Shivering with temperature and shuddering with the horrible pain in my stomach I woke up one morning and dragged myself to work. I plop on my seat and put my head down on my desk; my boss walks into office with gusto and looks at me rather curiously.
‘Dhivya whats the drama for? Which one of your boyfriend is in town? You want a day off? Come on tell me’ with a grin on his face.
I really didn’t say much just mumbled and put my head back down. Now he was little worried.
‘Alright I will send for my car to drop you home go see a doctor and get well soon. Don’t work when you are sick.’
I got dropped home. I am new to Bangalore and I usually don’t fall sick so didn’t know any doctors around so I opened the yellow pages and found my self taking down the address of a Manipal hospital. Who goes to these morbid places for just a fever I thought. So I lay in bed wallowing in self pity.
I have always seen Dr. Nandakumar. He has treated my whole family- he has seen me through my vaccinations, he has seen me through various cuts and bruises (all a part of growing up), he has seen me as a pimply teenager coping with puberty, and I would have gone to him for this as well. He lived at the end of the block and more than anything else I trusted him.
I missed home suddenly, I felt horribly alone in this rather huge, exciting, cosmopolitan city, I missed rasam sadam, I missed my mum- oh I missed home. Well you just don’t think clearly beyond a point I was just getting cranky and the paracetamol was not working. I heaved myself out of the bed and decided I would visit Manipal hospital after all.
Hospitals make me sick; it housed people with funny ailments and wore an even funnier smell. One could see grotesque of sights there. With a heavy feeling I reached Manipal. I walked into a huge reception teeming with sick people. A tiny board said help desk which already had people standing in a queue in front of it I joined the end of the queue and waited for my turn. And when my turn did come before I could explain my position.
‘Ýou are coming to Manipal hospital for the first time?’
‘Register yourself there madam, next’ she pointed to another counter.
I walked to where she pointed and a board said registration. I explained to a woman behind the counter, who had more lipstick on her teeth than on her lips, that I am really sick and if I could see someone soon.
‘Fill the form’
The form had ridiculous questions like
Where have you heard about Manipal Hospital?
Which religion do you belong to?
And few more stupid questions. I filled the form and gave it to the lady she fed the details into her computer. The printer suddenly sprang to life and printed violently.
‘That would be Rs. 300 ‘
‘For what?’ I choked
‘Rs 50 for registration and Rs 250 for consultation’
‘You don’t even know what my problem is how you can put my consultation fee. The fee is paid after the consultation that’s why it is called a consultation fee’ I was nearly screaming now.
‘Thats what we follow here madam.’
The patients behind me were expressing their irritation so I quickly paid up and walked to the first floor as instructed feeling rather cheated already.
I enter the lobby to find it swarmed by more sick people the nurse showed me a chair at the far end of the looby. I sat there watching the muted television, I read the paper back to back both TOI and Express, I read some arbid magazines, I walked a little and read some posters on AIDS awareness and then I finally got restless. I walked up to the nurse and told her
‘I am really sick; I really would like to see the doctor.’
‘Madam everyone here are also sick, you have to wait for your turn.’
I don’t blame her for saying that to me although it just seemed like she slapped me on my face and I wanted to throttle her at that moment. Everyone waiting there were sick probably more sick than I was and she was just doing her job. I waited 3 hours before I met the doctor by which time I was normal my temperature had come down and it was way past my lunch time. The doctor looked at me and said.
‘What happened to you my pretty girl?’
I explained my symptoms clearly and he called the nurse to take my temperature which was normal.
He looked at me and said
'Nothing to worry my dear must be work pressure(certainly not) or a passing viral (what contrasting problems I thought). I will give some paracetamol and…’
I had waited 3 hours filled stupid forms to hear a doctor say paracetamol.
I burst out into angry tears the minute I stepped out of the hospital. It then dawned upon me I truly miss the Tender Loving Care that these big hospitals don’t offer they just fleece you of your money and are very impersonal dealing with sick people.
Dr. Nandakumar may have prescribed the same thing but I don’t remember ever having to wait in long queues, or having to fill tedious forms when I was sick. I always almost walked in and put my troubles in trusted hands and in return I always got back TLC.