Saturday, 2 June 2007

Chinese Whispers

Its amazing how humans have this great capacity of spicing up real events to make it sound good when narrating an incident. The scouts game of ‘Chinese Whispers’ is a serious syndrome.

Last evening I got an sos call from a friend saying some guy on a scooter hit his car from behind and fell down hurt. I rushed to the spot to see a huge crowed gathered there. They had forced an auto to stop against his wishes, thrust the injured man on the passenger who was in the back seat and the unhappy auto driver was being verbally abused by a bunch of losers for whom this was an opportunity to feel important. Why? Nobody knows. That’s how the game is played. If you have ever watched baboons, this is the same reaction that is evoked when an injured baboon is lying on the floor and the rest are watching – complete noise with no one making sense. This is how emergency care is provided in our country.

For the vast majority, there are two simple traffic rules when two vehicles have an accident. The owner of the more expensive vehicle is at fault no matter what the scenario and of the people involved in the accident, the more aggressive and vocal of the two is right. Proficiency in abusive language is also a great advantage. If your vocabulary is better, then they usually withdraw the onslaught. In the midst of a group of uneducated empty heads trying to call shots, my friend had established some order. He was very proficient and aggressive.

There was not much time for me to interact and I had no idea what was happening or how bad the injury was. The injured man had some abrasions on his face and was moving. I got into the Auto and rushed to the nearest hospital. The pandemonium was so bad that the passenger in the auto asked me if I was the one who had knocked him down and that's when I realized they had no clue of what was happening either. A few moments later I got a strong whiff as if I was passing a brewery. The injured man was drunk out of his wits. He probably had a full bottle in him.

We reached the hospital with my friend in tow in his car. Trust me; what you see in the movies is all crap. No one rushes to you with a stretcher, no one hurries to check vital signs and honestly, no one cares. The doctor came to the auto visibly upset probably because I disturbed his meal and very calmly proclaimed that he could be suffering from a head injury. Since the hospital had no MRI machine, we had to take him to a place which could do a CT scan on him. Guess the doc was not in the mood to save lives.

At this point the passenger who was holding on to the injured man in the back seat somehow magically vanished and it was now my job to hold on to the injured man in the backseat on our ride to the next hospital. The DRUNK injured man (Capitals because he was really piss drunk) was half on top of me and my only thought at that moment was that this guy would puke all over me. His friggin breath was making me high. I could swear he had TWO bottles of the most potent brew in him now.

On reaching the next hospital the whole drama was repeated. After a long wait, the stretcher men arrived and I had to pick up this really heavy DRUNK injured man onto it. We wheeled him into the casualty ward and into the doctors’ chamber. (I haven’t misplaced the apostrophe. There were three doctors in there). After a five minutes wait the lead doctor had a look at him and to my surprise the first thing he did was ask the nurse to remove his gold chain, two gold rings and watch and seal it in a cover. He then tried to ask the DRUNK injured man his name to which the DRUNK injured man, now a bit sober, almost hit the doc. I asked the unmoved doctor if he is going to be fine. He looked at me bored and said, “In about two hours he will get up and go home and come back tomorrow to pester for his belongings”. That’s why the doc was more concerned about his jewelry. In the midst of him blabbering some technical words to another doctor who was registering the arrival of the DRUNK injured man, I heard a scream – poison case. The doc looked at me, still bored and said, “go home’. Just another day in his life I guess.

My friend and I left the hospital to go back to the spot as my car was there. The shops on the street had shut. The huge gathering of helping citizens I had seen hovering like flies over feces had disappeared. We saw the scooter parked on the side. A street dweller woman was guarding it. We wanted to somehow inform the DRUNK injured man’s family and so we walked up to the woman to ask if someone had come asking for him. This is what she had to say – “I was sitting on the roadside when I heard a loud crash. The owner of this bike was mowed down by a car. My son-in-law and others chased the car for a while but the car sped away. A group of good samaritans then rushed the poor man to the hospital”. And all this to the same guy who was there from start to finish. My friend and I looked at each other, walked back to our cars and went home to get a drink.

The whole episode had taken about one hour. A rather bland story had transformed into a Hollywood flick. Going back to what I said in the beginning, the scouts game of ‘Chinese Whispers’ is actually a serious syndrome. If this can happen in one hour, imagine what can happen in a few thousand years. Ponder. Mahabharata, Brahma-Astr, Pushpaka-Vimana, Bheema, Ramayana, Ram, Krishna, Ayyappa…. The list is endless.


nabarun said...

its surprising how something as common as a roadside accident can be related to rumors compounding to superstitious facts.u either have to be a genius or totally nuts to even think in that direction.the point here is not to worry too much about your mental (in)stability but to appreciate the fact that its indeed a very well worded thought and it inspires genuine geniuses like me to start thinking in that not so often treaded direction. keep up the great work adi and also knowing that theres a thin dividing line between a lunatic and a genius, keep up the balancing act !!!

Adithya said...

Ha ha... thanks. I dont think I am a genius but it sure feels good to know that I am not the only nut around. Cheers!!!

Ramya said...

Hi Adithya, - Came across your blog from a Facebook friend's link...Just wanted to clear some stereo-types abt ER scenarios.. Stretcher , ok, vital signs , hmm ok, but NO ONE cares ? Broad sweeping statement , that. The doctor who "was not in the moood to save lives" and came down to see u probably made the best decision in order to save time and make u get the CT scan (not MRI machine, Mr.inconsistent) pronto. Time is money in head injuries. The bit abt missing his dinner was a tad below the belt... Which I am given to understand, (from your other blog entries), u r not a fan of ?..The other "lead" doctor { the actor in u speaking? ;-) } who asked you to take the drunk home probably had the situation figured right. I am not supporting the actions of these guys just b'cos they belong to my fraternity, { or sorority, if u will :-) }...But u make them sound so blase. Triaging in an emergency room comes from experience , and after sometime one tends to figure out who needs WHAT level of care. Which does NOT translate it into lack of passion. So next time,maybe u cud try and leave these cliched responses based on a staple diet of B-grade movies out of your narrative ?
P.S.-- You do write surprisingy well, though :-).

Adithya said...

@ Ramya - thanks for correcting my inconsistency .. I'll make sure I take notes when I sit at Med school like you the next time around. Though guilty of being an actor like how you so rightly kept poking me with, I'm still a layman.. to me a scan is a scan and the alphabets preceding it had no special meaning. None the less I'll take flak for it.

Actually I'm a fan of hitting below the belt and if I was just "a tad below" in your opinion then I feel I've missed the mark.. I was aiming for the testicles. Incidentally I was always led to believe that that is how sarcasm works

I guess I should be honoured that you are surprised I write 'well' .. must say that you do so too however you are rather brave firing from the cover of anonymity.. a click on your name and the link says you have chosen not to share your profile. Reveal yourself so I can put a face to Dr. Ramya .. if not anything, it will help me rule out if or not you were one of the three sitting in that ER room :)

Anand said...

Hahahaha... that woman in the end KILLED it!! Very humorous and insightful regardless!