By Angela Seneviratne
Greetings on your weekly Country Canter where I roll up what caught my squint and ruffled my feathers in the day-to-day grind.
For those of you who do not know me, have never heard of me, and have never met me in your porridge, I am someone on the other side of the hill, who sees things in a peculiar sort of way. It is not that I complain all of the time, but most, so please bear with the grumbling.
Just the other day, my crumbling form took for the worst as I turned a deathly shade of pale and floated out of consciousness, fortunately within the premises of a well-known hospital. Did I mention fortunately? Yes, it was in the ETU or what is known as the Emergency Treatment Unit.
What was such an emergency I do not yet know as I was there for a number of hours, each hour being billed for services.
The interesting thing is that the team of doctors are all of the same nationality, they hook up various others also of their own nationality, and have a well-organised little “up the other” understanding.
Why do our own medical practitioners do that I wonder?
This institution, where health is foremost, finds various maladies in you to keep that billing department busy all day. So I was diagnosed with a bug in my blood, my kidneys were affected, my sugar was high, my blood pressure was rocketing through the upper floors of the hospital, I had a urine infection, low iron, no Vitamin D, too much potassium, a rattle in my lungs, changes in my heartbeat, a crick in my neck, and a blister on my toe.
Therefore, I was prescribed a variety of intravenous fluids, countless multicolour M&Ms, or were they tablets? I do not quite remember now, which all resulted in my stomach shutting down on its frequency, and I choking on my own burps.
Was that descriptive enough?
Then, I had to undergo a lecture by a very confused dietician who could not choose between a diabetic diet, which is mainly whole wheat and brown rice-based food with a renal diet which is very essentially white, and a long list of taboo food.
She gave me a long lecture in a very thick Indian accent on the day I was not in my senses, and I happily ate what was delivered. On day two, when I was better, a sweet missy in the kitchen made some suggestions for breakfast that comprised kiribath or an egg sandwich. I opted for the last.
In rolled the food and famished as I was I devoured the sandwich. Oh wait a minute, had they got the diet wrong? I had a least four ingredients of the recipe right off the taboo list. I hollered for Miss India.
She tripped into my room with her thick eyebrows knit. “Is everything alright Maim?” she asked. Yes of course everything was alright. I only have a slight issue as I do not know to read English and cannot understand your diet sheet.
“Let me help you,” she said and started to read!
I kept a straight face as she repeated what was “must not consume”, which was in that sandwich.
When she finished, I turned to her and said: “Miss, I do not know to read English, but I do know to cook. How do you make your egg sandwich?”
She stared at me, forgot to flap her eyelashes, and spun on her heel mumbling something about being back shortly. I never saw her again for the rest of my stay.
Oh, the cute pint-size nurses are another story. I wondered how they would even assist a patient being so frail. Nowadays, nursing is only shortlisted to checking the blood pressure, pulse, temperature, popping pills, and jabbing injections; the administration of a cannula for the IV fluids is done by a specialist in that field only after the nurses have given up pricking the patient all over.
Gone are the days when a nurse would attend to your other needs as steadying you over a wash basin or giving you a sponge bath or even helping you in the shower. You have to now take your own helper.
That is a money spinning exercise in itself as you must order food and drinks for the carer and also change the linen for the guest bed.
My stay in this hospital was an experience!
Nurses almost always worked in batches of three, one normally not in conjunction with the other. I would get food and no premedication like insulin and then two hours later they would cluck that my sugar levels were high. The doctor would also cluck and inform me that another tablet was being administered as the medicine was not sufficient. It took me two days to realise that I was not getting the medication at all, but was being billed for it.
I think all hell let loose the day I was given a very strong sedative and was asked to have a good sleep. A few moments later, the other batch of Miss Petites breezed in with doctor’s orders of an enema!
I must say, their timing was really questionable. I very nearly would have had to pay for constant changes of bed linen had I taken that, as I would not have had time to groggily summon the nurse, get off the various tube connections, lower the guard rails and find the bathroom in the stupor I was in.
But what happened was just as bad. The tranquiliser transformed into a heavy machinery workshop with a lot of clanging in between my ears. I had a tough fight with the noises in my head and struggled to a sitting position to realise that the noise was not in skull but above my head on the upper floor. It would not have mattered if it was not at 10 pm!
Didn’t I holler again; and this time for the Duty Manager – a frazzled young man I made sit in the couch in front of me. I shut my eyes and did not speak for some time. I then slyly opened one eye to find him looking quizzically at me. “Is something wrong?” he asked.
“Oh, I’m so glad you asked. It’s almost Christmas. Do you hear what I hear?”
“What is that?” he gasps.
What is what? YOU tell me!!
I told him I did not know what it was and I did not want to know either, but he had two options, one was to either stop the noise immediately, or give me a booster dose of the tranquiliser. Off he scampered saying he would attend to the matter. There was silence thereafter, a bit. I never got my sleep back; Mission tranquilizer an utter failure.
I had the entire Board of Management in my room the next day. Of course they were very sorry and were very glad that I brought it to their notice, but I still got a thumping bill and had to calm myself for fear of ending up once again in the Cardiac Centre.
Rip-offs I tell you. Just you be mindful of the hospital you go to.
Stay safe till next Sunday.