Emergency Medical Care in Thailand

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This post tells of my first-hand experiences of receiving emergency medical care in Thailand. In part 1 I was diagnosed and emergency surgery became inevitable. This is the second installment. In the third post about this medical emergency and care, I talk about continuing to travel in Thailand after emergency medical care. I hope you find my experiences with Thai medical care useful.

The Thai Hospital on Koh Samui

Emergency medical care in Thailand Ko Samui beach sunset
Just a few days earlier we’d been enjoying sundowners on the beach on Koh Samui, now I was back, about to face Emergency Medical Care in Thailand.

Finally, the insurance came through and I was good to proceed with surgery, but suddenly I wasn’t so keen. There is nothing wrong with emergency medical care in Thailand, but seriously, who wants a 6 inch hole and surgery so far from home?

I was in a Thai private hospital on Koh Samui, my wife and kids were still far away on Koh Phangan. My huge private hospital room, more like a studio, with half a dozen Thai nurses in high heels longer than their skirts wasn’t all that bad. Kickass emergency medical care here in Thailand!

After all the prep work was complete I got settled with the TV and Wi-Fi.  I spoke to my wife, family and various others by phone and by Facebook. A lovely Asian dinner featuring Thai foods was served while the doctor came through to check me again. All good he says, start cutting at 8 am the next morning.

The Day of the Emergency Surgery in Thailand

The anesthetist came and talked about options. She wasn’t, by the sound of it, confident about the epidural so we went with the general. Best not have a doctor stick a needle in my spine if she’s not 100%.

Late in the evening, 3 nurses came in to shave me for the operation. It was hilarious, took 2 visits, 5 nurses, plus head nurse and still, they had to redo me in the morning. I guess Thai men aren’t that hairy.

Early start, 6 am, to get me ready. The I. V. Line needle wasn’t long enough so they switched it over. Meaning I could have slept the previous night without the needle! I was hooked up to the drip as I watched Banged Up Abroad, a TV show based on foreigners being jailed in tough countries. Not a great choice and it gave me an unsettled feeling as I was wheeled out towards theatre.

Lying there on the operating table my arms were strapped down tightly so that I formed the perfect cross. Both doctors checked which side they were to operate while the anesthetist started to give me the cocktail to knock me out. She told me the last one would burn a little and feel cold in my veins. Not wrong there, and as I drifted off to sleep I thought of America’s capital punishment and how that must feel. Note to self not to watch Banged Up Abroad before surgery again!

Post-Op Care in Thailand

After what only seemed moments, I was back with the living.

Groggy but aware as I was unstrapped and readied for a room move involving 3 different beds to get me back to my room. Not a major issue except each time they moved me it was like a scene from MASH as I was yanked, sheet and all, across the divide.Thank God for morphine.

The remaining stay was uneventful and consisted of letting everyone know I was ok and on the road to recovery. 3 meals a day, endless TV and rest were just what the doctor ordered. Although they never served coffee the whole time I was in my room. Of course, with my drain, I couldn’t even pop down to the foyer and buy my own.

Discharged From Hospital in Thailand

Friday morning came and I guessed they were going to keep me in another day as the drain was still in place long after breakfast and I’d heard no talk of release as yet. How wrong I was. Another doctor came by and removed the bandages and also withdrew the drain. Watching a 7 inch pipe being pulled from your abdomen is slightly unsettling.

After he left, it all happened pretty fast. Lunch was served, then in came the pharmacist with drugs, the accountant with the bill and my passport and finally the sister to set me free.

Arriving back safe at Haad Salad my family were relieved to see me and I was glad to be home. Of course, 2 weeks of antibiotics meant that I couldn’t have a drink for a while yet, but I got stuck back into those amazing Thai dishes pretty fast! Next stop Sri Lanka, for different, but still delicious, Sri Lankan food! The breakfast in Sri Lanka being one of the best in the world.

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Chef is James Long, a professional chef, world traveler and endurance athlete. He has spent almost a decade traveling and working internationaly.

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