“Sick” or “gina vs. OR part 2”

Ugh. I am sick. Before you panic, I am doing just fine. Obviously, being sick is bogus and I just lie in bed all day reading–but I’m not in any danger, or scared or anything. Based on the response my fever and sore throat have gotten from the faculty, however, you’d think I contracted the bubonic plague. Let’s go back to the beginning…

Yesterday, I had the chance to redeem myself in the OR. I was shadowing Dr. Anthreddy, the number 2 surgeon, and he had a reconstructive surgery that involved grafting the tendons in a patient’s hand (which was very cool). The surgery lasted a little over an hour, and I really enjoyed observing. The patients are locally anesthetized and then the tendons are delicately sewn together in order to reform the limb into a more useable form. Sometimes this takes multiple procedures, and lots of physical therapy. In the end however, the patients can feed themselves, sew, drive or work in ways they couldn’t with the previous state of their hand (which is also known as “clawing.”) Its remarkable how much these doctors can accomplish with the resources they have.

The reconstructive OR was a far cry from the septic OR. This room smelled strongly of “ dettol“ which is a disinfectant that has a sour, musky smell. Our scrubs were mint green, and our facemasks were made of cloth (as opposed to paper). The surgical nurses removed scalpels and tools from big metal drums that had been heated in a sterilizer to over 100 degrees Celsius. Syringes were made of blown glass, and bright lights overhead illuminated patients draped in sterile sheets. The whole setup reminded me of something out of a 1950s movie. Dr. Beine was working on a foot reconstruction in the same room, less than 10 feet from where Dr. Anthreddy was working, and I was observing. It was surreal.

When the procedure was completed, Dr. Anthreddy and I went to the small office next to the OR in order to discuss what I had just seen. There was a second small procedure scheduled, so we were taking a quick break while the nurses turned over the OR. I was sitting across from him listening to him talk about tendon anatomy, when I suddenly felt woozy. “I’m sorry Dr. Anthreddy, I’m not feeling well” and slumped to the floor. Passed out cold.

WHY is this happening AGAIN?!

When I came to, a whole gaggle of worried looking Indian nurses were standing over me. I was shivering so one of them stuck a thermometer in my mouth. I had a low temperature of about 100 degrees. Thats strange, I thought. I went back to my room, and slept the rest of the day.

Well, when I woke up this morning I got my explanation. I was sweating with a fever, my head was aching and there was an all too familiar pain in my throat. Oh no. Here we go. In case you are unaware, I am the reigning monarch of strep throat. I get it almost every year. It would just figure that I managed to pick it up in India.

I went over to the administration office to find Dr. Anthreddy in order to explain/apologize for my fainting yesterday, but he wasn’t there. I waited for a half hour, but he didn’t come and I didn’t have the motivation to romp all over campus and try to find him since I still feel like garbage. I left a note on his desk saying that I was sick, I would be sleeping at home and to please call me when he was available.

I went back to my house, and about 40 minutes later someone was knocking at my door. None other than Dr. Hrishikesh, the chief!, flanked by two more of our doctors, Dr. Viajaykumar and Dr. Thirapureddy were standing on the front step of Guest House 1, making a house call! Three great men, triple awe-inspiring doctors, here to see me! And then I though, Am I in trouble?  I really like Dr. H alot–he reminds me of my grandpa. When I opened the door he said gently, “hello great lady. I heard you were not well. Why didn’t you tell me?” The three of them escorted me to the hospital on-site 200 feet away from my door to get checked out.

When I walked into the very small hospital with the chief and two SRH doctors, everyone jumped a mile. People started moving very quickly, buzzing into intercoms hastily, “the chief has come!” and the hospital director (also my neighbor) approached us, clearly shaken by Dr. H’s unannounced arrival with myself and the other two clinicians in tow.

“What can we do for you, sir?” he asked.

“Regina is sick,” Dr. H answered.

So much pomp and circumstance! I was ushered into the administrator’s office, where he, another doctor and four nurses cooed over me, under the watchful supervision of my entourage. I felt a little silly with all the fuss. When they said “what is the matter” I answered, “well, my throat hurts and I have a fever. I think its probably strep.” With all the staff whirling around me, you’d think I was presenting something a little more significant. Dengue, maybe?

They stuck a thermometer in my mouth, and an hour after taking an extra strength tylenol, I still had a fever of 100. Several physicians all looked in my throat which was very red (and apparently had some tell-tale white patches) and diagnosed me with “tonsillitis.” They offered to admit me to the hospital to remove them, and I almost laughed. “Um, thats okay. But maybe some penicillin?” Well they didn’t have penicillin, so they gave me ampicillin, which is still a beta-lactam and should do the trick just fine. So I was pleased.

Dr. H also informed me that in 6 years of medical students from American and Germany staying at SRH, I was the first to get sick (that wasn’t GI related). So I suppose I’ve made my place here, something to be remembered for.

If nothing else, I am so grateful that so many amazing people are all looking out for me.

lots of love,

gina