I see ICU…

For fifteen festering days, I suffered neglect; and I breathed my last
I see ICU…
Representational Pic

No sooner they injected contrast substance into me for brainangiography, I started convulsing. Of course, medical protocol at that point oftime demanded my brain angiography. I do understand protocol as I am aveterinarian, but every protocol demands certain amount of preparedness,involving very small but equally important interventions.

After seeing off my two little daughters for their school, Iclimbed the boundary wall of my compound for some chore and I fell down. I wastaken to the lone tertiary care institute of Kashmir. I had a decreased levelof consciousness on arrival, what they call GCS 8. In medical lingo, I wasdiagnosed as traumatic subarachnoid hemorrhage (tSAH).

I had suffered head trauma. I was expecting oxygeninhalation far before it was actually given to me. As I was hypertensive,having GCS 8, I was expecting intra-tracheal tube and ventilator back up beforemy CT angio, to prevent aspiration and other complications. Unfortunately, Iwas intubated (securing intra-tracheal tube) only after I aspirated my vomit asI convulsed following the contrast injection and slipped into coma. One of myrelatives in Secretariat used his good offices for getting a bed in ICUallotted to me; much later than I had slipped into coma.

In ICU, I felt I am in any other ward, though monitors and ventilatorssurrounded me. My organ system was intact before I was shifted to ICU and, moreimportantly, I believed to recuperate in 'INTENSIVE CARE' UNIT of the hypedinstitute. I reconciled about the medical laxity I faced before I slipped intocoma by hoping it to be compensated in ICU. Consented by my father, successfulbrain surgery was done on me. However, I never imagined that I was graduallylosing my other intact and uncompromised organ systems, one by one, nearing myend.

Yes, pharmacological therapy (medicines) is primary in anyserious condition, but it never undermines the importance ofnon-pharmacological interventions in such sensitive cases. Medicines work onlywhen other non-pharmacological interventions are taken care of. Barring few, Ifound the helping staff conscious about preventing themselves from acquiringinfections from patients but least bothered about transmitting infections fromone patient to another.

I, including most of other patients in coma, developedsevere infections in ICU. Though infections were treated with appropriateantibiotics, it was just administering of antibiotics devoid of otheraggressive interventions like foolproof cleanliness, sterile environs, propercare of indwelling catheters and intra-tracheal tubes, suction of secretionsand so on. No immediate and sincere measures were taken to prevent thetransmission of deadly infections between patients in ICU. I witnessed manyVIPs and their security men barging into ICU with their shoes on. Meanwhile,one of the patients aside me in ICU was airlifted to Delhi where same drugsprescribed here were given to her. What helped in her speedy recovery fromacquired infections was actual ICU care and dedication. Yet, my relativesbelieved in the efficiency of ICU belonging to our "premier" institute! Icontinued enduring the hazardous mismanagement.

Except for few, most of the doctors and paramedical staffwere more concerned about handover and takeover, just a head count of patients,bereft of actual professional acumen and humane nature, which I as a doctor foranimals never expected from the doctors of humans. My heart was sinking, mycreatinine and bilirubin was surging. Despite it, without dose adjustment, fulldose of various high end antibiotics and anti-fungals, to treat my acquiredsepticemia, were being bombarded into my compromising body. My attendants werebeing told to get bagfuls of antibiotics and other medicines, so much so thatmy dialysis became unavoidable.

Bit by bit, I was losing the working of my organs. And myfamily and friends were losing their faith in the fatal ICU. They finallydecided to shift me outside state for better treatment. They talked about itwith one of the ICU doctors, an Associate Professor in Critical Care.Shockingly, he behaved like a desensitized doomsayer, uttering— "Now he is notin a position to be shifted, we are waiting for him to die". 

For fifteen festering days, I suffered neglect; and Ibreathed my last. Perhaps, I left behind a lot to educate ordinary people aboutlife. For us, life is precious. However, it usually gets undervalued under theshallow weight of white coats and stethoscopes!

(This piece is dedicated to Dr. Hanief Bhat, theveterinarian, who passed away a week ago).

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