Sunday, February 26, 2012

Medical Matters

We've been here over a year so decided it was time for us "not so young ones" to get our annual medicals done - just a few month over due!

Simon signs up for the all-in physical at our local hospital. The Manipal is a strange contradiction of the chaotic and the cutting edge - again a juxtaposition of the old and the new. The doctors are excellent - trained all over the world and some experts in their field. They could have chosen a much simpler, easier, materialistic life in the western world but instead choose to give back and ply their trade in their home country.  Simon's physical started at 7.30am on a Saturday morning and he wasn't home until 2.00pm. Apparently his time was fully scheduled from x-rays, treadmills, headphones and of course breakfast and lunch.

I took a less regulated route. I first visited Cloud Nine a 'Womens' newly opened clinic which was spacious, peaceful and all hues of purple and pink. I had a timely, pleasant almost leisurely appointment with a lovely obygn. The whole experience was US plus some. Then I had to go elsewhere for blood tests, mammogram and ultrasounds to make up the annual performance. I elected the Manipal - I knew where it was, been there before and thought I knew how it worked!

Included in the blood test were the lipids which means fasting - not putting me in the best frame of mind, especially as I had to meet the OWC auditor in his dickensean chambers (must be subject of another blog sometime!!) first thing. Meaning it was 11.00am by the time I arrived at the hospital -by now salivating at the thought of a cup of tea and some breakfast, but it transpired any sort of refreshment other than water was some hours off!

The Manipal is awash with people. Whole families arrive en mass - the support systems incredible. Aged fathers in wheelchairs waiting for tests/procedures surrounded by their middle aged sons/in laws, wives and pre-school age grandkids - all wanting to go in to the consulting cubicles and talk to the doctors. By the end of my visit I was feeling quite lonely! However it does give a false impression of how busy the hospital as maybe only 1 person in 5 is a patient in waiting, the other 4 just in attendance!

I had a day of being in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong piece of paper. The Xeroxing experience was one less than efficient part of my day. The xerox machine was operated by at least 2 guys in what can't really be called a room, more like a cupboard. I waited patiently to have one piece of paper copied, behind several nurses requiring lots of documents, all of irregular sizes to be duplicated. At last my turn....."ma'am - have to get tea" -what both of the xerox guys?....apparently so. A while later, my paper is copied, "1 rupee ma'am." I hand over my smallest coin and signal to him to keep the change. "No ma'am - records not good" - so I wait again while one of the guys disappears to find my change, while the other is insistent I don't escape.

I do feel a sense of humor failure coming on as not only am I now very hungry but also very full bladdered as I wait for my abdominal ultrasound. At last I am called but apparently my entrails are not yet sufficiently pushed to the fore by my ballooning bladder and I have to wait longer. Beginning to feel a little less calm than normal I have hustled from blood draw to ultrasound from ultrasound to x-ray and back again. Everything, when you get your turn is very fast and very business like, a bit like being on a conveyor belt. No-one asks if you are comfortable, the implement is too cold...., I wait behind a curtain for my ultrasound so I can jump onto the bed post haste as the poor lady currently on film struggles off and as I can hear the doctor and technician discussing her condition I know she will be struggling......However, as I was merely there for a check up and a lot of my fellow patients probably don't have the resources for such preventative precautions and were there because they had an altogether more serious issue I sat and waited and watched. A people watching mecca. Life is so out there - in the open - the folks on gurneys waiting for ultrasounds, wheeled from their wards and left to wait. I was getting my blood test results printed out next to a young guy whose HIV test results were being printed at the same time, he grabbed them, sunk down on a chair and I hope was shedding tears of relief.......

Now I did find another apparent cultural difference. The mammogram seemed a little rougher (understatement) than usual and the technician a tad confused as she tried to push and squish me into the required position. Obviously feeling she had to give some explanation for this apparent inefficiency on her behalf, justified her need to use brute force  on the fact that 'Indian breasts more fatty/flabby ma'am - better" I took this as a back handed compliment!!

After 5 hours, now 4.00pm without anything other than water since the previous evening, I was finally free to go. Exhausted, shaking around in a rick (car having had to go to pick Simon from work), I could reflect on how in the west we seem to think the 'icing on the cake', the luxurious waiting rooms, the privacy, the comforts, are necessities. The actual procedures and doctors here are up to scratch, all is clean.....there are just no frills.  However, what this does mean is the costs are way lower and more people can afford the healthcare they need. For that I think I can go without the finishing touches!

1 comment: