Monday, 24 November 2008

Ko Samui International Hospital

I'm quickly dumped aboard a fast boat making its way back to Ban's as fast as possible. Jon helped me up the slip, and we jumped into a waiting taxi. All very efficient. First stop was the local clinic and dive doctor for an X-ray and assessment. On the way there, I was thanking the old lucky stars that I'd heeded a BSAC Instructor's advice and joined D.A.N before leaving the UK. Everything would be paid for.

Which is just as well when you see the clinic staff's little beaming faces as the latest mangled, broken Westerner enters their air-con suite. Welcome, Mister Cash Cow. Some poor sod was getting stitched up on the table, as his card's getting similar treatment by the nurse on the phone "Yes, yes...him pay by VISA, yes..." Cue smiles all round.

And I'm still dripping wet as they wheel me in to the X-ray room. Twenty minutes later, and a doctor tells me what I knew a split second after impact. Broken rib. And a hospital visit. Happy Holidays.

A medic named Wuss, poor fellow, is assigned to escort me over to Ko Samui, a 2 hour boat ride away. No pain on board, but the bumpy road to the pier was agony in the back of a pickup truck. This is not BUPA. On arrival at Samui Pier, I managed to hobble off the catamaran unaided. Imagine my mortal embarassment upon seeing an ambulance at the end of the jetty, with two nurses, and realising it was for me. Oh dear.

An ambulance ride later, thankfully siren-free, and we arrive at Casualty. The nurse who met me at the boat has not let go of my hand yet. Either she likes me, she's getting paid extra for it, or there's a priest waiting to give me the Last Rites and she's feeling sorry for me? I'm wheeled in, Mister Cash Cow. Far be it for me to expect to be transferred to a room straight away. Oh no, first they rifle through your things muttering the two phrases of English now becoming overly familiar. "You have insurance document?" "Where you have credit card?" Certainly not in the bag of dirty washing you're dropping all over reception, my dear fellow. Several sweaty tee shirts and pairs of Calvins later, and I've told them I've got insurance. Why didn't they just apply pressure to my affected area to get this result? Good enough for the Japanese, after all. The DAN membership card is enough to convince them to bring over the pricelist for various rooms in the hospital. I opted for Standard at 60 quid a night, plus extra for Nursing and Food. Just in case there was a problem with the insurance. I'd have been laughing on the other side of my face in the deluxe room if they'd not paid out.

OK. Thai hospital? I can't wait to see the menu for this place. A little R&R all paid for, cute nurses making a fuss of me, and great food, right? Wrong. This could be a great place to shed those pounds, alright. Eggs that had been boiled for around 60 seconds. Instant noodles. Pork when you've asked for fish. Re-fried fries, dripping with grease. Are they trying to kill me, you wonder? La Piece De La Resistance was the chicken soup. Full of unidentifiable lumps, and a very odd consistency when it settled, reminiscent of wallpaper paste. Needless to say, I just wolfed down the fruit and made do with some dry biscuits you get with the tea. When you get some tea, that is. At one point, after asking for tea bags every time a nurse popped in to poke or jab me with something, I needed to take action. If the Mountain won't come to Mohammad. Wandering up and down the hospital corridors pushing a saline drip on wheels is no way for a self-respecting Englishman to be spending his afternoons, but I needed a brew. Job done, after a few giggles from the nurses, and I'm back watching the footy. So far, so good.

The nurses made a fuss of me, and I made them laugh. Particularly when three of them would come in to say Good Morning and ask if I was awake and OK. "I no die" had them in stitches. Easily pleased, obviously.

Day Two, and the drip is getting right on my wick. Taking a shower with your arm outside is no mean feat. You have to tilt the bloody drip to even get into the bathroom. I'd turned down one nurse's request to "Help washee your body?" on several grounds. Firstly, it's a little undignified. Secondly...she was very attractive, and I was afraid I'd get a little excited and that it would show. It probably happens all the time, but getting an erection while receiving medical assistance also falls into the Undignified category. And god only knows what a Happy Finish would have cost, I certainly didn't see it on the cursory glance I gave the pricelist. So I bathe myself, and ask the nurse to take the drip out of the back of my hand. She does so, managing to spray blood all over herself and the wall behind. None on me, though. Get me out of here.

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