My love and bargain relationship with a Chemical

This is a small story of my love to a chemical. A few years back I had developed an amazing love for general anesthetic. It may have different scientific names but for me it was my sleep drug which I used to bargain my memories with.

I have lived a good 33 years of my life in a country which is one of the most populated. Though crowded and busy, it is one of the countries which is reasonably advanced in medical sciences, at least towards urban areas. The sad part however is that, once a common man turns a patient, he may be at mercy of many. He will have to let go of his wallet for sure. He may also have to let go of his dignity; for only almighty knows which procedures he will have to undergo, what circumstances he may be in and how many callous people he will end up encountering during the treatment period. In general, the medical fraternity there lacks empathy. This I am saying not a hearsay or notion but as an experience because I am a victim of compassion-less treatment. I may not represent everyone, this may be generalization, I agree but I had to write about it someday. Sadly enough, when empathy is removed from the ‘patient’ and ‘medic’ relationship, what remains is a ‘body’ and ‘mechanic’. You cannot expect a mechanic to be compassionate towards the broken car he is fixing. On the contrary, I suppose that’s not the right comparison, mechanics do have love their machines.

I was reading up an article called “Maintaining patients’ dignity during clinical care: a qualitative interview study.” It says, “Dignity is a core concept in nursing care and maintaining patients’ dignity is critical to their recovery. In Western countries, measures to maintain dignity in patients’ care include maintaining privacy of the body, providing spatial privacy, giving sufficient time, treating patients as a whole person and allowing patients to have autonomy. However, this is an under-studied topic in Asian countries.” More than any part, I agree with the last one. Yes, it is a rather under-studied and under-practiced topic in Asian countries. The reason again is obvious, there are ‘many’ to be taken care of… and the carers are not taken care of either.

A few years of my life I have lived as non- regular ‘patient’. Being a woman added on to the misery. I am educated and had more than average understanding of science, yet there are episodes I can recollect vividly which made me feel as an experimental guinea pig on a medical practitioners’ desk. I can imagine what would be happening to those who have no voice at all. My experience tells me that lack of compassion runs mostly at lower levels. Doctors are often fine and treat their patients as ‘another human being’ who is in charge of his body and immediate environment. I am assuming many factors influence the behavior of the other medics. Whatever, the case may be, every episode of ill treatment during a procedure remains as a sore memory in somebody’s mind. It can reach levels of paranoia, when one no longer wants to go for any medical procedures and disgusts hospitals but what can one do when there is no other option.

As I was saying, sometimes you know that there is no other option. You have to undergo a procedure you are not sure of and you don’t know how the medics are going to be in the unfortunate ward you will be shifted in. After undergoing a couple of procedures I felt that the trauma a few left behind was terrible. For days, I would feel bad and recollect all the faces I saw in the room. I would tell myself that for them I was just another patient, I wouldn’t be recognized if they see me outside. Then once, during one of the procedures for the first time I was given general anesthesia. General anesthesia is a treatment with certain medicines that puts you into a deep sleep so you do not feel pain during surgery or any procedure performed on you. When you receive these medicines, one is not aware of what is happening around. I used to remember falling asleep and waking up. The rest never occurred. It gave me a sense of false assurance. Since then, every time I heard of procedure, my first question to the doctor would be, “Will you make me sleep?” A ‘yes’ to that questions was so comforting. Though, I knew the ill effects of general anesthesia, I was alright to bargain. I fell in love with that full syringe of anesthetic. I would choose a drug against my memory but again, it was not as per my whims and fancies.

There were more episodes, a few traumatic. I wanted them to end. Thankfully for me, I could I finally make a choice and exit. Now it’s past, but however the fact that I am writing about it itself tells me that it haunts but that drug, I will love it always.