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Travel Insurance Claims - True Stories Just some of the weird and wonderful things that happen to World Nomads travellers while on the road

Why I didn’t I ask for rubber gloves?

THAILAND | Saturday, 26 November 2005 | Views [12808] | Comments [6]

Why I didn’t I ask for rubber gloves?

Why I didn’t I ask for rubber gloves?

The American Breakfast at Bangkok General Hospital (BGH) consists of:

  1. 4 hot dogs (They call them sausages, Americans call them hot dogs)
  2. 3 of another type of sausage
  3. 4 slices of ham A roll, bread and butter

And this is for someone with acute diarrhea. But lunch and dinner were pretty good. Before you continue, I will warn you that some of this may not be for the squeamish.

In my last post I mentioned that I started to get a fever accompanied by diarrhea. Well both symptems continued relentlessly for the next couple of days. So I decided it was time to go to the hospital, you know, with the bird flu going around and all. I think the people who run the hostel I was staying in, Discovery Lodge, were suspicious that I might be sick when I kept asking for more toilet paper. So I finally told them I needed to go to the hospital.

First I called my insurance company, World Nomads, and they recommended BGH. Next I had to get a taxi. Now those who have ever been in Bangkok would never ever voluntarily travel by car here if they had acute diarrhea, not even for a half a mile. But what choice did I have? The hospital was not on a train route, my case wasn’t severe enough for an ambulance, and my helicopter is still in New Jersey. Perhaps I could have taken a motorcycle taxi, and he could have weaved through traffic. But that would have been very expensive because it was so far away, and it was raining heavily.

So I just hopped in the taxi, clenched my cheeks tight, and hoped for the best. About an hour later I reached the hospital without any spillage. Actually it wasn’t so bad, I was in a slight respite from my gastrointestinal trauma, and I did not feel the urge. But the traffic was bad, so I was lucky. What should have been a 15 minute drive took about an hour.

The rep at my insurance company told me I would probably have to wait a long time in the emergency ward, but I guess she wasn’t aware of the international ward at BGH. At the international emergency ward I was greeted by a friendly nurse. I told her my problem then filled out a registration form. I now have a BGH card for a speedy registration for the next time I eat some tainted roast duck.

There was hardly anyone there so I was in the doctor’s office in about 20 minutes. After a quick dialog with the doctor, some palpation and listening to my stomach, a look down my throat with a flashlight, (this was an actual flashlight, like the kind you take down the cellar to look for the fuse box after a power outage, and hope there are no monsters or serial killers down there. That kind of flashlight.) a blood test, and a stool sample (More about the stool sample later), Diagnosis: “Acute Infective Diarrhea with fever and dehydration.”

Okay, it’s later, back to the stool sample. Immediately after my visit with doctor, but before the diagnosis, the nurse handed me a small plastic container. It was about the size of a film canister but not as wide.

Nurse: “For stool sample.”
Me: “How do I get it in there?”
Nurse: “Oh.” (She opened the top which had a tiny scooper thing attached to it, and she made a scooping motion with it.)
Me: “I scoop it out of the toilet?”
Nurse: “Yes, yes.”
Me: “Right out of the water?”
Nurse: “Yes, yes.”

Now why I didn’t ask for rubber gloves at this point, I don’t know. But what’s worse, is she never offered them. Let’s just say, she got the sample.

With the results of the blood and stool tests in, coupled with my pale, dehydrated and haggard appearance, the doctor said I needed to be admitted. There’s not much to being admitted to a hospital in Bangkok. Just show some insurance, a passport, and a credit card (which I just got back that day from being lost with my wallet) and off you go. There’s not much to sign, and no forms you need a magnifying glass and a lawyer to read.

I was on the 14th floor. Actually it was the 13th floor, but they are superstitious here too. It was a very large room with a gigantic window, and a spectacullar view of the city. I also had a TV, microwave, refridgerator, a safe, a couch for guests complete with pillow and blanket, a desk, a bathroom, and my very own bartender. And it was all mine. It was the best place I’ve stayed in since I’ve been in Bangkok.

They gave me a price list of rooms, and this was only the standard, single room. It cost 8625 baht a day, and that includes nurse service, hospital service and meal. There are also deluxe and superior VIP rooms for 12,825 and 14,825 baht/day, respectively. I tried to sneak into one of those to see the strippers, but they caught me. You know there are strippers in the VIP room. What more could they have than I did?

