Monday, March 30, 2009


Wow what a night or seven in the hospital teaches you.

So, this is a bit vulnerable for a pubic blog, but hey, I’m working on vulnerability anyway.

When Trina got sick, I wasn’t too worried. Sickness has become almost as common as the palpable smog around here. When she spiked a temperature, no worries either. When it went over 102, that was fine too. At 103 I started to feel concerned. 104 really scared me, especially since she already had the maximum dose of Tylenol. 104.7, and I was wetting my pants. Is this going to stop? When? How high a temperature risks brain damage? How am I going to get her to hold in any water? She was also shaking violently from the chills, and this didn’t do much to mellow the situation.

So I called the clinic I had heard good things about. I spoke to the person on the other end of the phone. Her English was completely indiscernible. It’s certainly not her responsibility to speak perfect English, but it wasn’t terribly helpful to me. Mostly, I couldn’t get any clear direction on whether or how to get there. I also talked to my travel insurance company’s on-call nurse. In a non-committal manner, she suggested that I take Trina to the hospital.

Now, you have to understand—India is a pretty chaotic place. It’s a mixed bag—there are indeed very high end services, and the uber wealthy in Mumbai and Delhi are as uber as anywhere else. But the gap between the rich and the poor here is the largest outside of Africa. Germ theory really doesn’t seem to make sense to the average Indian. In fact, I’d say it doesn’t make sense to the average Indian medical professional, at least in this part of Bengal. Now, that may not be fair. But it has been my experience. And this is Kolkata (Calcutta), not exactly standing at the cusp of Indian economic emergence.

Granted, we have been in a very above average hospital. But we really didn’t know what we were in for the first night. Our hotel put us in contact with Woodlands Hospital, and we spoke to doctor Ghosh (okay, could he have a different last name; it might as well have been doctor crassgore). His English was excellent, and he definitely recommended I bring her in. I asked him a flurry of questions, many of which may have been insulting (do you reuse needles?) and he assured me of their competence. We now know him very well and now also know that it is indeed fair to have asked such questions.

Anyway, with many doubts remaining, we proceeded to accept the ambulance. It took an hour to get to the hotel. In the meantime, Trina’s shivering had become almost violent. This was really disconcerting and if I hadn’t had the same thing happen two weeks ago, I’m not sure I wouldn’t have freaked out.

I had to help her down four flights of stairs; despite practically carrying her, it was too much for her. It was about a fifteen or twenty minute ride to the hospital (the other cars don't move out of the way for ambulances), and then she opted for the stretcher. No blood left in her face, stretcher, midnight, walking into a dimly lit Indian hospital.

I was really, really scared.


Court said...

No matter how much sickness is in our family, it never prepares us for our partners being sick. I think that them being sick throws our entire being off balance. Having that happen in another country, I would have panicked. I give you kudos .

Martin said...
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