Yesterday morning at approximately 08.37 as I was sliding face down on the wet and treacherously smooth surface of Phya Thai road, I was thinking, ‘I’m alive’. That makes me an optimist.
Approaching the traffic lights, sets of which there are many in Bangkok, I changed down through the gears and stepped gently on the back brake of my new Triumph Speed Triple and began to slow to about 40 kph. About 40 yards out the rear tire let go (of it’s grip on the road) and consequently the rear end of the bike began to slide in a sideways motion. In the moments before parting company with the bike I tried to keep upright but as the tire re-engaged with a dry patch of infamously perilous Thai road surface I was high-sided. As motorcycle falls go, a low-side is usually less damaging as the rider slides off the bike as it slides onto it’s side. A high-sider flips the rider over the front end of the bike.
Standing up, I knew immediately that I had dislocated my right shoulder; I did not want to touch it because I knew what I would feel; the empty cup of the scapula and the missing humerus! It’s funny how after so many accidents and sports injuries over the years one has an instinct for such things!
I have offered a lot of criticism in the past of Bangkok taxi drivers and Motorcycle taxi drivers but it was two of the very same, one each, who came to my aid in my time of trouble. Between them they picked up the bike and parked it safely in the grounds of Chulalongkorn University. The taxi driver took me to BNH hospital on Convent Street, Silom.
By the time we arrived I was in agony and felt myself passing out. Luckily the hospital staff put me straight in a wheelchair and admitted me. Up in the emergency room I came around to see a couple of nurses waving sticks of smelling salts in my face. The nursing staff were absolutely lovely and made me feel ‘cared for’. I am a fan of Thai hospitals in general and yesterday my admiration was vindicated by the amazing and personal care I received from nurses, a very pretty anesthesiologist and Dr Saran.
After an hour or so, X Rays and consultation they gave me some more morphine and diazepam, laid me down in the Emergency room and tried unsuccessfully to put my humerus back in it’s socket. It didn’t hurt. The doctors and nurses pulling on my arm were surprising gentle but they just couldn’t do it despite their efforts.
‘Muscle to big and not relax enough’ they said, ‘we must put you to sleep for a short while, maybe 10 minutes and we will do all we need to do when you sleep and relaxed’.
I had to wait a while because I had eaten at 7am and so they told me I would be taken to the operating theatre at 12 midday. The time could not come quickly enough for me. I was in agonising pain and whined like a baby for more morphine at regular intervals. 5 mils of morphine does not last long!
X Ray. Ball A should be located in Cup B!
The lovely, warm and smiley anesthesiologist talked calmly and put the mask over my face asking me to breathe deeply. I dreamed but woke to a circle of concerned faces looking down on me calling my name. ‘Dawid, Dawid, are you alright?’ I couldn’t breathe, try as I might, my lungs didn’t work, when I tried to suck in air, nothing happened. ‘Can you breathe’, said the doctor. I shook my head. The anesthesiologist put an oxygen mask on my face and after what seemed like an age my lungs started to work again.
Two hours in the Recovery room with two more gracious nurses looking after me, wired up to a few medical machines and I was discharged. After I paid the bill. It was 52,000 baht and cheap at the price.
It seems a lot of money in the cold light of day. It’s about £1,000 but in the direst of moments one needs the caring organisations to demonstrate care, understanding and professionalism. That is just what they did. What I needed they gave unstintingly. I will be able to claim the cash back from BUPA. This situation is another testament to both the absolute need for health insurance in Thailand and the glory of the National health Service in Britain.
Before having my shoulder fixed my friend Brian called me as I sat waiting for an X Ray. I told him what happened and without being asked he came to the hospital immediately. He collected my bike enlisting the aid of a Thai security guard and a taxi driver to get it started. The battery had run down because the parking lights were left on. Brian then rode my bike to my apartment and stored the keys.
A friend has never been more in need and in Thailand I have found that friends are way more important than in the west. Thanks Brian!
I have often conjectured about having to face serious accidents or illness in Thailand but the incident yesterday has made me feel very comfortable about trusting the Thai medical and caring profession, friends and Thai people to offer comfort, aid and professionalism when the need arises.