Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Visit an Indian Hospital...check

Today I was part of the medical group, so we got an early start. On Wednesdays, those in this group go to the hospital with any students or patients who need checkups or medicine. I enjoyed leaving while the temperature hadn't yet reached 100 degrees and we still had a couple of chunks of ice in our water bottles. They had been frozen solid not 15 minutes before.
As is customary for Indian time, we were scheduled to leave at 8:00 A.M. but we sat on these steps waiting for our driver to show up 'till about 9:15. Gave me time to think and write, relishing the fact that, for a large part, I was pretty sure only half of me was sticky sweaty verses the usual 'just jumped in a pool' effect I have going on.
Picked up 4 kids in our pajankety jank van here. Then headed to two leper colonies to pick up 4 patients and drove them to a hospital in Chennai, two and a half hours away. There had been some confusion as to who was picking up who, where we were meeting the doctor and where exactly we were going. So when our student director yelled up to the driver to make sure we were headed to Changleput, I turned to her and said, "What? I was told I was on the bus for Disneyland." Kennedy piped in that she'd love to be on the Indiana Jones ride right then. I said, "Seriously Kennedy? This is the Indiana Jones ride!" The van was so ghetto and bumping over all the potholes in the side streets. So, even though I didn't quite make it to Disneyland, I still got about 5 hours worth of the ride, without all the lines. What a plus.
Some of our friends were pretty sleepy. Indian hospital. Where to start. I guess this one was better than some others. Could have been worse, sure. They seemed to have enough amenities to get done what they needed. But the organization? NOT a shining point.
After pulling up and piling out of the van, everybody was 'given' one patient, 1,000 Rupes (money) and sent off. What??? Would this be a good time to remind someone that I have no idea what you want me to do with a patient, money and a chart?
We started at this window labeled 'Registration.' There was like a long skinny table out from the window and my patient (in the green) scolded me for going to the men's side. There's a serious "no touching" thing in this country between men and women.
This woman at least knew where we were to go to find an examination room...and eventually we did find it on the second floor. I got stared at all day. Guaranteed we were the only three non-Indians in there. Wasn't my favorite kind of attention.
Not exactly high class, but I've seen worse conditions.
Then began the chaos. For the next hour or so, we went from one room to the next, basically being directed in circles by those who supposedly knew which room was for what service. This was super frustrating because, news flash, I don't speak Tamil! And, surprise, most people didn't speak English. Somehow we found just enough direction from people ("room 8...8" or "opposite building...outside" or "fourth floor...up") to successfully look rather busy when in reality we were just a little old lady and a white girl who couldn't communicate even with each other, roaming the halls holding a chart neither of us knew what to do with!
I was pretty humored because seriously, this was a mission destined for failure from the beginning. Kennedy said it was like the DMV on crack. You walk in and you just know you're in for a good time.
Then I got to use these oh so lovely restrooms. I walked in and saw this little girl.
Um, did I just step into a scene from Oliver Twist?
Luckily, while the kids sat outside on the grass behind the hospital eating lunch, a nurse who came with us (and only spoke Tamil might I add) managed to get things sorted out with my patient. Iiitttt was crazy. Nothing like a little culture saturation and problem solving.
By the time we got to the van we were just grateful we made it out in one piece. We were laughing the whole way home with all our stories of wandering the halls, somehow managing to get our patients seen and taken care of. It was a great experience.
Then I rolled up my chuddidar pants, piled my hair on top of my head, and cranked up the ipod with Priya and Kennedy. Turns out Priya is a new fan of Alexi Murdoch and Rihanna.
On one of the seven stops on the way home,
Priya showed us how to dance.

(just thought this was random)
This is a typical thing to see while driving. Still strange to me though.

{Posted for today and yesterday. New one below}


  1. I'm glad your humor is intact after the long bus ride and the entire ordeal. Little Priya teaching you to dance! Her face...worth it all!

  2. I LOVED the video of Priya teaching you how to do Indian dancing! It was adorable!!! Sounds like an awesome experience you had that day.

  3. Ugh. Nobody likes to be at a hospital in the first place unless you're getting a new baby out of it, or something of that nature, and even then you want to go home ASAP. Gives you a little more empathy for non English speakers at the local DMV (or the downtown hospital, for that matter).

    Love Priya in those pink glasses. Go ahead and tell her she's a celebrity with all the attention she's getting on this blog.