Visit to the “doctor”

On our last post we talked about the 10 day meditation course that we planned to go to.  Unfortunately, on the day the course was to begin, Nat got food poisoning.  After resting for a day in Sarnath we returned to Varanasi where Nat began to recover and I began to take sitar lessons.  We found a music store run by two brothers both doing their undergrads in sitar and tabla.  I am learning quickly and trying to get an accurate idea of prices for when I eventually buy a sitar.

I was taking lessons everyday until I started feeling sick about 5 days ago.  At first it was just a mild sore throat but it culminated into a couple unfortunate hospital trips yesterday morning and night.  After a second night of pain-induced insomnia we decided to find a doctor.  At first we tried to go to a private clinic (and not the overstretched Indian hospital) but after waiting for a half hour in the sun outside a locked door (at 11:30am when the clinic ostensibly opened at 9:00am) we went to the “hospital”.  After finally being pointed to reception I was asked for my name, my age and 10 rupees before being rushed past the lines into the office of their ear, nose and throat “specialist”.  He checked my throat with a greasy metal tongue depressor that looked like it had been cleaned in the Ganges (which he then put back on his desk in a shallow pan of yellow liquid) then rushed us out with a shopping list of medicines to buy from the conveniently located pharmacy at the hospital entrance.  This was of course after telling us that the antibiotics we had would not work at all for the infection.  I decided to self diagnose and found that in fact throat infections was one of the first things this antibiotic was used to treat.

A side note if I may.  It’s not the questionably hygiene standards nor the callousness with which they rush people out of the doctor’s office which I find most infuriating; what I find most unforgivable about the Indian hospital system is that the senior doctors work from 8:30am (or whenever they feel like showing up) to 12:30 (or whenever they feel like leaving) and spend most of their four hour work day chatting with friends as my doctor was doing when we arrived in his office.  In a country where it’s common to see people on the street with open wounds, skin diseases and twisted limbs – one of the only countries that still has many cases of leprosy and gangrene, this lax schedule for the hospital doctors is crazy.

My second trip to a different hospital last night wasn’t much better.  I went because a pressure and swelling in my ear that came on suddenly became excruciating and forced us to find a doctor at 9:00 at night.  When we arrived we walked past the entrance where families or patients slept on the floor and we ushered in to see an emergency doctor.  He looked in my throat and ear with a flashlight (apparently lacking the basic medical equipment to check properly) and wrote out a prescription for five different medicines.  He also said that the antibiotics we already had wouldn’t work but that the very expensive ones he’d prescribed would be strong enough to deal with the infection.  We might have bought them except that the pharmacist couldn’t tell us if they had penicillin in them or not, which I’m allergic to, and the doctor hadn’t even asked.  We did leave with some anti-inflammatory pills that seem to be helping though.