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Travel with Kids: What to do when your kids get sick (or our experience at a Bangkok hospital).

Eitan in his hospital room

Eitan in his hospital room

I’ve traveled to many interesting and exotic destinations with our three kids – Myanmar, India, Morocco, Turkey…the list goes on. And often one (or more) of the kids will get sick. It’s usually nothing worse than a 24 hour stomach bug, which is easy to pick up almost anywhere. usually, we let nature take its course – if that doesn’t work, we pull out the antibiotics that we normally travel (or stop in at a pharmacy, which are very common in Asia), and only if that doesn’t work, do we go see  a doctor.

Eitan, our 6 year old,  had become sick during our last couple of days in Myanmar with vomiting and diarrhea and by the time we reached Bangkok he couldn’t keep anything in his body – no liquids or solid. After our first night at a Bangkok airport hotel he wasn’t feeling any better. We emailed the doctor who had examined him in Yangon and he told us to go to hospital immediately. He advised us to take Eitan to the Samitivej Sukhumvit Hospital, a private hospital in central Bangkok. He would inform the hospital of our arrival.

The taxi took us to the entrance of a new, beautiful looking building. It looked more like a hotel than any hospital we’d seen before. With a pianist playing in the foyer and a host of restaurants and shops, it looked nothing like hospitals we’d seen. At the information desk, we were amazed when we were asked if we were “the family coming from Yangon”? We were taken immediately to a specialist pediatrician who was waiting for us, confirmed that Eitan was dehydrated and would have to go on a drip (IV) immediately to replace lost fluids. They would of course do all the checks necessary to try determine the cause of his severe vomiting and diarrhea. He had not responded to strong antibiotics, so it seemed unlikely the problem was a bacteria.

The room he was put in was like a hotel room – large, with a bed, sofa, comfortable chair, table with two chairs, kettle, microwave, fridge, a TV with 100’s of channels, private bathroom – even his own toothbrush and toothpaste. He was in bed and hooked up within an hour in the pediatric ward.

It goes without saying that spending a few days in a Bangkok hospital was a totally unplanned part of our trip. We canceled our beach hotel booking and found a hotel near the hospital. We learned very quickly that medical tourism is a huge business in Bangkok – Samitivej had contracts with many good hotels nearby, and we automatically qualified for a discount at the hotel due to Eitan being a patient. I picked up brochures covering all the treatments one could have – from transplants to you name it…

I slept on the couch in Eitan’s room for the next two nights.  He is a real fighter and this was not his first stay in hospital – at age 5 he was admitted in Vancouver for four days, so for him it was nothing new.

The treatment we received was incredible – he was wonderfully looked after, and the staff was amazing. The pediatrician came in on her day off to check up on Eitan,  the nurses were great and very insistent (he tried to get out of washing – no such luck). Even the food was good.

After two days in bed, Eitan was jumping around and ready to go – the tests had not shown any bacterial infection, so we were told it was something viral. We were given some vitamins and careful instructions of how to look after him for the next couple of days and then he was released. And costwise – a lot less than we feared (and we were well covered by our travel insurance – they paid us out in full).

Summary – awesome treatment at an awesome facility.  What lesson did we learn? That even the best planned trip can become unstuck due to nobody’s fault, and that if you are anywhere nearby, get to Bangkok for medical treatment – it’s outstanding. (same applies to Singapore).

Thailand was waiting and it was time to get back to our holiday.

PS I am now planning great family trips to Thailand. For more info click here.