I had a dismal sickly New Year beginning. But that’s not the point. The disease was apparently common but the perky raised eyebrows of everyone who heard of it perked up my concerns well beyond measure. But that’s not the point again. What ensued was a flurry of bloody blood tests, examinations, prognosis, diagnosis, verdicts, judgments and conclusions and eventually, by the grace of God, recovery. And that again is not the point
3 days of excruciating pain took me to 4 medical centers in Lahore. Widely proclaimed, locally acclaimed but disappointingly defamed. And this is the point!
It was horrifying to notice the number of forlorn patients occupying any empty space available in the waiting areas of all these medical centers. The wrinkled foreheads, the saddened eyes, clutching a child or a medical report in their weakened hands everyone had their gaze on the entrance. Obviously awaiting ‘healing hands’ to walk through and attend to their agony.
Lahore is the capital of hospitality (ironically). When you finally sit down in front of the ‘healing hands’ you are always asked for “chai paani” before your ailment is treated. “No thank you, I will have puri bhaji with you some other day…” I could have easily retorted. Or perhaps I was asked as I am amongst the privileged ones because I belong to a family of doctors.
Despite this privilege I witnessed unquestionably long waiting times, absolutely pointless pre-examinations and outright idiotic questions.
The most horrendous visit was to an extremely well-known hospital in Lahore where I was taken to the labor room to wait for my ‘healing hands’ to arrive. Believe me the only laborious thing I had to do was to keep my eyes glued (despite the pain) to the door where the medical practitioner was supposed to enter from.
I was made to sit next to a removable curtain which when drawn would conveniently make a smaller room in the larger labor…err waiting room. Behind the curtain I could hear a nurse gently explaining the process of epidural to a man and his incessant questions on whether it would hurt or not. I was told that when the bed would be empty I would be taken in, which was not before forty five minutes of agonizing pain, patience and witnessing a plethora of patients being squeezed in.
Another up market medical center made me wait for a couple of hours, punctuated by frequent visits by the assistants only to ask if I was ready to pass urine. Or was asked half a dozen times “aap patient hain?”. “Nahin mein dulhan hoon” I wanted to snap back.
Lahore, a cosmopolitan city, beautifully green, wonderfully warm people, but sadly, atrociously suicidal medical care. Despite the “Very Important Person” treatment that was metted out to me in the entire medical centers the “Very Important Problem” that stood out was that of neglect. Ranging from hygiene to admitting patients, to preliminary checks to the actual diagnosis there was neglect. There was certain laziness that flowed out in the behavior and attitude of the administration and medical practitioners that was beyond comprehension.
As I prepare to leave the city I grew up in, recovered by the grace of God (ONLY) it saddens me to think of the unattended suffering, the casual attitudes and absolutely no hope for improvement in the medical sector.