A Wheel and Away

Indian hospitals and our REAL travel essentials!

In 2014 we spent a month travelling round Northern India.  While as a family we aren’t the greatest of planners, this trip was a real fly by the seat of our pants, even by our standards.

We had started off well.  The flights had actually been booked a few months in advance, we had started the requisite courses of vaccinations.  No hotels had been booked but hey, how hard could it be?!  We were on course for a big adventure and we were seriously excited.  Both my husband and I had long harboured dreams of going to India and we had even managed to get approval from school to take the time off.

Then Molly got poorly.  A nasty cold over New Year suddenly and frighteningly deteriorated into something much more serious as she developed pneumonia. A frantic ambulance ride, followed by five days in hospital and all thoughts of our upcoming trip vanished as our only thoughts were consumed with ensuring our precious little girl got better.  And she did. Like always our amazing daughter showed her strength and made a good recovery.

Over the next weeks we concentrated on her and thought no more about India.  That’s what insurance is for anyway.  There would be other times and we just wanted her to get back to full health.

We have a fantastic consultant who has been responsible for both our children since diagnosis.  While not a specialist in their condition, what he has does have is the willingness to admit when he doesn’t know the answer and an understanding of where to go to find out.  I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been driving home from an appointment with him and received a message with the answer to whatever I’d asked.  Coupled with this is is his willingness to get down on the floor and play trains with Stan, or draw pictures with Molly and he has earned our entire family’s complete trust.

So when he told me a few weeks before we were due to depart that he thought she would be OK to travel, a glimmer of hope surfaced.  He promised to run a whole series of tests prior to giving his verdict and we agreed.  And then five days before our flight date we got an answer.  Molly’s lungs had made a full recovery and in actual fact, functional tests showed that she was in a better state than even before the pneumonia.  She was no more likely to get ill than any other person and we were given full blessing to travel.

We had four days to plan a trip to India, find people to look after our animals and get ourselves to London in time for our flights.  To say it was chaos would be a gross understatement, but the one thing we ensured we did do was stock up on a chemists worth of medicines.

On the day of departure we left home with just two sixty litre rucksacks, each only half full.  Not because in the rush we had left most of our stuff behind, but a conscious decision to travel as light as we could.  So everything four people needed for a month away was in those bags.  Coupled with that was the fact that probably half of one was medicine and I felt quite smug at our packing.

But thank goodness we did.  Ten days into the trip and we were in the exquisite Palace of the Winds in Jaipur.  A dream destination for hide and seek, Stanley was in his element, but Molly was flagging.  She had had a bit of a cough for a couple of days but was now complaining of pain in her chest and starting to feel really unwell.

We had two tuk tuk drivers who had taken on the role of our personal chauffeurs while in Jaipur.  They immediately took us to a nearby hospital, where, after paying a small fee, we were ushered into a waiting room to wait for the doctor.  We were not kept waiting long before being called in to see the consultant.

I will always remember that when our children were first diagnosed with their condition that we were told we would likely quickly become experts in it, probably knowing more than a lot of the medical staff.  This was indeed proved to be true and I have spent a lot of time explaining it to various medical personnel.  But not in this case.  The consultant we saw was superb, knowledgeable and informed, and knew exactly what to do.  He suspected a chest infection and we were quickly sent off for X-rays and blood tests.  The first easy, it was the latter that caused problems.  After being ushered down to the basement, we were taken into a room where around twenty people crowded in and around Molly and I, while a technician brought out a tray bearing what looking like a piece of plumbers tubing and an elephant sized needle.  Molly who was always so brave, was close to hysteria at this point and I’d had enough.  I demanded that everyone who didn’t need to be there leave immediately and insisted that they substitute their needle for one I produced from our substantial medical kit.  After much discussion this was finally done and Molly began to calm down.

The upshot was a story she is very proud of as she tells her friends about her trip to an Indian hospital.  Unfortunately she can’t show off her X-rays which did indeed confirm another chest infection, as they got lost somewhere in the coming weeks.  We immediately started her on the antibiotics we had brought from home and within twenty four hours she was back to herself.

Incidentally, in our chaotic pre trip planning, I had booked a hotel for the first few nights when we arrived in Delhi, thinking it would be quite nice to have somewhere to go to when we arrived.  All good, until I called just to check a detail when we were waiting to get on our flight and was told I had booked for the wrong date and that we would be arriving a month earlier than expected.  Solutions were found and it actually turned out to be one of the best experiences of our trip, but that’s another story.  But there was one lesson I learnt and will never forget, however small a bag I am taking in a future trip or how little time I have to organise things.  In an aim to cut down, clothes washing can be more frequent, books can be picked up and swapped at hostels, places to stay can be found on the hoof.  But when travelling with my children I will never compromise on those essential medical items or medicines.

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