Thank You UMMC

On Friday, the husband called me up. I was at my parents and resting, after nearly a month of being sick with a prospect of recovery ahead of me, there was no way I was not taking that chance of just resting. But on the phone, Eizwan sounded down-right miserable, his voice strained with sniffles and coughs and he sounded like he had been crying for hours. Which, I know the commute to KL is a bitch – but it can’t be that bad.

That was when I decided to go into crazy bitch/wife mode. Over the phone, Eizwan argued with me, the macho man that he is, insisting that he was alright. I argued back, insisting he wasn’t, insisting that he come over to my parents whereby we’ll eat and then Jan, my brother will take him to the hospital.

Which turned out to be a wise decision – Eizwan was quite ill when he arrived home, walking as though he might collapse at any time. The trip to the hospital was what he needed – after a month of sniffles, coughs and a raw throat, he was prescribed very powerful antibiotics and instructed to rest.

Saturday was rest day, which was what the Doctor ordered. It was quite funny to see the two of us, husband and wife, more like a trainwreck, collapsed on the sofa together, wrapped in blanket as we shivered through the day, hoping to make some sort of recovery soon.

And then Sunday happened.

Sunday morning, my grandmother calls my parents up, panicking. My 90 year old grandfather who has a history of bad coughs was struggling to breathe. Now I did not blog about this, but a month before my wedding, my grandfather fell very ill with coughs that he could not seem to recover from. We made daily trips to a private hospital near their place – and instead of getting better, he was getting progressively worse. At that time, we were frightened that he would be too ill to attend the wedding but thankfully, he recovered within a week of the wedding.

Expecting something like before the wedding, my parents were not too concerned. The last time he fell ill, he needed a bout of steroids to make him feel better. This time….

When my parents called me up later during the day, apparently it was really bad that my mother wanted to cry from the sound of his wheezing and my father felt so helpless. He wheezed like every breath was his last, a ragged breath like no oxygen was getting through.

My parents rushed him to UMMC which thankfully, was the wisest decision they made.

There’s a kind of disgust the middle class hold towards the government hospitals in Malaysia. When my mother was mentoring young entrepreneurs, one of the entrepreneurs was telling my mother how, when he was down on his luck and he had no money, he had to take his son to the government clinic. “You have no idea how embarrassing it was for me,” he said. “I kept looking around to make sure that no one I knew was there.”

Another friend of mine told me about the death of her aunt post-surgery. “Well, you know what it was like,” she said. “Government hospitals, probably fucked things up.”

Well, this government hospital did really well. From the moment my parents arrived at the hospital, they rushed a wheelchair to him and rushed him straight to Trauma. This, was miles better in comparison to the so-called private hospital treatment. When my grandfather was ill earlier this year, they made him walk all the way to the treatment room, despite him being barely able to breathe.

The attention they gave to him, the medication they provided him was top-notch. My grandfather was diagnosed with a lung infection, and they gave him the same medication that I paid top dollar for – for free! The nurses hovered over him, the specialists came in twice a day to check up on him. I joked with Eizwan that my grandfather was probably going to recover much earlier than we would.

It was very frightening, how fast he deteriorated. What started with just a mild cough on Saturday resulted in a full-fledged lung infection by Sunday. Sunday afternoon, all his grandchildren sat on the floor of his hospital room, keeping watch. In between amusing ourselves, we watched how the nurses professionally administered his medication. Although my grandfather’s brother came in a bit later, slightly berating us for choosing a government hospital as opposed to a private hospital – I can safely say that we made the right decision – especially for him.

I’m a little suspicious lately of private hospitals. One of the more premiere ones turned my aunt away when they found out that she had a late-stage cancer – and with nowhere to turn, my uncle went to a government hospital who helped her manage her pain till the end of her life, which came just two weeks post diagnosis. Another uncle of mine, was given a clean bill of health from another private hospital and just a month later, died from complications from cancer that the hospital never detected. And then my grandfather’s experience earlier this year whereby a cough was made complicated with suspicion of dengue. It was a good thing that he did not have dengue – but the bad thing was, he nearly had to be admitted because they did not bother to treat him for his cough.

Of course there are good ones, like the ones that helped my grand-aunt earlier this year with her cancer. And my GP who has saved my butt more often than not.

But with all the nightmare stories about government hospital, I didn’t see it. I saw professional nurses, attentive specialists and eager beaver housemen who did thorough check-ups under the watchful eye of the consultant. The nurses were firm and they were attentive, they checked up on my grandfather thoroughly. The medication they gave were even more impressive. You’d be hard pressed to get the stuff he did at a private clinic.

He was discharged today, apparently still weak but lively. He had improved tremendously from Sunday. He was already getting antsy in the hospital, whining about how boring it was and how terrible the food it. But the time in the hospital allowed him to be acquainted with the Ipad, and my 90 year old grandfather is very much looking forward to recovering and for his grandchildren to take him to an Apple store soon.

It’s almost unreal what had taken place over the past few days. From a quiet Saturday to spending the past few days at a hospital, getting acquainted with UMMC. My grandfather is improving and recovering, and at his age, you take whatever is given. For me, I am grateful for the utter professionalism UMMC displayed for my grandfather and putting him on the path of recovery.


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