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The Saga of my First Indian Hospital Experience

August 6, 2011

This post is going to have to be short and sweet: I’m writing it one handed.  Spelling mistakes? Deal with it blog world, my boss has to deal with my typos this week so you’re not alone.

OK rewind to last weekend. It was awesome, I was soooo looking forward to blogging about it. Sunday night, the night before my bday, I decided I should TOTALLY take my birthday (Monday) off work. I was feeling burned out, overwhelmed, sunburned, and uninspired for consulting!

Voila! I was taking a “sick” day when I wasn’t technically sick. Of course Karma owed me this one.

Anyways, long story short on my way to the gym for what I assume would have been the most epic and amazing run of my life, I stopped at the bank, slipped on the slippery stairs, and BAM landed on my outstretched right hand.

My right hand. The one I write with. The hand I use to high five LIFE everyday that I have use of both hands. UGH.

So I go to Doctor #1. The customer service rep from the bank takes me, you know as a “sorry” for the fact that it was technically their fault I slipped at the bank. Doctor #1 tells me he knows its broken, and I should go to his friend the Orthapedist one town over and he’ll drive us there. Immediately, I smell  a little bit of trouble.  I figure he’s going to get a commission from whatever this guy charges me.

But was I thinking this clearly at the time? No. I had a hint of the potential I’d be “taken for a ride” but my wrist and my mind were screaming “I’ll give you all the money in my bank account if this guy will fix my F-ing wrist”

But my bank-chaperone wanted nothing to do with this. She insisted we go to HER family’s doctor, who would confirm there was nothing wrong with me. In the meantime, doctor #1 put about 2 tablespoons of ANTISEPTIC cream on the spot where he thought my wrist was broken. I was majorly confused……its a break, not a cut. But whatever, safe side?

My bank chaperone (BC from now onward) was super sweet, but pretty unsympathetic. She told me “i break things all the time paying football for the bank team, this looks like a sprain.” Thank you, BC, for your expert opinion. I also have broken a bone or two in my time, I know what it feels like.

BC continues to suggest i go to her family physician. I gently decline, stating that either way I know I need an X-ray, so I don’t want to make another stop. She just as politely declines my decline, telling me her family physician treats her WHOLE family so he’ll know what’s wrong with my wrist. I politely decline her decline of my decline and inform her that I’ll be going for my x-ray now, she’s been so sweet but needn’t join me.

We proceed to Holy Family hospital, NOT the hospital I wanted to go to, but the one my BC declares is the proper hospital to go to. The one by my house, the one I want to go to, is going to overcharge me, she tells me. again, my head and my wrist are screaming “I’ll give you all the money in my bank account if you just stop hassling me and let me get my wrist fixed. I dont CARE how much the x-ray cosssssssssttttsssss. ” <—- that was a typed-interpretation of a crying whine. It was really mature, I assure you.

So we get to Holy Family, doctor #3. (Doctor #2, BC’s all-knowing family physician, was sidestepped). I get an x-ray. It costs 450 rs. That’s $10. I’m pumped that this is turning out to be so cheap. I’m confident it’s just a tiny break, I’ll get a cast and get out of there, to be on my way to better in no time. I attribute the continued intense pain to my long wait before visiting the stupid hospital!

Now we actually see doctor #3. The doctor at Holy Family. I ha d him my x-rays, and he holds them up and announces “it’s not broken”. EXCUSE ME? SAY WHAT NOW?

I implore him to look at the x-ray again, properly. He passes it to a colleague. She glances at it and tells me it’s a sprain. I should wrap my wrist in an ace bandage I’ll be fine in a few days.

At this point, BC begins to add her opinions again. She tells me she knows my wrist hurts, but I’m probably overreacting. She wouldn’t know, she says, because “Indians are just built tough. We just carry on. we’re just built so tough.”  thank you, BC, I know that demanding proper medical care DOES make me weak. I wish I had been built tough. 

I realize here that I’m not going to get an answer. They didn’t even have me unwrap my wrist so they could look at it, nor did they even put the x-ray against a light-board thingy. Bad news.

The wrapping from hospital #1.

I get home and feel  supremely sorry for myself. It;s my birthday, I KNOW my wrist is broken and the doctor refused to even LOOK at it. I scour my X-ray tryin to pay doctor and find the break on my own.

can you see the break? It's hard without an x-ray light board. My doctor should have known that, right?

Luckily when my flatmate called me, she came right home to go with me to the PROPER hospital, the oneby my house. the one BC told me was too expensive, and insisted we go to holy family.

I walk in there, they take my X-ray and immediately put it up on an x-ray board! YAY for professionalism in medicine!

A half hour later I;m sitting with an Orthepedist who tells me he can CLEARLY SEE THE BREAK. Clear as day.THANK YOU. I certainly don’t want a broken wrist, I would have preferred a sprain, but when you KNOW it’s broken, you just want someone to confirm that you’re not an over-reacting crying ridiculous dramatic gora who wasnt “built tough”.

Thirty minutes later I’m in a partial cast, awaiting a CT to see if I broke my hand also. (Oh how i wish CT stood for Connecticut here….sigh).

Thank goodness I had just had a manicure….I’m going to be living with these nails for a month!

One CT, one Ortho appointment, three teary phone calls to my mom (ok actually like ten), some cookies and a TON of painkillers later, here we are:

The Blue Monster

After three days, three/four doctors, still going to work (worst idea ever), I finally had a cast that I feel I would have had “same day” in the US. Ironically when I was 10, I broke the SAME wrist and did have to wait two days! But, it was in the middle of a blizzard and the orthepedist was snowed in! So maybe Indian wait times are completely reasonable and we all jsut get whiney when we’re hurt.

Honestly, I’ve tried really hard not to let this be a reason to complain about India and get down about Mumbai. Moreso, I was appalled that the less-expensive hospital, the one that is more economically accessible to people (but is still not a public hospital by the way) let me leave with a broken wrist! If I didn’t have the ability to pay the high fees  of Lilavati, I would have just let a broken wrist heal without care!  (An, truthfully, I can’t afford Lilavati. AnthemBlueCrossBlueShield affords Lilavati) That could result in a serious handicap, and I cannot believe that a hospital would miss such a simple diagnosis. Another reason to thank my lucky stars for the advantages of being “rich” in India.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Moonie permalink
    October 13, 2011 7:01 pm

    Yups, it would be better if you just go back to your ‘developed’ country!!

    • October 14, 2011 4:32 am

      “just go back” no way. Demand better care? Absolutely. As I mentioned, the tragedy here is not my silly broken wrist but the service levels of an affordable hospital.

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