Ordeal of a father: The suffocating environment at the hospital forced me to apply for voluntary discharge

My life was literally robbed of all its bliss within a span of few days which I spent at the hospital.

Abdaal Ahmad Bhat
Srinagar, Publish Date: Aug 22 2017 10:27PM | Updated Date: Aug 22 2017 10:27PM
Ordeal of a father: The suffocating environment at the hospital forced me to apply for voluntary dischargeFile Photo

G. B. Pant hospital for children has often hogged the limelight but for wrong reasons. All those headlines which had appeared in the local newspapers, highlighting large number of infant deaths, suddenly popped up in my mind and started haunting me when I admitted my five-month-old baby to this hospital, who had few bouts of diarrhoea and acute chest congestion. The doctor on duty in the OPD prescribed some blood tests and an X-ray to be done outside as the same couldn't be done at the hospital. I couldn't have risked taking my sick baby to Dalgate or Lal Chowk in the bone-chilling cold of winter to get his tests done. My helplessness knew no bounds and I immediately rang up my cousin-sister who is a registrar at Lal Ded hospital. It took her an hour or so to reach the hospital and she got the tests and X-ray done at the same hospital.

The X-ray showed consolidation in the left lung. The news came to me like a bolt from the blue. To get a clearer picture, she got a contrast CT scan done at the same hospital. My nerve-wracking ordeal began after I skimmed the CT scan report and the beautiful world which I was living in was devastated in a jiffy, courtesy the radiologists of the hospital.

The radiologists prepared a CT scan report wherein they diagnosed that my baby had a cyst extending from the chest to the abdomen and concluded that he was suffering from lymphangioma (a disease in which swelling of the lymphatic system takes place).

After sedating my baby, he was shifted to the PICU (Paediatric Intensive Care Unit) where we spent two nights and three days. The PICU was managed by a single doctor who was doing his internship. The senior doctors were conspicuous by their absence. I kept awake for the whole night as my son was being rehydrated intravenously. Two patients expired during the same night. The callous and apathetic attitude of the doctor was on display when one patient who died in the dead of night was made to wait till 10AM to avail the hospital ambulance service. We were asked to wear shoe-covers but the doctors and nurses never wore any. They even had snacks in the PICU and were gossiping carelessly.

No senior doctor visited us for the three days we spent at the hospital. The first intern on duty was courteous and well-mannered, others behaved as if they were a different species and belonged to a different planet. The suffocating environment at the hospital forced me to apply for voluntary discharge from the hospital.

My life was literally robbed of all its bliss within a span of few days which I spent at the hospital. The blooming countenance of my baby was continuously flashing across my eyes. My ears were reverberating with his babbling. I was sighing and sobbing but didn't let my tears roll down my cheeks so as not to appear weak before my family members.

I, along with my brother-in-law, visited the office of director of a tertiary care institute to seek his opinion. He ordered salty tea for us and thoroughly examined the CT scans done at the G.B.Pant hospital. I had had two or three sips of salty tea when he gave his expert opinion: 'This is a clear-cut case of lymphangioma. There is swelling in the thoracic region and is extending up to the abdominal region. But, once the swollen part of the lymphatic system is removed, there will be effusion and because of low pressure in the lungs, it will accumulate there. I interjected him, 'What does it mean?' As if he had the last word of wisdom on any field of medical science, he replied, 'the survival of your baby will be at stake after the surgery'. I was devastated by the saddest news of my life. I was gasping for breath and the alveoli of my lungs were labouring hard for oxygen. My lacrimal glands could no longer hold back their lacrimal secretions and I broke down. I had lost my paradise, literally.

A week later, we flew to Delhi and after visiting different reputed hospitals of the city, we finally zeroed in on Sir Gangaram Hospital. Soon after admitting our baby to this hospital, a suave man donning a sparkling white coat entered our room. He was head of the Paediatric Surgery Department of the hospital. After sharing pleasantries with us, he informed us that he was going to operate upon our baby the next day. He was extremely humble and humane in his approach.

Mustering all courage, I asked him, 'Sir, if it's lymphangioma, how would you take care of our baby after the surgery?' 'Who told you that it is lymphangioma? It is a case of foregut duplication (a congenital duplication of oesophagus) which is quite common among infants. There is no need to worry. Your baby will be alright', he assured me. I heaved a sigh of relief and his soothing words helped me regain the paradise I had lost ephemerally.

The Paediatric surgeon didn't go for a new CT scan. Instead, he examined the same scan which we had done at G.B.Pant hospital. He only prepared a new report and trashed the one prepared by the reputed radiologists of our valley's lone children's hospital. What he could observe in the CT scan, our radiologists and directors of top institutes couldn't see.

Eventually he operated upon my baby and excised the cyst meticulously in an eight-hour-long surgery. The professionalism of the medicos and nursing skills of the paramedics at Sir Gangaram Hospital are simply unparalleled. Throughout our stay there, the Paediatric surgeon would answer all my queries on phone and what'sapp. He would visit my baby everyday and showered his fatherly affection on him. He is indeed a great soul with qualities of head, heart and hand. He is specimen of a great doctor who often uses 'human placebos' to treat his patients.

Today my baby is alive and kicking well. Thanks to Almighty Allah (SWT) and the surgeon who has literally given him a new lease of life. Truly, I am indebted to him for saving the 'Extension of my DNA'. Take a bow, Dr.Satish Aggarwal...!

 

The author is Assistant Professor at Government Degree College Pulwama. 

abdal703@yahoo.com