A freak fall while taking a shower, had me flipping over the side of the tub, landing on my back and hitting my head on some wrought iron cabinet doors under the sink. I was scrubbing the bottom of my foot and not paying enough attention, when I slipped and fell.
That same day, I felt ok and even spent time out and about in the main city area. I had a nice day. I slept ok the first night too. Then I woke with a low grade headache, which got worse throughout the day. By evening, my head was hurting and I was quite feverish. I struggled through a couple days and seem to get a little better, and so I struggled through a couple more days - all in all, I waited a week before making my way to the hospital.
Night time was the worst, especially between about 10:30 and 2:30am. The fever and pain were most severe then, and I was really miserable. Then after the pain and fever seemed unbearable, somehow they would subside, giving me a couple hours rest. When I decided to go to the hospital, I'd yet to have more than two hours of straight sleep in a week. After my progress in the area of sleep, from my year of living Ayurvedic-Yogic lifestyle, it just is not acceptable to me any longer to sleep in such short stints, and I felt exhausted.
So, I went in for a checkup, and the neurosurgeon ordered a CT scan. Yes, I actually saw a neurosurgeon, who met with me. The scan showed that there was no damage, and the doctor said I'd be fine in a few days. My trip to this hospital is noteworthy, and I share what was to me, a shockingly pleasant hospital experience.
In one and a half hours for the total visit, I was kindly and quickly checked in, only having to write on the form my address in Chiang Mai. They took the rest of the information from my passport and entered it in their computer system. I then saw a nurse who did vitals - weight, blood pressure and asked me what happened - then I was escorted by another nurse to a different area of the hospital - where I waited for a bit and spoke to another nurse - but they didn't keep asking me the same questions like back home - each one obviously read what the other one had written down as notes.
Then I saw a neurosurgeon and talked to him for a good 5-10 minutes, explaining the fall and showing my photos of the bathroom and where I likely hit my head - and he asked if I had insurance, as he recommended the CT scan. I gave him my blue cross/blue shield card and the nurse went to check on the insurance coverage. In about 2 minutes she and another fellow came to the doctor's office to say they were sorry, but their procedure was not to bill international insurance, but would provide all paperwork in English so that I could submit to the insurance company. With all the concern that the doctor exhibited about the insurance, I inquired how much the CT scan would cost, as I recalled in the States they are about $1000 - $1500.
The cost of a CT scan here? - 4000THB or $120.
I of course said no problem, I would pay, and yes, I would like the scan if that was what was needed. I was then escorted to the cashier station at another location and waited for maybe 2 minutes and then paid my 4000THB on credit card. Next, I was escorted to the x-ray lab area, where again I waited maybe 4 minutes before being called in and was done with the scan in under 5 minutes. I sat for a few minutes to make sure I felt fine after the scan, before the technician who performed the scan escorted me part way and showed me the rest of the way to return to the doctor's office.
After a brief wait, the doctor saw me again and showed me the scan and discussed each of the pictures and what they showed him. He spent another 5-10 minutes with me. After saying all was well, he said I could take Tylenol or a pain reliever at night if I wanted. I said I preferred no drugs. He smiled and nodded. He assured me I'd feel good within a couple of days, and if not, then I should come back and see him again. He said he'd be happy to see me.
I was again escorted to the cashier station by a nurse. Moments later, I was paying 305THB or less than $10 for the entire visit to the hospital.
I had tears in my eyes, not from gratitude of the low cost, but from how humbled I felt in the presence of these people, who cared for me with a specialness that we have lost in our country. I felt truly cared for from the moment I walked in, until I had completed my visit. They knew I didn't speak the language and was far from home, so they were really kind and helpful and didn't let me search all over and be confused. I was escorted everywhere.
We have individual nurses and doctors that are very kind and caring in the US, but the system is no longer kind and caring. And the experience of going to a hospital as an outpatient is awful and so expensive besides.
You'd think that was the end of the story - not quite - as the nurse who escorted me to the cashier, waited until my turn and I paid, then she escorted me back to the lab area where I waited about 10 minutes to receive the complete CT scan on disc and an explanation typed up in English of the results.
Oh and did I mention that there was a pianist playing on a baby grand piano in the waiting area for the patients (not in a fancy lobby, playing for the guests, but playing for everyone to calm the environment and bring in good energy). And they have a 20 minutes or less waiting policy - there are signs posted everywhere.
Then after the hospital visit, when I got back to my hotel room, in a short time, three of the staff came to my door and they had the beautiful bouquet and Get Well Soon note to give to me. Again tears of gratitude came to my eyes. What lessons I'm learning from these humble and loving people. I felt very well cared for.
So, this is a rather long tale to share that I am ok, was treated well and had yet another adventure in Chiang Mai.
Sending You Love from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Thank you for taking this journey with me!
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