A patient's odyssey

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Happily married for 6 years. A child in the picture and it would be complete and perfect. But it was not happening, and I thought we'd missed that right moment. Always!

One day he receives scholarship for five years. Would the baby now have to wait until his scholarship was over? I was already 32, and waiting five more years could give rise to fertility issues or birth complications many women in their late thirties face. I felt a chill rush down my spine!

We decided to visit the best doctor in the town.

Then the visits to the doctor petrified me in ways I had never imagined.

It was expected that the hospital will be crowded, but I had no inkling that some 4-5 patients will be hoarded together into the doctor’s diagnosis room. Then, when the doctor will talk in ‘private’ with each individual patient, other patients along with their extended family members will be listening intently to doctor patients’ communication. This was the first shock to me.

Finally it was my turn. Showing a sample picture, and addressing me in a casual timi, the doctor drawled on nonchalantly in a room with half a dozen other patients, and their relatives, “Reproductive organs should be like this"” and pointing towards my hysterosalpingogram (HSG) report “but yours is like this.”

I had never been addressed with timi by any stranger and personally I don’t give that right to anyone else beyond my close acquaintances. I was taken aback by the tone of the doctor. When asked for layman’s explanation of the report, I understood I had a serious ‘infertility’ problem, but the way I was being told was totally humiliating and insensitive. This was the second shock to me.

As a suggestion to fix my reproductive anatomy, I was offered surgical option that was to open my fallopian tubes and construct my uterus, and the doctor was boasting that he could successfully do that in the country. I knew usually doctors opt for surgical option even if that was redundant as that is a profitable venture. Apparently, I had no faith on his words.

I unloaded my personal detail that my husband was flying abroad soon, and so I sought for some effective alternative treatment. The doctor promptly retorted back with curiosity, “Where is he going?” Japan. Instead of addressing my concern, he went in length saying how expensive medication is in Japan, and why Nepal is bliss, in fact with a big prospect of medical tourism. Suddenly, I was regarded differently, as someone with ability to pay lot. I realized how patients are treated not on the basis of their medical complexities but according to their perceived financial and social status. This was my third shock.

As I rode back home on a motorbike with my husband, tears incessantly rolled down my cheeks. It took me a while to accept the fact that I am infertile. I found myself pathetic and vulnerable.

People visit hospital only when they sense something wrong. Sometimes simply seeing a doctor can work magic on patients’ health if the doctor's approach towards their issue is kind. Anyone can understand that doctors work under tremendous pressure, and especially in a developing countries like ours where patient to doctor ratio is high, they often have to deal with hundreds of patients. However, it should not be any reasons for justification for doctors to treat patients rudely or without respect. However, the doctor, devoid of any compassion and humility, sees no necessity to explain the case and respect their patients. As I exited the room, I saw the impatient and unsettled ones relentlessly waiting for their turn.

That was my last appointment to that doctor.

I visited half a dozen more renowned hospitals desperately seeking for better medication options, but most of them were no less excruciating. Luckily, I happened to visit a kind doctor, underwent treatment with her, which unfortunately was unsuccessful. I flew to Japan.

As of today, I am blessed with a baby in Japan. My pregnancy journey was like a roller coaster ride, being an in vitro fertilization (IVF) patient, and having a history of miscarriage, I was very skeptical until the end. Umpteen times I rushed to the hospital crying hysterically but I was always treated with due attention. Despite the fact that I comprehend no Japanese, the hospital personnel made every attempt to make me understand what was happening to me. And, there was not a single time I was not reminded of my visit to the hospitals back home, how voiceless I was there and how I am heard here even if they don’t speak my language.

We were thrilled to have a baby. “Let’s distribute sweets in the hospital,” mommy said as that would certainly be expected were we in Nepal. Unlike Nepal, they don’t blow their trumpet as if they did some favor. “It is simply my duty, that’s what we are trained for and supposed to do,” my doctor told me when I thanked her.

“You should not expect much from doctors in Nepal because they choose to stay to serve the country  unlike many who fly abroad to study and never come back,” a friend told me to mitigate my frustration. I understand what she meant; I acknowledge all those who choose to serve home but why is it aberrant to expect an ounce of professional ethics from them? Is it not our right to have an unbiased treatment with due respect? Why patients have to be like subservient creatures, while doctors assume to be all knowledgeable supremos?

Maybe, it’s a result of Stockholm syndrome. The doctors in Nepal start their medical schools as meek and humble creatures, only to get bullied so harshly and repeatedly that they give up their self-esteem. Initially, they protest before giving in, but within a year of medical school, the freshmen realize that within a short span they will have their own preys to play cat and mouse with i.e. new freshmen. Now, the initially protesting meek guys turn into callous bullies. Unfortunately, perhaps these bullies go on to become those who we consider in Nepal as specialist medical practitioners.

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