At the Outpatient, the staff nurse asked about my problem and about my Hb level which I did not remember. She advised me to remember it so that the doctor knows about it. Goes to show how unprepared I was mentally at the time. She asked if I can speak Malay to the doctor which was the first indication of a language problem to some.
When I told the Malay lady doctor that I had abdominal pain on the right side, she referred me to Emergency in case it was appendicitis. The distance was only a hundred metres or so, I chose to walk instead of being sent by ambulance! So much for an emergency case.
At the emergency, among other things I had blood pressure taken and ECG done. Not being an ex-government servant, I was asked to pay Rm200 deposit before admission into Ward 2 (Second Class).
I had my blood tested over a year ago but I could not remember my blood type which posed a problem when asked later. My mistake was not bringing my Gribbles card which shows my blood type (B+). But then again, it would be inconceivable to expect the doctor to rely on that information instead of their own blood tests. The only advantage I can think of is when ordering blood for transfusion and as a double-check that I am given the right blood type when their own tests are known.
In the ward, all the doctors speak good English. Many of my friends, who are retired government servants, preferred to seek private medical treatment (despite its known high charges) because they can well afford it and believe timely treatment is more important. In some cases, where the treatment is unavailable at government hospitals, private hospital charges can be claimed from the government. But for less urgent cases, I do not think why GH should not be considered. The pace is general slower and some people might actually like it! Like BG GH, the Second Class ward used to be the only First Class ward in Perak, where royalty were treated. The ambience, to quote my KL relatives, is almost like a Balinese resort! A retired civil servant admitted that sometimes, he extended his stay because he quite liked the food provided!
In terms of charges, the total bill came to Rm1225, and after government subsidy of Rm920, I had to pay only Rm305. The cashier seems sympathetic when telling me the charges, asking why so many tests? I think if the treatment was in a private hospital it could have been around Rm1,000 a day.
Though there is a general perception that we cannot get the right treatment early, I was lucky to have Dr M Ihsan who arranged for a visiting surgeon to take a look at my condition, and scope was arranged the very next day! Before that, I was told I can have an ultra sound test only in 2 to 3 months' time at the Ipoh GH, which reinforced the general perception. Now, a CT scan appointment at Ipoh GH had been fixed, within 3 weeks!
Besides my immediate complaint of pain in the abdomen, the doctors are trying to find out the cause of my drastic weight loss and low Hb.
The pain had caused me sleepless nights because any change in sleeping position was painful. After 10 days or so, I am glad it is gone. Hopefully, whatever caused it would not be shown as a problem when CT scanned.
On a lighter note, when told my wife used to be a dietitian, Dr Ihsan said BG GH does not have one at the moment. Why not join us and teach some of our staff? With today's IT, almost anything could be Google-ed and everybody seems to know everything about medical treatment and medicine, much to the annoyance of doctors because invariably, it turns out a little knowledge can be dangerous. Similarly, when it comes to diets, it is even worse! More people know generally what can or cannot be eaten for certain medical conditions. But a dietitian's role includes working out in detail, the calories and nutrient composition of different foods before recommending specific diets for different patients. Just imagine the danger of simply rotating different menus for a week. To show how a hospital kitchen without a dietitian can make mistakes, I asked for hot milk instead of tea or coffee. After being given hot milk twice, the third and subsequent time, I was given hot sweetened condensed milk instead! Just imagine if I happened to be diabetic! I can bet that just like coffee shops, what is supposed to be condensed milk is likely to be condensed creamer.
In the men's toilets, the most obvious maintenance neglect must be the washing liquid containers: one missing and the other's lid cannot be closed properly – held by some tissue paper! I was classified as '2-star' in terms likelihood in falling and my first visit to the toilet was by wheelchair, pushed by an attendant. But I managed to do without that. Occasionally, with drip on or undergoing blood transfusion, I was allowed to use the Women's toilet. I noticed a better designed and working liquid container. Besides, in the men's toilets, every plastic seat cover had been well scratched by shoes of people squatting on them. Wonder who is in charge of general maintenance.