A Loaf Of Bread (A Human Story)
She was rushed down to the obstetric emergency rooms with advanced pregnancy, increased blood pressure and heavy bleeding. Almost immediately she delivered. Her baby was a stillborn. It did not stop at that. Because of raised blood pressure and bleeding for a long time before she could reach the hospital, her kidneys failed. This was indeed a bad condition to have. Thankfully her kidney failure appeared to be of the type where recovery was possible. But in the mean time she needed dialysis. As luck would have it, all the three dialysis units at the hospital were dysfunctional and so she had to be shifted to another government hospital in a still bigger city about a 100 miles away.
|Hospital Transfer Ambulance|
Obviously she was in no position to spend for her transport but the hospital had the facility to transfer her free in its ambulance. Though the main part of the dialysis at the government hospital was free, each cycle of dialysis would still be costing her nearly 2000 to 3000 rupees. Even if by a conservative expectation of five to seven cycles, the cost would not be less than twenty thousand rupees. The referring doctors knew this. They sent one of their resident junior doctors in the ambulance stuffing his pockets with about twenty five thousand rupees. This money was to be handed over to the doctor on duty in the kidney hospital with clear instructions not to reveal to the patient from where the assistance came. All was arranged and was going well. She started recovering.
After sometime I had an opportunity to go to that city for some academic engagement. Out of concern and wanting to make the patient feel cared-for I visited the hospital to meet her and her relatives. In a typical Indian tradition she and her husband folded their hands in a “Namaskaar” and she had a smile on her face. She was obviously looking frail recovering from a major sickness. What intrigued me was that her husband looked haggard and weak. They were obviously happy at her recovery and had all blessings for the hospitals. But the look of her husband, all worn out and hungry was disturbing.
On my way out I took her husband with me out of the hospital ward and inquired about his well-being. “What is the matter? Are you okay?” I asked. “Everything is okay, Sir” he replied with a forced smile. I was not convinced. “What is the matter? Your wife is recovering. She has been treated very well. Everything seems to be good to me”. “Yes sir” he sighed. All did not seem to be well. I persisted as I wanted to know what was paining this man. Finally he said: “Sir, I am here in a totally unknown city. My wife has been admitted for last ten days. In these ten days I have not earned a penny. As such at our village too I work as a laborer with a near hand to mouth existence. Whatever little money I had could pull me on for five six days. Now all that money is over and I am not able to get enough food. I get to sleep in the hospital corner. But Sir, Food? My wife gets her hospital diet. She shares something with me. Since then I am not getting enough food to eat. That is the only problem Sir. Lest all is well” and again came the forced smile.
Tears welled-up in my eyes at the paradox: Here was a man for whose wife we arranged for free dialysis of nearly hundred thousand rupees but for him we could not arrange - a loaf of bread!