Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Indian Emergency Room (Part Two)

Part Two:  He was just doing his job ... and I don't fault him at all...but for the first time since he's been driving for us, I told Krishna to "slow down!!" He was driving right at that speed where accidents tend to happen here... I told him: "If I'm not having a heart-attack, you're about to give me one...!"

Both Amy and I don't know what we would do without Krishna.  He's really a super-star.  And both of us are really glad that Krishna knows his way around this town.  Unlike hospitals in the U.S., which tend to be well-marked (and on major streets!!) ...getting to Apollo Hospital is a bit of a confusing trek up and down some winding and narrow side-streets.  We had actually been there before (just to get some ibuprofen when Nassir was still our driver)...but I didn't remember it being such a large place!  Krishna pulled over at a set of chains which indicated that was as far as we could go.  I saw the sign "Emergency Entrance" and headed over toward it.

There was a large crowd outside the hospital...this seems pretty normal...I think it's pretty hot inside the "waiting rooms" so the people just spill out into the courtyard and parking areas...  As we walked in, there was a man on a gurney that Amy said later: "I don't think he was still with us!"  I ramped-up the prayers I had been saying on the drive over (not all due to Krishna's driving, I assure you!) - - and said, silently... "Dear Lord Jesus...please, I really don't want to die here in Hyderabad!...!"

We passed a long  "check-in" line and Amy went right up to the first guy that looked like a doctor...a nice-looking young man (aren't they all? - - I swear, they all look like "Doogie Howser, M.D."!) in a white coat and a stethoscope.  I could read his name on his coat, but I don't remember it was really long, barely fitting in the space on his lab-coat between the buttons and the armpit... and it started with a "V"...  Amy said to him, in no uncertain terms: "You need to look at my husband..."

The good doctor had me sit in a chair and listened to my heart.  He asked me what my symptoms were and I told him about the dizziness - - and my chief complaint...the fear about the pain in my left arm.  He immediately asked me if there had been any injury to the arm, and I told him about my torn rotator-cuff.  He asked me if I was having any chest-pains and I told him honestly that I wasn't. 

He guided me over to a gurney/bed behind some curtains, where they had a heart-monitor set up over the head of the bed.  He had me lie down...directly under an extra-bright set of fluorescent lights.  I shaded my eyes with my elbow.  Amy got a picture of this scene (bless her heart!!) which I have to get out of her iPhone when she gets home from work. (yes, today is the day of Ganesha's immersion at the end of this year's Ganesh Chaturthi Festival - - Deloitte is closed today, but she still went in for half-a-day to tie-up all of the loose-ends before going to the U.S. tonight!)

Looking up at the inside of my elbow, I had a great calm come over me.  It was like my brain finally registered that we had done the right thing by coming to the hospital and that I was in the right place.  I was still experiencing some dizziness lying there - - but - I was very, very calm.  They had closed the curtains and I called out to Amy, just to make sure she was still there.  An even younger-looking man came in with all of the wires necessary to do an EKG (or, as they called it here, an "ECG" - which I always thought was the proper term anyway, as "cardio" does not begin with a "K")...

The actual machine didn't look all that old...but the wires and "suction-cup" applicators that they used to set up the ECG were prehistoric.  Well, at least they looked like they belonged in a glass display-case in some antique medical equipment museum! The bear-trap-like clamps they put on my ankles and the heavy black wires on the suction-cups felt unusually heavy.  The "conductant" that the young man had applied was making it difficult for the wires to stay attached (far different from those little white patches that they use on modern EKG machines - - the ones that seem like they are attached with Super Glue and remove both hair and skin when they are peeled off.)  I asked him if he wanted to shave some spots on my chest, but he said that it would not be necessary. 

When he was satisfied that he had me all hooked up correctly, he started the machine and let it run and print for about thirty-seconds.  I had my eyes closed and just kept telling myself that I was in the best place possible and to remain in this really calm, peaceful place.  I MUST have been pretty relaxed, because when I saw my ECG printout, it indicated that my heart rate was only 61 BPM.  I could hear the distinct sound of tearing paper as the technician removed my report, which was about the size of an 8x11 sheet of paper.

The young "Dr. V." came in with the results in his hand...and told Amy (who had come into the area where I was) and me that he was quite certain that I did NOT have any cardiac related problems...and that he thought my arm-pain was probably due to my sleeping in the injured rotator-cuff wrong...and to take some ibuprofen for the pain.  He said I could come back in the morning and get a chest x-ray if I wanted, but he was pretty certain I was O.K.  I told him about my recent weight-loss and the taking of two of my prescription blood-pressure pills per day...and he told me to check with my doctor at home re: changing any dosage. 

So...the upshot is that my EKG was normal ... and the arm pain was probably just my rotator-cuff acting up. The dizziness is probably due to my not dialing-back my blood-pressure medicine and that I might be actually experiencing LOW blood-pressure (imagine that!!)  I fax'd my doc at home to ask him!

I shook the doctor's hand and thanked him for seeing me so rapidly!  I asked him where we go to pay, and he motioned over to a counter manned by two men.  "Just pay them for the ECG."

I got my wallet out of Amy's purse and went to reach for my Deloitte health insurance card...when I realized it was going to be "cash only".  I hoped we had brought enough cash.  At home at Huntington Memorial hospital, where there is usually a 3-4 hour wait to see and ER physician...if it was a "cash only" had better have $3,000.00 in your pocket for such a visit!!

One of the men at the cashier's desk told Amy the price.  She immediately began to do the computations when he told her "One hundred and seventy, please!".  Not too bad!!  But she began to think to herself ... "Wait a minute!  He wouldn't be asking for money in "dollars"...he can't be serious if he's talking about rupees!!" 

Indeed he was!!  And we have a paid receipt to prove this amazing fact: The ER visit and EKG cost us exactly 170 rupees - - that's about $3.67!!  And we were there, all-told, from the moment Krishna dropped us off, until we walked out the E.R. door, exactly 30-minutes!!

God is good!  And so is the state of Indian medical care!!


  1. Wow! That's crazy, K! I'm really glad/relieved to know that it was nothing. But wow, that sure was cheap lol.

  2. Thank God it wasn't your heart... As I just posted on your FB wall:

    I read your Blog and Thank God it wasn't your heart. (better get that rotator cup fixed). Do you know where many of those MD's at hospitals in India were trained? Here in the USA! Less than $5 for an EF visit, x-rays, etc. Incredible. (Is that the same as "Obamacare?")

  3. Oh my, I'm glad you're okay. $3.67 is GREAT! Aside from bad traffic there in India you two seem to be doing well. Congrats on the weight loss. Take care.

  4. Father, I am SO happy to read that your heart is fine! And very happy that you got such good, and incredibly cheap, medical care.

  5. You might be qualified for a complimentary Apple iPhone 7.