Tip my hat to you Doc !

It has been a hectic week mainly spent within the corridors of a hospital since my 83-year-old father took a tumble and managed to fracture his pelvic joint.

As far as my Dad is concerned, this is not new. He put me through a similar test a couple of years ago with his left tibia. The only difference is the last time we were in the US and this time it happened in India. This accident gave me a chance to observe the treatment procedure in both places. My father is much happier when he is being treated in Indian hospitals.

The methods may seem primitive compared to US hospitals but what they lack in infrastructure is more than made up in experience and empathy; apart from the fact he gets his dal bhaat shaak rotli and not pasta and boiled vegetables. Indian doctors are overworked. My respect for them never ceases especially after observing them at such close quarters.

I jokingly asked my Dad’s orthopaedic surgeon when he has time to eat and he answered in all seriousness that he eats in the car between hospital visits!!! Another 75 year old doctor I met attended to his patients at 5.30am, all perky, alert, full of jokes and an amazing bedside manner. The hours kept by these doctors is incredible. They start their day as early as 6.30am and go on until almost 10pm. Some of them see as many as 200 patients a day.

Is it any wonder they have the experience to make an accurate diagnosis without any fancy equipment? And talking about fancy equipment, my Dad needed traction and when I saw the contraption used for this process, I was amazed, appalled and awed. It works. At the end of the day that’s all that matters!!

US doctors are efficient but there is a lack of emotion. I guess if you have a doctor for years on end, a bond may develop but Indian doctors are on the ball from the get go. And addressing a patient such as my Dad as ‘uncle’ rather than “Mr. Patel” makes the relationship more intimate.

Unfortunately, the medical industry and hospitals are under scrutiny with alleged charges of mark-ups and overcharging. I often wonder how less privileged people can afford treatment. Nothing is cheap and it seems like everyone is trying to make a quick buck. Regardless, it is still cheaper to get treatment in India than in the US. After having observed how it works in both countries,

I feel I would rather fall ill in India than anywhere else. The medical racket with insurance companies and the exorbitant charges for getting medical treatment makes me scared to even put a foot into hospitals in the US. I am among those Americans fortunate to have a semblance of health care thanks to Obama. And I am fortunate to come to India frequently to have my health issues treated by empathetic doctors whose sole intention is not to make a buck but instead to tackle the problem to give me relief.

My Dad’s health issues resulted in me delaying my return to the US. The upside of this is I get to watch my favourite game in Pune given the Gahunje stadium has finally achieved the iconic status of hosting a test match. India versus Australia should be an entertaining game and if the Ozzies have their way, they would love to turn the outcome into a Shivoo. It is ironic to talk about entertainment especially when it comes to test matches but the concept of cricket has changed with the advent of T 20’s. Unfortunately, test matches are no longer as valued and the stadium was not filled to capacity on the first day.

At a dinner engagement where I met Kapil Dev, he mentioned how the uncovered stands add to viewer discomfort especially now the days have become hot. Kapil Dev was interesting to chat with and when quizzed about who he considers the top cricketer today, he unequivocally named Virat Kohli. Fans like me, prefer the racy version of the game and he did not mince words when he said we ae the kind of people leading to the demise of good stroke play with our desire for hitting out. There is truth to his comments. I plan to go watch the match over the weekend and though it is a test, am excited to watch a live match. It is one of the pleasures I miss while I am in the US.

I also miss the hot days, the feeling of the sweat slowly trickling down my back and the warm feeling as the sun falls on my face. However, anxious as I am to return, the important task ahead for me is ensuring the ward boy routine is set and my Dad is comfortable in his treatment routine. I may complain about their erratic schedules, but the fact we can get ward boys and help in India is a blessing I will not take lightly.

Health is wealth and it is something I have understood with aging parents. While healthcare in India is undergoing a steep learning curve the sense of comfort and security I get in India as far as treatment is concerned cannot be rivalled anywhere else.

And it is certainly easier on the pocket. Kudos to that.

Monique Patel

Monique Patel

Monika Patel – Monique to her friends – is now a permanent resident of New York City, but her heart is permanently in Pune, her home for 28 years.
Monique Patel

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