Warning: Bitter post
After my father was admitted to the ICU on 27th September, 2020, we had to face a barrage of insensitive questions. Sometimes, in dark times, we see a glimmer of hope, a little ray of sunshine, hope and a good soul somewhere. Here, we could not find anything like that even remotely 😦
Looking back, I do understand that the entire medical infrastructure is under stress because of COVID turning all our lives upside down. But total lack of sensitivity to a patient and their family was shocking.
Initially, my father was in the emergency room in a critical condition before being moved to the ICU and my mother was asked questions like:
“Do you have sons?”
“Who will pay for his medical bills?”
I am not sure whether this is an apt question when a person is fighting for his life and is under respiratory distress. A doctor’s profession, I have always thought is a very noble one. Yes, I have heard many times, that doctors are also only human beings, but asking such questions definitely shocked us.
The only thought that crossed my mind when I heard these questions was whether all sons in this world are looking after their parents perfectly and all daughters are abandoning their parents totally? Is this an Indian mindset?
Anyways, coming to the question, they did not know about my father’s “independant nature”! (he paid all his bills on his own ultimately, he did not need anybody’s help)
The brutal questions and comments did not stop there and it continued as he was in the ICU.
My father was soon shifted from the emergency room to the ICU because his condition was critical. He stabilized after a few days and he needed to have a surgery to help him breathe on his own.
When we went to see different medical practitioners before the surgery, while some of them said they will do their best, others wrote these words in blunt terms;
“Death on table can occur, internal bleeding can occur” and wrote all pessimistic things in the medical dictionary and we were expected to sign it, so that they were absolved of all their responsibilities! Saying such things was brutal enough, but giving it in writing was beyond words( yes, truth had to be told, but not in such a way)
I could not imagine if this was the way things were done now. Were we out of the medical loop? We didn’t know if the medical world was always like this or was it in a special avatar because of COVID stress.
While, all of us knew that my father was deteriorating – a little, calm, composed talk was all what we needed to hear.
“He is critical – but we will do our best”
Is what I was yearning to hear, but never heard.
In the 2 weeks that my father was in the ICU(we could not meet him in person because of COVID, only video calls were allowed), I was the person who was constantly motivating them to never give up hope! They were only preparing us for the eventuality. I almost felt that the medical team gives up hope once a person is aged and has co-morbidities. They immediately stop fighting for the person. We could not understand how a life could be taken so lightly without a fight.
Improvements in the ICU:
While he was in the ICU, after the initial rough days, my father’s condition stabilized and he was soon following people in the ICU with his eyes(that was big milestone for him) and showing small improvements.
With all the hope and constant video calls he learnt to recognize us and even spoke a few words to us through the video calls( his brain definitely started to work a bit more)
In the preceding evening before he passed away, he recognized all of us through the video call and when I asked him “How are you?”,
He said, “I am fine” (I could almost cry that day when he told me “I am fine” – when the doctors had given up hope and he was hooked up with tubes and wires and was in the ICU) Well, that was my father…never giving up hope and always saying positive things..
Unfortunately, he suffered a cardiac arrest the very next day morning and he passed away. Even then, I was called first as he was having his cardiac arrest and told to prepare for anything. I did not understand that either – why should one make a phone call when one is doing CPR on a patient? Is this the way it is supposed to be done?
The same evening, except for 2 rituals, we daughters also did all last rites for my father ( I am sure he would have not wanted it any other way)
Life after my father:
After my father passed away, I was totally mad. Why? Because – I felt more could have been done. We would have felt more relieved if there was more “try” in the picture.
A bit more calmer now, I do understand all doctor’s and their woes in these trying times. We are very thankful for him getting admitted at least in a hospital in these difficult days. But I definitely do not want to see anybody suffer the way my father suffered. To prevent it all, I could say a few things definitely for elderly parents:
- Find a doctor who believes in you and whom you believe in
- It is always good to eat a proper diet and manage whatever exercise can be done(that of course goes for any age, I guess)
- Break the stereotype- whether sons or daughters – if you can and are nearby your parents and they need help, please look after them. Don’t wait for the brothers to go running to them.
- Early detection for any disease is absolutely important
- Any medication changes should be done in a careful way
- Neurological medications are very powerful – use them with care
- With today’s medical billing, fees will run high – be prepared for it
- And you only have one set of parents – fight for them !
- God is there!
As for us, behind all the social media smiles and emojis, everybody is learning to heal but in a different way. I always remember his teachings and propagate them to my children(they know it already!! :)) For me he is always my “Super man” who is always shining light on my path. I know what he will say for each of our actions as he is watching and guiding us in our journey. He will definitely be proud of how tough and strong we are in difficult times.
These 3 writings do not do full justice to the person my father was. It is just a small drop in my father ocean and I am sure he is proud of all of us and the way we are trying to move forward in life!
PS: The medical fraternity never found the reason for my father’s respiratory distress. It was just blamed on Parkinsons disease.
Love you appa!! There can be no one like you!!
Other thoughts on my father: The cruelty of Parkinsons disease