H1N1: Schools, Ruwi & Lulu

15 08 2009

Really brief. After the case of an Indian School student falling ill and passing away due to swine flu, the Indian Schools have closed for an extended holiday. That comes after an annoouncement that they would not close. But they are now closing.

The Pakistani School had announced that they would not close. But they had ‘off-d’ primary school kiddos. Seeing the severity of the cases (and the huuge amount of snot-nosed not-so-kids), vacations have been announced for another week, 15th to 22nd Aug.

Rwui Ruiw Ruwi has had a general sweep by the baladiyah, handing out masks and forcing the general shopkeepers and shopassistants to wear them. Gives Ruwi a sterile look. Now you can’t even identify the person who is giving you the eye (or the x-ray eye). Same for all medical centers, where HongKong-esque masked smoochers were seen by your truly.

Lulu is as much a cesspit of all kinds of virii as usual, human-type and others. I’m sure that if there is any place where H1N1 and H1N5 are going to mutate, that is going to be Lulu; where, this friday, I saw 200 people per minute (ppm) entering and exitting the doors. And Ramadhan shopping still has to commence, with people going starking mad, buying wholesale items (I saw a local buying atleast 7 cartons of red Jello, swear). Consider with that the amount of cars parked (in their newly opened multi-tier parking space), the humid, wet smell of coconut in the air there, open fruits (and flies) and you can get an idea of the genetic experiments going on in Lulu’s atmosphere. shudder. And no masks, mind you. When pharmacies are going to sell facemasks @ R.O. 5/- per box (50 pcs), why would Mr. Raj, with a family of 5, buy a whole box!? Especially when no one has told them that the friggin masks have to be replaced after a couple of days of use (the flimsy ones).

Here’s to me, heading for all the lonely places. Yo, beach up in Yeti, here I come!

-FK





H1N1 Lab in Oman

6 05 2009

Folks over in the UAE are worried about the fact that the nearest WHO-recognized H1N1 identifying lab to theirs is in Oman. That would be the Central Public Health Lab in the Ministry of Health (I presume in the Muscat Area, right next to the Muscat Palace?)

The deal is that local labs can identify type A or type B influenza. But to further check, the snot sample needs to come here. Or in medical speak, we can do “real-time PCR tests to diagnose influenza A (H1N1) virus infections in humans.” As an added perk, only cases that the recognized lab reports shall be included in the central infection count and released in WHO statements. Hah! No use counting snot, you-unrecognized-lab-you!

-FK





SARS Sleuth on Swine ‘flu

5 05 2009

ScienceInsider has an interview from the virologist who was primarily responsible for studying, tracing and effectively shutting down SARS in its recent attack in Hong Kong & China. Now Yi Guan has choice things to say to WHO about how they are handling the current swine ‘flu outbreak.

He says that if the animal virus (H5N1, that is already a panzootic [animal pandemic]) and human virus (H1N1, that we’re controlling in SARS & now swine ‘flu) combine, the result would be armageddon and “If that happens, I will retire immediately and lock myself in the P3 lab. H5N1 kills half the people it infects. Even if you inject yourself with a vaccine, it may be too late. Maybe in just a couple hours it takes your life.”


Read the rest of this entry »





Inflation: Down, Reserves: Up

27 04 2009

Oman has lots ‘o’ money. Which is good, ‘coz inflation drops. And it did (bottom half). As for the budget surplus, I really can’t tell what to do with it. Medical services is one field that comes to mind. I’m still being harangued by these private medical clinics whose interest lies more in the bottom line rather than sick people. I really do think that education (specially higher and professional education), medical services and emergency/civil services are very much no-go areas for private companies. NO, at all costs. Since in these areas the quality of service provided HAS to be dependant on nothing, not something as stupid as the bottom line, comparatively. A person’s knowledge level/mental treatment, physical treatment and saving lives has no value. Private entities are going to squeeze you for it. Who can easily stop using a medicine or forego the fire brigade just ‘coz he/she can’t pay for it?

Anyhooo, we have a surplus. Maybe we can get a govt-run hospital where expats are allowed? Allowed peace of mind?

This should be apicture of a newspaper clipping!

