Dave presented it best. He called his parents on Friday and told them, “I’m going to start with the conclusion, then give a summary, and then tell you the whole story.”

Conclusion: Jenny is fine.

Summary: She spent the last two nights in the hospital.

Whole story: After having a molar suddenly became very sensitive to cold, I went to a dentist. He determined I had some decay underneath an old filling and would need a root canal. He took out the filling (which was so painful I started sobbing! awww), treated the irritated root with medication, and put in a temporary filling. The root canal procedure was scheduled for two days later. But that night, I got a high fever and started shivering uncontrollably — it literally came out of nowhere. So we decided to go to the hospital.

We have a list from the US Government of recommended hospitals. “Aashlok Hospital in Safdarjung,” we told the rickshaw driver. But the driver heard only “Hospital” and “Safdarjung,” and took us to Safdarjung Hospital, a free hospital run by the government. The sign was in Hindi, so we had no idea.

The wheeled me in, gave me a shot to bring down the fever, and decided it wasn’t a big deal. They thought it was malaria, so they gave me malaria pills — “Take four tonight, with half a glass of milk.”

The next day, we called the doctor at ten AM. He showed up at noon (they make house calls here!) where he diagnosed me with a blood infection from the molar work. Prescription: antibiotics. And I was well on the way to getting better (drinking lots of fluids, eating very bland foods, taking my medicine) when the malaria tablets kicked in. Turns out that if you take chloroquine on an empty stomach, it causes gastroenteritis. Suddenly I couldn’t keep any liquids or food inside of me. The doctor decided I needed to be admitted to the hospital.

This time, we made sure we were going to the right place — Max Hospital in Saket, a private facility of gleaming marble floors and, if you choose, deluxe suites for inpatient luxury. Much nicer than the Methodist Hospital on 7th Avenue in Brooklyn.

The first day was rough. My stomach was in agony from the malaria tablets and I listless, weak, and without any appetite. By the evening I was feeling a lot better, and by the following morning I was out of bed and on the couch, my hair brushed, my clothes straightened, and ready to exuberantly espouse to everyone who came in as to how excellent I was feeling so they wouldn’t stick the IV back in and I could be released. (I had a lot of problems with the IV — it hurt, it backed up with blood, and it made my left hand comically swollen.)

Now, three days later, I feel fine. Perfect! A new lease on life!

I’m trying to make light of the situation, but it was an extremely scary time for us. Dave didn’t leave my side for a second. (Well, except for a trip home to shower and a lunch in Saket that gave him stomach problems of his own). The experience makes me very reflective. Living two-and-a-half months anywhere isn’t a big deal. Often in New York, I’d marvel and how half a year had gone by without much happening. But in just two-and-a-half, I feel different.

Maybe it was an inevitable change with getting older, but I think it’s being here and all that we are now exposed to. For instance, Dave and I recently visited a girl’s orphanage to stake out a volunteer opportunity. The girls had either been abandoned by their parents, ran away for some reason, or had been taken out of slave labor situations. They were aged 8-18 and between eleven of them, shared a small one-bedroom apartment.

Orphans. I’d never met an orphan before, and now there were eleven of them in front of me, smiling and excited to meet me, I was overcome with sadness for them. How lucky I am to have parents who love me. How lucky I am to be able to afford to stay in a fancy hospital when, just below my sixth floor window, there was a shanty town where I could see
toddlers crawling around without pants in fifty-five degree temperatures.

This is a bit of depression, I suppose, a consumption of sadness I had yet to experience. But I’m hopeful for the future and am determined to use these emotions to effect change.


5 responses to “ouch

  1. Living exciting lives are one thing – but now that you’ve experienced 3rd world hospitals… enough! Stay well! (When do you go back for the root canal?)

  2. I’m going for the root canal in 30 minutes, actually. I’m seeing a new dentist. Reportedly the BEST in all of India!

  3. Hi Jenny!
    I am glad that you are doing better. What an adventure! Hope the new doctor is much better:)

  4. My husband is Indian, and I’ve been to India once (we’re going again this December). I got the “living there” view of India rather than the “tourist” view, and I totally understand your reaction to the orphanage. It’s mind boggling how privileged we are. I used to think I was “poor” growing up, and by U.S. standards I was. But I don’t think that anymore. No way.

    Thank you for your blog. It’s so interesting! Can you turn on RSS feeds so I’ll know when you update?

  5. Pingback: emergencies « Our Delhi Struggle

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