So my room was pretty nice, and the TV was cable, with HBO and Cinemax. But I didn’t really get to see any full movies. Why? Remember why I was there? Acute Infective diarrh……right. There was also always a nurse or a maid or someone coming in and interrupting.

I first arrived to my room about 7:00pm, and was prompltly served dinner. It was fish, which was quite tasty. But it was the first thing I’d eaten in a couple of days, and I was no where near cured, so I don’t have to tell you what happened 3 minutes later . . . . then again 5 minutes later.

Before I went to the hospital I was not sleeping well either, so I was looking forward to a good night’s slumber. And I got it! I slept well right through the night . . . only to be woken up at 5:30am for a check of my vitals! After they left I went to the door to put the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the doorknob, but there was no sign. What kind of hotel is this? So I screamed down the hall, “You want my vitals?!? It’s VITAL for me to be sleeping!! That’s my vitals!! Okay, I didn’t do this, but it’s still true, sleep is vital for good health. So why do they wake you up before the roosters in every hospital in the world? It makes no sense.

That morning, never mind trying to watch a whole movie, I wouldn’t have even been able to watch a whole Pepto-Bismol commercial. From 6:00am till about noon, I had to rush to the bathroom about every 10 munutes. So mostly I just watched TV and shat, read the newspaper and shat, and did the puzzles in the newspaper and shat. So it’s a good thing I had no visitors, it would not have been very comfortable for them. Oh, I completed my first Sudoku puzzle ever. I messed up the first time, but recreated it in my notepad and completed it correctly. So now, I will look for a book of sudoko puzzles to keep me occupied during lulls on my journeys.

The nurses were all very nice. At times they were so nice it scared me. Like after one nurse had asked me how many times I had gone that morning, and I told her, she grabbed my hand for a few seconds to console me as if I’d just been told I only had 4 days to live.

The blanket they give you is just one huge towel. They also have an aromatherapy kit for you. I didn’t write down what it said on it, but it was something like, “With the complimentary from BGH.” It’s funny how many signs here in Thailand make no grammatical sense in English. But you still know what they mean. For instance, the sign on all of the escalators in the brand new, clean, high tech, high speed subway system says, “Not lean the edge of escalator.” You see it all the time in respectable places. I know it’s not their language, but you’d think they’d consult with someone and ask, “How would you say this correctly in English?” But they just guess. Either that or someone is messing with them.

On my first morning there, the nurse handed me a small plastic container and asked for a sample. This container was different from the one which they asked for the stool sample in the emergency room. It was a bit larger, more like one for urine, and it also had no scooper thing on the cap:

Me: “Urine?”
Nurse: “No, stool.”
Me: (Since this one was different), “How do I get it in there?”
Nurse: “Hold it under your buttocks when you go.”
Me: “Say what?”

Again, why I didn’t ask for rubber gloves, I don’t know. Why she never offered them is a crime. They got their sample.

The next morning, another nurse came in with a stool sample container like the first one, with the scooper on the cap. This time I was no fool:

Me: “Can I have rubber gloves for this?”
Nurse: Why Rubber gloves?”
Me: “How am I supposed to get it?”
Nurse: “Scoop it from your anus after you go.”
Me: “Say what?”

Now why didn’t the first nurse with the scooper thing tell me that? Or more likely, why didn’t I think of that? Because the nurse told me to take it out of the toilet, that’s why! I thought the toilet water would taint it too.

Pills pills pills. I think I can honestly say that I’d taken more pills in those three days than I’ve taken in my entire 40 year life, not including asperin or Tylenol. Pills before breakfast, pills after breakfast, before lunch, after lunch, and the same for dinner. I think the most they brought me was 6 pills to take all at once. Usually 2 to 5 at once. They even gave me pills to take home with me. I also had to take some powdery drink called Smecta after each meal. Plus all the IV drips.

One time I moved funny and it tugged at the IV in my arm. I saw blood start to go into the IV tube toward the bag. There was about a foot of the tube filled with my blood. I thought I was going to die! So I pushed on the nurse button and yelled, “Come quick I’m gonna die! There’s blood in my IV! THERE’S BLOOD IN MY IV!!” She came and just squeezed the blood back into me through the tube, chastized me, and told me to be more careful. Have you ever lost blood and had the same blood put back into you in the same place it came out? Probably not, my friend. Probably not.

