Thursday, November 8, 2012

My First Malaysian Medical Emergency

It has been quite some time since I have published a post to this blog. I actually had intended to write about something other than what I am now writing. I will write about that later, because I feel this is more important.

I have a great Chinese cleaning lady, Lim, who comes every Thursday to clean up after us. She is about 70 years old but has 10 times as much energy as I do. Today, like any other Thursday she came to clean. A little after noon I was debating whether or not to go to lunch, since it looked like rain. I decided to wait until later. And luckily I did. I suddenly heard Lim yelling my name. I ran to see her holding on to the door frame as she was unable to move. She had finished washing the bathroom floor (the only Asian style bathroom we still have). She went to another room to get something and then returned to the bathroom, where she slipped and fell on the still wet floor. She didn't say anything at first and continued to try to work, until the pain became so bad she could not move.

She doesn't speak English that well and being frightened by her fall she had trouble expressing herself to me. Luckily my neighbors, who are Chinese, were home and we managed to get her seated. It was ascertained that there was no way she could go home by bus or any other means. She was convinced that an ambulance had to be called to take her to the hospital. She could not afford a private hospital so she wanted to go to the government hospital. At the government hospital the care would be free or very minimal. We called the condo business office who called the ambulance for us. Once again she did not want a private ambulance as it was too expensive and wouldn't let us call one. So after 45 minutes of agonizing pain for her and our feelings of uselessness the ambulance came. They didn't have a stretcher because it wouldn't fit in the elevator. They didn't have a wheelchair because they don't have one. They didn't have a collapsible stretcher. They even had to borrow the ambulance. All they had was a first aid kit! They couldn't figure out how to get her down 13 flights of stairs in the elevator to the waiting ambulance. We finally told the attendants to carry her down on a dining room chair, which they did.

She left her phone, her jewelry and a few other items with me, as she was afraid they would be stolen at the hospital. On her way to the ambulance she kept apologizing for not being able to finish her work. This was truly a sad situation, as I don't think she has anyone at home to care for her. I hope she hasn't broken her hip and her injuries are not serious. We are all waiting to hear word from her regarding her condition, but without a phone we are puzzled as to how this could happen.

For us expats we are lucky enough to be able to afford a private hospital, but the private ambulances are not any better, nor do they respond any faster. I have been told that if one needs to get to the hospital, call a taxi, if possible. Sometimes we forget just how lucky we are compared to the majority of the locals.

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