Monday, October 17, 2011

Oh, I have been neglectful...

I had high hopes for myself with this blog, but... well... India intervened.

On May 19, I flew to India, New Delhi to be more precise, and spent the next several days sightseeing with new found friends. I saw all the standard sites: Agra Fort, Taj Mahal, etc., etc. It was an incredible trip and I had a fabulous time.

The one thing I got to see that, honestly, I had hoped I would never see, was the inside of an Indian hospital. Now... like many people, I don't particularly like hospitals. I find doctors a touch... abhorrent. Necessary evils, I suppose, but... yeah.

So when I was injured while in my hotel bathroom in New Delhi, on my last night in India, I was a basketcase. Let me set the scene:

India, for a week, had been hot. Very hot. 112 degrees hot. And dry. I did not drink as much water as I should have so the last day in India was a touch miserable for me. I wanted nothing more than to get back to the really nice, five-star hotel that awaited us in New Delhi. By the time we got there, I hadn't eaten or drunk much all day because I felt so lousy. I headed up to my room to undress and shower.

Before I got to the showering part, though, I passed out.

This hotel, the Eros Shangri-La Hotel in New Delhi, is a beautiful place. The rooms are well-appointed and have rich details such as marble floors, walls, counters, and bathtubs in the bathroom. Their fixtures in there are a nice gleaming silver metal, including the wastebasket.

All of that is beautiful and wonderful and comforting when you're feeling well.

When, however, you're waking up, face down, in a growing pool of blood, on said marble, it's not such a comfort. When I passed out, I apparently hit my shoulder and collar bone on the smooth black marble counter. I further broke my fall by landing, face first, on the edge of the metal wastebasket (how do I know this? Well, beyond the fact that my cheek was cut open down to the bone, the wastebasket had a distinct dent in it where my cheekbone landed. Feel free to cringe in sympathy now). Due to the way my nose is healing, I've come to realize that the wastebasket edge is what also broke my nose.

Yeah. Awful scene. blood everywhere, pain, know that facial wounds like to bleed and bleed and bleed, right? Yeah, they do. Despite all the blood, I got up, managed to *bandage* my face and tried my best to convince myself I didn't need a doctor's attention. I even took a bath, hoping that the heat of the water would warm me up some.

Once I accepted that I had to see a doctor, I called the concierge.

And ended up bawling into the phone that I'd had an accident. Within minutes (fast enough that I was really glad I had already pulled clothing on before calling), the concierge, a hotel security officer and a guest relations person were in my room and then escorting me down to a waiting limo and then to the local hospital.

Oh boy. Indian hospitals. By the time I got there, I had stopped crying and was... laughing. I kept cracking jokes with the medical staff, who didn't seem to appreciate my humor. (Yeah, American humor in an Indian hospital? No wonder my comic routine bombed [and I mean that as in 'failed' not... you know...]).

The Indian doctors ordered every test possible, including an MRI. Sheesh. I dreaded getting that bill.

I'm fading, so I'll shorten this story. The Indian hospital was an experience I don't recommend.

The results of the treatment I received, however, are amazing. The plastic surgeon who did my *surgery* (really, we were in a full-on operating theatre, a team of six people there, all just for me!) wanted to put me under completely and do an 'open reduction' on my nose to correct the displacement. Fearing having an open reduction (doesn't that mean cutting the skin and pulling... yeah, no, not doing that sorry) and fearing not being able to... wait for it... fly to Nepal in another four hours, I cried. The surgeon and I discussed that if he did the reduction, I'd be stuck in India for up to a week. No Nepal for me. After I cried, he agreed not to do the reduction.

Instead, he used high-powered magnifying glasses to stitch up my cheek. He put in two layers of stitches, one for the muscle, one for the skin. I feared I'd end up with a huge, ugly, noticeable scar on my cheek for the rest of my life. Four and a half months later, I know the scar is there but other people rarely notice it. Indeed, yesterday, I caught my reflection and thought, "Wait... right, left..?" I had to feel my cheek to remind myself which cheek had the scar. (It's my right cheek).

I have more stories about this, including how one incredibly kind and generous couple paid my hospital bill, but I'm tired.

The Indian hospital bill? A bit under 40,000 rupees. At the exchange rate I had, that was roughly US$650.

Why is it that, had this happened in the States, I'd be facing a hospital bill a hundred times more expensive?