Saturday, June 04, 2011

Out Patient Department

So here we go again. I've clicked on the new post tab millions of times in the past, not knowing what to write. But today I know what to write. And that comes after paying a flying visit to a few inspirational blogs. And a hospital.

I hate hospitals. They are depressing places. People hope to get back healthier, less wealthier and none the wiser. But it does teach you a few lessons:

1. Don't take anyone or anything for granted.
My paatima has been with me since I was a minute old. I am on the wrong side of the 20s and she is about 60 years older. She is always there when I get back home from wherever. It feels like home only when I see her. Yet, sometimes, I and the rest of my family--knowingly or unknowingly--have ignored her existence.

Until she had 8 large stones in her gall bladder. She had jaundice, UTI and all of life's complications. But she got past them all. And we got past them all too.

2. Money isn't everything. But sometimes it is.
The Doc said, "We need to mover her to the ICU. Your costs will shoot up like anything." Nothing moves without showing the greenbacks. Hospitals and the medical profession, like everything else, is a business. And profit is the bottom line. Somehow, unfairly, we expect docs to just do their jobs and not expect anything in return. But the doc we had was the best that come. He was honest and seemed like he knew what he was doing. And he did know. When I looked at the bill, which had put a price against oxygen (nebulizer) I realized, even breathing doesn't come free.

3. You've got to fight. For what you feel is right.
For hospitals, every patient is just another broken piece that needs fixing. Your time is of no consequence. There is absolutely no mercy for inefficient people who think they are doing a favor but forget we are paying them to do their jobs. On the day of discharge, billing took three hours and the junior doc came at EOD to give patient summary, That should have happened at 1 o clock when discharge orders were given. I waited for two hours, lost patience, gave them a piece of my mind and it all happened in half an hour. Just because they are the hospital, they don't have they have no authority to announce my time of death.

4. Family Counts. And your loved one.
You might be of no use but when everyone is together it makes a world of difference. I realized that the pain and the burden reduces to a dot. When family and extended family forget their feuds and stand together, even the silence, helps. And to have a loved one caring for you, it seems like everything will be alright. I never acknowledged it as much before.

5. Small pleasures are big.
Every small improvement in paatima's reports was equal to getting an unexpected hike (which I actually did). The laughs and joys we share in times of crisis stay for the rest of our lives. Cos they are so rare that you cherish them.

Hospitals are depressing places but everybody--including the patient--who steps out of the OPD is never the same again.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Not a Penny More

The guy came rolling our LPG in and thumped the bill in my hands. He was short, a little stout with a thick moustache, and doubly arrogant. I said aloud, " 360". He said "375". I was a little confused now. I looked at the bill in every angle possible, upside down, the behind, the front, up, down, everywhere. But there was no sign of the mighty 375.

I said, "The bill says Rs 360.55. Where is the 15 Rs you are talking about?" (Did they just attach VAT for cooking gas in the budget?) What was I missing?

The guy by now was getting irritated with me, he said, "Bill is 360, my money is 375." It was my turn to get miffed. "Doesn't the agency pay you? I am gonna give you 360 and nothing more. You came in your gas van, used the lift to haul yourself up. And there are wheels under our LPG holder. Nothing was any cause of inconvenience," I said, with all the control I could muster.

He got irritated again. "Its delivery charges."
"Says who? The bill doesn't say delivery charges: Rs 15."
He laughed, probably the first time in a million years. "Madam, 375 beku."

I walked to my room, got my wallet out. No cash. I checked my jeans I had 400 and some change. Gave him Rs 360.55, signed the bill. He was really miffed.

I said,"I am not giving you anything more. Please leave."

And he did.

This happened just twenty minutes back and I am so angry that I am shaking. When I told my dad he wanted extra, he said, "Don't fight with these people, what if they don't come? Thats' how its done, give them the money and be done with it."

Why? Isn't that corruption?

I refuse to pay. I refuse to pay auto guys one penny more than the meter and all my friends know that. They, and now B, say, "Its ok, lets go, otherwise they wont come. I'll pay the extra.."

Why? Isn't that corruption?

The point is, we are scared. Scared that we wont get an auto, we wont get a gas connection, we wont get admission, we wont get our passports, we wont get a phone connection, we wont get this, we wont get that. If we don't give, we wont get.

That's how it is. This is how the system works. Really? Who made the system?

So what do we do? Don't go down without a fight. Simple.

If you think it isn't, consider this: The people of Egypt ousted 30 years of terror in two weeks. For them, Mubarak has been around forever. They could have said, "It's all over the Middle East. This is how the system is, there's nothing you can do about it."

But they didn't. Because they decided to fight.

Giving the money is the easy way out. Of course, it happens everywhere. But that doesn't make it right. We need an Egypt against the auto guy, the gas fellow, Raja, petrol prices, food prices, inflation, government and everything that's wrong.

I just mailed Lok Ayukta. I am not giving a penny more.


Sunday, February 27, 2011

I am Outdated

I don't like change. Yeah, I know it's the only thing constant and all that. I still don't like it. And I have changed this first line almost three times already! The contradiction that I am.

That's what happens when you become a visitor to your own blog (or you forget that you are a writer first and then an editor). This space was getting rusted like my template. I was getting outdated.

Speaking of changes, blogspot has a lot of cool new things, new for me atleast. But so much hasn't changed. Not on blogspot, in me. Take this post for example, it still isn't going anywhere!

I was thinking about nonsense yesterday and I figured that my resistance to change has made me someone stuck in the medieval era. My perspective about a world of things is still stuck in history. So are my likes and the undesirables.

Take cricket for example. (for timeliness sake, this). I used to be crazy about the game. A loyalist to the levels of fanaticism. But after Dravid and Ganguly exited and a new line cropped up, I lost interest. Appa watched India win the '83 World Cup. It's 2011 and he is still a follower.

I just cant watch the game anymore. The IPL ruined it for me. I still don't like the idea of players on auction, like talent on sale! Who the hell thinks like that?

So, I am not interested in the world cup. So much for fanaticism and loyalty.

Nonsense thought number 2 came to me when I was looking at the calendar and wondering how useless my writers at work are. They are all young and have absolutely no respect for deadlines. Or us. They do have a lot of time to log on to Facebook and change their profile pic.

And that really really gets me. I am sorry, but there is a difference between office and a cyber cafe. I fail to understand how you can chat merrily and watch deadlines fly past.

I know everyone is on Facebook, (my mother is the queen of online and if social media was a revolution, she would be it's Gandhi)

I know social media is a big deal, I know it's addictive. And I seriously believe that it should be banned at the workplace.

And I know I am not even on Facebook. Why? I like e-mail more. I mail to keep in touch.

See? Who the hell thinks like that?

I need treatment. Do you think?