Thursday, October 11, 2012



[Disclaimer 1:  If you are easily grossed out, be advised that this may be as hard to stomach as mongoloid porn.]

[Disclaimer 2:  This is written a bit disjointedly.  I apologize for that.  However, I am still a bit out of it and in considerable pain.]

Throughout the day, I had diarrhea.

No big deal - I am in a foreign country, eating foreign food.  It happens.  I carry anti-bacterials on me for just such an occasion.  I popped a couple and just dealt with it.

This time was different.

I woke up to discover I had 'sharted' myself.  For those not in the know, it is what happens when you thought you'd fart, but shit came out.  This was unusual because I'd done it in my sleep.

OK.  Off to the bathroom to change my pants and clean up.  \

These things happen I suppose but this was a first.

Then, I woke up to discover I had truly messed myself in goo.  And  I had a bit of stomach pain.

Since I had no other clean clothing, I washed these off, put them back on and went downstairs to wake Bridget.  She has been in Georgia for a year or two and might have some useful information.

I asked her to write 'doctor' in Georgian in my notebook.  Since it was 5:30AM, she wrote it in English.  Not a lot of help but she tried.

I went down the hill feeling a bit like a sieve to the small square near the hostel.  There are usually a couple of taxi cabs there.  The drivers didn't understand the words for 'hospital', 'doctor', 'help' or 'sick'.  I should really learn more Russian.  Eventually, I found a friendly Georgian here on vacation from his new home in the USA to translate.

They got me to a hospital.  I had no clue which one.

This was a hospital out of horror movies.  In most hospitals, the emergency entrance has some doctors or nurses loitering around just in case someone pulls up spurting blood.   Although it wasn't blood I was spurting, it would have been nice to see someone.

Instead, there were darkened corridors and closed doors.

The cab driver was nice enough to come in with me and made noise to wake - yes, wake - the staff who were asleep in various rooms to explain my situation to them.

A team of doctors were eventually summoned to deal with this foreigner.  They spoke no English.  Surprisingly, they did speak very bad German.

It amazes me how often that language comes up.  It makes me feel a bit validated for all that time I spent studying it.

Eventually, it was determined that I was American and a couple doctors who spoke very bad English were summoned.

So it became a three way linguistic ho down  - Georgian, English and German.  Yee haw.

After doing a bit of pushing and prodding on my stomach, three different people announced it was my appendix.    Since I know that an appendicitis is an expensive, painful and expensive operation I asked if there was anything else that could be done to make sure.  They smeared goo on the hurty area and rubbed a wand on it so they could see what was up.  Was it an ultrasound?  An MRI?  Magic?  Didn't care.  The results told them it was time for them to cut me open.  It was explained that the diarrhea is a symptom as well.

Cost naturally came up.

I explained to them with great difficulty and only gradually that I have no insurance.  Statements like "Who travels without insurance?" came up.  Well, poor people.

The head of the hospital (nicknamed 'the professor') and five others showed up to argue about the money part.

The price was disclosed to be $600.  Goodbye, savings.  I did get them to agree that this was the 'total price' because they wanted to keep tacking on other crap in the great tradition of hospitals everywhere.

Spending lots of money is worse than accidental death.  Poverty is the gift that keeps on giving.  With death, you're only fucked once.

They brought me paperwork to sign.  It was all in Georgian.  I don't read or understand any of it.  Rather than signing, I just wrote "I don't understand Georgian" in English at each place they wanted me to sign.  This seemed to satisfy the guy and he went away.  Yes, I know that in sue happy America they won't treat you unless you sign their crap but this is a whole different world.

It was the first time I ever walked into a surgery before.  In every other hospital, they stick you into a bed with wheels (possibly a gurney) and wheel you in there.  Here, I walked in.

It might be worth noting they did not give me any other clothing.  I was still in my literally shit stained clothing.

Yeah - I was operated on while still wearing these clothes.

