Chronicle of a Hospital Experience


My mother-in-law has been ailing for some time. She would get breathless quite often and when we went to get her checked up, the doctors felt that it was because her heart was not pumping blood effectively, and that a pacemaker would help relieve the pressure.

We got a second opinion within the day, and realizing the urgency of the situation, we completed all the pre-op requirements (booking the blood transfusions in advance) and scheduled the operation for September 20th. Unfortunately, a bandh (strike) on D-day forced us to postpone the operation by 24 hours as the doctors could not guarantee they or their staff would be able to reach the hospital without issues.

Within the day, my MIL was in serious distress and we realized bandh or no bandh, she needed immediate medical care, called up an ambulance, and rushed her to the hospital. She was immediately put on oxygen support and external pacemaker. On hearing the news that her pulse was close to flatlining, the doctors rushed to the hospital and performed an emergency operation to place the pacemaker.

However, the various delays – the time we took to unsuccessfully try to revive her, the inordinately long time it took the ambulance to get home, the fumbling trying to get her on the stretcher and out the door and on her way, caused a lot of damage. Although the operation was successful, her liver, and kidneys (and now, her lungs as well) are not functional. We ended up transferring her to a specialty hospital and since then, she’s been continuously on the ventilator, and attached to a dialysis machine for most of the day.

She’s so sedated that they do all sorts of invasive procedures right there on the CCU bed, without bothering to move her, right under our aghast eyes. They nonchalantly cut through her skin, insert tubes, and stitch her up just like she were a pillow case, and it’s just terrible to see through the glass partition without feeling an almost physical pain at what she must be going through.

Aah, the glass partition, that’s another terrible thing. So far, I have not been allowed to even cross that partition. It’s impossible to even squeeze her hand, or talk something to her. All I do is wave from about 20 feet away helplessly knowing that she can’t see or hear me. Thankfully, my husband and my father-in-law were able to make occasional visits to see her, but still…it seems a terrible thing that in her worst moments of pain, she is surrounded by doctors, and not one single familiar face.

The doctors, and there are many, all highly qualified serious gentlemen – a cardiologist, a nephrologist, a gastroenterologist, a haematologist, a whatnotologist, they come in droves, huddling together near her bed, blocking our view. They engage in serious discussions, lasting almost 20-30 mins. We watch through the glass partition wondering what’s going on, using non-existent lip-reading skills.

Once they come out, we corner the most approachable looking doctor to receive a brief two sentence status update. It varies. Some days, her status is status quo, no change. Some days, she is marginally better, some days marginally worse.

We exclaim with joy when we receive a good status – her WBC (white blood count) has come back to normal, or her heart is beating fine, no damage to brain…and immediately start wondering when she can be moved from CCU (Critical Care Unit) to ward. Only to have our hopes dashed at the next status.

It’s been 14 days in the CCU now. It’s been 14 days of mind-numbing waits in the hospital, stress and grief. On Friday, we were told that she’s developed pneumonia, that we should call all loved ones to see her, that her condition is grim. So, we did, my dad flew in from Delhi, my brother-in law and family flew in from Dubai, snubnose and I rushed to the hospital.

And then she became better. Her blood counts stabilized. She could even come out of the ventilator within 48 hours. We rejoice again and talk among ourselves about her long-term care. And then, we get the news that she is not emitting enough carbon dioxide out of her lungs. And so, she cannot come off the ventilator. Back to the dumps again.

And so it goes…we play the waiting game…we are starting to get quite good at that now πŸ™

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  • So sorry to hear ’bout this. I am glad she is better now. Hope you and K are doing ok. Take care.

    • @Casey: Actually, it turned out to be a false positive:( She died Oct 30th. We’re now doing all the formalities

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  • I am so so sorry about this. I know what you are going through because I had the misfortune of going through something similar. I am keeping my fingers crossed for you and your family and hope that you MIL will come out of this, feeling better than her best status to date. Hang in there!

  • Oh, no, oh I’m really sorry. Waiting at hospitals is miserable. I hope y’all are doing okay. I send you all the internet hugs.

  • The lack of physical contact with her must be so frustrating ! Hope your mom-in-law gets better soon. A lot of prayers are with her.

    • @theglassbangle: Yes, the lack of any contact at all is frustrating πŸ™ thanks so much for your wishes and prayers

  • So very sorry. I hope your mother-in-law begins to recover soon.

    • @Stefanie: Thanks very much for your wishes.

  • What a terrible tale! I hope your MIL will pull through. It seems like she’s a strong lady not giving up so easily! All the best to you, her family, too, as it is a difficult time for you all.

    • @Leeswammes: I hope so too, she is a fighter and we are all hoping that she makes it out of there.

  • I’m so so sorry. As you know, I just finished going through something similar, and that wait! It’s horrible, as is the up and down of a hospital stay. I’m so sorry you are all having to go through this, and I’m especially sorry that you’re having to watch it all. The worst thing is seeing someone you care for in pain – even if they’re sedated. So take care of yourself and your sweet family. Sending thoughts across the miles.

  • I hope your MIL gets well soon… Felt so bad for her and for you all…Wondering which is the hospital she is admitted..

  • Smita

    I was wondering where you were. This is sad…hope everything stabalises very soon and she comes out safe n sound out of the ordeal.
    All my wishes for you guys!

  • So sorry to hear this, Nish! I hope God gives your Mother-in-law strength and hope she gets better soon. I also wish you and your family strength… I will pray for your Mother and you all.

    • @Veens and @Smita: Thanks for the wishes. I hope she gets better soon too

  • All the best for her to get better soon. Hope the doctors are more open with the family, and explain the medications and procedures, to the family. That is not followed here. The family is kept in the dark., adding to the anxiety.

  • Oh Nish πŸ™ I would like to give you a big, big hug! This dreadful situation with your poor mother-in-law reminds me so much of what S.’ parents have gone through (and what his mother is still going through. But she’s not that critical anymore).
    The waiting, it is terrible πŸ™ You grasp at every tiny bit of hope that is offered, but doctors are notoriously careful with their opinion. Are you allowed to go into her room now? Or is it not ok, because of her pneumonia?
    I wish you and your family lots of strength in the coming time. Keeping you in my thoughts and prayers! Please try to take care of yourselves, I realise it is one of the things that seem least important, but it is no use to fall ill… xoxo

    • @Chinoiseries: Thanks very much for your warm wishes. Right now, I stay away because visitors are restricted, and I know my husband, brother-in-law, and father-in-law really look for these moments to go see her.

      Glad to hear S’ mom is doing a little better. How is her condition now?

      Ageing and sickness are terrible things πŸ™

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