Baffled. In agony. With anguish. This tale.
Prologue: It is August of 2015. It is almost clear that monsoon has given us a miss altogether this year. But, one has chosen to look past it. It is also now past 3 months, since the comfort of the corporate sector has been abandoned. And the founding of a new venture has been started in earnest. There is excitement that goes with this turf. All is good.
As September is coming to an end and the season is taking its annual turn towards autumn and then winter, the seasonal appointment is made with the usual ENT (short for Ear, Nose and Throat as one had learnt several years ago) doctor. And duly, medicine is prescribed with the assurance that at the end of the dose, “you should be fine”. And so the brand named medicine is dutifully consumed. And the dose ends with no effect on the cough. Maybe Homeopathy will do the trick, suggests wife. So a full month of treatment is taken from the Homeopathy doctor. Which produces no result, either.
As the month drags on, another doctor is consulted. This time a senior “pulmonary specialist” from a reputed government institution, presently serving in a private hospital. After several rounds of tests, x-ray scans and even a PFT (that is short for Pulmonary Function Test, as I now know), a healthy body and a healthy pair of lungs is found. And the cough persists.
By the middle of November, or was it late November.. anyhow, with a thumping strong chest, and a stubborn cough, it is time for another doctor. A renewed opportunity for a different ENT specialist this time. As November turns to December, the cough persists.
By now, it is clear that this is a bloody strong cough that refuses to be treated with whatever is being served! Late in December, an ordinary cough results in yours truly being admitted into a hospital under the “pulmonary” specialisation. Ill treated cough is now starting to impact the clear chest. After a round of treatment, just a couple of days before the calendar turns another year, one is back home. And happy to be so.
But the cough does not stop. It is becoming more belligerent. Now it is starting to break ribs. And one such bout, with a cracking sound, takes its toll on a rib. This naturally causes severe pain. And the cough persists.. but with the pain, it is hard to cough. So one is trying to stifle the cough and the pain.
And then, finally, fever. High fever. 104 degree Fahrenheit would qualify to be high fever. But it is also producing copious volume of sweat. I am changing my clothes twice or thrice every day. The SOS medicine at home is not producing any lasting effect on the fever.
So early in January, back it is to the same hospital and the same pulmonary doctor. She hears the tale of misery this time round and concludes “Pneuomonia”. With a broken rib, which later turned out to be many more than just one, the violent cough is taking its toll on the rib cage.
And so starts another round of fresh treatment. During this stay, all conceivable specialities in the field of medicine has a look at my condition. The Endocrinologist ensures that I am subjected to the most severe form of radioactive scans. It obviously causes even greater distress to my wife (whom so far I have not mentioned, whose suffering has perhaps has been far greater than mine!). But for the record, all of the expensive scans and blood tests and what-have-you produce zip. Nothing. Zero. (For the sake of accuracy, some tests were conducted post exit from the hospital).
Ten days later, with fever under check, and improvements being seen in the chest x-ray scan, one is finally despatched from the hospital. It is the middle of January. The doctor in charge explicitly advises me to stay indoors. And in bed. This condition pretty much ran through all of February.
On a side note, all the while, the new venture is on a hold. The team is waiting for guidance from someone, who is practically drugged most of the time. And the VC funding scenario is taking a tumble! Well, health is wealth, so who cares.
Back to March. Finally, the weather is beginning to turn again. And I am starting to show enough improvement to be allowed to live normally. But the cough persists. 6 months have passed. 2 hospital visits, 1 Pneumonia and 5 doctors later, no real improvement. By now, possibly a few kilos of expensive medicine and some inexpensive steroids have gone in.
The Pulmonary Specialist suggests that a second opinion may be in order. It is now April. Some new medicines are suggested by the senior internal medicine specialist/ general physician, responsible for this ‘second’ opinion. This new prescription, though,is promptly discontinued by the Pulmonary Specialist saying “we will decide the chest medicine!”
It is now searing Delhi heat. It is May. Coughing persists. Bronchoscopy is prescribed. I refuse. Not going back to a hospital again. So we go to another doctor for a second opinion (make that a 3rd opinion, actually). We are now with a Chest and Allergy Specialist. A million allergies are discovered. New medicine is prescribed.
It is now July. I have travelled to the cleaner climates of Scandinavia in the middle of June. Cough persists. Coughing was as intense in Europe too.
PFTs have not gone too well ever since that normal report in November. One is diagnosed with Bronchial Asthma. It did not exist in November. No doctor or medicine has solved the problem of my cough.
The truth is, that I have been wrongly treated all this time. There is no other explanation for this. Either the doctors are not competent enough in India. Or they don’t care enough for the patients. From being healthy a year ago, I am now an asthmatic!
A cough is a long discovered problem. Allergy induced cough should be the easiest to mend. But it is now going to be year. And my condition has not improved.
Now consider this. About two years ago, my mother was taken to a reputed hospital, as she was in pain and the Nephrology department took charge. They did not discharge her for 2 months. During the period, the health insurance policy covered for the Rs. 1.1 million expenditure. In the course of that ordeal, the hospital almost convinced me that she had cancer. The perfectly healthy lady suffered 2 seizures in a matter of 30 minutes, while there.. but nothing prior or ever since! She was rushed to the ICU on two occasions. And I was told to pray. It seemed from the doctor’s shrugging of shoulders and some loose statements that she would not survive. My mother a retired doctor herself came back home and a couple of months later returned as a consultant in the institutions that she used to serve. She was on her feet. Unfortunately, her back pain has not reduced. We did not know her kidney condition, but had taken her to the hospital for her back pain. And that has so far not been treated.
And this is the pain and anguish for me. That the patients, in the current discourse, are simply a source of cash flow. Nothing more. And they will do all they can to maximise the cash that they can generate from them.
I can confirm that we would have cumulatively spent more than Rs. 1.5 million on my mother and me over our respective treatments in the past 2 years. And neither of us is better. I am decidedly worse off than when I started.
Now the question is. What is to be done? It all sucks. If you can’t trust your doctor, who do you trust?
Epilogue: The new venture is now operational. It is trying to find its feet. It is trying to survive. Like all self funded grand ideas, it is currently like those babies that have to go through a ventilator to survive. I am working hard to make it work. It is a new kind of ecommerce that we are trying to build. We like to call it video commerce or online video shopping, where you see the video of the product that you find interesting and then buy it, if it works for you. We are targeting young women with our curated lifestyle merchandise at India’s first online video shopping platform: vidikart.com, and my team and I are happy to serve new customers here. Thanks for your patience to read all the way here. All will be good.