Nine Things I will Miss about Thailand
Remembering the Austin Allegro
Bring in the Old, Out with the New
I am Reviewing, My Situation...
Today I will Mostly be Eating...
I fell to my knees in a nauseous haze, instinctively holding my hands out to cushion my fall. Ploy cried out and ran around the bed to help me. I just stayed, crouched, for a minute or so to let the blood return to my head, and then Ploy manhandled me onto the bed where I lay for ten minutes.
'You have to see a doctor', said Ploy, and for once I wasn't going to resist. I slept again, but only until 5.a.m. when I went down to start work, but my stomach was still giving me a lot of pain which made even walking an unpleasant experience and made it difficult to concentrate on work. It was Thursday morning.
I woke Ploy at 7.30a.m. 'Sorry', but can you take me to the hospital, I don't think this is going to get better by itself'. Within 15 minutes we were on our way.
Within 3 hours I was shown to my hospital room.
My mother had heart surgery when I was young, my father and me making the evening trip to see her in Southampton every night which I rather enjoyed. I liked all the lights and whirring things in her room and my father had to be alert to the iniquitousness of a 5 year old budding engineer. Visits to hospitals punctured my life, another heart operation for my mother, kidney stones and a heart attack for my father, and then his cancer; my first wife's gall bladder operation and then Ploy's cyst in Singapore. Singapore was my only positive experience of a hospital.
Nurses came and went and I changed into hospital robes and had a drip put in my hand. They meant it then, it wasn't some joke. 2-3 days the doctor had said while we check you out. The first doctor had run blood tests and taken an X-ray and urine samples but said she could find nothing, but rather than dismiss me, as with Singapore, they accepted my pain was real; and by then, after so much prodding and pushing, anyone getting near my abdomen was liable to get my best Bruce Lee chambered punch. So I was sent for a second opinion and it must have been a little serious for as soon as the doctor prodded my abdomen, he produced charts of intestines, and explained, with the blood still running from his nose, about diverticulosis. I didn't pay much attention, all I heard was 'stay in hospital'.
I hesitantly asked what he was going to do and why he couldn't give me a tablet and send me home. He explained, patiently and nasally as the blood began to clot, that he needed to do some more tests and as I couldn't eat or drink for a couple of days I had to be put on a drip.
So there I lay and nurses busied themselves. Everything was free, my social security card proving its worth, but we had paid to upgrade to a private room instead of a ward of six. The room had a TV, my own bathroom and even a balcony with a decent enough view over the outskirts of Saraburi town, or at least the little I could see from my prone position. Ploy looked worried and I wasn't sure if the doctor had told her something he hadn't told me or it was just she wasn't used to seeing signs of fallibility in her superhuman husband.
Early afternoon a nurse brought a litre of contrast medium, which despite its cherry coloured allure tasted disgusting. Ploy had gone home to get some things for me so I had to battle with my limited Thai as none of the nurses spoke English. A little later a wheel chair arrived for me and I met Ploy by the elevator as she returned. 'Off for my CT scan', I explained.
The radiologist asked if I spoke Thai and as soon as he heard my perfect response went to get a nurse who spoke English. This man is going to shove this thing up your arse, she explained carefully, whilst we nurses stand and giggle, and then he is going to inject some contrast medium into your abdomen. 'What about that disgusting drink I just imbibed', I questioned. 'We need both to see the image properly', she said, rather quickly thought. I tried to delicately explain I hadn't passed anything solid for 36 hours now and he might just be opening the floodgates but knees bent to stomach I found myself being anally penetrated by a man I had just met a couple of minutes ago and whose name I didn't even know.
I was rolled back onto my back and told to stretch my hands over my head as he manipulated me through the rather small and claustrophobic cavity of the CT machine. Above me were some pretty lights and then a voice in Thai told me to hold my breath, or at least I think it was that. Slowly I was pulsed through the machine but then, after what seemed an eternity my penetrator came back into the room with the nurse following. We need to inject more contrast medium into you, she explained. Sure, I thought, let someone else have a bit of my juicy white arse. But instead they came around to my head and injected two huge syringes of clear liquid into my drip feed. I immediately felt sick and hot and very uncomfortable but before I could say anything I was positioned back at my start point and pulsed through the machine again, this time for a longer period.
