Archive for October, 2008
There is a character in Catch 22 who lies in the field hospital, bandaged from head to foot, with a drip feed bag going into his body and a drain out of his body emptying into another bag. When the feed bag is empty and the waste bag is full, an orderly swaps the two bags.
Perhaps fortunately, I was not provided with a closed-loop system. A bag of fluid drained into my arm, and when it was empty they loaded a new one. There appeared to be no variety in this type of food supply. I did ask the nurse if they offered smokey bacon flavoured drip feed, but it appeared to be off the menu.
Anyway, all this fluid going in had to find a way out eventually and, upon request, I was furnished with a pee pee bottle which enabled me, with only minimal splashing, to empty my bladder and present the nurse with a pleasantly warm offering of fluid to do with as she pleased.
The poo poo disposal system was less clear. For the first couple of days it was not even an issue, but I eventually started nibbling at the consistently awful food and it was only a matter of time before poo poo was going to be on the agenda. Some delicate questioning seemed to indicate that the solution was going to be that they would spread a large plastic sheet on the bed, let me do my worst, and then scoop up the resulting mess as best they could. This is not a solution that appealed to an English gentleman like myself, neither did another option which was codenamed “big nappy”.
I decided to face up to this challenge in the same way as I face most challenges; I avoid them. I steadfastly refused to consider any bodily requests for poo poo. If I held out long enough I could be discharged from hospital and safely home to the sanctity of my own loo before having to take evacuating action. This plan backfired spectacularly on the fourth day when I was given a ghastly tasting drink to consume along with my normal medication. “What’s that for”, I enquired innocently? “No poo poo, so laxative”, said the nurse with a look of relief in her eyes given that her shift was about to end and she would not be around for the inevitable explosion. Oh dear.
The disturbances started around 0100, and by 0200 the air was ripe with flatulence and the rumble of a digestive system priming itself to explode. I had visions of a scene from a horror movie, except instead of blood, the walls and ceiling would be splattered with poo poo, while brave nurses struggled to hold back a noxious tide.
By 0400, the Vesuvius of my bum was ready to erupt and I could wait no more; I pressed the call button and explained that poo poo was imminent. I was immediately scooped out of bed and half carried to the toilet where I spent a most satisfying twenty minutes. If they had told me about this option from the start we could have dispensed with the laxatives.
Hospital life, not as much fun as you thought.
First day out of ICU and I am introduced to a device that is to be my torturer and mobility saver for the next couple of months. An alloy bar with pad designed to press against the middle of my chest, exactly where my chest has been turned to blue-black mush and is most tender, another bar to do the same at the bottom of my torso, and a strap round the back which must be tightened so that I cannot possibly bend my spine in a forward direction. Necessary, but bloody uncomfortable.
Then I am told how to elevate myself into a sitting position while keeping my legs aligned with my body. Possible, but tiring, and I lie back exhausted, looking forward to the wandering band of nursing nymphets who will pass my way shortly, offering the Thai nursing version of the bed bath; featuring soapy gloves and unnecessary but welcome extra-cleaning around the genital areas. No such luck.
Now we will teach you ze walking, they say, perhaps in a slightly less Germanic twang than I imply. Walking? My back is in agony, I am exhausted and my testicles need a good clean; this is no time for walking. And indeed it isn’t. By the time I manoeuvre myself to the edge of the bed, I am a sweaty aching mess and it is mutually agreed there will be no walking today. But I understand the approach. It would be so easy to lie there all day, wallowing in self-pity while your body gradually loses interest in doing the things it used to do. So they push you; and on the second day I could stand and by the third I could take small steps. Within a week I will performing somersaults, which will be quite a trick as I have never done them before.
Never been in an intensive care unit, but I imagined them to be quiet, clinical places with blinking lights, sober-faced doctors with clip boards and an atmosphere of professional intensity. Not in Thailand.
A central area contains a fluxing morass of personnel who appear to be indulging in a continual party involving the extensive use of handphones and much giggling. Radiating around the central area are the ICU rooms, where those who need intensive care, including me apparently, attempt to rest. Not easy.
Apart from the ICU party going on outside the room, we are treated to regular visits from nurses to check various vital signs. Every couple of hours a cleaner arrives to mop the floor, just in case I have managed to make it dirty. My room features the added attraction of a store cupboard which needs to be accessed every few minutes, presumably it contains ICU party supplies, and a lower shelf houses a stack of periodicals which might be copies of The Lancet but looks from a distance to be a collection of gay porn.
