On our last night in Vietnam we decided to check out a place called Jim’s Burger Joint, which was a bit of a hike across town. On the way Charmaine tripped over a bit of footpath and fell forward with her arms out. The boys helped her up and she had a graze underneath one arm and something very painful had clearly happened. We were almost at our destination so we kept walking and Charmaine sat down for a few minutes but was sweating and clearly things weren’t getting better so she and I walked own the block to a main road and caught a taxi back to the hotel.
Charmaine though it was either fractured or dislocated. When we told the front desk what had happened they called a doctor who arrived with 15 minutes and brought with him a lady who helped translate and a nurse. He looked at the arm then said that Charmaine should go to the hospital for an X-ray and suspected a dislocation. This was good news. A dislocation would heal faster, a break would probably mean Charmaine would have to go home early.
We got in a taxi and I’d messaged the others to say we were going but neglected to say where and once we got on the way I realised that we couldn’t contact everyone and had no idea how long we’d be. Going on hospitals in Australia it could end up taking hours and we hadn’t eaten since breakfast, either.
When we got to the hospital the taxi driver came in with us and spoke to some people then left without asking to be paid. The lady we’d spoken to earlier got Charmaine ready and I helped sign some forms. Charmaine went to sit in the X-ray room and it was super Spartan. The whole hospital had a very bare, communist aesthetic, but was clearly very clean too. The X-ray happened without fuss then we went upstairs to wait briefly before coming down to the emergency room where there were beds so Charmaine could be treated.
While we waited Charmaine told me I didn’t have to be in the room when the realignment happened. I didn’t think I’d be that squeamish and I wasn’t the one going through the procedure so I could deal with it, plus no one spoke much English so I wasn’t sure if I’d need to help or something.. not that I speak Vietnamese, but I could at least use my phone to translate something basic.
The doctors came in and did a bit of poking around then got ready by kicking off their shoes and bracing their feet against the bed. All through the evening Charmaine had clearly been in a lot of pain and been incredibly stoic about it. I’d tried to talk a lot and distract her but I hadn’t felt terrifically helpful. Then when the doctors started moving her around and getting ready I felt a tiny bit queasy and kept imaging what it might feel like. I moved out of the room, which didn’t help much because there was a big doorway and glass windows all around. The lady who had done the translating suggested I take a photos, which I was a horrified by at the time but now I’m writing this post of course I wish I had.
Now, I’m making it all sound pretty bad, but while I was standing outside with my imagination running wild I could hear Charmaine talking to the doctors and laughing a bit. Little did I know that the least painful part of the whole deal was when the doctors had her arm outstretched, and afterwards she felt much better. I started to feel an unwelcome lightheadedness and had to sit down on the floor. I tried to ignore it but it got worse, and so when everyone was finished with Charmaine they all came over to make sure I was alright. I made the mistake of waving them away and getting up and leaving the emergency ward, but as soon as I got out into the waiting room it got worse and I had to lie down on the floor and Charmaine brought me a little stool to put my feet on. This was, as you can imagine, very embarrassing for me and hilarious for Charmaine.
I also badly needed to go to the toilet and was directed back into emergency, where I had to take my shoes off then go into a bathroom that had just been cleaned and the floor was incredibly slippery and wet. Less than ideal for someone who is fainting – or anyone else in any state that required them being in an emergency room. Anyhow, I survived and went for a five minute lie-down in the bed Charmaine had just vacated.
After I’d recovered I found Charmaine. She’d been given a fancy fabric brace, we picked up medications, she paid and we caught a taxi the 2kms back to the hotel. From start to finish the whole adventure had taken two hours and cost under $250 US. Quite impressive, really. Charmaine’s arm has been healing pretty well and she has been able to get around without the brace for most of the time. In the last few days her mobility has improved greatly and she seems on track for a good recovery.