Sukhothai Hospital 2022
Last week, I was coughing pretty badly. In fact, the mucus from my nose was so copious that I was using a towel, not a hanky. In fact, this was the culmination of two weeks of coughing that was becoming progressively worse.
Eventually, my wife succumbed to the fears of the old biddies in the village, and took me to hospital for ‘a check up’. This was code for a COVID-19 test. Now, I knew that Covid was not the problem for two main reasons. Firstly, I never go anywhere, and no-one ever talks to me. Secondly, I check my temperature every day and it is always between 36.5 and 37.5.
This is in contrast with people who live in multi-generational families where kids go to school with hundreds of others; parents work with dozens of others, and grandparents who go to the Wat (Temple) to chat with other retirees. It didn’t seem to have occurred to any of them that if anyone was a Covid threat, then they were it, not me! Still, I’m the foreigner with the cough, so I need checking out. Despite the fact that I have not left the village for 2.5 years and they leave it every day/week.
Make up your own mind what you put that down to.
So, we had to get a taxi to the recommended hospital in Sukhothai about an hour away. We thought that they would diagnose an allergy, perhaps hay fever; that they would give me tablets like antihistamine and send me home. I had an X-ray and an EKG and a nurse wheeled me, yes, in a wheelchair, in to see the doctor, who was a cardiologist.
I was a bit surprised.
He told me that while my heart was a little enlarged, more seriously, my lungs were fringed with black. I denied smoking, and was taken to another hospital immediately, where I was examined by ultrasound. I again had to deny that I smoked, and waited for the results. The owner of this hospital, another cardiologist – the best in the province – called me in. “Do you smoke?”, he asked me. I said that I didn’t, and he repeated the question. I denied it again. Then I heard him ask my wife in Thai whether I smoked, and she backed me up.
Our Holiday 2022
So, by now, I had seen a radiologist, and three cardiologists, and the consensus was that I needed to stay the night for observation. I felt bad for my wife, because we had not been expecting this, and she didn’t have a change of clothing. The the next day, the head cardiologist visited me, and said that another night was necessary .
My wife was seriously worried about her body odour, but she stuck by me.
On the third day, I suggested to the head cardiologist that motorcycle exhaust could be the cause.
His eyes lit up: “Why?”
I explained that I drank a few beers in the local village shop every evening, and that the crappy old farm vehicles often stopped there on the way home, filling the forecourt with dense blue smoke.
It was obvious from the look on his face that I had solved his riddle, and as he was leaving, I heard him say to her ‘kwan motorcycle!’ motorcycle exhaust. I could almost hear him slapping his forehead.
Anyway, we had to stay a fourth night. I was discharged the next day after a CAT scan and another EKG. My wife avoided any contact with anyone but me until we got through our front door and she could shower and change.
The total bill for our ‘holiday’ was £750. They did confirm our suspicions, and they did also check most of my bodily functions with blood tests. It is great to know that my kidneys and liver are in fine condition, and that my blood/glucose and cholesterol are excellent. The head cardiologist also considered my heart to be performing well, and my lung capacity to be good.
So, the moral of this story is that: you can keep your body in reasonable shape, but still screw it up by exposing it to pollution.