A medical roller coaster

In the 1980s and 1990s when the British High Commission had their own health facility.

NGO workers such as myself and the many VSO volunteers in Bangladesh were able to register with and take advantage of the friendly facility. 

By the early 2000s when 5-star hospitals were being set up in Dhaka and the British authorities were looking to cut administrative costs.

Non-high commission staff were not able to access the facility any more.

Therefore for the last 15 years or so, I have used the services of three prestigious facilities.

Evercare (formerly Apollo), United, and Square hospitals. 

As a result of my involvement, in 1971, in refugee relief work, and as an observer of Bangladesh’s journey since then.

In every month of March, for the last few years, I am usually busy with seminars, interviews, and writing articles about those days.

This year in early March I was invited to show the film, Friends of ‘71 and speak to members of one of the Dhaka Rotary Clubs about my 1971 experiences.

After the event, the organizers kindly dropped me back to my apartment in Banani at about 10:30 pm. 

At about 2am, I woke up with extreme abdominal pain, an intensity of which I had never experienced in my whole life.

I contacted the excellent doctor who had looked after me during my Covid illness a year ago and antacid medicines were prescribed.

When no improvement had taken place, after a couple of days we decided that I should seek admission in hospital on an emergency basis.

So that I could receive intravenous painkiller medicine and further investigations could take place.

My home helper, who has been with me for 20 years, accompanied me to the emergency department of the hospital.

Where we were told that I could not be admitted until a Gastric doctor (gastroenterologist) had signed off on my admission papers.

When we met the doctor, he hardly asked any questions nor did he look at the blood test reports that I carried with me. 

Then he said: “You cannot be admitted until the following tests are done endoscopy, colonoscopy, and a CT scan of abdomen.” 

To my astonishment, he then went on to say: “It is 12 o’clock now, tomorrow is Friday.

So please come at 9 am on Saturday morning.

I said “What about the pain?

And do you not consider me to be an emergency case?” I received no reply.

Somehow I managed to get through the Friday and we reported at 9 am on the Saturday morning.

The “day ward” was spacious and relatively clean with not many patients but there was a large number of staff all.

It seemed, talking at the top of their voices, which was most disturbing. 

Though we reported at 9 am, the procedures of endoscopy and colonoscopy would not take place until 3 pm. To flush out the intestines.

It is necessary to drink a few litres of a laxative fluid and visit the washroom multiple times.

On one occasion, I had a bit of an accident so I told the staff that the washroom needed cleaning. 

Nobody came to clean for over 3 hours!

In the evening, with the effect of the anesthesia wearing off, we went to the doctor to receive my file and medicines.

I do not remember the discussion but I do remember that I asked, What about a follow up appointment?

You can come if you like, was the reply. 

The doctor had prescribed two medicines for two weeks and one for one month.

So, normally a doctor would have said: Follow up after two weeks unless there are any concerns before that.

What a strange attitude! One thing I was clear about was that I was not going to go to that doctor again.

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