It must have been something I ate, or the water I drank, or — my personal favourite reason, thanks Monica — ‘kisi ki nazar lag gayi’, that I had to be admitted in the hospital over the weekend.
I hate hospitals, and even consider running away just as the sweet nurse approaches me with a needle, talking to me in English spoken in Malayalam,
‘Regina, don’t worry Regina, it’s ok’.
I kinda like the name and decide to stay on. I am taken to a nice room that is to be my prison for the next two days. The bed is adequately comfortable. There is a T.V., and a table. And, an attendant’s bed that is slightly larger than a coffee table.
What sized-attendant do they expect the patients to get? Martian?
Maybe, they should give us brochures at the time of admission with specific instructions –
One family member can be with the patient at all times as an attendant. We recommend the person be no taller than four feet and wider than one feet. If you are having problems sourcing such an attendant, our NGO, Men Are From Mars will help you get a Martian as an attendant. Please contact Tiny at 99-999-9999.
So, my treatment starts with Dr Akshay Gupta examining me. I am disappointed that he looks nothing like Dr Derek Shepherd. But, I live on in hope as other doctors came to check on me. It is not going the way I imagine, making me progressively downgrade my expectations, till I pray for Dr Gupta himself to return.
He starts me on a new medicine. The nurse takes the prescription and came to me,
‘I have to give you a testos.’
I am weak, my mind blurry and disoriented.
What is testos? Toasted testes? Why would she want to give me those?
She stands there waiting for my permission. I have dizzy visions of being forcibly fitted with toasted testes, and protest, weakly. I whisper, ‘Why, why? I don’t want any!’
She stands there, looking distressed,
‘Regina, I want to TEST the TOS before given you full TOS.’
I slip into some kind of lifeless sleep as she carries on her task. I am feeling really sick.
I don’t want to die.
In those fits of sleep and semi-wakefulness, I wonder what it would be like to kick the bucket. I want to think of a beautiful, graceful song that plays in movies at these times – of dying people praying to God for healing. I want to play something like that in my head. I think hard. But, either it is my illness or the strong medicines, the only song that comes to my mind is –
Shaamil na ho — Shaamil na ho — humra bhooton mein naam re.
The air conditioner is making the room cold. The blanket is making me hot. I push one leg out of the blanket and finally find the right blanket-in-blanket-versus-out-of-blanket body placement to be comfortable. Then, the nurse walks in and covers me up with the blanket.
I struggle for the next half hour to correct the situation. Just as I succeed, she is back.
I am so mad. In future, I will write in my pre-hospital-admission terms and conditions –
No one will cover my, any partial, substantial or the whole of me till I am alive. You shall wait for till I am dead and significant rigor mortis has set in to even think of doing that.
Day one is over. A lady doctor has come to check on me. She asks me about my condition, looks at my charts, and, maybe, because her next patient is dead, lingers there with extra questions,
Anyone in your family has anything?
Hmmm. Where do I begin? Ok, let me start with Hari Singh, my grandmother’s brother who was a photographer. He had a lot of things – like a photo studio, those studio lights…
She gives some instructions to Alok, who never seems to get them right in the first go. He asks for clarifications. He is doing this with all the doctors. I mean, if this were school, he would have been caned by now.
The children come to meet me.
‘Are you feeling better?’, Nikki gives me a kiss.
‘Not fair! You have a TV in your room?’, Prithvi grabs the remote.
Modi and Obama are all over the channels.
‘Who is the vice-president of U.S.?, asks Nikki
‘Obama?’, ventures Prithvi.
‘Idiot!! He is the president!’
‘Osama?’, he tries another option.
I finally smile. Though by that logic, Arnab should be the vice president of India. I am not smiling any more.
It’s night-time again. I open my eyes sometime post-midnight, feeling weak and sick. There is a hand lying next to me.
‘Gross! This lady needs a manicure!’
I stir a little, the hand moves. I discover that it’s my own hand, numb with all that I.V. line and stuff. It is horrible. I want to pull it out and just go home.
‘Will I get an auto at this hour? Will he go by the meter?’
I decide to stay put.
The nurse comes in the morning, all bright and cheerful. She checks my pulse with a small, shiny gadget. Alok is fascinated with it.
‘What is it?’
‘It measures pulse and oxygenation in the blood.’
‘What else does it measure?’
She gives him a cold stare.
‘Like B.P. or…’, he persists, brightly.
‘Where can I buy it?’, he wants this gadget badly.
She walks out.
I worry if he will follow her asking if she’d sell it on OLX.
It’s time to go home. How badly I want that hot shower, my bed, my blanket, my-leg-out-of-the-blanket back. It’s so beautiful to be home! Prithvi is thrilled to have mummy back home. Though he wonders why I did not get a baby back from the hospital, like other mummies do.
My sister tries to cheer me up,
‘Look at the bright side – you would have lost weight!’
It works. But, then I know that nothing would ever help me get rid of the double chin. In fact, I am sure that even when I am a skeleton that is donated to St John’s hospital for a some kind of skeletal system study like, ‘Skeletal Patterns of Women from Sarjapur Road’, there would still be a double chin hanging in there from the jawbone.