Visiting Hospital in Olde Siam
My apologies in advance for this somewhat rambling post. It seems that my previously unquestionable literary and mental acuity, is showing signs of faltering owing to this old mans avid participation in the Bangkok dream. Among other things, it IS stressful here.
It's either that or a recent obsession in cyberspace with that asshat Donald Trump, who seems committed to making even more of a mockery of my Amerkica's political landscape than already exists.
After spending 3 days bed bound by what now appears to have been a simple case of food borne bacterial infection, I started to consider a visit to a local Pratum Thani hospital named 'St Carlos hospital and medical spa.'
Losing fluids at both ends with disconcerting frequency and containing colorful hues, convinced me that an alien life form had gained entry, breaching the defenses. Read that: Pinball willingly if not eagerly stuffed his pie hole with some untoward cuisine, Thai or otherwise. Some expired pizza remains the most likely suspect in this little drama or one of those BBQ pork meat on a stick things one encounters on the street… The smell of burning pig flesh never fails to entice. Hello, my name is Bangkok belly. You go with me? Me love you longtime.
Illness really steps up the mortality awareness index. And then out come the needles for taking blood and administering drugs. Who doesn't pine for their momma's touch when facing these realities? Qualified surrogates for mom were found on this occasion. Who was it here who said that Thai women can treat one with such loving kindness, next to one's own mother, such is not to be found on this planet? Alas the ladies of Olde Siam are well suited for the nursing task.
Their welcome, tender loving care stands in such stark contrast to treatment one receives in Amerika, where personal distance and space are the thing. You've noticed that we Yanks have personal space issues right?
At one point, if those nurses had informed me that part of the treatment plan included jumping off the roof, and then led me there to administer the treatment with their charming playful smiles, I'd have jumped. Understandable why Royalty might choose to stay in hospital here, as they wait on you hand and foot, and just by their warm playful Thai nature, are a powerful palliative for an ill and distressed soul. A long-time expat revealed that it's not unheard of for a stressed out Thai person to go and check in to hospital for a stay, just to take a break for a few days, and be pampered.
Of recent posts bemoaning the many deficiencies of the Thai kingdom or character, I am feeling just the opposite about the place with these recollections.
My doctor, a slight, and for lack of a better word, impish brainiac type (kind of a Stephen Hawking in personal affect) spent a good deal of time with me daily and we had most satisfying conversation, about all and sundry, including the difficulties of different cultural expectations concerning healthcare delivery generally, and also Thai specific issues, that he encounters with Thai patients with their superstitious ways and their 'know it all ness' not wanting to lose face by needing someone else's advice or being more uninformed than even a doctor.
Given the circumstance, of digestive and eliminative distress, part of the nurses' duties and concern included inquiring about the quality and quantity of my eliminative products. Six people asked me each twice daily how my crap was, and how many times I had pooed, which happened to be a lot. They all seemed urgently concerned. Whilst looking into these young brown polite sexy angels' faces, it was humorous and disconcerting, simultaneously, the earnestness with which these young ladies inquired about my bathroom productivity. After a while I just resorted to saying all was well.
Two days of laying around with an IV drip of antibiotics and saline left the alien being defeated and my otherwise rose smelling deposits also odor free and lifeless. Antibiotics kill everything.
Following up a week later, at the hospital I was greeted to a hero's welcome, well perhaps just a welcome of familiarity by many nurses and staff who recognized Farang Pinball. Odds are they don't see a great many Farang there so it does elicit a certain stir as many seem eager to engage and display their English.
Notables include a nurse manager who informed me of her age stating she was an old woman….. Yet the biggest and warmly enchanting smile I've seen yet in the kingdom, and not averse to flirt like a girl, with a sensitive and willing touch. She did indeed however display a definite authoritarian mommasan thing with her brood of young nurses.
Accompanying the doctor on his rounds, she stood bedside and would squeeze my leg as if to make sure I responded to the doctor's inquiries quickly. He had the ease of having been to the west, (although he said he hadn't) and wasn't bound by a sheltered social experience. We had a good gab. But she I suspect thought she was showing the doc his due recognition and wished her patients to do the same. Actually it was quite hilarious, somehow, her familiarity with touching me. Mind you nothing untoward, and a comfort really.
It stands out that in the west that this kind of physical familiarity is so scant, and can often be characterized there as sexual come on, harassment or even assault. Kah….razy
The place was clean clean clean. The intake was efficient and professional while at the same time warm and familiar. Just a herd of players involved. Blood pressure takers, blood takers, pulse takers, and the admitting doctor. He a bit young and under the gun at a busy place, nonetheless straightforward enough. He gave the option of prescribing a bunch of pills and go home or being admitted and receiving intravenous medication which he extolled as the quickest route to feeling better. He offered an estimate of cost which I appreciated. Perhaps a bit self indulgent on my part, I opted to admit, wondering nervously what unknowns awaited my mortal soul.
Queue the wheelchair. Feeling a bit sheepish, I mean it's just a bit of self administered food poisoning, I enjoyed a relaxed ride like royalty, up to my room. So concerned they are about one's comfort, and not to embarrass,' while at the same time firm in their protocol of patient treatment.
If there was any questionableness about the whole deal it was the amount of drugs administered. I've heard that locals don't think they are getting appropriate treatment unless they are getting prescribed every drug in the book, which seems to drive the local medical 'culture' to some extent. They had me taking a BUNCH of pills. Add to that the two antibiotics included in two days worth of constant IV drip. On top of that was the gob o meds to take home and eat. Also after a while the IV began having problems. The nurse's homemade techniques at manipulating the machinery caused some unease for sure. Finally one nurse got a little aggressive with it causing me some sincere momentary pain. I asserted that I was indeed done with the IV portion of the festivities, she apologized and agreed.
Missing here are probably many pertinent details others may find important, feel free to contact with any queries. The thrust is, if you find yourself in need of treatment here, fear not. Get your ass to the hospital. While not perfect, the medical profession here stands in good stead and something worthy of pride for Thais. I was feeling deathly in a far away land. They offered fine treatment and much needed comfort.
A few remarks about another's experience. A fellow I met here this year had occasion last year to visit the big Bumy in downtown Bangkok. Whilst engaged in waterspouts on a local lake, he suffered an accident which left 2 or 3 of his fingers literally ripped from his hand, held by filaments of flesh only. While not necessarily life threatening, certainly serious and shocking injury. Long story short, once finally at hospital, his insurance recommended surgery by local specialist, rather than rushing home to Europe. This recommendation was based on the fact that doctors here have far more expertise owing to the large number of catastrophic bodily dismemberment type injuries encountered here in the kingdom. Upon meeting him this year I inquired straight away about it. He had nothing but glowing remarks for his treatment here. His fingers reattached, although with lifelong limited use, he feels lucky and still engages heartily in water sports.