A Not-So-Fun Night Away: Medical Emergency in Phuket-Part 1

I had fully intended to write a post about my Moms Night Out that I had recently, but then I was given a different type of night away, a not-so-fun night away. I had a medical emergency and spent two nights and three days in the hospital. I could gloss over the details and give you the short story, but what fun would that be? I would want to know all the honest gory details, and since I am currently stuck laying in bed, I have tons of time to write! See how lucky you guys are? Haha.

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Part One

Tuesday Morning 4 a.m.- 11 a.m. Home

I awoke suddenly feeling a weird burning pain in the middle of my torso. It started in the area right where my ribs ended above my belly button. I rolled around in bed for a little while and then quietly got up when I realized that I would not be sleeping anymore. I cursed to myself about the cheap store-bought sushi I had eaten for lunch the day before. I had always been lucky before with that sushi, but apparently my luck had run out.

I rolled around on the couch trying to get comfortable, until Z woke up at 6:30 a.m… I hobbled (seriously, I could not stand up straight) into her room at her cry of “Mo-om” and said quietly that she had to come watch T.V. because mommy wasn’t feeling good. The pain was progressing down into my lower abdomen, but that wasn’t what was freaking me out. The pain was also spreading to my chest. I started picturing myself having a heart attack at the young age of 36.

At about 8 a.m. I woke up Chad and asked him to take over and watch Z. I HAD to lie down in bed. For some reason, I thought that would help. It didn’t. The pain got worse and then I started to feel a little nauseous. That was the final straw for me. I was in so much pain it was making me nauseous. I asked Chad to take me to the hospital.

11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Dibuk Hospital

Chad and Z drove me to Dibuk Hospital which is brand new and part of Bangkok Hospital chain here in Phuket. It is the closest international hospital near our house. I wanted to get to a hospital as soon as possible so hopefully they would give me some amazing medicine to get rid of my pain, and stop me from freaking out that I was having a heart attack. It is crazy how much anxiety can exacerbate pain.

When we arrived, the nurses swept me back in a wheelchair right away. Chad filled out some paperwork. Z decided that she wanted to hold my hand while I was wheeled back. I had been doing my best to seem normal and explain everything as it happened so as not to traumatize her. She seemed to think about everything I was explaining  and  was more curious than scared (thank goodness!). I was immediately given an IV and a doctor came in within 5 minutes of my arrival. His English was perfect. His demeanor was kind and helpful. I explained my symptoms and he told me I was likely having reflux and gave me medicine for nausea and heartburn. He said that it would take about a half hour to work. I waited hopefully that the pain would dissipate.

While I was waiting the doctor also had blood drawn and told me to drink some water in case a urinalysis was needed. At this point, I told Chad that he and Z should go home. It looked like I was going to be there at least an hour. Z was still in her nightgown, and Chad was getting behind in his work. There was no reason that they should have to sit and keep me company. Anyways, I had my phone to text people (thanks Kiri, Benay, and Mom!), check Facebook way too many times, and play Frozen Free Fall. I was well entertained.

The chest pain and nausea disappeared, but my abdominal pain stayed. The doctor came in and did a check on my tummy. He pressed around and we realized I think at the same time that my pain was on the right side. Oh crap. He thought it could be appendicitis or a bladder infection. My white blood cell count was high, but not really high enough to be appendicitis. I had to go pee in a cup… and wait… and wait. Then the doctor came in, did a pressure check on my abdomen again and told me that the urine test was clear. Oh crap again. Could it really be appendicitis? Nah! No way. I was fully prepared to go home feeling like a silly hypochondriac when all this started and all of a sudden I was possibly going to have to have surgery. WTF!

The doctor gave me two choices, I could get a CT scan of my abdomen or an ultrasound. If the ultrasound was unable to determine where my appendix was (which I guess happens often), I would still have to get the CT scan. The problem was that my insurance only covers inpatient tests and procedures. So I asked the doctor to admit me for a night and do all the tests. He said that I would be unable to do them at the hospital I was at, it was too new, there was not CT scan and if I did need surgery I would have to be transferred to other hospital. So I chose to be transferred (for free) by ambulance to the main Bangkok Hospital in Phuket Town and stay the night.

1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Bangkok Hospital Phuket

What a ride! My first (and hopefully last) ride in an ambulance. At least my pedicure was fresh!
What a ride! My first (and hopefully last) ride in an ambulance. At least my pedicure was fresh!

I was rolled into an ambulance after I paid the bill for the emergency room at Dibuk, a whole whopping 1700 baht ($48). I was on a tiny gurney that felt like it was made of PVC pipe and padding. I know it was better made than that, but it was so dang small I felt like my butt cheek was hanging off one side.

