This is a continuation of author Maggi Grace's speech on her experience with medical tourism.
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After being under the care of Dr. Trahan and his staff, I saw patient care as pure and simple as it sounds. With patients being truly cared for, not just tolerated, not just squeezed into the otherwise overburdened caseload of exhausted nurses who have worked double shifts and who are stretched beyond their limits. How will patients feel cared for? I try to pay attention to the apparent differences in Howard's care and the care I witnessed during my parents and friend's hospital stays here at home. Instead of one nurse running in and out answering buzzers with I will get to you as soon as I can, they're sisters as they are called in India, seem to work under the buddy system, often coming by Howard's rooms in pairs or threes to ask if we needed anything or to transport Howard for a test. If Howard was sleeping, get this. Then come back later, whisper to me, he needs his rest. Doctor seemed to use the hands-on approach, however remarked early on about how the doctor seem to touch first, examine first, and then talk to him. So much more aligned with the notion of treating the whole patient not just the symptoms he or she can identify well enough to tell the doctors about. To wait or not to wait, that is the question. Often in hospitals here at home, we wait and wait for someone to find another pillow or to refill the ice water. I have bathed patients and changed bed linens myself when the nurses just didn't have time. I caught my mother trying to climb out of bed tangled in her IV lines. In India, Howard and I didn't wait for one towel, one test, one answer to our request, and Howard had completed all the pre op tests on the day after we arrived. Test for which he was still on his schedule back home, still weeks away, believe me, patients can feel the difference. Pain free or pain management, Howard still claims that after back to back heart surgeries and a month of recovery he never experienced any pain at all, none. Whether or not this is typical of heart surgery patients I do not know but pain management is the first topic of concern for every post surgical patient I have stayed with in the US hospitals. When I told Dr. Trahan about his staff calling us on their days off to see how we were doing, to see if Howard had eaten his breakfast, and about the night after Howard was discharged to a nearby hotel, one of the dieticians stopped in busy daily traffic to give us a ride back to our hotel. Dr. Trahan explained to me about the Chipko Movement which you may know about and how he uses that story of people protecting trees to instruct his staff to put their arms around a new patient and never let them go until they are well. Believe me this is why we will travel halfway around the globe for medical care. Was there anything I wish had been different? Of course, nothing is perfect. I remember asking if they had a larger oxygen mask for Howard. Everything seem too small for him and Howard is not a large man by US standards. Even the bed seem too short, but as is often the case, communication was largely responsible for any imperfections I perceived. If I could design the perfect medical tourist scenario, it would include a personal response to my first email request within 24 hours. We are so accustomed to immediate replies to emails, it was frustrating to have to wait for information from the Indian hospitals and after many days it was the telephone call at 1 AM from Dr. Trahan himself that kicked into high gears our plans to fly to India. I continually balanced asking for information and not rocking the boat. While I waited in Howard's room I would have appreciated more communication along the way, some progress report about how he was doing, especially after the estimated number of hours for the surgery had passed. Communication is essential no matter where the surgery takes place. The more informed the patient and companion are, the more compliant we will be and the more we will stay out of the way. As you know, the companions