This past Friday was an adventure, that so far, seems to have turned out OK.
I have often wondered why ambulances are not given the right of way here in HCMC. Nobody moves out of their path, and in fact cars and motorbikes often cut them off or drive uncaringly in front of them while the ambulance has it’s siren going and red lights flashing. I wondered what the people inside thought of this terrible practice, and if people often died as a result of the ambulance being slowed by uncaring motorists.
Friday I had a chance to find out as my wife was taken (it is impossible to say “rushed”) to the hospital in an ambulance. She was sitting on our couch and suddenly said that she did not feel well. Before I could ask what was wrong, she called three sisters and the ambulance company. She then proceeded to throw up her breakfast and lunch, while telling me to get dressed and that we were going to the hospital. Amazing presence of mind considering that her face was going numb and she was extremely dizzy while vomiting everything in her stomach. Some people will do anything to avoid getting a cleansing enema!
The ambulance arrived within ten minutes of being called, but I had to go down and get them up to our apartment. By this time two sisters were at our home and ministering to KL. The ambulance drivers told me that they couldn’t get my wife on their gurney as it would not fit in our elevators. Someone suggested that we put Kim in my desk chair which has wheels, and we took her down to the first floor in the chair and then transferred her to the gurney. They chose to carry the bed down the 15 steps to the ground level and got her into the ambulance. I rode along. We had flashing lights but no siren and true to form, traffic impeded us all the way to the hospital.
In the emergency ward I paid for the ambulance with a tip for the drivers (total $7.50 USD) and another $2.50 for the emergency room doc to look at her. Then I paid two million as a deposit on a good room with air conditioning. If I did not have money, they would not have looked at her or admitted her. People without money die. It is as simple as that. You pay to get into a hospital or you can lie on the sidewalk and die. If, while in the hospital, you cannot pay more when your deposit runs out, they cart you outside and put you on the sidewalk. You can die there.
If you do not have family, you don’t get care and you don’t get food. No money, no care and no food. If you want the control units for the a/c or tv, you pay a $10 deposit or no a/c or tv. There is no daily charge for the air conditioning or for the terrible reception on the tv. They are given freely. Someone even comes in the room and mops the floor and dumps the one trash can one time a day. Also, you can get a change of sheets daily, but this is in the top quality rooms. I don’t think the courtesy extends to the cheap, 4, 6, 8 or 12 patient rooms.
At any rate, we learned that Kim’s brain was not getting blood and that was the reason for the dizzyness. They also found high blood pressure, blockage in her carotids, and high cholesterol–that despite my increasing her daily intake of garlic by 500%. She comes home tomorrow, after more IV medication and some more tests. We shall see what the final diagnosis and treatment is.
Maybe I will have to drive our motorbike!