This should be a picture of a newspaper clipping! http://archive.gulfnews.com/articles/09/04/13/10303653.html

Menafn reports that Oman’s inflation index has decreased from 9.4% to 7.9%. They say this is due to lower prices of crops, fuel and other thingies. The break down of the General Index is interesting:

Jan 2008: 9.4%  v/s  Feb 2009: 7.9%

Jan 2009: 8.1%  v/s  Feb 2009: 7.9%

Foodstuff, soft drinks & tobacco:  -1.7%

Crops & Products to:  -2.1%

Meat & Poultry:  -1.5%

Oil & Fats:  -2%

Fisheries:  -5.3%

Milk & Products:  -2.7%

Transport & Communications Group:  -0.1%

Personal commodities & other service:  +4.9%

Textile, readymade garments, shoes, medical services & education services: +-0%

House leasing, electricity, water and fuel:  +0.2%

Furniture & Households:  +0.4%

Recreational & Cultural services:  +0.2%

Go Fish!

-TFK





Healthcare? What healthcare?

15 04 2009

It pisses me off. It really, royally pisses me off.

In the near past, I’ve had to spend some time in a hospital room. Mom had a bout of food     poisoning (probably) followed by weakness, resulting in dehydration, shooting of her blood-sugar level (darned diabetes), blood pressure and hospitalization. Called from work by a very flustered sister and being the nimbnomcoop that I am, I took Mum to the great Badr al-Sama’a in Ruwi.

Were sent to the emergency ward/room. The inital emergency saline drips were attached and  lots of blood extracted for tests. That is fine. Apparently.

After initial reports, the case is referred to Dr. S. He arrives, looks around for someone with her, spots me, confirms if I am with her, and in a very important voice proclaims “There is severe dehydration and weakness. Blood sugar is high, we shall try to control it. Also there are many ketones. We shall have to admit her for atleast 2 days”. I hmm & huh in the right places, say ok, confer with dad, consider our options and decide, ok, lets continue here itself. Mistake # 1.

Then comes up nurse # 1, hands me a slip of paper and vanishes. I stare at it, at the place where she was and then figure maybe I need to get Mum registered as a patient, after all, the “paperwork”! So I go to the reception, state the case, present our medical insurance cards, get a stare and get a :

“Where’s the patient?”

“In the Emergency Room”.

“Who are you?”

“Her son.”

“Whose medical card is this?”

“Hers”

“What is company name?”

“Xyzabc ltd”

She then proceeds to press 20 keys, the spacebar 5 times, looks around twice and asks 2 people something in her native language. Rest assured I don’t understand a word! She then calls the company, asks for a relevant person, gets Mum’s profile, rank/grade/file and get a confirmation of the medical coverage. After being satisfied *phew* she proceeds and processes us. What if it had been after-office hours? What if the relevant person had been unavailable?

“Show me Labor Card”

Okay. I show her mine.

“Is this the patient?”

“No, this is me!” *Duh*

“Want patient’s card”

“I have no idea where it is, at home, in her purse. I can find it and bring it later. You need it now?”

“Yes, now”

“We came in an emergency, kinda. Can’t it wait?”

“Now”

Luckily Mum had her purse alongwith her with her card innit. Another What If…?

Anyway, we get a room, transfer Mum, do the first round of settling in. Get a couple of close relatives to know what’s happening, get a few essentials from home, I volunteer to be the permanent attendant (I have never trusted the nursing staff, sorry). Then begins the ordeal.

We stayed there 3.75 days. I was there with Mum the whole time. In 24 hours, there are 3 different nurse shifts of 2 nurses each for the in-patients. The evening shift 5pm-1am has 3 to cope with visitors & extra load & all. Out of 7 professional nurses in an Arab country with multinational citizens in a medial clinic only “one” was kind enough to understand and speak “a bit of” English.When I asked for a spare blanket, I got a bedsheet. When I asked if there was some facility to re-heat eatables/any microwave ovens, it was something like a conversation between  2 deaf mutes, sorry, but seriously:

“Can we reheat this?”

“Huh?”

“Do you have some thing to heat this?”

“Huh?”

“Do you have a pantry? A kitchen?”

“No tea. Tea downstairs.”

“No, no, no. Do you have a microwave?”

*blank stare*

“Can I make this *pointing to dish* hot? For eat?”

“Ah! Hot!”

*enters the bathroom, opens the hot water tap*

“Ergh” *facepalm* “Forget it. Thanks”

In the end we got one of those electric hotplates.

