When travelling, there are many good times, and the occasional bad one. The inevitable consequence of non-stop action is tiring your body and sometimes getting ill. It’s that reason why I am sitting here now, writing from my bed in a hospital in Thailand.
As mentioned in my last post, my injury I picked up on Koh Tao was no longer improving and it was time to take medical action. I had gone to see my local health clinic named “Dr T’s Health Clinic” to be properly examined. “Dr T” was a portly man with a hint of a Lisp, and gave off a friendly vibe from the first impression. Injuries like mine are what keep clinics like his in business, and he was more than happy to help with the treatment.
I won’t go into the details, but the initial cleaning of the injury was one of the most painful experiences of my life. Unlike the routine cleaning that I have since undergone at the hospital, there were no painkillers offered on this first occasion, and it took two nurses to hold my legs down as I writhed around in agony. Dr T recommended that I call my insurance to understand what would be covered by my policy. Once on the phone, they explained a local hospital was recommended for longer term treatment. Saying my goodbyes to Dr T, I travelled directly to the hospital to check in.
On arrival, I was greeted by various doctors and nurses who all confirmed I needed to stay for a while. I was given a room where I was initially by myself, and then shortly after I was joined by a Swedish backpacker, Simon, who was there with a similar injury to myself. He was accompanied by his friend and travel companion, William, who slept on a sofa-bed in our room for the three nights Simon was there. In addition, Henry, who had stayed behind on Koh Phangan to recover from his own injuries also joined soon after. Once he had seen the relative luxury I was living in, he was definitely enthusiastic to share the experience, and quickly got himself examined to be checked in.
My treatment ran like clockwork. I was placed on an IV drip through the day, with antibiotics added at regular intervals, along with a concoction of pills to help deal with pain and any other side effects I may experience. Simon, Henry and I quickly settled into our healing routine, and with along with William it actually became pretty enjoyable.
The hospital staff was a mix of friendly Thai nurses and doctors with broken english alongside some European staff who had clearly moved out to an easier hospital life. There was that familiar sterile smell and fluorescent lighting filling the wards, and only the sound of trolleys trundling by broke the silence. We would all occasionally hobble around, with our attached IV drips in pursuit, towards the reception area to get our fill of free coffee and hot chocolate. Other than that, I can’t say that life was too exciting. Every day, I was craving to be out and about, continuing my travels and exploring the rest of Thailand.
However, one of the pleasures of staying in a single location for an longer time is getting to know the local characters. There’s the hospital manager who would routinely lecture you as to why Belgium was the best country in the world. The Strict German nurse who would be the only one to keep us in line with her dry sense of humour. The local restaurant owners who got to know your orders and welcome you in every day. Even my hostel owner, Winaitorn (although he introduced himself to me as Tony), visited me in hospital every day to check up and see if I needed anything.
Today, my treatment in the hospital has come to an end and I will be checking out for a few days of relaxation on the island. Henry, Simon, William and I had all got to know each other well throughout our stay and we checked into the hostel next door to the hospital for 4 nights so that we could easily get to our daily treatment. Our collective friendship was built on hospital wards and antibiotics, and now we were able to explore the island together as a bandaged brigade. Although there won’t be any jumping off cliffs or snorkelling involved over the next week, I’m looking forward to the outside. Suddenly the 30-something degree heat and sweltering humidity doesn’t sound too bad.