I was showering at 8 am in the morning when the six-foot by five-foot glass sliding door of my shower stall broke. No clue why.The glass had been installed 13 years ago, and was not safety glass. The shards sliced a deep gash in my hip, er, well, my bum, on the left side; on my right, gashes in my elbow and wrist, and (as the surgeons told me today) several internal and external cuts on my back and sides.
I am amazed by how coolly I reacted.I saw the shards of glass with bits of my skin, fat and blood all over the shower area, and knew that it was quite a bad situation.
The sliding door with its remaining shards of glass was stuck, so I had to carefully squeeze my way out. I then realized that I was losing blood at an alarming rate from the huge gash on my hip/bottom, so I wadded a lot of toilet tissue and held the gaping wound shut.
The shock of what happened meant that I had an urgent bowel movement. So I did that neatly, too, on the throne, no poop to add to the blood all over the bathroom.
I'd just put shampoo in my hair, so I washed that out in the washbasin.
Holding the hip wound but bleeding from the gashes on my elbow, wrist and back, I went to the room where the phone was, and called my daughter (I'd just wished her a while ago for her birthday). Since she was in the gym and could not be reached, I called up my son in law and told him it was an emergency, and that he should locate her and ask her to come pronto.
I switched off the geyser, the lights around the flat, picked up my purse with cash and debit cards in readiness. I put on underclothes, and an old kaftan, as I knew it would be soon blood-soaked.
I opened the door to my daughter when she arrived. I held another wad of tissue to the hip wound while she lined the front seat of the car with newspapers. She then drove me to Fortis Hospital on Bannerghatta Road. I knew that the hospital was a money-making concern, but I felt I had the best chance of finding good surgeons to operatre, so I decided to go there. Indeed the surgeons were good, though some of the nursing was pathetic, and the administration unethical in the billing (more about this later).
The wound was taped shut in Emergency, and I was generally cleaned up. I was made to wait for three hours for a room as I was told the hospital was full. Once I was moved into the room, I was not allowed to have even a drink of water (I told the nurses that I'd had nothing since dinner at 7pm the previous night) because of impending surgery. I am sure that hunger and thirst added to the shock of my accident.
Fortis then insisted on prior payment of a large sum of money (Rs. 1,50,000) (this itself seems unethical to me) and refused to carry out the surgery without it. My daughter and my friends Jayashree and Nayantara, who'd also arrived at the hsopital, organized it. Jai and Nayantara went home, but my daughter had to stay with me.
Though surgery was thus delayed, I was wheeled in at 7.20pm, and the surgery, which took a little over an hour, went very well. I returned to consciousness and was brought back to the room at about 9.30pm. Jai, who came back in the evening, stayed with me while Anjana went home to get things organized for the children for the next day, and returned by 12.45 am, when Jai went home. Though the surgeon had told me that I could have food after midnight, the nurses would not allow me to eat or drink anything until 1 am. Jai's suggestion of a glass of Horlicks was excellent and a life-restorer.
Anjana, suffering from cold and fever, was out like a light; luckily, I was able to go to the toilet on my own, and considering the injuries, spent a reasonable night.
The other patient in my room was a gentleman who was having his knee fixed after some wire had broken in the knee replacement. For some reason, he was suffering from a lot of gas, and my night was punctuated by unmusical and loud emissions. Sleep was out of the question.
At 5 am in the morning, the nurse came and switched on all the lights, waking everyone, including my ill and exhausted daughter, for no good reason that I could see. I switched off the lights again to let my daughter sleep. I had to fend off the staff who came to sweep and then mop the room, to ask if I needed a bedpan ( an offer which I was thankful to refuse), an ECG for me, and breakfast service. I then kept awake to prevent the staff taking away the breakfast tray, as I had saved some of it for my daughter when she woke up. I also had a few friends visiting. Sleep? Rest? What are those?
At 6 am, one of the surgeons, Dr Sinha, came to see me, and pronounced that I was doing fine and could go home the same day.
The nurse told me that I could not be discharged without the main surgeon's "discharge sheet" and the discharge summary. However, she said, the paperwork for claiming the insurance would take 3-4 hours and I could not leave until it was completed. I asked why someome else could not collect the paperwork after I went. The response to this was, "Speak to our in-charge"... a person who never appeared. I made a big fuss until I got some attention, and the main surgeon, Dr Priyadarshan, visited by noon, and pronounced me fit enough to be discharged.
At 11am,Anjana had woken up, and Jai returned. I warned Anjana that the hospital bill would be padded up, and at noon, after the surgeon's visit they both went to Billing, where, sure enough, there was overcharging to the tune of about Rs.6,000. Two and a half hours were spent on this exercise and I was finally discharged.
I am back home now, and have been told not to lift weights with my right hand as a tendon has been cut in the wrist. Other than that. It's just been... a pain in the a**! This describes the injury, the effects of the surgery, the 6- hour delay in discharging me... and the over-billing, to the tune of several thousand rupees.
I am now facing the daunting task of downloading several forms from the insurance company's site, filling them up when my right wrist is tightly bandaged up, and making my insurance claim.
Update on 091117
I went to get my wounds re-dressed and we asked the surgeon what the surgical mesh was that had been used. The surgeon said he had not used any mesh. This was a charge of Rs.27,600. With the earlier overbilling the total amount overcharged was Rs.32,100. The hospital was perfectly aware of what was being done. VERY unethical.
Sidelights (FB posts):
1.The surgeons were good at Fortis, Bannerghatta Rd.. I am comfortable.. But the rest.. awful. I am now bleeding from the spot where an incompetent nurse replaced the butterfly IV port. I am told that after the doctor ( no nurse will tell me when he might reasonably be expected) the insurance papers will take 3-4 hours and I cannot leave without them( I am not joking... I asked why I can't send someone else to collect them, and was told it can't be done!).…aaargh. The idea seems to be to keep me long enough to bill me for another day...and another, and another....
2.The doctors do their job efficiently, and then the patient passes into the hands of that monster, the Billing Dept. Today, it took 6 hours to get discharged. Fortis tried to bill me for: half a day's room charge, meals that were not eaten, medication that the duty nurse took away before my eyes, and my daughter and my friend Jai, alert to this, found a total of nearly Rs.6000 over-billing. (the bill was around Rs.1,50,000).If, in the protracted, painful process of a patient's discharge, one does not notice these 'oversights', one is the loser, literally and figuratively.
3.I found that the hospital staff had brought the mask used for my anasthesia back to my room. I decided to bring it back home. What a bonus! K2 added it to the doctor's kit. I've just had my budpeser checked, my ears and eyes peered into, my heart and bristles(don't ask me what those are!) listened to with the steth, and ofkose, with the mask, had a whole opewation done with a pair of large yellow tweezers, where my stomach was cut open but I did not die. I then told him to give me a bill, and he brought me some torn-up kitchen tissue to pay it with. The best opewation I have ever had.
4. One butterfly that I don't like:
click here to view
5. I like to laugh....but I really didn't need to be in stitches in the surgical way! Embroidered all over, l yet count myself lucky when I think where those glass shards could have fallen...and what damage they could have done.
6. A doctor friend called me up and asked why I had not given him a call immediately. He asked me to remember to call at once next time. I profoundly hope and pray that there will be no next time!