I entered the hospital in a good mood. I had been there 2 other times before. I had always been well treated. I only went because Mark, who I met at the LSE during my PhD, and who came here to visited me insisted I should. I only went because Ian, the Scottish 60 year old expat who I became close friends with during this 3 months stay in Thailand would not stop bugging me about it. I was certain it could not be anything too serious.
I felt a bit stupid to be dropped in emergency room and be put in a wheel chair. I could walk. Not perfectly but I could limp and hop about. And then I felt it was absurd that I should be given attention when around me laid lots of people with obviously more serious problems.
It went little by little. The first ride along the hospital in a wheel chair I was in happy mood. I observed the corridors. Particularly the one that had wood boards on the floor. It looked to me somehow like Latin America. I was in great mood and when Ian said that in worse case scenario I would have to put a cast and not go to Burma I was shocked.
Then I was brought back to the ward with all ladies and men lying around in beds. I like observing the nurses. They looked so friendly. I was certain I was there just wasting their time. But then I got to see a doctor and in broken Thai he told me I had fractured some bones. I had to be admitted to the Hospital.
I still did not know what on earth that meant so even though my eyes filled with tears I was still ok. Then came a lady to ask me to sign some paper in Thai.
“What is this for?”
I can’t understand anything. Not even what the letters look like let alone the meaning. Now I start to get nervous. I call Mut Mee and get someone who speaks Thai and English to talk to the Nurse.
“They want to do an X-Ray of your lungs?”
“Because you might have to have an operation.”
Ok now I am shocked. Terrified. I am absolutely terrified of doctors. Of operations in general and especially of operations in public hospitals of countries I do not speak the language of.
The following 10 hours in hospital were nothing short of nightmarish to me. Not that anyone mistreated me. But it was this continuous guessing of what the heck is going on. People would show up with IVs, and syringes, hospital clothes. I who at first was terrified of needing a cast now was praying for one.
I could not contact anyone. I had barely any credit on my phone. Enough to send a message to the people I trusted the most: my parents, my brother and Haiko. They needed to call me. If they thought I should operate it I would swallow my despair and do it. But none of them called. My parents were not in Sao Paulo, Haiko just never replied to any of my messages, and my brother could not figure out what my Thai number was.
Life got significantly better when Ohn Ian s girlfriend an angel fallen from heaven arrived to translate what was happening. This lady worked the whole day and spent about 6 hours with me after work there. Being me I wanted to go. I felt bad to hold them there so long. She silently held my hand and said she would stay with me till the end. And that the most important thing was to find out what was happening.
Life got significantly better when my brother called me and told me to come home. He told me calmly to just fly home as soon as I could. Having an operation in a public hospital in a country you do not speak the language of was for him completely out the question. That calmed me down. As elitist as it was I felt safe by the fact he also though it was legitimate to want to be somewhere you actually can read the consent for you are signing. Still took several hours till I was now driven around in a bed seeing the different colours of the ceiling. Seeing the families of patients camping under mosquitoes nets around corridors. Still took a while till I could understand from the doctor that I should operate, and that I would be in a cast for the following months and any plans to go to India and Burma should be canceled.
I asked him whether I should operate that night. He said it would be better but he would understand if I wanted to do somewhere else. They were not specialists and being home would be easier for me. I tried to gently say to Ians girlfriend and the doctor that it was not that I was not trusting of the Thai hospital. I was actually incredibly impressed by the conditions of a public hospital in Thailand. It was simply that I was terrified I needed to talk to my parents first. They understood. It took several other hours. I fell asleep while Ian, his girlfriend and Buck my friend stayed around. Mark had to go away he had a flight to catch. I was taken home put in bed given numbers.
I was and still am being helped by every single person here. As I sat to write this earlier on, Tia, the head chef, hugged me. She is usually very reserved. She just said “ I am really sorry Julieta. I like you very much. You go home and get better then come back to Mut Mee.” My eyes fill with tears. Tears that do not stop. Joy comes to hug me too. Then Wii blows magic spell. So does Yong. Then Kung and Pook. “Keep your window open and shout we do everything for you.” I cry some more. Then Om says she will pack all my things for me and take to the post office since I cannot carry anything in this flight. Then Nick offers to come with me to Bangkok to put me on the plane with my luggage. “It is too much Nick” “I would not offer if I did not want to do it.” So my eyes have more and more tears. Yesterday when I thought it was nothing and kept working I had already gotten help from the whole of guesthouse. Guests and staff.
So I have pain and sadness but everything might also be an opportunity to grow. When my parents finally manage to reach me my mom says “ I am sad you are hurt but I am very happy you are coming home.” Sam, my Palestinian friend has been telling me to go home for ages now. “I have a feeling you have to be home now.” He always says. Maybe he is right. Maybe it is time for me to be home. It has been almost 11 years I left. Although I am about to leave Thailand with a broken foot. Although I am sad I will have to postpone it all I feel enormous gratitude for those I encountered on the way. So many of you are on this list. I thank you all. Thanks for reading. Thanks for writing. Thanks for having made one way or another my life richer. Thanks for augmenting my eternal faith in humanity. In the kindness of strangers. In the ability we all have to change for better someone else’s day. In special today I must thank Ian for making me go to Hospital and staying more than 11 hours there cheering me up. Ohn for translating my fears and calming me down in hospital. And Mark for the silent words. Thank you