E patient Fadil was very happy about getting…

E-patient Indonesian healthcareFadil was very happy about getting zapped and poisoned today– in much better spirits than I’ve seen him for months. He attributed it mostly to the jamu (herbals) sent in from the countryside (kampung).He was also tickled that relatives in Surabaya had seen him on Facebook, by which he meant the Internet.

But all of us — including Pak Fadil — are also really hoping the advanced medical equipment at RS Cipto does him some good. Most of it’s brand new. He says it sounds like a war inside the MRI machine. The medical infrastructure, human support and positive attitude are in place. Just need a little Western medical magic.

  Mona looked five years younger. She enjoys sharing secrets for pushing papers and hospital staff to get stuff done within the public hospital system (it’s actually a public health insurance system).  But for months she’s been working on this one case without once having the satisfaction of seeing the patient receive a drug or operation judged to improve his chances of recovery. Until today. But she’s the one fighting traffic bringing her father to the hospital almost every day of the week till the radio-chemo regime has had a chance to work –30 sessions, I understand.

The radiotherapy unit is one of the hospital’s newest. Today at dust, when Pak Fadil was wrapping up his first session it was as nice as a spa in Bali.  For better or worse, there aren’t a lot of public institutions as large and serious as RS Cipto. This is Indonesia doing it’s level best. There was lovely mix of AC and natural air, plenty of windows with light coming in and lots of green outside. In fact, as with many of the old Djakarta buildings, there’s thin line between inside and out. Mama heard the call to prayer and went to pray.

But the Bapak was started on a story about his village back in Madura. It seems it’s built on ruins of a palace. But the funny thing, he says, you have to a long way before you find anyone who knows the story behind it. The closer to the village you get, the less people know. (Perhaps it was a noble exiled from Java?) He also mentioned how his father died — of a 3rd party curse. His stomach blew up like a huge balloon — and then shrunk . . . with the tides. Not sick at all, the doctors said. Perfectly healthy when he died. Except that somebody had put a spell on him. Pak Fadil’s mother died last year of cancer. (Luckily Sema and I had a chance to go to Madura and meet her about 3 years ago. )

Plenty more time for village stories from Madura. I do hope — and suspect, however, that this is the last generation where poor Indonesians can’t afford even the smallest dose of medicine to mix with the magic. If you can’t make it work, just call Mona.