A Medical Nightmare

A Medical Nightmare

Last week I had a near-death experience. I caught a cold. My friend, who is a Google-enabled medical expert consulted his smart phone. “Dude,” he...

Last week I had a near-death experience. I caught a cold. My friend, who is a Google-enabled medical expert consulted his smart phone. “Dude,” he said. “You have swine flu.” I smiled nervously. “It’s just a cold,” I protested. “Look,” he said, showing me his phone. “…could be swine flu…could be pneumonia... could be much worse …”. He looked at me like I was a dead man. My legs went weak. My face went pale. My temperature rose. “You don’t look too good,” he said. “Let’s see a doctor,” he said.

In the car we listened to the radio. There was an advertisement about a guy who had heart pain and how the Considerate and Thoughtful hospital saved him. “Otherwise I’d be dead,” he said gratefully. My heart developed a slight pain. But I said nothing, otherwise my friend would predict worse stuff than I can imagine.

That’s what Google does – make our imagination a million times bigger. A huge hoarding advertised that hospital – “Come now. Our latest equipment and best doctors are waiting for you.” I pointed weakly to that hospital. “Four star reviews,” said my friend.

Thousands of people hurried about with folders, wheelchairs, bags with cash, etc. My heart went cold. Will I ever be able to see the doctor and the equipment that was waiting to save my life? In the waiting area they had a large television playing a serial that had won the ‘Serial-That-Makes-People’s-BP- Rise-Exponentially’ award for five years in a row. I watched it, little knowing that my BP was creeping northwards. It made me anxious.

When I tried to avoid the TV serial, I found posters. “If you have a headache, get your brain scanned for unknown, rare diseases in our new equipment. Enjoy our specialty ICU for commonly uncommon colds. If your back hurts, our painless surgeries will replace your entire back, make it like Sunny Leone’s and send you home while you eat pizza.” It sounded very exciting and many patients were discussing how they hoped they would get a chance to try those treatments.

A lady outside our doctor’s room called my name. She was supported by a large team of large people – one lady for namsathe, one man to look us up and down, one to walk along the corridor and flirt with the nurses, one to talk busily on phone, etc. The doctor saw us after two hours on an emergency basis, after my friend tweeted to the Ministry of Health, and they intervened.

One look at me and the doctor’s eyes grew wide. He had expressive eyes (but low on other forms of expression). “Since when?” he said.

“Yesterday,” I said. He said nothing. I looked deep into his eyes, hoping they would tell me something. He looked away. The guy behind him looked even more concerned. “Do these tests,” they said.

Meanwhile my friend showed them his Google-enabled diagnosis– was it this rare and fatal disorder that started with a cold and ended with slow death. They all looked grim.

The diagnostic tests started with taking my blood, urine, stool, hair and proceeded to taking my chair, furniture and pretty much my house by the end of it. The diagnostic staff looked at me with the same expression that the doctors had. My friend checked their expressions on his phone.

He found out they were standard hospital expressions world over, prescribed wear for the new machines. Back at the hospital, the doctor looked at the reports. His face grew grimmer - something I thought was not possible. His assistant told me that minor surgeries were required.

They did not want to take any chances. He looked pointedly at my nose. I got worried. Were they planning to surgically remove my nose? I hid my nose with my hands. He looked at my hands with new interest. I hid my hands before he proposed some new procedure on them. He gave me a disgusted look. “How much does it cost?” I asked. “One lakh to two lakhs,” they said. Thankfully it was close to my insurance amount.

“But, surgery?” I asked, “I am feeling fine but for the cold”. The doctor looked grim. The nurse looked grim. The receptionist looked grim. The security guard looked grim. The walls looked grim. I told them I would return after selling my ancestral lands. I had no more energy or money left.

I went home. My grandmother saw my face and smiled at me. It was the first smile I had seen that day. She made me inhale steam and made some concoction to drink. Mom gave me a hug and a blanket. I was feeling warm and good.

I switched off my phone. My friend was busy sending me latest scary findings on my condition all night. I also got many ‘thank you for visiting our hospital …waiting eagerly…’ messages. I woke up next morning feeling much better. While sleeping I had a dream that my nose had been surgically removed - but the cold remained. In one scary moment, the doctors looked at my head. That’s when I woke up.

Thankfully my nose was intact. And the cold, gone. Must have been a nightmare. Whew!

By: Harimohan Paruvu

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