Sunday, 01 July 2012 19:00

In you we trust - 10

Written by  Kamal Shah
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(This is the tenth part of a fictional short story - In you we trust. You can find the first part here.)

It was around 9 a.m. about a week after Aparna had gone to meet the CEO of Charaka. Aparna's cell phone rang. It was Dr. Jha. Aparna had moved to another hospital which was much farther away from her house. Dr. Jha had called to tell her that the hospital had decided to conduct an internal inquiry into the whole episode. The inquiry would be conducted by a committee of three doctors. The committee did not include Dr. Jha. The committee would have to submit its report to the CEO within 4 weeks.

Aparna did not know what to make of it. A committee formed out of the doctors working in the hospital itself?! What would that yield? When she heard the names of the doctors, her concerns somewhat reduced because they were reputed in their fields. However, she was by no means sure that justice would be done at the end of the day. Yet, she thought it would be prudent to wait before taking any further action.

The committee spent the next few weeks talking to all concerned - Aparna, Prakash, Dr. Jha, the other staff at the unit. The four weeks passed by fast. The committee submitted an 18-page report to the CEO at the end of it. The summary was on expected lines. No evidence to prove that Prakash had willfully infected Aparna with the virus was found. Prakash confessed to playing a prank on Aparna by saying that there was a mix-up in the reprocessing unit. For this, he was severely reprimanded. He was given a 50% salary deduction for the next six months. Dr. Jha was also advised to get another technician on board quickly so that over-dependence on one person could be avoided.

Dr. Jha called Aparna and told her of the report. He put it as if Aparna had won the case! "50% salary penalty for Prakash!", Dr. Jha exclaimed when he called her. It sounded like Prakash was going to be hanged!

Aparna was disappointed. Though she hadn't expected much more from this whole exercise, the result meant the problem was not over. She would need to fight some more, if she could, of course.

Aparna went to Charaka the next day and met Dr. Jha. She told him she was not satisfied with the results of the inquiry. She strongly believed Prakash was responsible. 50% salary deduction for a while meant nothing. When Dr. Jha told her about the prank, it sounded ridiculous. A ploy to let him get away with a light sentence.She told Dr. Jha, "You don't realize what has happened Doctor. My life has been destroyed. And you all are simply covering up a crime committed by your staff." Dr. Jha reasoned with her saying, "Aparna, many patients turn positive in dialysis units. You are not the first and you will certainly not be the last!"

"I don't care about other patients, Doctor. How did Prakash know about this a whole seven months before the report came positive?"

Dr. Jha had a Eureka moment. "That's the key Aparna! Seven months! The HCV virus is in incubation for 4-6 months. This happened after seven months, you see! So, Prakash is innocent!"

"Those numbers are never exact. Dr. Jha. Six months, seven months. How different are they in medicine? You should know better than that! Whatever happens, I am going to see to it that Prakash is punished for what he has done to me."

"Aparna, I totally understand what you're going through. In your interest, let me advise you. Get on with your life. Let us start Anti-HCV treatment. Don't waste your time pursuing this case. No one can prove these things in medicine. Especially in India."

Aparna had read up a lot about HCV cross infections on the internet in the past few weeks. She realized that it would be difficult to prove these things beyond reasonable doubt. Still, she did not want to give up. She felt like Prakash had slapped her on her face and was getting away with it. Her independent thinking and upbringing did not allow her to give up so easily.

What were her options now? Going to the police? Going to a lawyer? Going to the Medical Council of India (MCI)? All three options seemed hopelessly strenuous, complicated and ineffective. She had no energy to go to the courts month after month testifying in the hope that she would win a case that had so much stacked against her.

For a dialysis patient, each day is a struggle. Merely going about her daily routine - cooking, work, housework, dialysis was a huge task. She could barely make it through her day unscathed. She simply wasn't ready for an additional burden of fighting for justice. She badly wanted Prakash to be given a much more severe punishment. More than the desire for justice, it was so that she wouldn't need to fight any more. She simply did not have the energy. Physically and mentally.

Aparna sat brooding in her TV room at home that evening wondering what to do. She wanted a way out. Just then her brother called.

"Apu, how are you?"

Aparna burst into tears. She was feeling very overwhelmed. She couldn't take it any more. She needed help.

"Apu, stop crying. I am coming home, Apu. We'll get you a transplant. I will give my kidney. Stop crying, please. I am coming home!"

Aparna suddenly felt a huge burden being taken off her shoulders. More than the fact that she would be getting a transplant, the whole thing about having someone look after her offered great relief. She wouldn't have to deal with this alone any more.


Kamal Shah

Kamal Shah

Hello, I'm Kamal from Hyderabad, India. I have been on dialysis for the last 13 years, six of them on PD, the rest on hemo. I have been on daily nocturnal home hemodialysis for the last four and half years. I can do pretty much everything myself. I love to travel and do short weekend trips or longer trips to places which have dialysis centers. Goa in India is a personal favorite. It is a great holiday destination and has two very good dialysis centers.

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