Health Care in India – Ankho Dekhi

Since last week, a restrictive pain developed in my left thumb. Initially, I thought it was probably due to its supporting the smart-phone, and would gradually heal on its own.

Parr, kal laga thodda lafda hai udhar… 🙂 (But yesterday I felt that there is something serious!), as I noticed good snapping /locking in the thumb and a semi-hard ‘nodular’ protrusion at its base! Apprehending that it could be arthritis type, today morning we went to a very reputed hospital near our locality in Bangalore. However, to our surprise they did not have a full fledged Orthopaedic ward. So we had to check at yet another big and well-known hospital which is around 10 k.m. from our place. Amid scorching heat, high pollution, horrible traffic and pathetic road conditions, reaching hospital in time is an achievement in itself!!

The doctor was very cordial and interactive. After a quick inspection, he told that I have got a Trigger Thumb (stenosing tenosynovitis). Probably, this is because of wear and tear which has occurred due to pressure of heavy load on the tendons. Yeah..since last one month, I have been handling four green coconuts (knotted) daily. So may be this is the main reason…

When we asked the doctor about the treatment, he nicely explained us with a diagram giving the following options:

Option-1. Steroids : not recommended for my constitution.

Option-2. Surgery : yes, a simple 10-minutes procedure with local anaesthesia (no admission required) and bio-dissolvable stitches; no antibiotics and a simple pain-killer pill post the procedure.

After hearing that we have insurance coverage, he introduced us to their insurance team. When we talked to the insurance team, they said: “It is a very simple thing…you just call us and get admitted. The estimated cost of the operation is just 95,000 INR” !!!

They also mentioned that though no tests are “actually” required for this, in order to support insurance papers, one ultrasound test will be done on the day of operation; and that as usual, I need to get admitted in the hospital for at least a day !!

We didn’t know whether to cry or laugh 😦  … chupchap udhar hii khana khaake agaye (we just came back home after lunch).

With this kind of experience, finally I had to listen to my father’s advise (he is also a doctor). For the next 5-6 weeks, I’ll try wearing a splint and soaking my thumb in warm water. I will take a call on surgery after that, even whether to do it in Bangalore or some other place !!

Bhai, 10-minutes ki ek simple surgery ke liye 95,000 INR (for a 10-minutes simple surgery they charge 95,000 INR) – FOR WHAT !!!!

I remember that this same reputed hospital had billed me charges like “OT fees” & “Operation Theatre charges” /”Surgeon fees” & “Doctor fees” /”Others” & “Misc. charges” & “Etcetera” in 2011.

This has happened with me, can happen with anyone, any time. And we all suffer today or some other day.  How can common man afford such large, unreasonable sums ? Pathetic ! No control over this kind of loot !! Moreover, what about the ignorant /uneducated people who don’t even understand the details ???

Just wondering why we all are after Mallya only… what are these ? Why is the media silent in this, and no comment from RaGa /AK /Raja ?? Wondering if there will be any debate (in media or Parliament) on the sorry state of our health care system.

The common man is being looted in many ways. Uski awaaz koi sach mein nahi lagata… Kyon, ye “tolerance” levels cross nahi kiya ?!?!? (No one voices the common man’s concerns… Why, has it not crossed his levels of “tolerance”?)

Further note, today :

Time spent with Doctor = 5 minutes
Doctor’s fees = 600 INR
Time spent with Insurance team = 15 minutes
Time spent in Canteen = 40 minutes
Canteen charges – 120 INR
Time spent for Travel = 1 hour 20 minutes
Conveyancing charges = 600 INR

Aamjunta – just think over it…

A Home-made Recipe of Cereals and Nuts

Since ages, we know that many cereals-and-nuts based food items are prepared in Indian villages and towns, and some are carried in containers for months together by native pilgrims.

Here’s one such recipe slightly modified (I would rather say upgraded) by my diligent mother-in-law, especially with the aim to control sugar-levels and check obesity. During her stays in the village, it also grants her good space and time from preparing a routine breakfast when she has to rather hurry for a special occasion of Pooja during the morning hours. 🙂

This recipe is designed to be easily stored and carried even during long-distance journeys. Having learnt the art from her, I now definitely prepare this food-pack for my husband on his tours abroad because it makes life easy for a hard-core vegetarian like him ! And of course, sometimes I manage to find a bearer to send these packs for both our families who prefer to reside at our respective native places, near the realm of Nature.

