Desi Back to Desh

Between airports, airplanes and transit lounges

A walk down memory lane – A case for heading back home – ‘nuff said

“The same conversation at TechLahore needs to be blamed for this walk down memory lane. Dated but still relevant.”



Sunday evening – 20th February 2005

As I write these lines sitting outside the Neo Natal ICU at Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH), I don’t need any reasons to thank Allah for ensuring our return home to PK Land

Baby Boy Salahuddin (BBS while we search for a name) was born three weeks and six days earlier on the 9th of Moharram / 19 Feb. Delivered at his Nano’s (grandmother) hospital we had to take him to AKUH ER 15 minutes after his birth. Having his grandparents around (both doctors) and then his khala and khalo (maternal aunt and uncle, also doctors) take charge at AKU’s ER ranks fairly high amongst our list of best thing that ever happened to us.

AKU’s ER triaged us immediately into an incubator, stabilized him, got a neo natal consultant to review his case and then shifted him to the Neo Natal Intensive Care Unit (NICU for short). There was no paper work at all till they had stabilized BBS. Once they had decided to admit him to NICU they asked me to fill in the required forms and gave me an idea of who much it would cost. Appreciated the fact that they didn’t ask for all that money upfront.

Took 5 hours before day one was over but having access to five physicians within the immediate family with a combined practicing experience of 150 years between them took the worst of the edge. And then God was kind enough to ensure that it all worked out in the end.

Days like these remind me again and again how fortunate we are to be with our family (and not all by ourselves outside) and the fact that we have a facility like AKU in Karachi. I have never been a big fan of the hospital but on Sunday night the way ER worked and how NICU took over BBS showed me how much we take for granted. Lessons learnt

a. Once you are in the hands of the consultants (specialists) and in the right specialist facility at the hospital you can’t get any better support elsewhere in Karachi. The challenge is accepting that once you get inside, you will have to follow AKU’s protocol for the problem that you are facing and irrespective of what you may say they will only recognize their own results. Having Fawzia’s sister and brother in law onsite made a world of difference since at every step they counseled us about why something was being done and what we should expect next. Without them, I don’t know how things would have gone. With them we questioned everything and they very patiently explained till we understood the rationale behind the decisions.

b. NICU at AKUH is a god send for parents and premature babies. Once BBS had landed and settled down in his own incubation cot, we all breathed a sigh of relief. Hated to see so many tubes running out of our less than a day old son but also knew that this was the only way to ensure that he could get the fastest care possible if anything came up.

c. I hate it when people second guess me as a professional at work and I was guilty of the same sin on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. As Fawzia’s sister kept on saying, Jawwad you and I are not the professionals. These guys are. Let me them decide what is best. Don’t fight it.

d. Hate it within hospitals and wanted to get out as soon as possible. Once every one concurred that things were cool we left ASAP. But ASAP in our world is different from ASAP in a hospital. Both within NICU and then later on in the Peads ward it was important to remember that there are always more urgent cases (generally life and death situations) requiring attention of available staff and if your condition is not life threatening, a little bit of consideration goes a long way.

e. Thank God for parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and kids. Ammi and Qamar aunty took care of fawzia while we were sorting out details at AKU. Ammi and baba (Nano and Nana) drove BBS with oxygen to AKU with me riding shotgun with the oxygen tank in the back. Nawal and Azam bhai were driven crazy by my insane desire to leave the hospital as soon as possible and to question everything that was happening including the prohibition on eatables in the waiting area. On Day One, the two put in more time in then fawzia and myself combined. Uzma and Imran stayed with us throughout day one and then Uzma stayed with fawzia and BBS on day two and three while I went home to take care of the kids. Uzma then came all the way to drop us at home and distracted salwa while we got the room ready for BBS. Ammi, Abba (Dada and Dadi) entertained Amin and Salwa for the two days that we spent at AKU and prayed nonstop. Without them… don’t even want to go there.

Tuesday Night
BBS is now home, settling down well with his extended family. Nano’s over from the hospital to stay the night over and keep an eye on things. Thank you Allah mian and everyone else who remembered us in their prayers. And may God give Shifa to all the small wonders in NICU and Jazai Khair to all the amazing human beings entrusted with their care and well being at AKU.

And incase you are wondering, the 5 hours in ER, the day in NICU and the day in Pead wards semi private room cost approxmiately 18K or so. 300 dollars total in an A rated facility. And we aren’t insured here in Karachi. Still a fortune by Pakistani standards but a very small price to pay for the peace of mind that AKU provided. For comparative purposes, on 25th December 2002, we had spent half a day at Reston Hospital’s ER in Virginia and had come home with a bill for three thousand dollars. Our share was 15% of the amount. The insurance company took care of the rest.