7/02/2014

A WEEK IN CRRH, GELEPHU

First x-ray. Then blood test. Doctor baffled again. Sent for sputum test.

Day 1
A young lady doctor had substituted the previous male doctor. From my position in the queue I could hear her speaking in high commanding and quarrelsome tone to her patients. She’s one tough character in CRRH ( Central Regional Referral Hospital ), Gelephu.

I produced the results. She scanned quickly and read my OPD card where the previous doctor had noted my symptoms: pain in the left chest, shortness of breath while sleeping, slight fever, dry cough. Agreed, that’s what I told the male doctor. She inquired whether I smoke. I am a strict non-smoker.she plugged in the stethoscope and pressed it gently at different points at my back while she told me to take long breathes – through mouth – simultaneously. That done, she held x-ray against the window to examine. Unable to diagnose the disease, the doctor went out to consult senior medical specialist. So, she’s an amateur. Young, dark and beautiful, another evidence that she is one.

After few minutes, she appeared and handing over the material to my escorts – my sister and cousin – said it’s pneumonia I am suffering from.

She asked if I am a student. I am a UG student, studying in India, on vacation. She asked again when I should go back. And only when I replied that I got couple more weeks, she tore a history sheet, wrote my name, age , sex and in tone adamant and irrefutable, told I need to be admitted.

Did I make a mistake by telling her the length of my vacation? Maybe not – it’s for my health’s sake, afterall.

Day 2
Medical needle punctured the vein of my left hand and was left inserted there from yesterday. Two antibiotics, Ampicillin and Genta are being injected into it. Four times a day: morning 2 doses, afternoon 2 doses, at dusk 1 dose and at 10 p.m. 1 dose.

Day 3
My immediate neighbour is an old man of seventies. He coughs a lot. Each time he does, he vomits but saliva. For this, he’s been provided with a container – a cut coco-cola bottle. His attendant is his wife – around sixties, I assume but looks aged equally. Being better comparatively I didn’t call for my attendant.

Past two beds, lies a cripple: serious victim of bike accident and substance abuse. A network of minute pipes are connected to his nose and hole at the throat and even to the vitals through which urine is siphoned off to a plastic bag. His attendant – younger brother – cleans it regularly. His tattooed arm is a testimony to the type of life he led. It rises automatically yet effortlessly when he chokes and instantly the younger brother has to come to the rescue: clears the hole with a pipe-like device blowing air. Poor him. His piteous skeletal framework is a sight in which I see no hope. But I see miracle in the young boy who tends his brother day and night.

A boy who’s junior to me by four or five years has a weird suffering. When alone, he says he’s always attacked by unknown unearthly strangers. Every morning, a foreign psychiatrist visits him. His father never leaves him alone.
*****
At night a woman in critical state is shifted to our ward. She’s connected to a monitor which displayed the reading of her pulse ( and heartbeat ). Doctors and other medical assistants calculate her health status from the zigzag lines running across the screen. The patient wails and wriggles but by the strong hands of her two daughters, she’s pinned to bed. I heard the daughters report to doctor she forgets faces and is probably out of consciousness.
*****
The rest in the ward are all the patients of common non-infectious disease among Bhutanese – either diabetics or BPH ( blood pressure high ).

Day 4
Fed up with medication. I am enlightened on why some patients die in hospital. It would be more due to boredom than the real disease they are suffering from. The interiors never changes. Only clouds do – from smoke white to dirty dark. No entertainment either. Thought it wasn’t included in order to keep silence. But neither the silence is observed.

The floors are moped thrice a day. Doctors make wardround once in the morning.
*****
The dog’s ill-omened howls fill the entire night and the nightguard is at peace somewhere.

Day 5
Gloom set all over – within and without. The heavy rain threatens to perforate the roof. No matter. The new hospital is under construction, right opposite to the present. It’s set to finish within four years.

Day 6
One death. Four births.
*****
Doctor said the antibiotics are due over tomorrow and if the opacity in the lower left lung is cleared, I need not go to the capital hospital.  If need be, I requested, I will travel on my own. Ambulance itself is a sickness. She consents to my request.
*****
One of the two nurses at nightshift blames the patient – who’s still ill after surgery – for directly calling the surgeon. They claim they are the immediate person the patient should report to.

After 10 p.m., the two switches off the light in the Nurses Room, latches the door from inside and sleeps. The real night shift has begun.

At 3, my neighbour coughs severely like dying. The attendant goes to call the immediate nurse. But the knocks aren’t responded. Perhaps they are on their own personal duty on official hours.

Day 7
Four mobiles altogether lost from the hospital. No trace of the culprit. The nightguard defends himself,” one’s duty should be to take care of things under one’s nose.” Well. What is yours?  And he adds,” this is the second time it’s happened to this hospital.” And you say this with a pride in your tone.
*****
One more x-ray. The result sends me to Thimphu. But I am happy (as happy as if I am graduating from some renowned university) because I am getting discharged anyway.  
Bid adieu to my colleagues.


 Soon need to head to the capital. This also could be one reason why the capital is over populated compared to other districts in the country.  

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