Taylor in Thailand! Week 1
April 9th, 2016 by Taylor Veh
As I am typing this, I am lying under a ceiling fan. Ceiling fans keep the people of Huai Malai from going stir-crazy in the exceptional heat of the hot season in Thailand. Thankfully there is plenty of cool water for showers when you need them. Drinking water must be carefully obtained, however. I have found this to be one of the aspects of traveling I am less used to.
All this being said, I feel I have adjusted very well to my home for the month of April! The people of the Kwai River Christian Hospital are very hospitable and kind. Learning a proper greeting and “thank you” has helped me and the other American visitor feel less rude to those showing us their best smiles.
I have spent the week with a visiting team from Taiwan. They come every 6 months to do outreach clinics in areas just too far from the hospital for regular visits. As our hosts tell us, these villages are very “primitive.” This usually means holes in the ground for toilets and no electricity. However there always seems to be someone in these villages with a cell phone…
The team from Taiwan is an efficient machine; they have surgeons, ER physicians, a pediatrician, dentist, Chinese medicine, and a host of nurses! They know exactly how to set up our clinics every day. I was worried that I would be unable to keep up with the doctors and diseases, but it turns out certain things are universal: children get colds and older persons have body aches. The children do not love their fluoride treatments, but theirs are not strawberry flavored.
The clinics go quickly. Some days we only see 60 patients or so. Other days we see over a 100! The Chinese medicine is very popular for patients and our volunteers alike! Many try acupuncture and cupping for their backs and shoulders. The children carry around their pharmacy bags filled with anti-parasite treatments and multivitamins like trophies, which was great because it encourages more people to come to see us.
Some days we set up our clinics outside, and others we use clinics or churches. One day we used a Buddhist temple, which was very beautiful on the inside. In traditional Thai culture, we do not wear shoes while indoors, which I am convinced cools you as well. A few patients that stood out from the week include a middle-aged man with a large (20cm x 8cm) mass who did not follow-up in the hospital, and a small girl born covered in dark plaques, which her mother also had. These left the whole teams questioning the causes, and provoked photos from nearly every person to send home for advice.
Evenings and mealtimes were often in fellowship with the Taiwan team and people who work in the hospital. Some drive us to Sangkhlaburi (the town) for meals, and others host us in their home. I cannot emphasize enough how kind and welcoming everyone has been. It makes being away from home so much easier.
As we head into the weekend, we are preparing for a guest physician to come while the surgeon is away on holiday. This next week is the Thai New Year, which is celebrated with throwing water around, and people traveling to their home villages. Unfortunately they say this is a time with frequent accidents, so we will hope for a safe New Year for all our Thai friends!
Until next time,