Firstly I’d like to say ‘EVERYTHING IS OK!’...now.
JJ and I were just pulling up, in a tuk tuk, at Chiang Mai airport, when my phone rang. It was Stray. He’d come off the scooter and thought he’d hurt himself...his arm...his shoulder?
Mr Nikon (the nicest, MOST honest, reasonably priced tuk tuk driver you’ll ever meet in Chiang Mai) carefully speeds back to the accident site. Stray’s collected the bitumen with the left side of his body. He was looking to change lanes (not very Thai of him, I know) and had to brake hard, when the truck in front stopped suddenly. The front wheel just slipped out from under him and he had no chance to break his fall. He didn’t look or sound well.
Mr Nikon pushed the scooter to a secure spot and we asked him to take us to a hospital. I pointed south, because I know there’s one just down the road. But, he points in the other direction and takes us to Chiang Mai Ram Hospital...or Chiang Mai Lam as he calls it.
We unloaded at the main doors of the hospital and were escorted to an information desk. Sometime around now, Stray is put into a wheel chair. The young fellow behind the counter asks for Stray’s passport, which we never carry around, but, I always have a copy tucked away in my bag ;)
From there we’re taken to another counter where Stray was bar coded and given a hospital card. He’s in a lot of pain and is going from white to snow white in colour. A doctor takes a peak under the cold pack which has been placed over his collar bone and says “Yes, definitely broken!”
It was probably only 20 minutes before he received a shot of morphine, but to Stray, IT probably felt like a short eternity. The nurse had a great sense of humour and was very professional every step of the way. She didn’t like the look of the wounds on his left leg, so she cleaned and dressed them as well.
Next, an x-ray was in order. So once more he was wheeled to another department and waited no longer than ten minutes, before he was zapped. They even, happily, ferried him outside twice throughout the morning’s procedures, so he could have a cigarette.
Then back to the nurse’s station to wait for the x-ray and doctor to be united and to be fitted with one of those figure 8 soft, shoulder braces. Dr Thosaporn was very friendly, well spoken, to the point and included me in the whole conversation...which was nice. The x-ray wasn’t pleasant to look at, to say the least. His collar bone had been well and truly snapped in two pieces, one piece sitting below the other. Like someone had made a wish with it.
Stray now had to make the choice between conservative (passive = wearing a soft brace and taking medication) or aggressive (operating and pinning a steel plate over the broken bone) treatment. He chose conservative, thinking it best to save his operation pennies, for a rainy day. Already having anti inflammatory drugs and pain killers on hand, Stray was prescribed vitamin K and a calcium formula, to help his bones heal.
Once again he was wheeled to another counter, while I toddled behind. The nurse goes to the window and passes over a wad of paperwork, takes a ticket from the dispensing machine and hands it to us. By the way, the ticket machine must have the option of English or Thai, because the numbers were called accordingly. In Thai, for Thais and English, for everyone else.
I pay at the counter and take my receipt to another , where I’m given vitamin supplies to take home. As I begin to wheel him to the exit door, an orderly intercepts and finishes the journey. Not once were we left wondering what to do, where to go or what was going to happen next. The building may not be the newest, but the staff’s level of care, efficiency and service far outweigh anything the decor may have been lacking.
It certainly surpassed my own last hospital visit in Australia, with a mean spirited female gynaecologist, who I'm sure was missing from the cast of a World War II war crime movie. Free it may have been, but I'm sure my/our taxes paid for it well and truly over the years.
We made it out of Chiang Mai Ram in less than three hours. So now, he’s mainly staying at home, avoiding too much movement, coughing, laughing or the uncontrollable hiccup fits...which are inevatable, if there are lumps of chilli in his meal...whoops, I forgot about that!
The hospital bill? 4,070 Baht.
Carrying a copy of your passport with you? Very handy.
Wearing a real helmet? Priceless!
Snap's other blog Chiang Mai Thai