I knew I was starting to get better when I could confidently fart, and know that it was just a fart. That’s how they judge your progress. So the doctor said that I could leave that night, or to be safe, the next day. Well, I still had diarrhea twice that morning so I didn’t want to chance another taxi ride in that traffic. So I stayed another night. Also I talked to June and she told me if I still had diarrhea that day, that I should stay.

On the weekends they have a small market dowstairs near the X-Ray wing. Some hospital rep took me down there. It’s really outside, but underneath the hospital, complete with stray dogs and everything. I was the only person walking around in my hospital garb. I didn’t buy anything, but on my way back to the room I noticed there was a small library of books on my floor, and internet access. No one ever told me about this! I could have read a book, or been downloading porn this whole time! But by now it was amost time for me to leave, so there was no time for a book. And the internet was kind of expensive anyway.

In the room there is a placcard with a price list for souveniers from the hospital to commemorate your illness or gunshot wound forever. Hospital towels, blankets, dishes, drapes, pants, shirt, pillow cases and more. It’s all about the money isn’t it?

Leaving the hospital was an odd experience too. Like being admitted, there’s not much to it. I could have went to the cashier to pay my for my phone usage, but for some reason I kept putting it off. Finally they came to me. I paid the phone bill and they gave me a receipt for that and for the entire hospital stay. The total bill was 52,273 baht (roughly $1274), not including phone. My insurance company should take care of it. But then that’s it, you just leave. Nothing else to sign, no one walks you out, no band playing. I just walked out of my room, went to the elevators, then out the door to a waiting taxi. It seems like there should have been more. A goodbye kiss from the nurses maybe?

So that’s where I’ve been the last few days. I feel much better now. Hopefully I’m now immune to whatever it was. So in less than a month of vagabonding I lost my sunglasses, lost my wallet with lots of money in it, lost my pen, and spent 3 days in a hospital for food poisoning, after already being sick for a couple of days before that. But I still don’t have to go to work tomorrow.

After I’m totally cured, I’m planning on heading south to the beautiful beaches of Thailand to get sun poisoning, then maybe back up north to the mountains for malaria. I really need to get out of Bangkok though. I still have a little less than a month left on my Thailand visa before I have to move on to another country. Let’s see what the next 11 months has in store for me.

Tags: doctors, hospitals & health, insurance, rubber gloves, true claim stories, world nomads




this was an awesome journal entry!! it made me chuckle, although i am sorry about laughing at your expense. Hope you are feeling better and had/have a good trip.
take care and stay away from weird foods x

  Guleraana Aug 18, 2006 10:46 PM


i, too, am sorry to laugh at your pain. . . but this was just too damn funny! i was laughing so hard that my roommate ended up asking me to just read the damn thing to him. lol! i like the way you write, and i hope you stay well.

  Bevin Aug 21, 2006 3:32 PM


This really needs to be put into a movie. Good writing and story.

  Mark Dec 29, 2006 2:41 AM


Well here I was looking for information on fever and diarrhea as my 16 month old is suffering, and I come across the above story.......I laughed my guts out!!!! (Aussie expression). I am truly happy that you are better now, I was pleased to learn you can fart with confidence, something we all tkae for granted I'm sure :-)

Good luck with the Malaria....perhaps a spot of Dengue Fever to add some colour to your cheeks? Just try to stay away from Ebola, Marburg etc, there ain't nothin funny about them!!!!

Happy travels to you :-)

  Tammy Jan 16, 2007 1:16 PM


Well here I was looking for information on fever and diarrhea as my 16 month old is suffering, and I come across the above story.......I laughed my guts out!!!! (Aussie expression). I am truly happy that you are better now, I was pleased to learn you can fart with confidence, something we all tkae for granted I'm sure :-)

Good luck with the Malaria....perhaps a spot of Dengue Fever to add some colour to your cheeks? Just try to stay away from Ebola, Marburg etc, there ain't nothin funny about them!!!!

Happy travels to you :-)

  Tammy Jan 16, 2007 1:17 PM


thig guy's hilarious! how do i access his entire blog?

  mara Dec 29, 2011 3:10 PM

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