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22 Feb 2011

Operation Bangkok

We are still in Bangkok! This is going to be quite a wordy post as neither of us have our cameras which is such a shame as it would have been great to capture this traumatic but also unbelievable experience. (Although, thanks to the internet, we have found some pictures to illustrate our words...)

Our hotel, the Atlanta: 1950s decadence living on in Bangkok (in true VSO style we're in the budget rooms which are up eight flights of stairs!)

My initial consultation with the doctor was on Thursday where he told me that I had already lost some movement in both my fingers as I had something called 'pseudo-claw hand'. Luckily, before I burst into tears, this was quickly followed with 'it's not too late to put it right'. My operation was set for the next evening at 8pm which meant no eating or drinking after 12pm. The eating I can manage, but not drinking for eight hours in over 30 degree heat is quite hard.

Bangkok's skyline: So different from Phnom Penh and London. A very different view from the last time I was here 10 years ago.

We arrived at the hospital and were shown to our own room where Sam could stay with me. It had a fridge, a sofa bed and a TV - more like a posh hotel than a hospital! There was high speed internet in the corridor as well. The nurses were lovely and friendly and kept me posted with what was happening. About an hour before the operation one nurse informed that I would need to take all of my jewellery off. This obviously took me quite a long time especially as I could only use one hand and Sam is a bit squeemish about these things. I'd taken everything but my tongue stud out and I'm slightly ashamed to say that I was refusing to take it out as I'd read that your tongue heals within two hours. The nurse had to bring the anesthetist in to explain to me that she would be putting a tube down my throat to help me breath during the operation. I relented but not very graciously. And thankfully, 15 hours after the operation, when I had the strength to insist Sam help me put my tongue stud back in, there was no problem at all!

The view from our room

I was then wheeled off to the operation room and I had the horrible feeling of being very far from home. While waiting for the doctor to arrive two nurses chatted to me about what I was doing in Cambodia. And then came the inevitable question: which is better, Cambodia or Thailand? I thought about it briefly and then decided that as I'm on an operating table in their country, the least I can do is say Thailand is better, so I did, even though I prefer Cambodia! (Although obviously I prefer the health care in Thailand!) The operation was successful as far as we know, and I now have three pins in each finger. Apparently it was a bit more complicated than the doctor originally thought and the surgery took three hours to complete.

The hospital

My hand was extremely painful when I woke up and I spent the next two days drugged up in the hospital sleeping and watching TV with Sam. We had matching Thai pajamas on and he has proved himself to be a very good little nurse! Since coming back to the hotel, all I've really done is sleep and eat and play the occasional game of backgammon (Sam went out in search of a board yesterday to stop us from going crazy in this hotel!). The painkillers I'm taking are quite strong and make me feel quite sick and very sleepy.

I have an appointment on Thursday for a check up and then hopefully the stitches will come out next Tuesday and I will be able to fly back to Cambodia, although there are numerous check ups after that. Thank god Sam is here with me as this would have been awful on my own. We'll update again here when we know more.

Thank you to people who have put comments on the blog or Sam's Facebook and sent emails. It's very comforting. xxx


  1. My goodness, that really has turned out to be some saga. I am delighted to hear that everything is OK and that you have kept your sense of humor and sanity (thanks to Sam) throughout.

    I do think there is quote for the newsletter in your blog which has also raised several questions for me :-)

    This obviously took me quite a long time especially as I could only use one hand and Sam is a bit squeemish about these things.

    See you when you get back and wish you a quick recovery.

  2. Hey Gilly and Sam
    Never mind about the fingers, I want to see a picture of you both in matching Thai pyjamas!! Go out and get a camera.. or get someone to take one and give you it on a pen or something!! It's too good an opportunity.
    Glad the op went well! Hope to see you soon.

  3. The Bangkok skyline in the night is beautiful. I remember viewing it every night during my stay there in a hotel tower.