The ambulance drivers apparently thought I was in the process of dying because they flipped on the sirens and drove like crazy men. Seriously, my pain level was about a 5 until that drive, then it shot up to an 8. I felt like my insides were being sloshed around on the ride. Luckily it was only about a 10-minute drive. Whew.

I was rolled right into the ER and a set up with an IV bag and more blood was taken for testing. A lovely doctor came over within 5 minutes and did some poking and prodding that made me jump and yelp. Unfortunately, it was looking more and more like appendicitis. A CT scan was ordered. I was taken right away, which was a good thing because my phone was dead… I had nothing to keep me entertained except eavesdropping on what was going on in other areas of the ER. I sure wished I spoke Thai, there seemed to be some really dramatic cases going on.

After the CT scan then I had an ultrasound, where it was determined that yes, my appendix was indeed enlarged.

I was sent back to the ER, where Chad and Z were waiting for me! Hooray! They were just in time to help me out with the surgeon. I think I was in a kind of foggy state. I couldn’t believe that I had appendicitis and would actually need surgery! I had always thought that appendicitis was known through its violent symptoms, vomiting, diarrhea, pain that made one scream. I had none of those things. Even my pain level was not so intense that I couldn’t walk to the bathroom on my own. It could not be real.

The surgeon was there within minutes (seriously the immediate and efficient action that each hospital showed was AMAZING!) and after prodding my stomach again he told us that he was very close to 100% sure that I had appendicitis. He would do the surgery in an hour. He gave me a choice, he could perform an old-fashioned open appendectomy or a laparoscopic appendectomy. I chose the laparoscopic avenue(does anyone still choose the open incision?) and tried to mentally prepare myself for the fact t.hat I was going to have surgery. Huh?!?

5:00 p.m.-8:30 p.m. Bangkok Hospital Phuket

I didn’t have too much time to think. Chad and Z stayed with me as I had an EKG, more blood was taken, and then I was wheeled back to have a chest x-ray. I said good-bye to Z and Chad and we prayed together that I would be okay. Then I was whisked into surgery.

I was wheeled into the OR on the bed that I used in the ER. I was still wearing my street clothes. I had no hair cap. Some of the nurses were preparing the room with the instruments needed, others were putting on their sterile gowns and gloves right in the OR. I kind of freaked out a little about the sterility of the procedure as I was transferred to the OR table, stripped and laid with a blanket over me. The anesthesiologist came in and introduced himself and talked to me for about 1 minute and then suddenly I was out.

I awoke from the anesthesia coughing (maybe the breathing tube had just been removed?) and yelling from the pain that each cough caused in my abdomen. I fell back asleep and woke up in an empty room. Apparently it was the recovery room. I remember seeing a nurse take my vitals a time or two and then I was being moved.

I was transferred to another gurney (ouchies!) and taken to my private hospital room/suite where Z and Chad were waiting for me. Seeing Z instantly made me focus and act normal. The mommy instinct kicked in and I had to show her that I was okay. And I did. I smiled and told her that I was fine, that I just was a little sore, but was so glad to see her. I talked to them for a little while until I just couldn’t keep my eyes open anymore. There was room in my room for them to sleep there, but in trying to keep things as normal as possible for Z so we thought it would be  better if she slept in her own bed at home. They left and I fell asleep. At least for a little while. I was awoken every two hours as my vitals were taken and every 4 hours for pain medicine. And of course, I was on Facebook and texting everyone letting them know I was still alive in the middle of the night while I waited for the pain medicine to kick in again.

What a strange day it had been. I just felt so thankful that everything happened as it did. Chad had just gotten home from a trip to Bangkok the night before, I had very mild symptoms, and the care I had received was excellent and thorough. I try not to ponder the “what-if’s”, but things could have turned out much worse that they did.  I thanked God that night and every second since. I am very lucky!

On Monday I am going to write about the rest of my stay at Bangkok Hospital Phuket, as this post is already pretty long and I don’s want to lose you. So come back next Friday, or subscribe if you haven’t already! Thanks, everyone!

