File photo of Srinagar's tertiary care hospital, SMHS. [Image for representational purpose only]
File photo of Srinagar's tertiary care hospital, SMHS. [Image for representational purpose only] File: Mubashir Khan/ GK

I almost lost my mother

Me and my mother faced it all, while they had a good time laughing over trivia

On Tuesday night, around 11:40 PM, my mother complained of a serious headache on the left side. Initially, me and my father thought that it might be just a normal headache, but my mother with abnormal Blood Pressure, and with the BP monitor broken at home, I thought it was better to take her to the hospital. Her eyes were bulging out and she was in excruciating pain. The night was dark and it was raining hard.

Nevertheless, I put a pheran over my mother and we left for the hospital. My father insisted to come along, but with my sister in the final month of her pregnancy, I suggested him to stay home.

As we reached Srinagar’s “Tertiary Care” SMHS hospital, got a Casualty Card, I took my mother straight to the Medical Emergency section. There were around seven patients, some of them lying on the bed and a couple of them being examined by two doctors on one table. On the other table, there were four young female doctors scrolling through their phone screens.

I took my mother to them and described her condition. I asked them to check the Blood Pressure. When finally one of them agreed and put the Pressure Cuff around my mother’s arm, she concluded that the systolic number was 240 while the diastolic was 105. She looked confused and wasn’t sure of anything, so asked her other colleague to check the BP.

As she passed on the apparatus and the other doctor started to monitor the pressure, her conclusion contradicted the first one’s findings, now it showed 220/105. “Ab kya kare” they said to each other, laughing. Sitting on the chair with her head bursting and her arteries about to rupture, my mother was in agonising pain.

I couldn’t see this and interrupted their seemingly funny conversation, asking them to prescribe a T. Zapiz 0.5, so it may relieve my mother of some pain while controlling the Blood Pressure. However, they didn’t agree, and asked me to get an ECG checkup done. I dissented, and said that I have experienced it before, and that there was no need to get the ECG report.

I was worried that delaying the antidote would turn the situation more serious; may Allah save her from trouble, that her arteries might be damaged. However, they countered by saying that they won’t give any antidote unless I get the ECG done. Helpless, I took my mother, who could now barely walk, to the ECG room.

As I paid the fee for the ECG and as the investigation was done, five more minutes were wasted. Notwithstanding my mother’s pain, I took her and the ECG report back to the doctors, only to get a shock.

The doctor, one that checked the Blood Pressure second time, held the ECG report upside down. I was dumbfounded and didn’t tell her what she was doing. She expressed shock, and while passing the report to the third doctor said “The situation is bad, her heart is not well.”

The third doctor, who held the report correctly, passed it to a male doctor, who along with other two male doctors was sitting and comically chatting on a bed meant for patients. He handed over the ECG report back and signalled that it was OK.

The four female doctors had a good laugh. After they finished laughing, the doctor, who had first checked the BP, prescribed “Inj Label 10mg”. I supposed, it was Labetalol and told her that my mother is also a diabetic, so it may not be a good option for her, and instead requested her to prescribe a tablet Zapiz, to which she disagreed.

I had had enough of their careless behaviour and walked to the bed where three, seemingly, much more experienced doctors, were sitting. I described the situation to one of them, who then crossed out the prescribed injection and wrote: T. Zapiz 0.5 mg and Inj Envas.

I made my mother lie down on one of the beds and rushed to the casualty dispensary in the hospital. However, the man sitting inside said they don’t keep these medicines and that I can get both of them from the pharmacies outside.

I sprinted out of the hospital premises and went across the road to get the antidote and hurried back inside.  Back in the room, my heart almost missed a beat when I saw my mother’s eyes distended, her headscarf disordered and her face tormented. I thought I would lose her. I rushed towards the nurse’s room adjacent to the medical section, and asked them if they would come and administer the vaccine to my patient.

One of them volunteered but first thought it important to complete a joke she was telling her comrade. “Do come to my funeral,” she told him as she tried to break the glass-head of the vaccine tube by hitting the other nurse’s arm. I don’t know how I was able to keep my cool. I seriously don’t know.

These people are here for emergencies, and without caring for the desperate situation of patients, they find it very normal to waste a couple of minutes and maybe more, if the jokes are lengthy!

As the nurse walked calmly, I sprinted back to my mother, who by now was unable to utter a word. I forced open her mouth and pushed the Zapiz tablet under her tongue. She was even unable to close her mouth properly.

Finally, the nurse reached and administered the vaccine while I kept my hand on my mother’s head and recited some verses from the Holy Qura’an. After around 15-minutes, my mother appeared a bit stable so I took her back to the doctor’s table to re-check her Blood Pressure, it had come down to 190/98, the doctor said.

As I was a bit relieved, I made her sit on a chair, while I talked to the doctors thanking them and telling them that I had had a good experience with them.

The reporter inside me elicited information from them and it came to surface that all of them were interns, they said while they kept discussing about an Instagram post.

Meanwhile, another doctor came to the table, who as per the interns was the senior most doctor present there and was heading the section that time. I don’t know where he was all these hours and I didn’t ask him.

I requested him to oversee the report and he told me to get some tests done, but I had already done those investigations of my mother a couple of days back and knew that they were all fine. So I decided to leave for home.

I was at the hospital as an attendant and a non-partisan journalist but found myself unexpectedly facing the situation where I felt an obligation to save lives. I’m writing this piece without any expectation that anything would change.

If there is anything I could do, it was to write the first draft of the experience. And if by any chance, someone from the administration and readers go through this piece, they should know that humanitarian intervention is at once an immensely powerful idea.

And if you’re a doctor or an intern or a student of medicine, you should realize the fact that your lenient approach towards your profession can take someone’s dear life, or perhaps, has done so already.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.

The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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