Hospital in India
This was an experience. I can sit here and laugh at it now, but at the time…well it was interesting to say the least! Having been in that situation, this is why I always buy my insurance even if it is stupidly expensive.
A little history about me:
At 21 I was diagnosed with general Tonic Clonic epilepsy. Not the best thing to be told. Basically it caused me to lose my driving license and caused havoc in my day to day life, putting me in hospital majority of times. I never had and still don’t have a cause or trigger several years down the line, but this hasn’t stopped me traveling despite the concern and worries of my family and friends. I’m just too stubborn for that! But don’t want to miss out on the joys on traveling just in case I have a seizure. This is why I ended up in hospital in India.
It isn’t the first time I have had seizures abroad, I was just lucky enough to be in a more seizure friendly environment. In Central America I had one whilst skyping family, literally 10 minutes after returning from a hike up a volcano. My latest trip to Sri Lanka, I returned early to the hotel as I felt ‘funny’ and all I remember after that is waking up on my room floor, again thankfully unharmed. As no one witnessed these though I don’t know the extent of the problems that could have unfurled.
Most of the time I am able to just sleep it off, however always the drama queen I ended up having a problem on a boat, on the Ganges during a prayer ceremony. Yup, nothing much at all!
That was a problem though. India is crazy anyway, but there were hundreds down at the river, a market at the top, and the steps down at rather steep. So basically I had to be carried up the steps in a blanket, and put into a tuk-tuk lying across the lap of 2 of my friends with 2 others with the drive in the front. So 6 people crammed into a little three wheeled car, weaving frantically through the streets and markets of Varanasi. To add to the comedy whilst being carried up the steps I was apparently blessed by several holy men whilst others tried to sell us nick knacks and food. I didn’t get an ambulance as it would’ve taken over an hour, slightly different from the UK (definitely more grateful of the NHS service), so try not to injure yourself anywhere too remote! I was also lucky enough that I had a GP traveling with me.
Now I am used to and aware of the procedure for a serious seizure from admissions in the UK, and this was a very different experience. It was a private hospital so the standard was better than the average hospital. On arrival I was taken to ‘A&E’ which was a small room with a few beds and some doctors. No scrubs or sterile environment. Here whilst on the phone to a very worried mother in the UK I had another problem, so I suppose it was a good thing they took me to hospital. Can say that I think I gave my mum a few new grey hairs that day!
Next I was taken to have my CT scan and chest x-ray, but where in western countries there are all the standards of hiding behind screens, warnings of radiation etc., I shared a very awkward moment with a doctor in is knitted jumper holding the x-ray plate up for my chest scan, inches from each others faces. Bit awkward. Nothing wrong found but in a country where insurance will pay for a lot of treatment I was admitted and put on a drip in ICU. This was the main part that stayed with me…
ICU is not something I will forget soon. I stayed for only one night but if you’re looking for privacy and dignity, I didn’t get that experience. I am grateful for all their help, but I seemed to be the only one awake and apart from the doctors (who only came at certain times) who spoke English. This gave me plenty of time to check out my environment. On the ceiling was a lovely arc of dried blood, don’t really want to know how that happened, the electricity went on and off because of the rain, taking several minutes at time to kick back into life on the generators and there was no privacy. The language barrier definitely didn’t help when I needed the toilet either as when using a bed pan, the nurse did evening for me. Literally. And then when I could get up the toilet was in what looked like a broom cupboard with 2 inches of water on the floor, mops and buckets for decor. I was an experience I’ll say that!
I was lucky enough that I had a GP with me as I discharged myself early knowing that there was no point staying and she confirmed everything was OK. If you find yourself in a similar situation though I would read the fine print of any travel insurance you may have though. If you go against the advice of the doctors etc., it will make you insurance void. I took the risk but it is a big one especially if you have flights to catch. I only took it because I had an 18hr sleeper train to get back to Dehli, which if I had missed I wouldn’t have made my flight. So think carefully before rushing into anything. From my experience in a foreign hospital though you really appreciate what you have at home. The standard is lower yet it is something to laugh about now. As I sat on my plane home, CT scan and x-ray literally in hand to show my neurologist at home, you can’t say it’s something that most people experience. Being lifted up the steps from the Ganges in a homemade sling, blessings from holy men, crammed into a tuk-tuk (legs and head hanging out the sides) and lying in a bed where dignity is a sparsely used word, it sounds as if I have made it up. It isn’t though, and now that I sit here healthy I can share my experience
Survivor! (the steps I was carried up)
What I take from this:
- You can travel with disabilities
- Appreciate what you have
- Buy travel insurance no matter what! (I paid approx £350 for a year!)
- Look at every event as a positive experience/memory
Whether you have a different level of ability or not, DO NOT be put off traveling. At least I have a funny story to tell people now! Can’t say I’ll be rushing back though!