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Heart wrenching

Life has very questionably weird ways of getting you to appreciate what you have. That realisation struck me when I least expected it. I didn’t expect to be thankful for what i had in a hospital, cos mostly what i feel there is anger and anxiety. I walked into Stanley hospital, Madras today with the same sinking feeling in my stomach that i experience everytime i enter the place that houses my worst fears.
The corridors had a deserted, deathly feel about them. The walls were chipped and i couldn’t really tell what color they might’ve been when there still was some light seeping in through the disfigured pattern in the wall. Room 405 housed the cardiology department. The board outside indicated that there were 19 patients in the general ward. I tightly clutched my mother’s hand and refused to enter. I saw 3 people with IV lines strapped to their hands, sitting on the floor and eating out of the same packet of rice. Even that rice seemed to be drained of any color. Few other patients were lying down in a corner that had a haggard looking man in an extremely dirty white coat noting down someone’s BP. A nurse was sitting next to him flipping through some files. A little boy was standing next to her shirtless and peering over her shoulder. He also had an IV strapped in addition to a heavy bandage on his bony chest. Another patient was lying down on one of the row cots that had a green sheet covering it. The sheet seemed uncared for and almost cursed. The green was just desperately clinging on to the sheet as if for mere presence. Just then, i saw a dog sleeping on the floor next to his wife and i knew it was not the sheet that was cursed. At that instance, I couldn’t stop the tears flowing down my cheeks. When i realised i had to walk in through the same ward, the tears intensified. My legs refused to move. I was so shocked to see a man treated this badly that the only reaction i could manage was tears. For a minute, i imagined myself lying on that same bed, lying next to a dog on the floor and I knew how lucky i really was.
When i went out in to the yard cos i just couldn’t look into the ward any more, i saw surgical masks, blood containers, stained cotton pads and used syringes strewn about everywhere. I couldn’t stop crying! These are human lives and they deserve to be treated with more respect. What ailing people need more than anything is care. Roaming about in their lungis and having to go out to buy their own food didn’t seem like care to me. More than anything, the infection spread by these improperly disposed medical waste made my skin crawl. I was this close to throwing up. I assure you none of it had to do with prude behaviour.
There were doctors and nurses standing about and chatting the same yard, oblivious. Or maybe, they were also just trying to survive. I couldn’t imagine going back there everyday, let alone fend for my living there. We have our health minister talking about on screen smoking and stars consuming alcohol. Can we please take a moment to prioritize here? What about these people who’re stuck here in such conditions for pure monetary reasons? These people deserve our time, money and respect too! I’m too shocked and tongue tied to even swear. Set aside fame, limelight, votes, power, post, and all that crap, please just look this as a human being. Would you ever want your children to set foot here? It might be cowardly to stand in front of a hospital and cry. But, I just slumped down in resignation!
Ps: the break still holds but i had to get this outta my system


15 thoughts on “Heart wrenching

  1. Hmmm….very pathetic. Indian Govt needn’t show lethargy in health and life. Very shameful of our country in this aspect. And that too compared to the west, where human life is considered important before anything else. Or almost. Btw, this post is one of the most thought-provoking ones I have read in the recent times.

    And U’r P.S is waste 🙂

  2. Real pathos! I have never been to a govt. hospital. But this post put every thing in perspective for me. I thought the renewation of the hospital would do some good but its gone from bad to worst!

    Rightly pointed out, Mr.Anbumani Ramadoss’s portfolio of work really belongs to here than any where else. I wonder when he would come out of that stupid critism of movies and cine stars and get on with work!

  3. Really bad! The saviors themselves will never go to such a place.
    Total empathy from my side. Really made me feel the pulse and the trauma of the moment.

  4. Arun > i always had a mental image of government hospitals but this one was worse than my wildest nightmare
    Nandini > thanks 🙂
    Prashanth > you’re right.. I’ve been thinking from yday and i can’t really narrow down on where to begin to make life even marginally better for these people
    Mayur > i have no clue how that happened! Sorry man.. Really! You want to leave your comment now? 😉
    Tejas > yeah.. Really sad!

  5. I have gone through a similar experience when we visited the govt baby hospital in Egmore on Rose day (Cancer day) to entertain the children.

    The special ward for cancer affected children was on the 9th floor and parents were always denied to take the lift.

    I can feel the same pain that I felt then when I read your post.

    WE have beautiful roads on the highways and skyrocketing buildings that speak about our ‘development’. But where are we in terms of minimal amount of healthcare and security?

  6. man, tahzt shocking.. and u hv to make a living there? yeah – ministers and the ppl at high up need to prioritise things – they need to change things at grassroot level than doping things whihc gives them media limelight…

  7. Well, for a fact life is crappy in India for the poor.But do we have to keep complaining. If you feel so strongly about these things. Why don’t we do something about it. Afterall the news about open drains and unhygenic conditions inside GH, sometime ago I did not expect anyting to change. Simply because our attitudes have not changed. Anyone up to do something about this. Mail me kumarbac (at) gmail (dot) com

  8. This is part of the story alright…the way the whole place looks and the hygenic conditions, etc. The real treatment (diagnosis followed by treatment) is all the more a lethargic process….so the government hospitals are not so much different from any other government offices….and one can fight with the doctors, nurses and the low level workers there that they are not discharging their duties properly but does not seem to make any difference to them….also in part it could also be the mental status of these people…and the so called pain, pathetic nature of human life’s status that u talk about in ur post will not even make a pin prick amount of pain in those people’s heart….all it takes is some powerful authority and quite a strong and iron handed treatment to create a change there!

  9. Gayatri,

    Unfortunately India is a country where living gets expensive while lives get cheaper, and this is a fact none of us would like to project. I fear nothing is going to bring a change in our politicians who are so thick skinned that would do a pachyderm proud.

    And hey, unlike what you said its not cowardice to stand in front of a hospital and shed tears. Your sensitivity to the human condition is quite remarkable.

    Best Regards,

  10. sometime back, i’d bee to a ward in teh cancer institure–> saw peopel from 5 to 50 there, sufffering n still smilin through it– god blessthem.. one very lil’ girl tugged at my heart the most, she woulnt even know what cancer meant..

    ya peopel need to prioritize.. there’s so muchpathos lying around, n somehow we dun even give a damn!:(

    time peopel at teh top gave it athought, as to where our maney as taxes should really go!

  11. long long time ago, i used to visit the children cancer ward in manipal…i recall it had a sai statue in their lobby…i used to sit with the kids and talk to them…being an idiot i wud also try to play with them…iam not a compassionate person…wht i did was for easing myself the weight of myself…i did notice how it was clean there…

    if things or organization have ownership it will be looked after…things tht are public will rot becoz its always assumed that it is someone else’s duty to look after it…

    talk abt this….write abt this…do wht u normally do…it will get better…co u will make it so…

  12. I can’t believe it :S I live in Canada where health care & education is “public” & “free” and everyone is entitled to the same care. I feel bad when I hear stories like this.

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