Following my horrific car crash, I was taken to the Bangkok Phuket Hospital by ambulance. Upon arriving, the first question I was asked was if I had insurance. I did, thankfully.
I explained what had happened. I told them that my car had done some aerobatics after the other car had hit me, and that I’d landed heavily on all four wheels. I explained that I hurt all over, but the worst pain was in my lower back. I was immediately sent for a CAT scan which would reveal that among other things, I’d suffered a compression fracture to L5. At least I was still around, though.
They transferred me to a very nice private room and told me that I’d be staying in bed for one week minimum. Absolutely no weight was to go onto my spine vertically whatsoever. I was fitted with a catheter. For the other end, I’d have to press a button for assistance.
I called the owner of the house I was renting and asked if he could bring me some personal belongings such as a toothbrush, underwear and other basics, which he kindly did. He also knew a lot of my friends who lived close to my home and spread the word.
From the early evening of that day, there was rarely a moment when I didn’t have visitors. The bar staff with whom I worked at the hotel would finish their shifts at midnight and come to visit me at around 01:00. The graveyard shift would then visit at around 08:00. Then, there were my personal friends as well.
I was dying for a cigarette but was told I couldn’t smoke in the room. Sod that! I asked some visitors to push my bed away from the wall, turn it around and back it up to the big double French doors which opened out to the hospital gardens. Most of my friends were smokers too, and we all lit up, bringing the visibility in the room down to about six inches.
I had a fridge in the room and after a few visits, it was full. Not with water, not with juice, not with fruit, but with beer. Yes, my friends had stacked my fridge full to the gunnels with beer. A couple of cans, along with the pain killers and drips I was on provided a very pleasing effect.
When one has medical insurance, hospitals tend to go overboard. For instance, a nurse was coming into my room every 30 minutes to check my blood pressure. They can charge for that, and the patient isn’t going to complain.
The poor nurses assigned to me had to wear face masks. Not because of a risk of infection, but because of the cigarette smoke.
After what turned into ten days, I was allowed out of bed and encouraged to try and walk with crutches. It was very painful, especially on my back, but I did manage to shuffle few metres.
The doctor then agreed to let me have the use of a wheelchair so that I could get outside of the four walls to which I had become accustomed.
Now that I was slightly mobile, the catheter was removed, which was even more painful than my bloody back.
My good friend, Tdoo, along with a couple of others came to visit me (for a beer) and noticed my new mode of transport. I suggested we go outside into the hospital gardens. One of them pushed while the other held and wheeled along the remaining drip to which I was still attached.
We went outside via the main entrance with little to say to each other. We didn’t need to speak because we were friends, we were men, and we knew the plan.
Having crossed the road, we hit the bar, staying there for a good two hours. The inevitable happened; I needed to take a leak. With the effects of the beer mixing with the various drugs inside my system, I forgot that I was still wearing my hospital gown. I slowly stood up, displaying my buns to the entire bar, much to the hilarity of everyone.
A few days later, it was time to check out and head home. I signed the forms to enable the hospital to bill the insurance company while my friends packed my things, especially making sure they cleared out the remaining beer from the fridge.
One of the nurses approached me and said, ‘Mr Stuart, you very nice man, but we very happy you go home now.’