Saturday, February 27, 2021
Column

Coronavirus Cogitations:  That is us ~ being us

Monalisa Changkija

Before any surgery, doctors order “Nothing by Mouth” to the patient, normally from 10 p.m. on the eve of the scheduled morning of the surgery. This basically means the patent is not to eat or drink absolutely anything from 10 p.m. till after the surgery is over ~ after which, anyway the patient is totally doped out for a few hours to eat or drink anything. During this period the patient is also put on some form of fluid diet intravenously to keep her fed. Depending on the condition of the patient post-surgery, doctor would order liquid diet, then by and by semi-solids till the patient is able to ingest and digest normal diet. This takes time of course ~ any healing process takes time. I have heard horrible stories of our people disobeying and defying doctors’ orders and instructions before surgery. I have heard of some of our very smart patients’ families feeding patients and patients eating heartily before surgery early in the morning. Because the patient was hungry ~ and we have the habit of eating a hearty meal early morning ~ the patient begs for food and the very loving family feeds her with a hearty meal, pork and all. Ayaa, morom nalagey? On the OT bed, when the Anesthetist starts doping the patient, and as the dope starts kicking in, the patient’s body reacts to the dope ~ I am saying this in very simple layman’s term ~ and she starts vomiting violently. By now, the patient is already well into happy-happy land.

Imagine the difficulty of trying to save an unconscious patient, who is vomiting violently ~ and vomiting pork cooked in bas-tenga or axone along with a generous sprinkling of chillies! Imagine the risk of an unconscious patient choking in her own vomit? Imagine the angry, disbelieving, self-righteous and revengeful reaction of the family, should the patient die in such circumstances! Controlling their anger, doctors then go out of the OT and ask the family members whether the patient ate anything after 10 p.m., last night. The family members look at the doctors, right in the eye, and blatantly lie through their teeth. They wear a very innocent look on their faces and say: “No”. The doctors shake their head in disgust, in frustration ~ because no patient would vomit violently ~ and that too vomit out undigested pieces of pork cooked in bas-tenga or axone along with a generous sprinkling of chillies ~ if she had not eaten anything just a couple or so hours before surgery. Patients’ families forget that doctors know how long it takes for solid food to be digested in the stomach. In any case, who feeds pork cooked in bas-tenga or axone along with a generous sprinkling of chillies to any patient on the eve, or just before, surgery?

Eeeww! Disgusting! Chhay! But that’s our people. That’s us.

And this is exactly us, doing us, in the midst of a global Coronavirus pandemic that continues to claim the lives of so many people ~ and who knows how many more ~ when we forget all lockdown norms and come out in droves and cause massive traffic jams. Isn’t this what happened at Dimapur yesterday? Despite all our pretensions to modernity, education and what-have-you, we are still so ignorant, irresponsible and disobedient that clearly we value our own lives less than the wares in the market. Oh, how our consumerist souls delight in material more than it does in health, life and the rule of law! Lockdown norms are being slowly eased but that doesn’t mean that we should throw caution to the winds. It is just common sense that we stay safe by erring on the side of caution. But no, we are too over-confident that nothing, not even this deadly virus, will touch and harm us. This is exactly the kind of foolishness that will make us choke in our own vomit. And then we will blatantly lie through our teeth and argue that doctors’ job is to rescue us from this situation. Sorry, doctors are not trained to cure our stupidity ~ and we shouldn’t force them into situations scripted by our stupidity. Doctors are trained to heal our physical ailments ~ not to cure our intellectual deficiencies. Please, clean up your own mess. And, because it is also not the brief of the Government to cure people of their stupidity, don’t even reach for Government help. At the most, it can do is pass a handkerchief or a few tissues to you to clean up your mess. In such situations, I am firmly with the doctors and the Government.

Reports state that there were no, or hardly any, Police to control yesterday’s traffic volume. What happened? Where are the Police when needed? Why these civil and police administrative lapses during the lockdown period? Surely yesterday’s situation demands answers? Imposing repressive measures once again will hardly address the issue. If the lockdown is eased, we expect proper strategies for the enforcement and implementation of the eased lockdown norms. Yesterday’s situation at Dimapur clearly indicates breakdown in the chain of command ~ perhaps, a lack of clarity of command communication ~ and even a blatant disregard for the command of the eased norms of the lockdown among law-enforcers. Dimapur remains the most vulnerable district in Nagaland to the Coronavirus threat ~ we cannot make allowances for any lapse in civil and police administration nor brook any indiscipline and defiance of the public. Let us keep in mind that there cannot be any human activity without human life ~ and it is human life that is under the Coronavirus threat. As long as there is human life, everything else can be taken care of ~ yes, with a lot of pain, but pain we can deal with and surmount.

Reports and photographs of yesterday’s (April 27, 2020) traffic jams and unruly conduct of people, totally disobeying social distancing norms is very disappointing and frightening. Such behavior indicates our inability to fully understand and appreciate the threat of the Coronavirus. It also indicates our false bravado, which I wonder if we will display when we are actually infected with the virus and confined in ICUs with ventilators stuck into us ~ God forbid. Remember how mindlessly we panicked when a Dimapur denizen tested positive at Guwahati? Remember how we stigmatized health workers of Zion Hospital? Remember how we continue to stigmatize and ostracize our own neighbours and colony/neighbor-fellows, who were quarantined and tested for COVID-19 even after they tested negative? How would you feel if you were one of them? Come on, let us not be so foolish and make matters worse by being foolishly brave too. Don’t you guys watch the news and listen to what the WHO and health and medical experts are saying? Have you no capacity to listen and learn?

The other thing we need to fully understand is that our healthcare system is very fragile and cannot take the pressure of a large number of Coronavirus positive cases. And, remember, however much we always needed a huge fleet of Ambulances, if we are infected and require hospital treatment we will be treated in the COVID-19 wards and ICUs, not in Ambulances. And our COVID-19 wards and ICUs have very limited capacity. So, please stop being us and doing us ~ at least for the moment. Kotha manibee o, kotha manibee ~ aru mogoz cholabee.

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