What in the world do humans have an appendix for? Nobody seems to be quite sure, and we never seem to really think about it until something bad happens to it. It’s like that one friend you keep around just because he’s always been there, even though you don’t really like him anymore. It’s just the way it is, you know? You don’t really think about it too much. Then it turns out that friend is really bitchy and is stabbing you in the abdomen and has to be removed surgically, at great cost and pain, before he blows up and kills you.
I never said I was great at metaphors.
Last Friday morning, I called my good buddy Brock and asked him to take me to the hospital because I was having severe stomach pains that would not go away. Our taxi driver seemed to take the traffic personally on my behalf and muttered to himself the entire way to the hospital, which I really appreciated. I was in too much pain to be upset about the fact that there was still a traffic jam at 10 a.m., but he was angry for me. You need an anger proxy, I think, when you want to be angry, but are unable to be.
I wanted to go to Bumrungrad International, since it’s probably the best hospital in Thailand and I knew they would all speak English. I’d never been to a hospital in another country, but I can tell you that the service in the ER at Bumrungrad was amazing. At the ER in Washington, I had to wait at least two hours to see a doctor; here, I saw a nurse within 30 seconds of being on the bed, and a doctor within 5 minutes. Everybody was very friendly, smiley, and concerned about me, as opposed to the ER in Washington, where I felt like I was a burden to the nurses. (Sorry, Washington ER nurses, I know that my pain was really getting in the way of your standing around and chatting!) I got all hopped up on painkillers (wheeeeee!) and they passed me on to a gastro guy.
To make a long story short, I ended up having a CT scan, which showed that my appendix was swollen. I want to point out that I didn’t have to wait for a doctor to look at the scans; the doctor was looking at the pictures as they were taking them. After they finished the scan, they sent me to a surgeon, who said that I had acute appendicitis and needed to have my appendix out, like, right that second, before it exploded inside me and I died a miserable, painful death on the side of the road and was eaten by Alsatians. And huge Asian rats. And giant mutant cockroaches.
He didn’t actually say any of that last part, but that’s what I imagined.
I was pretty sure this would happen to my appendix.
I got to the ER at about 10:15 or so in the morning, and by 5 in the evening, I was in surgery. I’d like to pretend that I was all strong and not worried about any of this, but the truth is that I was shaking with nerves. When I started crying (don’t feel sorry for me; I felt sorry enough for myself) as they were prepping me in the operating theater (that’s what they call it here! I’m not putting on airs!), the nurses and anesthesiologist started chatting with me and asking me where I was from, if I could speak Thai, and laughing, in a nice way, at my attempts to speak Thai. And, then, blissfully, I was knocked completely out.
I had to stay in the recovery room for awhile, and then they wheeled me to my room, where Brock and Josh were waiting for me. The staff had also thoughtfully left my appendix there in a jar! It was gross! Seriously!
Turns out that Bumrungrad International Hospital is like the nicest hotel I’ve ever stayed at. The art was even tasteful. I mean, how often do you see tasteful art in a hospital? Basically, if you exchanged the hospital bed (which was actually really comfortable) for a regular bed and added carpet, you would have a fancy hotel room. Click here to see a video of the room. It looks like it does in real life.
They finally discharged me on Sunday afternoon, sending me home with some Tylenol, sleeping pills, and anti-inflammatory pills. The total bill was…a lot, but I’m pretty sure that it’s a fraction of what it would have been at home, and my insurance should pay for most of it (fingers crossed!). The room itself was less than $200 for the entire time I was there, and if you think you can get a hospital room in the U.S. for that much, you have clearly never been to the hospital in the U.S. You can’t even get a single band-aid in an American hospital for that much, people.
I’m still recovering, and I’m not allowed to do too much exercise, which gives me the perfect excuse to continue not exercising, only now I don’t have to pretend to feel guilty about it! I’m also not allowed to take the train yet, in case I get elbowed in the side, which means I’m pretending to be rich and taking taxis to and from my Thai class every day. It also means I can’t go out much, and that gives me plenty of time to catch up on my Thai music videos, which sometimes make me wish to be on heavy painkillers again (they’re so bad!).
Basically, I’m fine, just feeling a little sorry for myself and very far away from home…
Bangkok: 0 Megan: 0 Appendix: 1
Okay, Appendix, you won, technically. But there’s only one of you, and I have a lot of body parts left to fail, so, you know. Also, I’ve definitely lost the weight I put on since moving here thanks to your little tantrum, so who really won here, Appendix? Yeah, fine, you still did.