Now it’s your turn! Have you had your appendix removed? Tell me the story in the comments! Let’s chat!


photo credit: Hospital de la Cruz Roja de Vigo via photopin (license)

  29 comments for “A Not-So-Fun Night Away: Medical Emergency in Phuket-Part 1

  1. Jhanis
    October 9, 2015 at 8:22 pm

    So glad to hear everything turned out okay and you are well! Praying for your speedy recovery! So it was a good decision that you went and got yourself checked. I usually decline to be taken to the hospital unless I feel like dying! LOL I’m guessing medical fees in Thailand is much lower compared to how it is the US?
    Jhanis recently posted…Halloween Masks and Accessories for Adults and KidsMy Profile

    • andthreetogo
      October 9, 2015 at 8:49 pm

      That’s the scary thing, normally I am also that way. I will power through anything. I could have died or been very sick if I hadn’t gone. I feel very lucky that I went for sure.
      An Er visit in California would cost at least $250 after insurance paid their part usually. So yes, the cost is vastly cheaper here.

  2. Sue Slaght
    October 9, 2015 at 9:01 pm

    Oh my goodness I am so sorry to hear about this. It sounds like you were given amazing care. Wishing you a very speedy recovery!
    Sue Slaght recently posted…Hotel Omni Mont-Royal in the Heart of MontrealMy Profile

    • andthreetogo
      October 9, 2015 at 9:10 pm

      Thanks Sue! So far I have been pretty spoiled 🙂

  3. mamabyfire
    October 9, 2015 at 11:44 pm

    How scary! I’m so glad everything went smoothly and that you’re ok! I can imagine my mommy instict would kick in too around the kids!
    mamabyfire recently posted…Discovering Washington: The Wetlands at Theler CenterMy Profile

    • andthreetogo
      October 10, 2015 at 6:43 am

      It was crazy how it just turned me from a whimpering baby to a calm and happy person. It’s cute though, z is such a caretaker, I keep asking her for hugs and she says “okay mom, but be careful of your tummy”. 🙂

  4. Patricia
    October 9, 2015 at 11:48 pm

    So glad your ok! Paul has appendix removed laporiscopically (sp?) when Aeva was a baby. His was near bursting and he only went in because he was throwing up so badly he couldnt keep anything down. Im glad your doing better and praying for a speedy recovery and healthy insides! Lol

    • andthreetogo
      October 10, 2015 at 6:44 am

      I feel so lucky that I never threw up, that is something that I just cannot stand. Weird I know. 🙂 I would rather have surgery really than vomit. Haha.
      Hope all is well with you, baby, and the fam!

      • Patricia
        October 13, 2015 at 12:32 am

        We’re great! Just had my 14 wk check up last friday and got to see the baby again! It looks like a baby now, not a peanut! By the way, we have people from our church heading your way! I dont remember exactly where in Thailand they’re going but I’ll find out and let you know!

        • andthreetogo
          October 13, 2015 at 6:38 am

          Oh that’s awesome! So glad that things are going well with your pregnancy! The kids must be so excited!
          Yes, let me know! 🙂

  5. thehomeschoolingdoctor
    October 10, 2015 at 2:25 am

    I am SO glad you are okay! So relieved. I’m trying to imagine if they hadn’t spoken English. Just how scary that would have been to have so much pain and not know what was happening.
    thehomeschoolingdoctor recently posted…Does Unschooling Work?My Profile

    • andthreetogo
      October 10, 2015 at 6:47 am

      I feel incredibly lucky, everyone that took care of me, from the orderly pushing my wheelchair, to the doctors spoke enough English where honestly it didn’t even occur to me that I was in Thailand. Well until I had such amazing and efficiently quick care, then I knew I wasn’t in California! 🙂 haha

      • thehomeschoolingdoctor
        October 11, 2015 at 7:54 pm

        NO KIDDING. Listen to this for affirmation. It happened about two days before your experience. One of my best friends from medical school is an anesthesiologist. We talk on the phone a couple times a week. We are from the same region in Indiana. However, her sister married and moved to California. She had abdominal pain and called my friend, who hated to tell her to go to the ER (because the sister in Cali has 5 kids), but my friend really felt she had appendicitis. She did, and they diagnosed it fairly quickly. However, she sat in the ER for 18 hours with appendicitis. My friend was quite worried as her sister was in the ER alone in pain and really unable to raise a fuss due to pain. She was alone because her husband had to stay home with the kids. So my friend ended up calling the ER, where they explained that the ER doctor wouldn’t go back in and check on her because she came in on the previous ER doctor’s shift. And the surgeon to see her covered three hospitals. Bad care. Period. Period. Period. A horrible, sickly system that creates money for the big corporations and creates factory workers out of doctors, who I’m not sure why they sit in that stink. I cannot go back to a system that does that. Rant over. Too close to my heart. Sorry. So I am so glad your care was optimal! That’s as it should be. Be well. Recover quickly. —-Terri
        thehomeschoolingdoctor recently posted…Does Unschooling Work?My Profile

        • andthreetogo
          October 11, 2015 at 9:20 pm

          That rant is completely understandable and unfortunately that kind of care in California ER’s is not uncommon… And if you don’t have insurance many of the ER’s will turn you away, citing that illegal immigrants have cost them too much money so they can’t take anyone without insurance. Craziness! I can totally see why people come here for their medical and surgical treatments. It was like being in a spa 5 star hospital for sure.
          Praying for your friends sister and her family. What a horrible experience!