And then there was Dr. S. He made his rounds twice a day. Only 2 rounds for an inpatient with an in-doctor (don’t ask me how I know, but he lives in the same building. 3 days in place teaches you lots.) Apparently more money is made treating out-patients. So he comes in at 9 am, when the patient is invariably asleep. But no problem, his 9 am can be as late as 11 am, no worries. He sees the blood/sugar reports, sugar/bp/medic log of the past 24 hours, the nurses and he converse in their local lingo (tamil/malaya/telgu no idea).  And then leaves. Only because I interrupt his Snape-like sweep of his coat to return, does he consider telling me something, “Blood sugar is high, we’re administering Insulin. These drips shall continue. We are giving medicines for blood pressure. Ketones are still there”. Another Snape-movement. “Doc. Till when do you expect to have her here? I need to fix things with her office and mine.” “I shall wait until stability is there.” And then Gone! Leaving me staring at the door open mouthed! (This was my 2nd encounter only. I was numb by the 8th time).

Being the way that I am, out comes the trusty P1i and Wikipedia and I search Ketones. Apparently they are something that forms when body nurtition is low. And, apparently, they are not much of a big deal. Whenever you skip a coupla meals, ketones appear. But whatever the doc says.

To cut a long story short, Mum came home. Alhamdulillah. The company footed a bill of 370-something rials. But atleast Mum was home. Albeit with 9 tablets to have per meal. For 3 days. After 3 days, the weakness is still there, blood sugar is still high, blood pressure is still high & now, her taste system is wrecked. Everything tastes ultra-salty. So we go back. Dr. S, in his infinite wisdom, increases the dosage.

“You were taking 2 tablets of Diamicron per day? Now take 2 in the morn & 2 at night!. Take 2 multivitamins.”

“For how many days?”

“30”

O_O

The same night, after the 2 multivitamins, some weird sort of swellings, alomst like insect-bites, on the whole of her arm. So at 3 am, we go back to the Great Badr alSamaa. The doc on duty, bored out of life, looks, sees the prescription of his colleague and tells the nurse to prepare a syringe with something. I dare to ask,

“Is this an allergic reaction?”

“Maybe”

“Maybe? Can it be something else also?”

“She has taken no medicine that can be allergic”

“Ah! So you’re injecting an anti-allergy?”

“Hmm.. yeah”

“Fine!”

But when repeated home-checkings of BP & blood-sugar show no improvement even on the double dosage, my non-spidey sense tingled. So did Dad’s. We took Mum to our almost-family doc, a very nice guy, his own clinic, inner Muttrah. We also take the Badr al-samaa file. He sees the list of medicines and then starts,

“This injection they billed you 8 rials. Its actual price is 300 bz”

“This injection they billed you 12 rials. Its actual price is 700 bz”

“This tablet they billed you 1 rial. Its actual price is 200 bz”

“This drip they billed you  1 rial. Its actual price is 150 bz”

“This anti-allergy he injected for 9 rials. Its actual price is 3 rials and that is because it is NOT an anti-allergy, it is a steriod”

!!!!

So this doc does his own tests, decreases the amount of tablets to be taken to 2 per day, enforces a strict diet regime (the previous one had allowed almost everything except obviously sweet things). He called Mum back everyday for 5 days for tests then is satisfied with her progress. Alhamdulilah, its been 2 weeks now, the sugar levels have dropped 50 points (but are kinda hovering around the 170 mark), Mum is back in her swing and is fast gaining on her nutritional levels.

And this latter doc, he charges us 7 rials only & 1 rial for every subsequent test.

GOD I am so anti-Badr al Samaa. Atleast make mindless profits but don’t be lax about our healths. Especially since we, being expats, cannot go to proper hospitals and have to stick to clinics.

Pray for us all.

-The Fark Knight





Fever without infection?

6 04 2009

TheWife has a fever. It is on the higher side. Panadol’s range Active, Fast, Night, Extra, Normal all carry the “Reduce Fever” caption. So we tried Fast. Nothing. The next time we tried Active, viola! That, atleast, allowed us a few hours of sleep. But now have to go off to the doc, considering he does not come in before 11.

But there was no infection of any sort, as far as we could determine. No tummyache, no headache, no sort throat, no cold, cough, runny nose nothing. Except for the higher body tempurature (and lots of high-speed talking!), everything else was fine. How does that work!?

edit: Panadol does not have a very good website/wiki/online resource.

-FarkKnight