At the time I’m writing this post, please know that my hand is like 92.2% healed. Last month, just two days before the official start of school, I cut my hand. Believe me, it was not intentional and usually I patch up any knicks and bruises myself but this was beyond my scope of TV doctor degree preparedness. I was in the kitchen and had just finished preparing a chicken dish for our staff lunch the next day. Steamed chicken cooked in a sweet chili and curry sauce to be exact. I had also finished preparing my dinner for that evening so I felt pretty accomplished and took to opening a coconut as a mini reward for my kitchen efforts. Unfortunately, said coconut was not the easiest thing to open. I bought it from the local grocery store and most of the bark had seemed to be taken off, so I thought, what the heck, I can do this. I can open a coconut, all I have to do is pop a hole in the top. Needless to say things did not go as planned.
The second I removed the knife from my hand, I knew that it was really bad. The amount and speed at which the blood came out made realize that I didn’t just splice my finger as I’ve done before. Instincts took over and I immediately put my hand in my mouth and clamped down to stop the bleeding. For a split second I released pressure and felt the gush of warm blood in my mouth and knew that I couldn’t release the pressure until I got help.
I grabbed my cellphone with free hand and texted my colleagues that live a few floors above and told them I needed help. They have also lived here for many years so I knew they’d get me the help I needed. I turned off my electric plate (I was not letting my good food go to waste or burn!), grabbed my keys and headed to their apartment.
When I got there, I rang the door frantically because each second that past felt like minutes and then I was greeted at the door by another colleague who looked very confused as to why I’m ringing the door like an impatient child and I have my hand in my mouth.
More attempts at communicating by text ensued and she grabbed her husband. They also had no water. Gata love third world problems. She and I rushed downstairs across the street to the little clinic, but before we could get inside, with all the quick paced movements, my grip on the wound let up and more blood kept rushing into my mouth to the point where I could no longer hold it in.
Chunks of warm, coagulated blood spewed from my mouth into a murky puddle. What I spit out resembled the bettel chewing that locals spit out any and everywhere. I walked over the puddle looking to see if I had just spit out anything of importance like a vein or something.
I get into the clinic, I spit out more blood into their sink, I apologize and they provide me with a little bit of cotton so now I can at least not have to use my mouth and I use my right hand to keep pressure on the wound. My colleague (now dubbed my Myanmar parent) and I went back upstairs to find my keys that I threw down in their apartment and then come back to my place to grab some essentials: wallet and passport. We get a shopping bag and put both my hands in and tie it. Off we go into the first taxi moving (thanks secu!) and head to a hospital.
Thing is, one does not simply go to any hospital in Myanmar and expect proper service. We pass a few along the way, meanwhile, my baggy of blood is collecting and I’m starting feel pain probably due to the pressure build up of blood and coagulation happening. They dial up my husband.
“Hi babe, just wanted to let you know that I cut myself with my kitchen knife pretty badly and we’re on our way to the hospital. I’m okay though, just get their number and they’ll update you as we go along. I love you.”
Oh yea, and I’m apologizing for the inconvenience that I’m causing everyone. Feeling like a complete idiot for not being careful. And that morning my husband tells me some very ominous words: be careful which my train thought was on a whole other idea about the warning.
We get to hospital #1 with hands clasped together in my grocery bag filled with blood. The other great thing is that of course communication is a challenge because we three don’t speak Burmese and English proficiency is limited. They tell us no photos and proceed to take photos of my wound.
They bandage me up okay and we start talking to a young baby doctor and he’s like it’ll be 24 hours before we can get stitched up for surgery. I’m like nah, nope, not going to work. The Myanmar people tend to be very kind and patient. Favorite phrase: please wait.
They get a more senior doctor to come speak with us. Turns out his papa is the best hand surgeon in the country and also his professor, he tells us proudly. He calls up his father and proceed to go to hospital #2. On the way amidst my pain, I couldn’t help to think about the people outside on the ground at this hospital and others whose injuries are much more serious than mine. Like the leg they were sowing back on at the time. I apologize again.
Hospital #2 is where all the magic happens… stay tuned for more. Here are some pictures for your gross entertainment. I’ll save the gory ones for the other post.