After I laid down on the table, everything started in flashes -

Blacking in and out
In so much pain my teeth were chattering

Eventually, I came around in my very basic room.  There were two gurneys in there with blankets reading "US" on them.  I got one.  This is their idea of a private room.  Unfortunately, the walls were so thin I'm not sure if it actually helped.  These beds were very narrow and about as comfortable as hostel beds.

There are no 'nurse call' buttons.  If you want something, scream for ten minutes.

No food is permitted on the first day.

They had no straws.  Weird - and really a pain in the ass to those who trying to sit up causes them a world of pain.  Heck, there wasn't even any soap or toilet paper in the bathroom.  Bring your own.

With nurses so difficult to summon, I was very curious to see what would have happened if I had to crap or pee.  In retrospect, I'd have probably just had to lie in it.  Glad I didn't need to.

The whole medical  system is set up on the premise you will have your family with you.  Should you need anything one of them is dispatched to get a nurse.  This includes food.  The hospital doesn't serve it.  You have to give a nurse money - she runs out and buys something from the market for you.  Better still, your family brings you food.

The nurses didn't have any monitoring equipment hooked up to me and checked on me only infrequently.  Honestly, the hospitals in India were more modern.

The first day gave me a lot of really vivid drug dreams as well as convincing me that 'Intelligent Design' is utter bullshit.  Not only is the appendix completely useless but if you've ever bitten the inside of your cheek while chewing you have to doubt the competency of any deity you are 'made in the image of'.

One of the things which went  through my head is 'what kind of food would I love to have right now' - assuming eating whatever I wanted wouldn't cause me to die or explode.  The surprising answer was Bert Isla's Thanksgiving feast.  Yeah, that was awesome and all home made.

On the second day, I was permitted bread (cracker crunchy type) and tea.

I spent the entire day lying around in the clothing I'd shit in, then had surgery in.  I smelled fantastic.

The hospital seemed to me very 'USSR style'.

The only cleaning done was by one of the old women wearing all black.  She came in with a mop and did a very perfunctory sweep with it then left.  If something was spilled (it was) on the floor later, tough.  It doesn't get cleaned until the next scheduled time.

One skill which seems pretty basic to me for nurses is how to run an IV.  They had a lot of problems doing it.  At one point, it just leaked out all over the bed instead of going into me.  They shrugged and took off the IV and removed the needle.  Perhaps they figured I was full.

Because I didn't have any phone numbers on me, my only visitor was some old lady who wanted to sell me stuff.

Speaking with the sister of a lady who had the same procedure it turns out that I got charged the same as natives.  That makes me happy.

Somehow, I don't see Georgia becoming a 'medical tourism' destination.

Eventually, it became time to pay.  The best thing to do after really painful surgery is walk for several blocks because the hospital doesn't take credit cards.  No kidding.

After paying, I departed.  I'll have to go back in a week to get my Frankenstein like stitches removed.


Something I totally didn't expect was the reception I got.  The owners mother was freaking out as though I'd been shot and carted off to an unknown hospital.  Bridget, the lady I'd worked with was  completely neutral.  She knew I'd be back when I could.

The funny thing is that the owners mother had gone through my gear trying to find my name and such to give to the police.  It wasn't in the gear.  Logan is a cautious and suspicious person.


  1. Wow. I hope they got it right and you'll be fine. That sounds like a really scary thing to go though in normal circumstances, let alone in a foreign country where you don't speak the language and that has no technology to speak of. Glad to see that you survived sir.

  2. Well, at least you were hooked up to the machine that goes *PING* right? had to feel good about that... and there was no odd englishman in the corner banging rocks together providing the electricity.

  3. Sadly, there were no monitoring machines. If you died, it would be several hours before anyone noticed - if they did - when they came to hook up your IV.

  4. OMG that is totally disgusting they way the hospital was run. Even the poorest of the poor here in the USA get better than that! Glad you came out of it. If any of my coworkers acted like that, I would have to kick their asses.

  5. Thank you for sharing - that sounds incredibly scary.



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