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When Health Goes Wrong

THAILAND | Sunday, 22 September 2013 | Views [894]

Just because you have meticulously planned a journey, does not necessarily mean it will unfold as expected. The more you travel, the more you know flexibility is a vital key to getting the best out of a trip.  Any number of things can require a rethink but perhaps the hardest is a health-related issue. We may prepare ourselves (to a smaller or larger extent) but it is impossible to foresee every eventuality. It is a human condition to believe it won't happen to us, so that when it does there is also the additional element of shock to deal with.

Arriving in Bangkok, I have been suffering with pain in my leg for a couple of days so decide to use my five hours here before catching the train to get it checked out. Arriving at the bus station I realise I have no idea how to go about finding a doctor. Thank goodness for Google which directs me to a traveller asking that same question some four years ago. The reply thread advises going to a hospital and even thoughtfully recommends two. I ask the taxi driver to take me to the nearest one. Up to this point I am struggling not to put my head in the sand so I don't have to deal with this unknown, scary situation on my own. The post gives me courage and I decide that my peace of mind is worth using this time gainfully.

We arrive at the Phyathai 1 Hospital where the porter takes care of my bag and usheres me inside.  My backpack is stored and I'm given a tag for it. Sitting at the reception desk in no time at all I have several staff surrounding me asking whats wrong and looking somewhat disappointed by my lack of anything other than a slightly swollen ankle. I am quickly 'processed' and waiting to see a doctor before I have even had the chance to get comfortable. I have just got off a night bus and have no idea where I am or what is going to happen. It is all quite bewildering, but other than the occasional curious glances as the only 'ferang' (foreigner), I am smiled at, patted frequently while blood pressure etc is taken. The hospital is immaculate, the numerous nurses and administrators look like they are on a movie set as everyone goes about their work with such professionalism. In no time I am ushered in to see a doctor who thankfully speaks good English. I explain my symptoms and impending train departure and schedules are revised to fit me in. Porters escort me to different parts of the hospital as ultrasound tests are carried out (the doctor even comes in to check progress) and then referral to a specialist. Yes it's a blood clot (as my previous Google search had indicated as being possible). 

Flights to Australia will need to be cancelled. Reception link me into their wifi as I sit in a dazed stupor willing my brain to function. First I need to find out where I am. The train will need to leave without me. I need to find a hostel. I need someone to talk to. It takes about an hour but I have a dorm bed at the Lub d'Siam not far away. When I cannot find them, they come across Siam Square, take my bag and walk me here. A small kindness means so much at times like this. It's also a great hostel.

This is the start of a new journey for me and I don't quite know what comes next. I do know that someone else sharing their story gave me the courage to take action. The hospital were efficient and professional. The UK could take some useful tips! Yes there was a cost, but really, for the treatment I received, worth every small penny. Thankfully I took out travel insurance with World Nomads and now I am very pleased that I did. My visa is almost up and so I have decided to continue to Penang where I hear healthcare is also very good (and the visa is 3 months). I hope that someone may find this information useful and be encouraged to seek medical help if they feel they need it.


Tags: doctors in bangkok, dvts, health issues, medical care, medical insurance, phyathai hospital

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