  6. aviets
    October 10, 2015 at 4:46 am

    Oh my goodness, I’m so glad you’re ok and that you got such good care. Hope you’re getting plenty of rest now. Feel better!
    aviets recently posted…Trifecta. My Profile

    • andthreetogo
      October 10, 2015 at 6:48 am

      Thanks! I am getting tons of rest. It’s a struggle for me to give up control and lay around, but maybe I could get used to it. Haha

  7. joylovestravel
    October 10, 2015 at 5:40 pm

    Get well soon Jenny!! Doctors and hospitals freak me out at the best of times, this sounds extra scary but hope you are on the mend now.
    joylovestravel recently posted…Cycling to DammeMy Profile

    • andthreetogo
      October 10, 2015 at 6:49 pm

      I am…
      Thanks Joy!

  8. Lani
    October 10, 2015 at 8:40 pm

    Never had my appendix removed and I hope I don’t have to go through that ordeal. Scary stuff! Rest up and feel better soon 🙂 xxoo
    Lani recently posted…The Expat Celebrity SyndromeMy Profile

    • andthreetogo
      October 10, 2015 at 10:12 pm

      Thanks Lani! I hope you don’t either. 🙂

  9. thankfultravelers
    October 12, 2015 at 11:53 am

    What Jen failed to tell you is that she has some incredibly cool and perhaps to some, disgusting, photos of her appendix! So cool!
    I love the way you tell of your adventures Jennifer! Wish you’d finish it on Monday. It’s like one of those season cliffhangers that you have to wait forever to find out the rest of the tale. Hrmph. Okay, I will wait. Thankful you are well and the docs didn’t just send you home after treating the refulx!

    • andthreetogo
      October 12, 2015 at 12:38 pm

      I am finishing it on Monday actually, I should probably update this post. 🙂 Love you mom!

  10. Roma
    October 12, 2015 at 11:59 am

    I’m a weirdo and I’m oddly envious that you had this experience. I always take every chance to go into hospitals. (When I was younger, I really wanted to break a bone so I could be admitted!)
    I’m probably even more of a weirdo in that I would have chosen the open appy…. I like scars haha.
    So glad you’re feeling much much better. And what a cool story, too!
    Roma recently posted…Koh Phi PhiMy Profile

    • andthreetogo
      October 12, 2015 at 12:39 pm

      Hahah… Roma you make me laugh… Next time I will try to trade with you. 🙂 thanks for the prayers and let’s hang out soon!

  11. Pingback: Monday Montage: Medical Emergency in Phuket-Part 2 - And Three To Go
  12. Victoria@ The British Berliner
    October 13, 2015 at 12:31 pm

    ‘So glad to hear that you’re alright. Thank goodness.

    How awful to have to undergo surgery when you’re abroad. As much as we all love the countries we live in as expats, sometimes we panic as to the care and safety in comparison to that of our own home countries. I know that Thailand has one of the best health system in the developing world as does Germany in the advanced world, but it doesn’t stop one from worrying on point.

    Believe me, you did well in keeping “Z” as cool and calm as possible as children are apt to pick up fears of their parents extremely quickly which leads to distress but you were very brave. Bravo my dear. 🙂
    Victoria@ The British Berliner recently posted…Don’t just stand there – 23 Reasons to Do It in Warsaw!My Profile

    • andthreetogo
      October 13, 2015 at 3:19 pm

      Thanks Victoria. I will say that one thing that I wasn’t worried about as much as I would be back home is the amount of the bill if my insurance didn’t cover it. I can now totally see why people come here just for procedures!

  13. freebutfun
    October 20, 2015 at 2:40 am

    Oh no…. I guess the only good thing here is that I suppose this all ended well…? Please?!
    freebutfun recently posted…Refreshing Outdoors – Where to go in/around HelsinkiMy Profile

    • andthreetogo
      October 20, 2015 at 3:46 pm

      It did! I am still here and happily healing! The stay in the hospital was quite nice actually! Like my own hotel room…. I may have to get some elective surgery next year for some nights away… Haha. Nah. 🙂

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