I was expecting to be provided with an electronic button to press should I need immediate assistance, standard issue at every hospital. Not here. Instead they flourish a tiny plastic bell on a piece of string, presumably ejected from a cracker at the party, tie it to my bed, and tell me to “ring it if you need a pee-pee”. Presumably the logic was that I was sufficiently wired up to machines that would sound an alert if my heart stopped beating; but when it comes to announcing when you need to piss, there is no substitute for human interaction with a small plastic bell.
It is therefore of some considerable relief, from both a medical and need to sleep standpoint, that I am released from the ICU after one night and placed in a room with lovely sea views which I can’t see cos I am flat on my back. And it had a proper bell to push for assistance.
To be continued…
Off to BKK to collect my repaired lens from Canon. Lunch at the Emporium and then headed for home, thinking of my plans to clean all my camera gear tomorrow. It’s wet, very wet, and there is a lot of traffic. Taking it east and trying to keep a gap to the car in front; and then …….. Nothing.
I have a passport in my hand and my camera bag and I am going somewhere…..Nothing.
I am in a hospital and someone is attending to my head.
Where am I, I mumble.
Bangkok Pattaya Hospital, is the answer.
You fuckers are expensive, I complain; probably not the wisest of comments given that there is a man with my scalp in his hands who is about to re-attach
It with thirty stitches.
Next step is to find she who must be obeyed. Eventually she finds me by ringing my phone and hearing the voice of a cop. She arrives, looking slightly stunned, but then proceeds to sort out everthing that needed to be sorted out regarding insurance for the car me, and has since been a constant source of encouragement, succor and love.
Back on the operating table and my scalp has been re-attached, x-rays have been taken, and a fracture of the spine has been discovered (not vertebrae as previously reported).
This is not good news, but it could have been so much worse. And then it was off to the ICU. To be continued……
Postscript1: apparently I slid on a large amount of standing water on a badly constructed piece of road, hit a barrier and then barrel- rolled. The police said that 16 other cars had crashed at the spot on the same day! Perhaps when they get to 100 cars, they will erect a warning sign.
Postscript 2: I am writing this on my phone whilst lying on my back, apologies for any errors.
Having waxed lyrical last week as to my accident free life on the road, I managed to wrestle with a large puddle this afternoon, lose the contest and proceeded to roll the car several times to the detriment of the car and me.
At least that is what I am told happened, cos I woke up in hospital with no recollection of events.
She who must obeyed, and her friend, have been wonderful, and the man from the insurance company is my new best mate.
I have 20 stitches in my head which has really fucked up my hairstyle, aching ribs, and a cracked vertebrae which will ages to heal and screw up my winter windsurfing. Likely I will be here for a week. Right now I am in ICU to make sure my head is ok, tomorrow I hope for a room with wifi, watch out for the car crash shots!
“Are you scared of dying”?
One of the joys of living with she who must be obeyed is the certainty that she will launch into unexpected topics of conversation at the most unlikely venues. It’s hard to discuss the meaning of life when shopping for vegetables; and in this case, hard to discuss the fear factor involved with dying when you are trying to park the car in a space designed for a Tonka truck in an underground car park. More >
In her earlier days, she who must be obeyed was a bit of a party animal (or so it would appear from the occasional stories she tells me, which I am sure have already been heavily censored). But years of the crushing boredom associated with living with me have worn her down. She doesn’t smoke, rarely drinks, and her favourite post-work occupation is curling up on the sofa in front of the TV. Naturally, I would rather be out on the town, laying down some extreme dance steps, indulging in a variety of barely legal substances and cavorting with a variety of barely legal women; but apparently the marriage vows do not support such activities. So instead I dedicate hours to searching out suitable entertainment to keep her entertained.
This last weekend has seen a number of fierce storms pass over Pattaya, and one was in progress as we headed up to our condo in the lift last night.
Two floors from home and a strike right in front of us produced a massive fizzing crack and a bright shaft of lightning. The instinctive reaction from she who must be obeyed was to let out a loud shriek and frantically grab hold of me for reassurance. My instinctive reaction was to shriek at an even higher pitch than her, because the body part she had grabbed did not take kindly to being gripped tight by a panic-stricken wife. She let out another shriek, this time of apology and we both fell about laughing.
“Well, that’s something you can’t put in the blog”, she said, in what I interpreted as being a challenging voice. I love a challenge.