Here now, I bring to you this blissful recipe…

Ingredients:

For sake of convenience, I have referred the measure of cups. You can scale up the required quantity in the same proportion of these ingredients or adjust as you like it.

1.  Oats (replacing rice grains or puffed-rice or flattened-rice) – 2 cups
2.  Broken Wheat – 1 cup
3.  Soya Granules – 1 cup
4.  Cornflakes (normal variety) – as preferred
5.  Almonds – as preferred
6.  Raisins – as preferred
7.  Aniseed – as preferred
8.  Cardamom – as preferred
9.  Cloves – as preferred
10. Black Pepper – as preferred
11. Salt – a pinch

Method:

1. Take a deep non-stick pan; it should allow you enough room to stir properly. Dry-roast the Oats, Broken Wheat, Soya Granules and Almonds separately in the pan over low-heat. It must be adequately roasted (brownish) and emit the ‘dry-roasting’ flavour. Stir each ingredient continuously during this step so that all the grains or Almonds get a uniform heat and are not charred.

2. Allow the three dry-roasted cereals and Almonds to cool.

3. This step is attached only with the Wheat. Take small amounts of the roasted quantity and grind it to a slightly powdery texture such that it blends well when it is served with hot Milk or Water. This part of processing will require some further efforts –  each time you will need to extract the desired form from the grinder by using a hand-sieve, put back the coarse part in the grinder, add some more fresh Broken Wheat and then repeat the process. You need to do this till you obtain a consistent texture for all of this dry-roasted Wheat. At the end, you shall get the 1-2 tbsp coarse Wheat grains left; you may store it for making Wheat Porridge later on.

4. Mix this hand-sieved slightly powdery Wheat part with all the remaining ingredients. Aniseed (slightly fried or raw), Cardamom, Cloves and Black Pepper may be mixed as is or coarsely crushed. Add a pinch of salt to the mixture.

Its done.

Store it in an air-tight container. You can roughly estimate the expiry date of the whole mixture as the expiry date of its constituent ingredient that expires the earliest ! (So you should choose the ingredients such that they all have nearly the same expiry date.) Once you get it, do label the date on the container.

Serving:

Whenever you desire to eat, take hot Water or Milk in a bowl and mix the required amount of the mixture in it. Depending on your health conditions, you may have it simply that way or further season it with Fruits, dried-Dates, Sugar, Honey, Syrup, Jaggery, Sugar-free tablets, Ragi or Oats sugar-free biscuits, etc.

My father likes it as a snack with typical Indian Tea; so he sprinkles some crunchy salt items (like Haldiram‘s) in the mixture. 🙂

Aamjunta, do try this healthy recipe and let us know your feedback.

Tooth-ache and the Village Vaidya

This evening I was waiting for the tum-tum to go to the hospital for an appointment with the doctor. The tum-tum was some 10 minutes late than usual in reaching H-12 — I lost patience, walked for some distance from hostel, stopped an auto-rickshaw and got into it. My irritation at the delay of the tum-tum was heightened by the fact of my being unwell. Anyway, reached hospital and got the treatment.

After coming out of the hospital, I decided to take a walk back to hostel. While I started walking, an incident from my past came to mind…. This was really long-long time ago when I was hardly three and half years of age. We lived in a small village in Odisha, far away from the mad rustle of city life. The village is more than 80 kms away from the National Highway and even the State Highway is around 10-12 kms away. It was unconnected to either the hospitals, post offices or bus stops. The nearest bust stop was around two km from my village. The only mode of communication then was by walk; those who were rich had a bicycle or a scooter.

One evening I was playing on our verandah while my mother was lighting the evening deeya (small light) in front of the deities and grandmother was sitting on one of the cots chanting her prayers. Suddenly, everyone was startled by my shriek. I cried out very loudly, mom ran to me from within the pooja room and so did grand ma. I was inconsolable and was so tiny that couldn’t even explain with enough words what was happening to me. Finally, mom understood from my non-verbal gestures that something was wrong with my tooth. Yes, I was having a painful toothache, in fact it was a tooth-decay and my gums were in a sensitive state. Though the pain was there before, it was under my control. Unfortunately, a small ball hit that area of my cheek and the pain went out of my control. My father was posted in a far off town of Odisha. He lived far from our village and would come once in three months to meet us, so even he couldn’t be called. There were neither electricity, nor telephones, nor Internet. The only way to reach people was through letters and telegrams.

