

An Unjustified Feeling of Being Lucky

Once diagnosed and advised to get admitted, I needed the support of two able-bodied relatives for a week to get a room allotted. The endless running from pillar to post made me learn the value of team work. When entering the hospital with our bag and baggage, we had to negotiate our way through the over-crowded corridors. Our experience and skills in weaving our car through the arterial roads of the metropolis we live in came in handy. It took us some time for our nasal faculties to get adjusted to the all-pervading smell of disinfectants.

On the way to the room allotted to me, human suffering in various forms was clearly visible. As a result, my own ailment paled into insignificance. Suddenly, a realization dawned that I was luckier to have a sickness which was much more manageable. Looking at people of all shapes and sizes with hopelessness oozing out of their sullen eyes, I thanked the Almighty for having been kinder to me than to quite a few others.

Being in a Medical Zoo

Once I and my wife had settled down in the room, we had a feeling as if we were either in a fish bowl or in a zoo. Just like the hapless animals confined to their cages, much away from their natural habitat, we were in a room, temporarily uprooted by fate from our home and hearth. In a zoo, the poor animals get ogled at, teased and harassed by the visiting public. Likewise, it was pretty normal for us to be visited by a group of enthusiastic as well as not-so-enthusiastic doctors, nurses, paramedics and other staff.

I dare say that the animals in a zoo are much better off; they at least have fixed visiting hours. We had no such luck. Late in the night, when we had switched off the lights and believed ourselves to have earned a night’s reprieve, a group of interns walked in, asking all kinds of questions regarding my medical history and current predicaments.

Animals get fed at random by some naughty kids, egged on by their cheering parents. In the hospital, I was fed medicines from time to time by the visiting nurses. I dare not call them naughty, because some of them wore a stern look which would have put a Hitler to shame.


Early morning, we would get rudely woken up by the cleaning lady at some ungodly hour. Her concept of playing “Suprabhatam” was a loud and unending banging on the door. The rude banging, reminding me of the percussion beats of a broken tabla would continue till the time my wife gingerly got up and switched on the lights.

Throughout the day, at frequent intervals, nurses would waltz in, either drawing a blood sample, or taking body temperatures, or simply reminding us to arrange our things tidily since the doctors would be on their routine rounds soon. A single doctor would pop up, aiming to check my blood pressure and pulse rate. A gang of doctors would then troop in, shoot a couple of perfunctory questions, and leave us wondering what would happen next. Specialists from various disciplines like cardiology, orthopaedic and ophthalmology would keep turning up in an endless stream throughout the day.

A Delighted Better Half!

Cleaning ladies, maids serving three meals and milk, coffee etc. in the day, would make a beeline for our room, ensuring that we both were well fed. This kind of dietary pampering left my wife in high spirits after a very long time. She no longer had to worry about the cooking and household management issues that plague her at home.

Experiencing Medical Tourism

We had several Good Samaritans supporting our unique venture in medical tourism. Delicious home cooked meals were just a call away. Internet connectivity was never an issue, though we never got leisurely time to enjoy the same. Supplies like newspapers, fruits, snacks and biscuits kept pouring in automatically.

One afternoon, a charming friend walked in and we had a leisurely chat on spiritual matters. Another evening, a friend walked in with piping hot samosas. Wife volunteered to use her electric kettle to produce a few cups of tea. A senior acquaintance walked in, only to find a rather boisterous tea party in progress. Overcoming his surprise and amazement, he lost no time in joining in!

Absolute Surrender

On the day of the surgery, it was as if my physical body had been forced to surrender, albeit not to a higher force but to an angel doctor who played God at that point in time. Post-operative care was compassionate and even small complaints were promptly attended to. On our request, the nurse on duty ensured that we were not woken up very early, but only at a more decent hour when it was absolutely necessary. This speeded up my recovery.

Why Public Hospitals Score Over Private Ones

By the time my treatment got over, I was not only healthier but also wiser. Having dutifully paid my taxes all through my working life, I realized the good silent work the government was doing in running these institutions of excellence, where the best possible medical care was being made available to the public at a minimal cost. Due to a much better exposure to various kinds of ailments, the technical knowledge of the doctors was much better than in privately managed hospitals. Above all, the patient is only expected to fall in line with the system and be “patient”, rather than being viewed as yet another money-making apparatus for the hospital.

Home, Sweet Home!

At the end of the ordeal, I look outside the window of my bedroom and notice that the birds are chirping merrily, the sun is shining brightly on a lazy winter morning, flowers are in full bloom, colourful butterflies are flitting about seeking their daily dose of nectar and the bees and the ants are going about their daily chores with much zest and vigour. Sipping a cup of tea, I fondly remember the efficient doctors, caring nurses and empathic staff I had come across during this unique medical sojourn!

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