Sunday, September 30, 2012

India # 12: Getting Sick and Getting Well

After three weeks of pushing hard, last week a cold I’ve been carrying for two weeks caught up with me.  After Patna, I’d been looking forward to two nights at a Buddhist center in the place where Buddha found enlightenment, Bodngaya, which is also in Bihar.  Shasti, the head of Seija, had given me his car and driver for the weekend, the ultimate luxury.  But seven hours on dusty roads to get there and back might have thrown me into pneumonia, for all I know, so regretfully I canceled and returned to Bangalore two days early.

Airports have pharmacies and pharmacists a lot of discretion. Transiting through the Delhi airport I stopped at one for cough syrup and two remedies for reflux, about three bucks.  But the next day I know I need a doctor and in steps innkeeper Oberi, the owner of my residence.

The sign outside Altus Diagnotic, the doctor’s office he took me to, had already intrigued me.  It offers 13 specialties in a tiny space. At one on a Sunday afternoon I immediately get to see Dr. Vivek M. S., 35, and a diabetologist.  In ten minutes he writes five prescriptions plus instructions for inhalation therapy, gargling and vitamin C.  That will be $4 please.

I then walk across the street to Shanaaz Medicals next to the mosque, get the prescriptions filled for $7.60.  This has taken a total of 15 minutes and I’ve walked a block from my place.

The pollution had gotten to me, I think; riding business was a great urban immersion but has taken its toll.  So I take the week off to recover.  By Tuesday I feel well enough to inviting Mr. Oberi over for scotch.  This was not on the prescription list but a good time was had by both of us.  This also cements my decision to remain at Casa Cottages for a second month.  Oberi is from a famous Indian hotel family and he knows hospitality.  The whole staff—and there must be a dozen, more than he has rooms—is terrific.

By Thursday I’ve stopped making progress, however (scotch?) and go back to Altus.  This time I see Dr. A. A. Badami who is older, is an internist specializing in communicable diseases and has recently returned from ten years at the Cleveland Clinic in Abu Dhabi.  He wants an X-Ray which I get immediately on a machine that goes back a long way.  It shows pneumonia in a small section of my lungs.  So he extends my anti-biotic, adds a steroid and some other items and now I am presented with my film and a bill for $l0.

I’m obviously focusing on the low cost and speed of treatment I’ve received.   The cost is nothing to me but consider what this means to middle class Indians—affordable, quickly accessible care in the middle of the city.  I don’t understand how this is possible but I’m wishing all the best to Altus Diagnostic--which makes a Boise doc-in-a-box look like Walter Reid.

Over the next three days I’m making good progress but will skip going to work until Wednesday.  Tuesday is another holiday —Happy Birthday Mahatma Ghandi!  




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