27 February 2020, Thursday, 0:53
The Wait Is Nearly Over

The Final Diagnosis

The Final Diagnosis
Iryna Khalip

It’s easier to rule those who don’t care than the North Korean pioneers.

The most horrid things in the life of Belarusians are connected either with the police or with medicine. Even the new ministers were appointed this week on the same day, as if the police and medicine are interconnected with some Siamese, perverted ties. None ever stop surprising. It may seem, what could surprise us locals. They can though. However, this ability to surprise sometimes leads to real danger to life.

On May 18, 58-year-old resident of Ratamka Natallia Padlipskaya felt bad. It was an acute pain in her stomach, she was practically tied in a knot because of this pain. Later, the blood pressure raised. In the evening, Natallia realized it will not go away just like that, and called the ambulance. The doctors reacted operatively: having beat down the hypertonic attack, they delivered her to the regional hospital in Barauliany for hospitalization. However, Natallia was thrown to the street from the admissions department of the hospital at 2 a.m. According to the doctors, there were no reasons for hospitalization. The ultrasound showed no pathology. Yep, the number of white blood cells, and the erythrocyte sedimentation rate were a bit high, but not to the fatal indicators. So, go home, lady. They gave her some advice though - to spend the Sunday at home, take No-Spa painkiller and some camomile tea, and go to the district polyclinic to see the district therapist, and to stop interfering with the people dealing with serious stuff. So the woman with acute pain, who lost consciousness while waiting for help, crawled into the night-time Barauliany streets.

It’s 30 kilometers from Barauliany to Ratamka. At two o'clock in the morning, buses and minibuses no longer run. Fortunately, Natallia, when she was leaving home to go to the hospital with the ambulance, took a purse with her. She had 23 rubles in it. She managed to agree with the taxi driver: he promised to take her in the direction of her house for exactly 23 rubles, according to the meter. At night, he took her off on the highway near Ratamka, and Natallia, clenching her teeth from pain that did not stop for a second (they advised painkillers, where would you find them in the middle of the night in the highway?..), walked home for another half an hour.

By morning, her temperature raised till 39 C, and it became totally unbearable. Natallia called her daughter Ksenia, who lives in Salihorsk. The daughter said, mom, call the ambulance right away! Natallia replied she was afraid they would deliver her to the same place and throw her out again at night, she could not handle such humiliation for the second time, if she survives at all. So, Ksenia rushed from Salihorsk to Ratamka, to take her mother to hospital.

It hasn’t been 24 hours since Natallia Padlipskaya appeared in the admissions department for the first time. However, this time it was differently: Ksenia rushed into the department fist and started demanding an answer to the question why they had treated her mother like this. Then she informed she had consulted with lawyers and would immediately file a complaint which they are obliged to accept and register right away. After this, Natallia was quickly hospitalized, and underwent an urgent surgery. It was an abscessed appendicitis. The curtain falls. It’s good to be alive.

Natallia Padlipskaya appeared lucky in this case. She was lucky to have 23 rubles in her purse. What if she didn’t have any money? She was lucky it was Sunday the following day - what if it was a working day? Then she would obediently go to the polyclinic, spend half day queuing, and show a paper from the hospital, saying “hospitalization denied”, with a recommendation to take pain-killers. When they prescribe painkillers in a clinic hospital, after all tests and an ultrasound, what could a district therapist set against this? Nothing. It is unknown how much time would be wasted, and how it all would end. She is also lucky to have a daughter, who took the effort to immediately come from Salihorsk, delivered her mother to the hospital and demanded explanations - probably, she saved her mother’s life by this.

I am not trying to question the competence of the doctors who did not even suspect it was appendicitis - I have another profession. Let the Ministry of Healthcare deal with the chart of Natallia Padlipskaya, under the complaint filed by her daughter. This is their business. It’s not even the fact that such simple diagnosis wasn’t made in due time that worries me. I just keep imagining this woman, walking along the highway at night, bending over with pain, in the direction of Ratamka. This horrid picture in my head makes me howl of my own powerlessness. Because I imagine other residents of the Minsk region, thrown into the street in the same way. It’s not the city, where it is easier to get home anyway. This is the region. People from nearby villages are brought here. Not every villager would have 23 rubles and a daughter, who would come rushing from another town. What should a resident of the region do, without the purse and the daughter?

The most horrible thing in the whole story, which makes me shiver, is not the abscessed appendicitis that went unnoticed. The most terrible thing is the empty eyes of those who didn’t even think of asking Natallia whether she could call her family, so that someone would come and take her home. Or let her sit quietly on some chair in a corner, till the morning, when the buses start going. Besides, if she had stayed there till the morning, everything would have been clear: a sharp increase of temperature would have prevented them from prescribing painkillers and sending the patient home. How is it possible that no one asked, no one offered help, no one let her stay - I don’t know. It’s even scarier this way.

Besides, Natallia’s daughter Ksenia asked this question in the admissions department: “How could you throw a person with an acute pain into the street late at night?” The doctor on call, not the one who denied hospitalization, answered: “This is a social factor.” He is right. When indifference turns into a social factor, it is more dangerous than any epidemy. This is an indicator of a deep stagnation and hopelessness not in the system, in the society. It is easier to rule those who do not care, than some North Korean pioneers. The latter at least fear (and some even admire). The former just don’t care.

When Ksenia told me the story, I asked whether I could write about it. She answered: “Of course, but wait for several days till they discharge mom from the hospital. It is a bit worrisome: when I brought mother there, I warned sincerely that I would file a complaint. And the doctor on call told me, like, you are free to do so, but you should know that those who complain usually get well very long. He added it was a joke, but who knows?”

Iryna Khalip, specially for Charter97.org