Thursday, March 06, 2008

Rabies Shot #3

Day 162
Chiang Mai

Day 21 in the rabies vaccine routine – time for the last shot. We visited Chiang Mai Ram Hospital for this one. The injection itself was rather uneventful – it was the whole experience that made it memorable.
The hospital was fairly close so we decided to ride our bicycles there. As usual, I led the way and Chris rode sweep. We had to venture a short distance beyond the old city to our destination. The new and the old part of Chiang Mai are separated by a canal and an ancient fortress wall. Seven hundred years ago, the two landmarks provided security against Burmese invasions. Today, Burma is now Myanmar, and the canal and wall just add to the chaos of constant traffic.
After spotting the information desk, I asked if it was possible to get the rabies vaccination at the hospital. The girl helping me got a puzzled look on her face and said “babies waxination? You must register with hospital first”. Oh boy, I thought, she probably thinks I’m wacko if I need a “babies” vaccination. Luckily, Chris has been studying the phrase book and was able to ask for a travel clinic. We still had to register, but he got the ball rolling a lot faster than I did.
Our next stop was Internal Medicine. We checked in, got a number and waited. Ten minutes later we were called back to be weighed, have our blood pressure checked, and temperature taken. I began to think that our morning could turn into a whole day. In a previous life I might have freaked out at this point and started asking a lot of questions. I didn’t really understand what vital signs had to do with a rabies vaccination. Instead, I just decided to go with it. One major cultural taboo here is “losing face”. I decided not to push it. Besides, I thought it would be good to know what my pulse was and how much I weigh.
After Internal Medicine we waited about five minutes for the doctor. He looked at our vaccination cards, reviewed something in a book and wrote his orders. Next, we walked to the ER and waited. As we completed each activity, someone escorted us to the next station. Talk about efficient – it really helps to have that 3:1 ratio I mentioned in the Thai culture blog. Plus, I almost forgot to mention, we were issued our own identification cards for the hospital. Those are definitely going in the scrapbook.
Finally, we received our shots and were whisked off to the cashier. We had the longest wait here and with each moment that passed I hoped that I wouldn’t fall over when we saw the bill. They called our number and told us the damage – 929 baht. I just smiled and paid in cash – the equivalent of $30. No wonder we saw so many farang in the hospital, it’s cheap as chips.
We’re now ready for all of those dogs, monkeys, bats and lions that want to sink their teeth into us. Just kidding, we’ll still be avoiding all of that. At least we’ve bought ourselves some time if something goes haywire.
Oh – just wanted to share. If we had received all of these shots in the US we would have paid close to $1,000. Makes you wonder…

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