A doctor or a dispensary was an unachievable dream in that place and at that time. The district medical was 20kms away. Going there at night was just to next to impossible. People mostly depended on Ayurvedic medicines from some local vaidya (village doctor) or some time on the tantriks for treatment. We did not have any vaidya in our village. My grand ma knew some one who lived in another village some four kms from our place. Seeing my pain, everyone in the family got distraught. Neighbours ran to our place with whatever they had, some with milk, some with chalk, but to no avail. I cried, shrieked and became paler. They tried all home made remedies for the pain and tooth-decay but nothing seemed to help.

Finally, as evening started to turn into night, my condition too started to worsen. So much of tears and the pain made me weak and pale. Grand-ma decided to take me to the vaidya living in the other village. She was in her mid-seventies, old and stooped. But she was a determined and courageous lady. We had to wait through the night. In the early morning (around 4 am) grand ma asked my mother to dress me up and comb my hair, explained to me that she may not be able to carry me all the distance and asked if I was willing to walk to get my pain cured? The prospect of getting the pain healed was enough to make me compromise on any other condition and luxury. We quickly got ready for the journey and me and grand-ma started off.

Some of the distance she had to carry me on her back and some I walked. The pain in my gums was not reducing. I just kept mum. Grand-ma kept reciting her prayers, told me stories on the way — the jungle, the king of Nayagarh, fairies, Gods and so on. We finally reached the vaidya’s place in the other village. He made me sit on a bamboo foot stool, used his dawat (medicine) to make some paste out of ingredients that he got from his wooden almirah and applied that to my decayed tooth. He then fanned me with his bamboo leafed-fan for sometime. After, around half an hour the pain receded and I was normal again. He went inside, came out with a platter and on it a big “worm” 🙂 — told me that this was inside my tooth and made me a fool. I panicked seeing the worm, but was overjoyed that it had come out. I requested him to give it to me so that I will carry it home to show my mother. He gave the worm to me. Grand-ma had a smile on her face was relieved to see me happy, we paid the vaidya his fees and started back on our way home.

While returning, as the pain had subsided I literally sprinted and jumped through the way. The 4kms which had earlier seemed like a never-ending distance to me, now seemed like nothing. With grand-ma walking beside me, I sprinted through the way and requested her to keep telling me stories of how Krishna helped the young school boy lost in jungle, how the Hanuman jumped on trees, demons and so on. We reached home in no time…

I showed the big “worm” to my mother and all neighbours on reaching. They exclaimed 🙂 at the size of the worm and thanked the vaidya to have cured me. After that, I never had any pain in my tooth, did not even need to go to the hospital to get that tooth removed — my tooth decay just vanished with the Ayurvedic medicine (and of course that idiot worm had come out 😉 🙂 ). Time has changed, but the love, affection and the care of my old grand-ma and mom have not changed.

While writing this, two important points came into my mind –

  1. The village vaidyas are no more controlling the health care in the villages. That system has vanished now and along with them some well understood Ayurvedic studies too have vanished. Bare minimum efforts could have saved and documented the village Ayurvedic studies, but alas, that did not happen. Ayurvedic studies are just one among many such ancient studies, which India had at one point of time and which have sadly become almost extinct.Like village Ayurvedic studies, the rich cultures of Paika Nritya (warrior dance), engineering sciences that built temples like the Sun Temple at Konark, etc., are in a dying stage. We understand every aspect of the Universe in terms of Western Sciences and if something doesn’t abide by the western system that is considered “unscientific”. Not that western sciences are not advanced or incorrect — but we also have to preserve our own heritage, albeit after a certain analysis. Unless we wake up and take some corrective measures, all these rich heritage of India will be wiped out. May be it is late, but still we can preserve some parts of our heritage.
  2. With the changing time and technology, the way of life and health care too have changed. We have now access to world class hospitals, doctors, medicines and so on in India. But, all these facilities are only available in the big cities and affordable to a select class of people. More than 40-50% of India is still not connected to the main stream, especially in health care – no doctors, no hospitals, no medicines, no sanitization, no awareness. People are simply left to die there!! Every day we come across with heart braking stories… Is this the progress we are talking about to become super power? I sincerely doubt!!

Aamjunta… what do you say?

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