I haven’t written much lately because, as I said in my last post, I’ve been in transit and settling in to my new place and trying to get the hang of a new job n’ such.  But, truly, the thing that’s kept me from writing…..or doing much beyond basic necessities at all.….is what I’ve decided to call the “Hanoi Funk”.  I’ve been feeling just absolutely lousy and have been coughing my brains out.  Harsh coughing to the point where I feel like I’ve been slugged in the gut.  It has really sapped my energy.  It isn’t a cold or allergies – I believe it’s most likely from the stuff in the air in Hanoi.  Maybe if I’d left there two weeks earlier it wouldn’t have developed to this lung pummeling level, but here we are.  I’d hoped it would clear up once I got to the cleaner air of Thai Binh, but by then, I guess it was too late and had already developed into an infection.

Like it or not, insurance or not, new job or not, I had to see a doctor.  So, a member of the staff here at the school – a great young lady who goes by the English name, Kate – took me on her motorbike to the hospital yesterday.  She speaks English quite well and helped enormously with translation.  “Helped enormously….” …..who am I kidding?  I couldn’t have done it without her.  Upon arriving at the hospital, she parked her motorbike while I stood outside the parking area and waited.  I was informed (by gesture) that I was standing in the wrong spot and that I needed to move over to that spot. …..I always seem to be standing in the wrong spot….  Kate and I then went to the Admitting Desk and I gave my name and age…..that’s it.  Name and age.  Oh, and I paid 20,000 VNÐ ……..about a buck…..for admittance.  I was given a slip of paper and told to have a seat.

I’d brought some school textbooks with me to work on lesson plans because I figured I’d be there a while.  In fact, I’d told William prior to leaving for the hospital (at around 2:00pm) that there’s the possibility I wouldn’t make it back in time for my 7:30pm class because “if the hospitals here are anything like the hospitals in the States, I’m going to be there for hours” and he may need to take over my class.

Within 5 minutes of being told to have a seat, I was called into a room wherein the examination began.  I lay down on the examining table and my lungs were listened to….in the normal way – with a stethoscope.  I was then told to go out and have a seat in the waiting area again, which I did.  Someone came out of the room moments later, gave me a piece of paper and we were directed to another examining room.  Here again I lay down on an examining table and this time was swabbed with some sort of goo on various parts of my body after which electrodes…..?…… were attached to said swabbed areas.  I don’t definitely know that they were electrodes, but they were certainly electrode-looking things.  Four of them, like gigantic clothes pins, were clamped onto my wrists and ankles.  Then there were about 8 or so smaller ‘trodes suctioned onto my chest.  “Okay, Janice….. relax…..I’m sure they’ve done this before…..there is no smell of death in here…..”   It was just so weird, I had to go through with it to see what happened next….  All I felt was the slightest pulsing on those various body parts and…….unfortunately, that was it….  Time to get up and go back out to the waiting area.  I asked Kate what the heck just happened to me and she said, “They checked your heart rate.”  Oh.   ….wow…    ….okay…..

We had been directed to the x-ray department, but first I had to make payment.  Yikes!  I’ve got to pay for an x-ray?  Geez, is it really necessary?  Can I afford that? …….It cost 80,000 VNÐ ……$4.00.  So far, a total of 5 USD.  Okay, well, I haven’t had an x-ray in ages….I’m sure one won’t kill me and honestly, my lungs ache – maybe I really do need one…….and yes, I can actually afford it.  The x-ray room was a trip.  A thoroughly modern x-ray machine inside a barren concrete jail cell looking room with huge sliding metal doors (lead doors…?).  It took mere seconds for the x-ray to be done… the usual way – “Smoosh your body up against this here machine and don’t breath.”  And then…..we were sent to the waiting area.  This may have been the longest wait – a full 10 minutes, possibly – at which point the x-ray technician, a very kindly-looking happy elderly man I wished I could talk to, brought my lung picture out and said (through Kate) that I do have an infection but that my lungs are otherwise healthy.  He issued a prescription and we were sent to the pharmacy which was also in the hospital…..just steps away.

