INSPIRED BY DAY TO DAY REAL LIFE INCIDENTS
I am Atmaram…..a poor, old, uneducated farmer from a distant village in Vidharba, visiting a city for the first time in my life….unfortunately for the treatment of my 24 year old only son, Baburao, suffering with recurrent episodes of sudden breathlessness due to his asthma….today is one such dark winter night and THIS IS MY STORY…..
No sooner the ambulance stopped in front of casualty of the well known Government aided MUMBAI GENERAL HOSPITAL, we rushed our son to the emergency medical services (EMS)…my wife still sat in the ambulance weeping. The EMS was full of patients, 2 doctors attending to around 20 patients stuffed on 12 beds to be precise and I stood numbly watching my son gasp for breath…. “ Doctor saheb, emergency aahe”, I shouted….. “Kaka, awaz mat karo….yahan sab patients emergency ke hee hain”, he replied bluntly….my heart sank…that waiting for those 3 minutes until he finally came to check on Baburao appeared like eternity to me….
He came, checked my son’s chest with his stethoscope and panicky shouted, “Staff, intubation trolley ready karo”…..Baburao was shifted on a bed, curtains drawn….. “Baba, central line……ECG madam……”, he shouted again…my heart beat fast…. I couldn’t understand what had changed so drastically in those 5 minutes….Everyone including the sister and the other doctor rushed to check on my son…..Time stood still for me…..
After 10 unforgettable minutes, I could finally see my son….rubber tubing down his throat (endotracheal tube) , a thin tube through his neck (neck line), blood all over his bed sheet…. “Saans aur dhadkan chalu hai”, said the doctor…..I felt relieved…..bad thoughts had corrupted my mind all this while…..my wife didn’t have the courage to see my son in that condition….she almost fainted…
Baburao was then put on some computerized machine (ventilator), drips as we waited for him to stabilize…..Blood samples taken, X ray and Ultra sonography (USG) chest forms filled up and handed over to us……we were happy to see him wave to us from a distance…. Baburao was better now and had to be finally shifted to the ward….I struggled to find the registration counter for the admission papers and the blood sample laboratory too….my old weak legs don’t have so much stamina to run around at this age…nevertheless, I was determined that everything will be fine and I will take my son back to the village soon….
Baburao was then put on a trolley this time, an intern ready to accompany…..but there was no servant to help us to X ray, USG and finally to the ward….crucial 15 minutes were wasted waiting for the servant to arrive….X ray didn’t take much time, but we were surprised to find the USG door locked…. “Kaka, 5 minute ruko”, the intern said and left in a hurry…..He came back with a call book……this time sending the mama with that book to the Resident doctor’s quarters…..call sent to the radiologists.Call was accepted….mama had returned long time back but there was no sign of the doctors….the intern went again to check on them…..they arrived finally, yawning, 45 minutes after the call was first sent….I was angry deep in my heart.
All workup done, we proceeded towards the ward….another shocked awaited us….the ward was full too and there were no beds available…..Baburao was then put on a mattress on the floor…No doctors around, no treatment, medicines started…..The staff nurse said, “Ab tumhare doctor subah aayenge, notes dalenge and tabhi kuch hoga”…..by this time, I and my wife had calmed down too….Baburao was calm now…..no longer breathless…
The following 4 days began daily with the senior doctor’s (Head of Unit / lecturer) round early morning…..registrar/ houseman’s round in the evening…..the usual blood tests, the sputum tests….those 4 days were like going through hell. Every morning, blood sample was taken….sent for expensive tests in private laboratories….The IV line had to be changed twice since it got blocked due to a clot…..some inexperienced students would do that…..It’s so difficult to see your son being pricked so many times….he couldn’t bear the pain…..I couldn’t help too except ask myself why he was used as a guinea pig for training them? I was also made to run around a lot of times for reports, medicines….why can’t they ask for everything at once ? The ward doctors would sometime handover to me blood samples of other patients who had no relatives round the clock….Extra IV, bivalve, medicines used to be ordered…..one was put to my son, rest would go in their stock….I still kept quiet……my money was draining….but my son’s improving condition asked me to keep mum…..I also used to feel harassed by students who would come every morning in 2s and 3s….ask us the same questions everyday for their case study….make us run around from one room to the other for their case presentations….I was so angry for my son having to go through so much….Also it feels odd to be stared at by 20 students at once, Baburao being used as a specimen…..Yet I was always composed.
On the 5th day, Baburao developed high fever since morning….for us he was in safe hands….But around 11.30 pm, he suddenly became breathless again…..I panicked, so did the staff nurse….no doctor was present in the ward at that time…..I ran to the ward next to ours….A young doctor lay asleep in the clinic room there…I asked him to rush quickly. “Tumhare doctor dusre hain, who mera patient nahin hai…..Kaka jao ward mein, doctor aate hii honge. Sone do abhi”, he said….I was shocked !! A young educated doctor, my sons age, was talking to me with no respect at all….least bothered about my son’s life…. I didn’t understand what was happening….Quietly, I walked to our ward and standing at the door, was shocked to see what was happening…..
I could see “our doctor” trying to give chest compressions to Baburao…my wife crying uncontrollably standing next to the mattress…For some reason, I feared for the worst….3 minutes had passed….he checked for the pulse, breath….. “Kaka, aapka beta nahin raha”, he said in a sad tone….I couldn’t believe it….shocked, numb, senseless….there was no word for what I felt in my heart…. There was no one to console me except my wife who herself was in tears…..We had lost our only son….our only hope for future…
Baburao’s body lay in the ward for the next 2 hours. While our doctor filled the death certificate (DC), the mama wrapped my son’s body… It all looked so routine for them….no feelings, no remorse…..nothing had changed for them…The sad face which had informed me of my son’s death was now smiling as he spoke to “the other Unit’s” doctor, the staff nurse….. DC read – Systemic infection in a known case of bronchial asthma.
After this life changing bitter experience, I have lost all regards for the heartless doctors….I didn’t even find even a single genuinely caring doctor there who deserved our respect….We miss Baburao a lot…we break into tears thinking about him….I often wonder staring at the open sky from my kaccha house, finding Babaurao among those stars if doctor’s really deserve to be treated next to God ? Ask me…I will never !!