Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Is there a doctor in the house?

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


Paul Garrigan said... Best Blogger Tips

It sounds like you got good service at that hospital. I've had some good experiences with Thai hospitals and some not so good; usually when getting help from my son. . I'm glad to hear that your hubby is OK. It sounds painful but survivable; I worked as a trauma nurse and seen worse outcomes from less serious events than the one you described.

Snap said... Best Blogger Tips

@Paul Garrigan I wouldn't hesitate to go back to Chiang Mai Ram. Our tuk tuk driver obviously has to take the credit in choosing a trustworthy hospital.

I can't imagine the dreadful sights you must have seen as a trauma nurse. I hope that Thailand, and many other countries, see the importance of wearing of helmets...soon!

One of my close friends commented that it could have been much worse...he could have caught a 'man cold' ;)

DanPloy said... Best Blogger Tips

Do I detect a hint of sarcasm in your comment about man colds. Shame on you.

I hope the scooter is OK.

Anonymous said... Best Blogger Tips

Was wondering how long it all took etc. Don't loose Nikon's number he too is priceless. Next time you see him thank him for being such a wonderful driver for my favourite "tour guides" I didn't get time to thank him properly as he whisked you off to scrape Greg off the bitumen.
Hugs JJ

Snap said... Best Blogger Tips

@DanPloy Truth be told, Stray handles any type of pain/illness much, much better than I. I tend to be a bit of a sook!

The scooter only suffered a broken handle thingamajiggy and a slightly bent mirror.

Snap said... Best Blogger Tips

@jcj57 Nikon certainly is a gem :) I'll be sure and thank him for you.

Needless to say all of this has left me battling the songthaew drivers to get about town...and you know how much I love that!

Mike said... Best Blogger Tips

Snap glad everything is OK. Nice to hear good things about Tuk Tuk drivers for a change.

The private hospitals here are tops and the Ram has a good reputation.

Snap said... Best Blogger Tips

@Mike although I/we would have like to have avoided a visit to a hospital all together, it's reassuring to know that good care is available if you need it.

I was going to publish Mr Nikon's phone number, but had second thoughts, and am going to keep him all to myself ;)

Catherine said... Best Blogger Tips

Ouch! I forgot about Stray breaking his bits. Is he doing better now?

Snap said... Best Blogger Tips

@Catherine He's doing better than 'I' expected Catherine, feeling a little bit more mended everyday...avoiding any sudden bumps of course!

He'll go back for a follow up x-ray at the end of next week.

Jungle Girl said... Best Blogger Tips

Hi Snap,

Best wishes for a speedy recovery for Stray, and nice to hear a fairly positive hospital experience here. Thank you also for being such a consistent reader and commenter on my blog, I really appreciate it.

Snap said... Best Blogger Tips

@Jungle Girl Thanks for the well wishes, he's recovering quite fast.

Reading your blog is my pleasure, I only wish you wrote more often ;)

Martyn said... Best Blogger Tips

Snap and Stray - I hope the latter is feeling better and the former is carting the empty beer cans outside as well as emptying the ashtray.

4,070 baht. That's value for money and almost worth breaking a leg so you can say to your friends how cheap your holiday was. Do they do two for the price of one?

Here's hoping Stray's recovery is a good and quick one.

Snap said... Best Blogger Tips

Ha ha Martyn...no beer cans yet (other than my own)! He's been a good Stray so far and giving the healing process a fair chance. I think the immobility is more frustrating than the pain factor.

Thanks for the well wishes!

Martyn said... Best Blogger Tips

Snap - Beer is renown for healing the funny bone, maybe it might work on collar bones too. Worth a go.

Snap said... Best Blogger Tips

@Martyn I'll suggest it, although I'm sure I won't have to twist his arm ;) OUCH!

Lani said... Best Blogger Tips

Duh. I've been waiting to see you so we can discuss said event and then viola I realize you blogged about it. Sheesh. I'm s-l-o-w.

Yeah I've been to RAM and because it is a private hospital it's better than most. Although I have to say I've had nothing but good experiences with hospitals here.

I can't believe he cracked his collarbone. Poor guy. How long is it supposed to take to heal?

Sigh. Please let me know if you need anything. Sending hugs, see you soon,

Theodora said... Best Blogger Tips

Hope he gets well soon! Love the picture of your tuk-tuk driver speeding "carefully" to the airport...

We've only ever had positive experiences with health care in Asia -- we've used public hospitals and dentists in Indonesia, and always experienced care and positivity.

Snap said... Best Blogger Tips

@Lani You're forgiven for missing the post, especially since you always get the inside scoop ;)

The prognosis is 1-2 weeks of bad pain and 6 weeks to heal.

See you soon!

Snap said... Best Blogger Tips

@Theodora Yes I know 'tuk tuk' and 'carefully' in the same sentence, is a bit of an oxymoron.

I had my teeth cleaned when I first arrived and found the service and standard was equal, if not better than back home. It was incredibly painless, literally and to the hip-pocket.

Megan said... Best Blogger Tips

Oh, poor guy! I hope he's feeling better now. Scary!

Snap said... Best Blogger Tips

Megan, thanks, he is. Scary is, that one of my class mates suffered exactly the same fate a few days later.

Anonymous said... Best Blogger Tips

Hi Snap,
Glad to hear things worked out okay. I have almost always had great hospital experiences in Thailand and am glad you did as well.

Snap said... Best Blogger Tips

@memock All is still healing, but slowly. I've also heard mostly good feedback about the medical facilities here. Of course there are always a few negative experiences, but that can be said for any country.

Thanks for stopping by :)