5 Things: Hospital

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1. One treatment for Isaac when he was really sick was a nastrogastric tube down his nose and throat and into his stomach. It drained off the excess gas and gastric fluid and bile that was building up inside him. On the other end of the tube was a little plastic ziploc bag that gathering the contents that drained out. His intestines had stopped working, so a lot of bile was coming up at first- bright green in color. I had to maneuver him around with this tube and bag for many days, holding the bile bag in my hand so that it wouldn’t spill, or drag, or tug the tube out of his nose. Oh, how I hated the bile bag. Isaac hated it, too. He pulled it out the first night he had it, which earned him a mitten hand. After a couple days, we took the mitten off and he didn’t pull it out again— he learned to navigate around it. Clever baby.

2. In Thailand, everyone has a nickname, and everyone goes by their nickname rather than their real name. When nurses were filling out forms, they would ask, “What is your baby’s nickname?” or, “What do you call him?” I would always reply that he doesn’t have a nickname, or that we call him Isaac. (Izzy just hasn’t stuck. Yet. Chinua calls him Zacky Zac sometimes.) But later I thought, well, he’s our Thai baby, maybe he needs a nickname! So I asked one of the nurses to help me come up with a chu lenn, a play name. Together we came up with Mee Noi, which means Little Bear. It seems appropriate. He’s little, but so so big. (He’s as big as all the eighteen-month-olds around here.) Now the nurses call out “Mee Noi,” when they come into the room. I love it.

3. One incredible thing about the hospital in Thailand: the food. They started feeding me yesterday, when the “No Food, No Water” sign was removed from our door. (I guess I had been sent to my room without dinner as well.) I received a menu and saw that I could order a choice of any number of 1.)Depressing Western hospital meals, such as macaroni or weird steak fillets with mashed potatoes and tired carrots, or 2.)Delicious Thai meals, including meals from many regions. I was wracked with indecision. (No I wasn’t.)

Before they started feeding me, I was dependent on someone helping me by bringing me food or sitting with my baby so I could head down to the third floor to get some food. Down there they also serve Thai food: very affordable Thai food. And in the little shop there are things you can pick up, like really yummy fresh spring rolls or deep fried seaweed. (So good.) There were a couple times when I didn’t have much food and ate rice cakes for my meal, but it’s mostly been really good. Since Isaac’s bile bag was removed, I’ve been able to take him along with me, wheeling his little IV trolley alongside. I also found this book in the shop. I was surprised, and though I was tempted, I didn’t buy it.


4. Before Isaac was admitted to the children’s hospital ward, we were at the children’s clinic here. It has been built to look like a space alien station, with space-age silver rounded couches and blue lights in the ceiling. I didn’t like it. It felt like too much, like, we’re sick! Blue lights are weird! I really appreciate the quality of medical care in Thailand, but I don’t like the whole commercial feel it can have. I don’t want a woman who looks like a flight attendant with whitened skin, and contact-enlarged eyes to lead me to the doctor in her high heels. My baby is sick, give me someone in scrubs and comfy shoes and I’m happy. But it is a popular trend here as part of the health care process. The women are the equivalent of a hostess in a restaurant taking care of people, only there are many of them, and they don’t look like normal people. (To me.) I was happy, arriving at the children’s ward, to see that the nurses look like the nurses I’m used to, with regular ol’ scrubs on. The only difference is that they take their shoes off to enter the room. And the doctor comes and sits on the floor with us to talk to us. (Love. They took the bed out when I arrived and put the mattress on the floor so Isaac would be safer.)

5. During the last few days that we have been here, when Isaac has been doing better and I’m not worried, I feel like I’m at a very strange resort, where I cannot leave the building and the decorations are institutional, and I’m having forced rest. It’s a gift. I’ve been editing the next Journey Mama book and have completed so many months, and I’ve been reading and watching a movie here and there. We get sprung today, (yay!) and I’m praying for a gentle landing as Isaac and I re-enter the wild, wonderful world of our very busy home.