I’d been given a prescription for four meds.  Four!  Good grief, I’m loath to take one!  I hate taking antibiotics, but I knew I really do need one.  With Kate’s wonderful translation, I ended up purchasing three of the meds (one just seemed totally arbitrary) and figured I’d double-check my purchase online once I got home.  Upon looking them up, I learned one indeed is an antibiotic, one is an enzyme which helps with inflammation and one is a steroid.  …..I’m taking the first two.  Since the total cost of the meds was around $13.50 USD, I figured it’d be okay if I didn’t end up taking every single one of them.

Total cost of my hospital visit – around $18.50.  Total time – about an hour and a half.  I made it to my class with time to spare and I have a picture of my lungs for a souvenir.  I was going to post that x-ray picture here, but no matter how I tried to crop it, it still looked pretty creepy!  So, I’m posting some pics of the view from the balcony at the top of my house instead:


Lots of houses have the yin yang symbol on them like this one across the street.





St. Paul’s Cathedral, East.

Honestly, I believe it’s just someone’s home.



Anyone care for a pedicab?  Actually, these are used more often for carting supplies than people.

9 thoughts on “Funkadelic

  1. poor old you. miserable having a chest infection, especially if you are teaching and trying not to cough. make sure you take the full course of meds and plenty of bio yogurt (or equivilant)and lots and lots of water. St Pauls house looks so pretty, and now I would like a ride on one of those pedibikes please. Just drive me around all day. Loving your updates, its starting to sound like real life rather than a holiday.


    1. Thanks, Sarah. Yes, I intend to take the full course of meds, I’ve been drinking TONS of water and I’ve bought myself plenty of yogurt. (Actually, I’ve been buying yogurt regularly here since I first had a taste of it. The yogurt here is delicious!). Thankfully, I didn’t have to teach yesterday because it was a particularly bad day – the storm before the calm, I guess. This morning when I woke up though, I could feel some improvement. Yay!
      It’s interesting that you should say that about it sounding like ‘real life rather than a holiday.’ That’s been on my mind a lot lately. After the whirlwind of ‘holiday mode’, reality starts settling in and, in a way, it’s disorienting! Somehow, when you’re still at ‘home’ (in Chico) and you’re planning your trip, you have it in mind that it’s going to be wild and fun all the time. Well….it’s not! I have to go to work and learn my job as I perform it ….and I’m more intimidated by teaching than I am about practically anything else I’ve done so far! It’s all good – I’m learning and, hopefully, getting better and a little more at ease about it after every class. But, yeah, it’s ‘real life’ and now…. at least for now….. Vietnam is ‘home.’ I guess the old adage is true – ‘Home is where you hang your hat!’ Cheers. (:


  2. What a drag to be so sick. Another ‘adventure’ – but not necessarily one you would have chosen to have. Hope it’s not dragging down your spirits too much too. It’s hard to be that sick and away from home. Much love.


    1. Thanks, Lin. Yeah, it’s been a bit of a struggle not to get down about it – it’s just been going on for so long. Yesterday was a particularly bad day – just laid in bed, coughed and sweltered in the heat (thankfully, I didn’t have any classes). But this morning, waking up, I could tell the meds are kicking in. Still have a way to go but definitely feeling some improvement. Recovery – Hooray! It’s been a learning experience, I have to say. I’d let the lung thing go on so long (hoping it would just go away) because I knew nothing about doctors, hospitals and the cost of it all here and was a bit intimidated by it. Having gone through it, I at least know it’s not that difficult. Since I’m hoping to be here for a while, that’s good to know!
      Hope all’s well with you. Much love back. (:


  3. Get well soon, Jan. By the sounds of you last reply that’s already started, thank goodness.
    At least the healthcare is cheap over there!!
    Take care and happy trails.


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