Taylor in Thailand! Week 4

May 9th, 2016 by Taylor Veh

Home life on Kwai River


My last few days in Thailand were certainly eventful! Between getting ready to travel home and getting into the full swing of seeing patients really on my own, I’ve been on the go most of every day!


The hospital continues to see patients with several of the same complaints. There is gastroenteritis running rampant through this village, and we are admitting about a child a day due to concerns for dehydration. The littlest ones start crying once their IV goes in, and they don’t stop crying until they finally fall asleep!


I had one 18-year-old who allowed me to experience my first real cultural difference in medical treatment. He suffered from abdominal cramps (and diarrhea) so I continued to watch him while he received fluids. While I was repeatedly told about the pain, and I constantly reassessed the pain, nothing seemed to indicate we needed to be concerned. However, his mother complained to the hospital that I wasn’t treating his cramps, and I was finally told that the hospital almost always treats discomfort, even the discomfort we’d allow people to tolerate in the United States. I felt dumb and horrible for making the hospital look poorly to the patient, but given that he left the next day, I was reassured that I at least had not put him in any serious danger.


The outpatient department has started to see some more complicated cases. I really think the holiday weighed over our community the first half of my visit, and we are starting to see more than simple acute complaints. I was able to put my gynecologic interest to work with one patient, and I was so grateful to do so! We also helped care for a very young man with new onset atrial fibrillation. You never know what will walk through those doors!


Leaving Kwai River Christian Hospital was more difficult than I expected it to be. I have very rarely experienced the kindness that I have experienced from the people at KRCH (let alone from a working environment like a hospital!) As we lined up for pictures, and added a few people on Facebook, you start to understand how supportive these communities are to everyone, and that’s what makes it such a wonderful experience. I realized that I may be another wheel in the machine that is their revolving door of volunteers, but you can never take the experience from me and separate it from the person and physician I will become.


For your comic enjoyment, I have to relay part of the story of my journey back to Wichita. There are two buses that travel between Bangkok and Sangkhlaburi every day. I had a suspicion that something would go wrong when I left, and sure enough the 9:30 bus I had intended on taking had been cancelled. Through cell phones and a little game of telephone, we were able to get me on a minibus to Kanchanaburi, with a continued passing message of getting me to Bangkok. Once I got to Bangkok, I couldn’t get a cab to take me to my hotel, so I took the train to the airport, which is the closest train stop to my hotel. After a 40 minute wait, I got to the hotel about 10 hours after leaving KRCH. If you want to summarize a true international experience, it’s taking a little extra time for something to work out just a little differently than you expected.