Uh, oops. Sorry, folks. I know the blogging has been a little patchy in general, but 2 weeks has to be a new low, even for me. It’s been a crazy mothah of a month, mainly because my crazy mothah of a mother was visiting. After she left last Tuesday night, Todd’s dad – AKA Papa Dawg Dave – blew in on the evening breeze for a breezy, very brief 2 night visit. He stayed just long enough to partake in a whirlwind culinary tour of Samut Prakan. Currently, we are feeling like the proverbial fatherless/motherless child(ren), and trying to readjust to life as a twosome. I thought I’d recount one of our more memorable adventures from the past month of parental visits.
Momalot’s trip to the hospital
Momalot is generally a hardy soul. She likes to take the stairs just to make us look lazy for taking the elevator (all right. When you live on the third floor, I guess taking the elevator would qualify as slothful behaviour), and in her heart-of-hearts, I know she wishes that she’d been born in the pioneer era. She’d probably be the person hauling the wagon after the horse dropped dead. She does not, however, deal well with heat. We’re not sure if her health scare on her last weekend in Bangkok was due primarily to the heat, but it definitely didn’t help the situation.
On Friday night, we went to a movie at the mall near our house. Halfway through, Momalot said she didn’t feel well, and went to get some water. When I checked on her a few minutes later, she was feeling nauseous and dizzy, so we took her home. By the time we got there, she was also experiencing tingling sensations in her arms and heart palpitations. We decided it was time to phone an ambulance. The weird/disconcerting thing in Bangkok is that there isn’t a unified 911-type service (or if there is, I haven’t found it yet). Rather, you phone the hospital that you wish to visit, and they send their own ambulance service. We phoned a hospital that we have used in the past – it wasn’t the closest, but we knew it would provide good care. Once we’d given the hospital our address and requested an ambulance, we tried our best to look after Momalot until it arrived.
It was a little disconcerting when the ambulance took almost 40 minutes to reach us. Fortunately, by the time it arrived, Momalot was feeling a little better, but it was sobering to think of what the situation would have been like had she been more seriously ill. The ambulance was equipped with a doctor and several nurses, though, so once it arrived, we felt that she was in good hands. Todd and I rode in the front of the ambulance, and it became clear to us why it took so long for the ambulance to arrive – we were once again reminded that we live in the middle of nowhere. Also, no one yields to ambulances in Bangkok – we even got cut off several times on the way to the hospital. The ambulance also had to stop and pay the tolls on the expressway we were using.
When she got to the hospital, Momalot was thoroughly checked out, and while her pulse was still quite fast and she felt dizzy, the doctors assured us that her heart seemed to be ok. Perhaps the craziest thing for this socialized-healthcare-Canadian was having to deal with insurance paperwork while we were still trying to focus on my mother. One of the hospital’s claims people was even asking my mother (very politely – this is Thailand) to sign documents as she groggily lay on her emergency room bed. I realize that to Americans this probably sounds like standard protocol, but we found it disconcerting.
While Momalot’s heart looked ok, the doctors decided to keep her in the hospital for 2 nights of observation/tests. It turned into an unexpected cultural experience. At this particular hospital (Samitivej), even the most basic rooms are like hotel suites, with fold-out beds for guests, arm chairs, fridges and microwaves. You can order food from a menu, and cute, tiny nurses with elaborate hairstyles check on you at all hours of the day or night. They like to ask questions like “Madam. You need go pee-pee?” By the second day, Momalot was feeling much better, but she was still under hospital arrest. We took her to the coffee shop in the hospital lobby in her swanky Thai hospital outfit, and tried to entertain her on her forced vacation.
Almost 48 hours after she was admitted, Momalot was released from the hospital. She came away with some random hospital swag including branded water bottles in a branded hospital bag. Nothing substantial showed up on the tests, and we are still a little confused as to what happened to her. On the plus side, she had a bunch of expensive tests done that she would have had to wait months+ for in a socialized system. Her travel insurance really came through (for travelling Canadians – RBC insurance was fantastic), and covered the whole visit. Nothing like a 1000% return on your investment.
All in all, it was a frightening experience for all of us, but I’ll wager that it’s created a cultural memory that Momalot won’t soon forget. I doubt any Canadian nurses will ask her whether Madam needs to pee-pee.
Next up: the food Momalot managed to cook for us when she wasn’t in the hospital.