The voice kept telling me to hold my breath, and then let go, and hold my breath, and then let go, but I held my breath the entire time as by now 36 hours of outflow was beckoning and I was clenching my buttocks together as hard as I could to prevent an incident. Finally the voice stopped and the radiologist appeared again. He pushed me over and with a healthy plop sound removed his anal projectile and without a goodbye or even a telephone number ushered Ploy in.
I need a bathroom, I told Ploy, but before she could respond I was wheeled out of the room, my robe dripping from the radiologist's juices, into the X-ray room where my new friend appeared again. A single X-ray before he pointed to a retreat from my discomfort in the corner of the room. I relieved myself of a few quarts of liquid but decided the rest could wait until I got to my room. But it was not to be as I was then wheeled into another room for an ultrasound scan. The doctor pushed her clammy, cold, probe onto my abdomen and although I could see the scan and showed some interest in it, despite her being a woman, she did not escape my Bruce Lee punch as she pushed into the affected area. That hurt a little, I tried to explain as she pulled herself back to an upright position. She turned off the scanner and I was taken back to my room to reaquaint myself with my lovely bathroom.
Diverticulosis, said the doctor. No other problems, it happens a lot with Western men because their diets are low in fibre. But I have the problem here, I responded, in Thailand, after two years of Thai food. No food or drink for two days and we will inject you with antibiotics. And so I lay there. My drip was later replaced with a machine which woke me every hour with its alarm for no good reason and tethered me to one side of the bed. It followed me everywhere. I decided to call it Harry. I found the Asian food channel, in English, and watched that, someone ironically in the circumstances. I tried to read the book Ploy had brought. A Thai friend came and brought me a gift; of food! Ploy fussed and continued to look concerned. Nurses fussed with rather less concern. They woke me one hour after I finally fell asleep, and then at 10p.m. and then at 2a.m. and then at 6.a.m. Bottle upon bottle of antibiotic was placed in my drip feed and slowly the pain began to recede.
The doctor prodded me again, cautiously this time. Just a little discomfort I reported. Despite the lack of sleep I was feeling better. One more day he said, without food, and then we will try you with a little soft food. Ploy came and teasingly brought in a menu. What's that, I asked. It's your menu from the canteen, she answered. Really? I read the menu and it offered everything from steaks to various Thai dishes. It was impressive and even had some photos. I planned my first meal. Ploy ordered some noodles. Mai aloi, she said (not delicious) but the smell lingered. I wasn't that worried by food at that point but I really wanted a drink. I was told I could sip water but I wanted a nice fizzy drink as my mouth felt like a gorilla's armpit.
One more inspection, a different doctor this time as it was Saturday, and he said I could go home if there was no reaction to the food. I waited for someone to take my order but instead someone came in with a bowl of plain chicken soup, with no vegetables or chicken. Chicken consomme, or nam soup as it is called here where a small bowl can sometimes accompany your main meal. Only I had no main meal, unless the small box of soya milk was it. I left the milk but drank the soup, finishing it just as Ploy arrived. I told her I was going home today and I thought the baan gluay restaurant would be a good first stop. A packet of Ovaltine arrived with a glass of something that smelt rather disgusting and looked suspiciously like the contrast medium. I asked what it was. Nam daeng, she answered (red water). Yes, but what is it. I sipped it and put it down and planned my escape.
Ploy returned from her lunch. Has the doctor not been yet, she asked, but before I answered she rushed out the room. Oh god, I thought, if she harasses the doctor he could do all sorts of bad things to me. She returned with a harassed looking doctor in tow. No problems? No, I feel OK. Then you can go home, but you need to come and see me again in one week and you need to take some medicine. And you can only eat soft food. And no chilies or salty food. But that is my diet, you haven't left me with anything. He smiled and left.
On the plus side I have lost two kilos, and probably much more once all that liquid leaves my system. And reading the Wiki page I didn't see the word death or die once. And I got the all clear from any more serious ailments. And I haven't had alcohol for 5 days now, the longest dry period for as long as I can remember, (if that is a plus).
3000 baht was the bill for the room as they had only charged for the actual time I was there. A small price to pay for five bed baths by twenty-something year old nurses. You have to look on the bright side.
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