Wednesday, April 24, 2013

For the modern Jatayus.....

About  15 years ago,  my late mother had occasion to be present for someone's angioplasty in the US.  On her return, she remarked on something she found to be very thoughtful and impressive.  Turns out that a few days a day before the actual event, the doctor met the entire family, and explained to them at length , in a way they could understand, about what procedure he would be performing; the pre and post  procedure scenarios; he handled questions with great sensitivity, answered them at many levels from beginner to med-student.  Regardless of what was the final outcome of that procedure, she thought that this experience was something we could emulate here, but mostly didn't.

Which makes a lot of sense in these E-enabled days.  Most times, as we celebrate fancy medical hardware and spiffy software, we give humanware the royal ignore.

I don't live in a place where Apollo Hospitals exist. But some similar types do.

I haven't, with some luck, managed a serious hospital stay, of some duration for almost 25 years, but one recent experience of mine was in emergency cardiac care (for someone else). An alert staff, quick appearance of cardio expert on duty, quick relevant communication, and a procedure under way, without waiting for paperwork to be completed. Waiting outside the Cath Lab, with reassurance from folks passing in and out of it on duty, and finally , once it was over, a one on one session with the consultant cardiologist who took pains to explain the problem, the solution, and the success, with the help of  a saved computer file , which depicted the actual procedure. It isn't as if we understood the details. But the visuals helped, our relatively basic questions were seriously answered, post operative ICU stuff was explained, and we felt we were getting somewhere.  

Apollo Hospitals indicate a plethora of cutting edge technologies that they follow in their premises.   Radiosurgery, Liver Transplant,  Bone Marrow Transplant,Hand & Microsurgery, Infertility Care, Cosmetic Surgery, Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery , Birmingham Hip Resurfacing, Stem Cell Transplant, Emergency & Trauma Services, Minimally Invasive Coronary Artery Surgery, Bariatric Surgery, MRI-HIFU - Non-Surgical treatment of Uterine Fibroids, Robotic Surgery,The Renaissance Robotic Surgical System, PET-MR Suite, G scan - an Open Standing MRI scanner.... the list is endless.

If I didn't know better, and hadn't met folks who were at the receiving end of some of these things, and  are today having an improved quality of life and activity, I would say these are like modern designer treatments......

Somewhere in all this brilliant expertise, is normally a patient, flummoxed by what is going on.

Some get tongue tied in front of an impressive doctor, some blindly follow what the doctor says, and some like me,  ask what the world thinks are stupid questions, because the body in question happens to be mine, and I need to know the inputs and outcomes.

I despair sometimes, because "Modern Healthcare" seems to be about  recommending the latest drugs, regardless of the need, where something simple may suffice. Just last week, I had personal experience of being recommended a particular drug (by a fancy big hospital clinic) which was actually like killing an ant with a nuclear bomb.  The drug had so many undesirable side effects for patients with certain predispositions. Coincidentally, I also heard then about a friend in another city, who was advised the drug and ended up in the ER .

 My idea of modern healthcare would be the ability to reap the benefits of the new technologies and learnings, after things were explained to me , and my questions, however stupid, answered.

My idea of modern healthcare in hospitals like Apollo and others , would be to  create a intermediate strata of health care professionals that would do what GP's did in the old days.  Talk and learn about the patient. His lifestyle. His habits. His family situation. History.  Physiological and Anatomical Predispositions.  His health complaints. His attitude. Condense  and upload these facts into a system where someone else can understand the patient later, if need be.

My idea of modern healthcare would be a system  which would make it available to all strata of society, by subsidizing those who would not normally afford it. Not through compulsory government directives, defining "Charity" cases  and so on, but by involving corporates in CSR, who tie up with them for employee benefits . 

My idea of modern healthcare would be to reassure patients about to undergo investigative procedures , with a small pre-procedure chat on what was about to happen.  I have seen so many technicians simply bark out instructions . Like when I went for my one and only MRI, they were in such a hurry to load me on to the sliding plank, I had to ask what I needed to do should I need to sneeze, cough etc, in a procedure where I needed to not move at all.  Whereupon they suddenly dumped a clickable bell on to me and disappeared.

My idea of modern healthcare would  allow me access to relevant websites with accurate information , not influenced by Pharma companies,  hyperbole, or careless content writing.   Many years ago I learned about neonatal thyroid checking as a way to preempt possible  developmental problems later on for the child.  I learned that this was not being done  routinely at all for newborns. The blood test is considered expensive. I checked with the website for the  Indian Academy of Pediatrics.  And was aghast to read that so many "milligrams" of eltroxin was the treatment.  (The treatment even for folks my age , is in micrograms) This was rank carelessness, in failing to check content before and/or after uploading. Creating websites for publicity and accuracy be damned. I did write to them  about this. But then, I am not a doc .

My idea of modern healthcare , would be a judicious use of preventive measures for checking for modern diseases.  Limitless scans and Xrays  every time you go to a new doctor, for something that can sometimes be diagnosed by touch.  So much radiation without a concern for the body. If I were a cell , I would protest, vociferously.

My idea of modern healthcare would be education of ordinary people on the excessive usage of chemicals in our daily lives. In the various cleaners advertised and used, the sprays to make our houses smell like flowers, and bodies smell like soaps. All containing fake estrogens detrimental to our body, that remain particulate in the air while we think we are suckers for cleanliness, and dirty the body while keeping the house superclean.  

......Almost 30 years ago, when my kids and their cousins would crowd around their grandfather after dinner, to listen to him tell tales from the Ramayan , with visuals from Amar Chitra Katha, and a voice with expressions and role-playing by the grandfather, the favorite was always Hanuman.  And they loved to repeatedly hear, about him carrying an entire Meru mountain because he couldn't identify the actual medicinal herb , Sanjeevani, that grew there, which,  a badly injured Lakshmana needed, before he could get well and fight Ravana.

One day, the story of Jatayu , the Garuda bird, was on by popular demand, he had just been fatally  hurt trying to save Sita, his end was near, and in the middle of it all, a little voice piped up, " Why didn't they call  Hanuman ?  He could have got some stuff and saved Jatayu ?"   and grandpa had no answer .....    Little minds do not comprehend time as a dimension.  They just remember the useful information.  Besides, Gods did magical stuff.
Currently we have mountains of knowledge . So many powerful Lakshmans benefiting from the medicinal Meru, brought in by Hanuman Pharma.

 Our healthcare will actually be said to be modern , excellent, and touching all our lives,  when we actually use it to treat the Jatayus.

Submitted as an entry for the  "How does Modern Healthcare touch lives?" contest organised by Apollo Hospitals    and Indiblogger .


  1. Beautiful !
    I was thinking of a similar sort of post.. but never got around to doing it...

    but then you are a complete class apart... the way you have related and told is wonderful.

    Modernity is defined as you do it not anything else .. now does apollo reward such posts ? :P Tricky time they have invited ! ;)

    1. Dhiren, Thank you. And Likho Likho , there is still a lot of time to submit . I just wrote what had been in my mind for a long time.....

  2. I love the question. Kids do get straight to the point. One kid asked another very pertinent one : When Kansa knew that Devaki's son would kill him and he had Devaki and Vasudeva captives, why did he not keep them in separate jails? I still dont have the answer to that ...