I awoke to a whimper which was breaking into a cry. Confused I looked at what was going on, Abi was at the side of me asleep but Charlie’s bed was empty. I looked past the end of the bed and sat on the floor struggling and crying was Charlie. I jumped up and asked what was wrong, as I picked him up and put him back in bed “I got up to go to the toilet and my legs won’t work” I laid him down and felt his legs, he was burning up, I checked his temperature and it was high yet he said he was cold. He had a dry cough and instantly I suspected Malaria. The problem with malaria is that all over SE Asia there is risk. In fact, every country except Singapore carries some risk. It is classed as minimal risk, moderate risk, high risk. Generally much of SE Asia not off the beaten path tends to hover around the minimal risk – which of course means that there still is a risk. Whenever we have travelled in moderate or high risk area’s we have always taken anti malarial drugs. However, Charlie was showing every symptom of Malaria, which of course matches the symptoms of flu and other illnesses. But Malaria is not something you can ‘see how you feel later’ It kills, and it kills quickly. Like most things, the earlier it is treated the better your chances. Some people fully recover, some end up brain damaged, some die. There was only one option and that was to get him to a hospital. Hospitals in Asia are all specialised. For example, if you break your leg you will go to a fracture clinic, if you have a skin problem, a dermatology clinic, a tropical disease, then a tropical disease clinic. Etc.. Had I just taken him to any hospital then this would have only wasted time as they checked him over and then referred him to Bangkok. I knew the best thing was to get straight to Bangkok, where he would get the best care.
I have made several ex pat friends throughout Asia and speak to any one of them and ask the question ‘would you ever go back to the UK’ every single one gives the same answer in relation to their kids. They say that education and health care is what makes them want to return to the UK. I can see what they mean, there is of course no hospital on Samed, infact the nearest Tropical Disease specialist hospital was 6hours away in Bangkok.
Charlie could barely walk and so I carried him, along with our stuff out to the main road. I asked for a taxi right away to the pier and seeing I needed to get there quickly and that I had my son over my shoulder and my bags and that even at 9am it was pushing 30 degrees the bastard told me 500 baht with a grin across his fat face knowing full well it should have been 10, thats no typo, it should have been TEN baht. We walked, it was a struggle but ten minutes later at the pier we jumped in a speed boat and a another 10 minutes later were on the mainland. Straight into a minibus and 3 hours later we were in Bangkok.
Charlie slept the whole way and when he woke up he had improved massively. His temperature was normal, he could walk and no longer felt sick, but hungry.
I had doubts about Malaria until I read that apparently the symptoms of Malaria can come and go. So we headed to the Hospital for Tropical Diseases at 420/6 Rajvithi Rd, Bangkok. Basically get off at Victory Monument and ask directions.
It is apparently one of the best hospitals in SE Asia for tropical diseases and so of course, no money spared I got Charlie checked out for every disease going.
They did two tests on him, one involved a prick in his finger and the other involved taking blood from his arm. The Malaria result was back within an hour and thankfully negative.
The remainder of the results I get tomorrow. But I post this now without a worry. I was told if the results came back dodgy I would have got a call within 5 hours. That time has now passed.
The Doctor assured me previously that is was likely a severe case of the flu, apparently flu is much worse in tropical climates and so the symptoms Charlie suffered are quite normal for Flu in Thailand.
He gave me and his mum (who got woken at 2am to sort things for me from the UK) the scare of our lives, but thankfully he is ok. If only he had been female then it wouldn’t have been half as bad. Man flu is bad enough in the UK, but in SE Asia it’s even worse!
Below is Charlie’s Thai medical card, apparently its valid for the rest of his life. The date actually says 7 August 2553. In Thailand it is 2553, not 2010.
A huge Thanks to Bekkie for getting things moving back in the UK, to Sammy for ensuring the finances were available for the best care and to Gemma for making sure we had somewhere to go back to for the night. Whilst it turned out to be something relatively minor, the fact I had a few things less to worry about really did make a huge difference. Thanks to all of you.