Buddha's Revenge and a Hospital Slumber Party

by Tara Russell, Apr 29, 2004 | Destinations: Thailand / Bangkok

Because Thai food is served family style about 95% of the time, typically if one person gets sick, you're all getting sick. But, somehow this time we managed to get Lacie (our very close friend and guest) sick without personally being affected. Amazing. Tom kha gai (chicken soup with coconut milk) is quite possibly the only dish that she has eaten over the past week that we haven't (I promise we were actually at a NICE restaurant)!

About six hours post-soup, Buddha's Revenge (also known as Montezuma's Revenge) began, as well as regular, violent vomiting (luckily my husband and I were sleeping by this time and had no idea!)--fun from both ends. Twelve hours later when Lacie was still barely enduring double action, couldn't keep down water, and was showing no signs of improvement (by this point, I was actually awake and trying to help), we decided that an IV may begin to bring her body back to some semblance of normality.

Off to Bumrungrad hospital we came (Asia's #1 hospital and one of the best in the world--just happens to be conveniently located about a mile or two from our home)....

After getting her registered, weighed and checked for a fever (where she thought, "How sick I must be! 52 and a 37.1 degree fever! Calculating metric measurements when you're feeling crappy just doesn't happen so quickly...) and having been seen by a doctor who said, "Don't worry, this happens to LOTS of people who come to Thailand--even Thai people," we were whisked into "Treatment #2"--the IV docking station. It probably didn't help that I'm encouraging her with, "Just think, you are our FIRST guest who has had to come to the hospital, and gotten to stay overnight nonetheless!" (Already I was dreaming of the story writing opportunity!).

Before long, Lacie's own "porter" came to whisk her away in a wheelchair to her overnight room. She was smiling, and I was getting excited about checking out this hospital that I've heard so much about. We step in the elevator and a kind, older Thai woman politely says to me about Lacie, "Oh, she's so beautiful." I tell Lacie and at this point she's thinking--wow, just think if she saw me on a normal day where my face wasn't green and washed out, I didn't smell like vomit, and I was actually wearing some make-up!

We get into the plush room and meet Malika--Lacie's nurse for the evening. "Do you have post-toon?" she asked. Lacie and I flash each other equally confused looks. "Do you have POST-TOON?" this time with some gusto. We still have NO clue what she's talking about. "Post-toon. Do you have poo-poo?" she finally asks. At this point, we're both laughing and answering, "Yes, Lacie has poo-poo."

Malika the nurse continues chatting with Lacie a bit and I take the grand tour of our room (our because I've decided to shack overnight on Lacie's couch--this is a once in a life opportunity!). Immediately I notice the in-room spa menu--where are we?! Massage, facials, Mother-to-be treatments--you name it. Next I find the room service menus from Au Bon Pain, an Indian restaurant, a Japanese restaurant, and the "feature chef of the month" ad for the evening's dinner along with an "after-hours" in-room service food menu--this is amazing! Good thing Lacie doesn't feel like eating and the meals are "included in the price of the room!" I survey the mini-bar (yes, the hospital room has a mini-bar), check out the view from our room balcony (balcony!), notice the UBC cable entertainment guide, and make my way into the bathroom.

Check out those pajamas in the bathroom! These are no ordinary hospital pajamas--for one thing, the have a top AND a bottom. And, they're actually cute--a turquoise blue set with an adorable little silver elephant pattern throughout. The bathroom is hugely spacious with neatly folded towels, a rolled bathmat, toilet paper folded in a perfect little triangle (much like at the swank hotels!), an extra large shower, and my favorite, a woven little blue and white (to match the room of course) "goodie basket" with all the essentials for your stay in the hospital--talcum powder, a toothbrush, toothpaste, fresh washcloths, a take-away soap dish, conditioning shampoo.....we have to remember to take these home!

We've now been in the room all of five minutes and the phone is ringing. I hear Lacie. "No thank you, I don't need any dinner. I can't eat." Three minutes later, the phone rings again. "No really, thank you, I don't need any dinner. I understand it's included in the price of the room but I haven't been able to eat anything all day. No thank you. Thank you, no, okay goodbye." Three minutes later, the phone rings yet AGAIN. "Yes, well, if you have to bring something, well....ok, yes, the fruit plate is fine. Yes, thank you. Okay, goodbye." Lacie looks at me, "As if I'm going to eat a fruit plate! Ha! Well, at least you can eat it." Three minutes later, the phone rings again. "Yes, hello. Yes, I understand. I cannot eat the fruit. That would not be good. Yes, I know. Yes, yes. Okay, thank you." Four phone calls later, we now have a fruit plate coming instead of the dinner that should be coming (that has to come because it's part of the Thai process), but we have verified that the patient will not eat the fruit plate coming. Right.....(imagine the confusion when five hours later we decided that Lacie should have some dry toast because she's beginning to feel hungry and the food service staff became THOROUGHLY confused by our new request for food outside the normal (Thai process) dinner hours!).

We enjoyed our evening slumber party at Bumrungrad....catching up like old schoolgirls--talking about boys and whatever else came up. The nurses came in to check on Lacie about every six minutes (only a small exaggeration) throughout the evening and night, and they were continually amused with the sick girl's friend who speaks Thai that wanted to sleep on the couch (they even brought me cozy blankets and a pillow!).

We awoke this morning to more nurses (dressed from head to toe in white with the 1950's style nurse hats that stick up and are seemingly attached to the head in some invisible way), the room cleaning staff mopping the floor and scrubbing the bathroom, a fresh pink rose on the counter, new clean peach colored PJs, and a hot-off-the-press Bangkok Post newspaper delivered to our room--not bad!

Now we're soon to be heading home from the hospital and Lacie is on the road to recovery....smiling despite the ordeal she's experienced over the past 36 hours....and my lingering negative stereotypes about hospitals are quickly being reprogrammed.

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