The bigger the hospital, the bigger the doctors. The bigger the doctors, the better the treatment.
--BY MADAN LAMSAL
I had gone to Nepal’s only international airport to find out its preparations for Visit Nepal 2020 when I ran into some Chinese tourists. I had read in the news that Xi Jinping has prevented his citizens from going abroad for the time being because of the Coronavirus. But at the airport, I found many Chinese tourists, who seemed to be in a hurry to come to Nepal. As soon as I saw them, I started feeling uneasy. In a way, I began to feel sick, so to speak.
I was going to the doctor when I met a friend. He asked me where I was off to. “My nose is running. The stomach too feels bad. My body is not well so the mind, too, is unwell. I might have been infected by the Chinese virus so I am going to the hospital to see a doc.”
“That’s perhaps not true. We Nepalis have already faced many domestic viruses that are much more dangerous and fearsome; just think of the viruses in Nepali politics! What harm can that poor Chinese virus possibly do? May be you ate something at a party or a party palace? Do I need to tell you that you get the chance to go to free dinner parties 350 days a year?!” My friend poured out his pent up indignationwhich had piled up for years.
“I’m feeling unwell and you’re joking,” I said.
I reached the hospital. It was a Saturday. It was difficult to see a doctor at a private hospital. I didn’t feel like going to a government hospital. So I went home and lied down on my bed. After a while, the same friend arrived asking “what did the doctor say?”
After finding me in a worse condition than earlier, he said, “Get up! Even if you go to Heaven now, what will you do there? Perhaps there is no provision for reservations there. Moreover, you are not associated with any political party. Who will care about you in Heaven when you are nobody’s man? You will only face difficulties there. You are already in a difficult situation. So let’s go to a government hospital. I will take you there. In government hospitals, they let you go only after your last rites are performed. You don’t have a family anyway”.
“Shut up! Are you here to help me or see me for the last time? Rather take me to the newly-opened New Life hospital. I have heard that this hospital has doctors who have studied abroad,” I spoke with great difficulty.
“Oh yes! New Life is the only hospital in the city where every patient thinks they will get to have a new and long life. Because the hospital takes the patient’s old earnings and he has to begin earning afresh! But, whatever, let’s go there.”
After reaching the hospital, I was happy to see the huge building that housed the hospital. The bigger the hospital, the bigger the doctors. The bigger the doctors, the better the treatment! My fear was gone and I thought I would live a bit longer. Moreover, when I saw the glow on the face of the doctors there, my confidence grew. But it was difficult to get a bed. Later I came to learn that though beds were lying vacant, the hospital could ‘provide’ a bed with a price tag of Rs 2,000 to 50,000 depending upon the financial condition of the patient! After some bargaining, we were able to strike a deal. I was reassured after I booked a room.
The doctor asked, “Who is the patient?”
I said, “It’s me.”
He asked, “What happened?”
I explained my situation to himin a whining voice.
Then the doctor asked me to lie down on the bed. The nurses then brought an iron stand and kept various tools and equipment in front of my bed. The doctor patted my stomach, asked me to take a deep breath and finally said, “We have to carry out an x-ray of your stomach.” Then a nurse looked at my friend and said in a coarse voice, “Go to the counter first, pay for the x-ray service and get the receipt. Then get his stomach x-rayed and come here with the report immediately.”
I asked my friend, “Why do they need to x-ray my stomach to see if I have caught the virus?”
My friend replied, “Through the x-ray the doctor wants to know how many free lunches and dinners you’ve eaten so far?!” I was dumbfounded.
The x-ray report showed nothing. Then the doctor advised me to do a kidney test. He said, “It’s the kidneys that keep our bodies clean. Let’s see how your kidneys are.” I was deeply scared. Because, we have been consuming so much pesticide-laced fruits and vegetables in the morning and evening that it’s impossible for our bodies to remain clean. But luckily, there was no problem in my kidneys as well. That meant I could still open liquor bottles in the evening!
Then I was told to undergo a liver test. Then an MRI and a whole body check-up for the next two days. I was almost bankrupt! But my illness could not be diagnosed. Therefore, the doctor advised a dozen more tests including an ECG.
Meanwhile, several relatives, friends and colleagues came to visit me. Some came empty-handed, others with Horlicks bottles and cold fruits. But who would eat all that? There was neither enough space for the fruits or the visitors. Many of my well-wishers prescribed me various medicines, reassuring me that they were sure-shot cures for my illness. Others gave me the names of better doctors and clinics where I would be cured for sure. All this made me feel even more ill.
After my wallet and bank accounts were empty, I could no longer afford to stay at the hospital. In the meantime, my mother brought me some soup made from a garden herb. She gave me that to drink. I was fine by the evening. Luckily, I hadn’t caught the Chinese coronavirus. It was then known that I had caught the common Nepali ‘dust and cold virus’!
Then, after paying the hospital bills after borrowing some money from my friends, I was handed the discharge slip. I felt like I had got a new lease of life after stepping out of the hospital. After all, the name of the hospital was New Life!