Lessons from a freak incident
By Jose Kavi
We learn good lessons from bad experiences.
I was convinced of this after a freak accident on July 19. It happened at Cheruthoni, a small town in the Idukki district of Kerala. I was walking on the side of a road with umbrella in pouring rain.
As the place was slippery, I was careful not to fall and create a scene. At one place I bent my head a little to check the road. The next thing I remembered was blood oozing from my forehead. I had hit an iron bar tied across a telephone post used for climbing. The umbrella not only hid the bar from my sight but brought its rib between my forehead and the bar. A deep cut was the result.
With blood oozing, I returned to the car where my wife and son were sitting. My nurse wife used a kerchief to stop the bleeding while my son asked bystanders for the nearest hospital or clinic. “There is Idukki Medical College nearby,” one of them said.
“Oh no,” I said loudly. A medical college and that too under the government! I was sure they were going to mess it up. And I had my reason.
More than 33 years ago, I had met with an accident at Greater Kailash 2, then an upcoming residential area in South Delhi. A jeep hit my motorcycle and wounded my right heel. Flesh dangled from bone. My companion, Tony Joseph, took me to Safdarjung Hospital. They asked us where the accident took place and learning that it happened in GKII, they asked us to go to All India Institute of Medical Sciences across the road. Tony , who held my injured foot together to stop bleeding, was also covered with blood.
At AIIMS, attenders, nurses and doctors took turn to listen to story of the accident. Doctors would come and open the wound while Tony or I narrated the incident. It went on for more than an hour. As nothing was being done to stop the bleeding, I asked Tony to call a nurse I knew. We managed to contact Mary T S after some time.
Mary came and everything changed immediately. She called a doctor friend working in the orthopedic department. He took me to the Operation Theater. When I opened my eyes, the doctor told me he did manage to stitch the flesh back and God willing I would walk without a limp. I was healed completely, thanks to my nurse friend and her doctor friend.
However, what lingers in my mind is the trauma of going from one hospital to another without anyone caring for my pain. Both the hospitals are managed by the federal government. If you are a patient and a stranger, it is highly impossible that you would get attention there. Of course, it is another matter if you have connections.
Connections were what we lacked at the Idukki Medical College. Since there are no other hospitals around and bleeding continued, I grudgingly agreed to be taken to the medical college.
And the unexpected happened.
An attender came with a wheel chair immediately seeing me getting out of the car. He rushed me to the Emergency Room where nurses and a doctor came immediately to check my condition. They asked my companions to make the slip, but did not wait for the formality to be completed to admit me. They straight away took me to minor OT where they cleaned and stitched my wound. Both doctor Mithun and nurse Usha were extremely concerned about my pain. I was a total stranger to them. But that was immaterial. They knew I needed care and they provided it abundantly. I had to pinch myself several times to convince me that I was in a government institution.
I was brought back to the Emergency Room to recover. The whole place was crowded with all sorts of patients. But the nurses and doctors attended to all with patience and affection. They are government employees and could work at a much leisurely way. They could be rude like the healthcare workers I had met in Delhi.
I left the Idukki Medical College highly impressed with the service of its staff. If only other government hospitals in India could emulate those nurses and doctors in that remote town in Kerala.
May God keep those angels blessed always, I prayed as we returned home abandoning our onward journey. The wound on my forehead will keep reminding me the goodness and care I experienced at the hands of those strangers. Let their tribe increase.