Being hospitalised at home is never fun, but when you’re in a foreign country on holiday and meant to be enjoying yourself, it’s really, really not fun. So how did I land myself in hospital in Hanoi on the second last day of our trip to Vietnam when we were supposed to be en route back to Ho Chi Minh? Well…

We woke up on Sunday morning in our hotel in Sa Pa, excited to explore the foggy and somewhat mysterious town that we felt like we’d only just scraped the surface of the day before. We only had two days in Sa Pa so we wanted to make the most of it. We headed downstairs to grab some breakfast and then went to the bathroom before we started our day. I returned to the breakfast table with a significantly smaller amount in my stomach than I had started with. I’d vomited up that delicious breakfast I had just eaten. Sign one that something wasn’t quite right. Nevertheless, we carried on to explore Cat Cat village.

We trekked for three hours overlooking terraced rice fields, past beautiful waterfalls, spotting buffalo, wild pigs and cats along the way. It was an incredible trek and unlike anything we’d ever seen before – I soon forgot about the fact that I had basically not eaten yet that day. We got to a point not too far off the end of the trek where they sold refreshments, and sat down at a window overlooking the rice fields, sharing a bottle of water. We continued on, taking the last hill by jumping on the back of a locals scooter (I was starting to feel a little dizzy and was developing a bad headache. Sign two things were going pear shaped.) and then continuing on into the village to grab some well deserved lunch. The rest of the afternoon was spent wandering around the town and getting ready to head back to the city.

We arrived back in Hanoi off the overnight train around 4:30am and took a taxi straight to our hotel where we found the lobby to be locked. We could see a staff member sleeping on the lounge in the lobby and in our sleepless daze we didn’t think to knock on the door, and instead sat outside on the front steps until he awoke around 5:30am and gestured us inside. We didn’t have a room booked until that night – check in wouldn’t be until 2pm. We asked if there was any way we could use a room for a shower and nap and, in true Calypso Grand Hotel style, they found us a room immediately that although it hadn’t been cleaned, we could use temporarily. Fine with us – we just needed somewhere to wash up and rest our heads!

We collapsed on top of the bed covers and had only slept for a couple of hours when I awoke with excruciating pain in my stomach, a pounding headache and dizziness that made me feel disorientated and confused. Gavin took one look at me and immediately went downstairs to speak to the staff. He arrived back within minutes, two staff members in tow and a taxi on the way.

This part of the story is rather hazy for me, however Gavin has filled in the gaps. He and one of the staff members accompanied me downstairs, into the taxi and through the busy streets of Hanoi, the taxi driver being hurried along in Vietnamese by the staff member who had insisted on going with us all the way to the hospital.

Once we arrived at the International SOS Medical Clinic it was only a couple of minutes of waiting before an American doctor came out, took one look at me and gave me some pain killers and put me straight onto a drip

While this all was happening, the staff member from the Calypso Grand Hotel was waiting patiently in the waiting room. Gavin was so concerned about me that he hadn’t realised that he hadn’t left yet, and after an hour or so the doctor mentioned that he was still out there. Gavin went out and basically had to beg him to leave, explaining that I was going to be okay and we were so grateful for his help, but that it was ok for him to return to the hotel. He left reluctantly, telling us to call them if we wanted a taxi sent or if we needed anything else. We were SO lucky we were staying where we were, and that they had such incredible service and strong English skills.

In the end? I was just ridiculously dehydrated. The combination of vomiting on that Sunday morning, only drinking half a bottle of water after the trek, and then eating very little between Sunday lunch time and Monday morning had not done my body any good and it just couldn’t cope. A few hours on a drip and we made it back to the hotel around 2pm, I relaxed in bed watching a few DVDs that afternoon before heading out for dinner and a shopping spree at Charles & Keith that evening (definitely not the Doctor’s orders but who can resist!).

1 – Stay hydrated. When trekking drink A LOT of water and carry it with you all the time. This may sound obvious but when it’s cold outside you don’t think about it and may lean more towards that steaming mug of hot chocolate when you get back.
2 – Listen to your body. I really shouldn’t have gone for a three hour trek after having vomited that morning (but seriously, we only had two days, it was kind of worth it).
3 – Buy travellers insurance. The hospital bill was around $350 so as soon as we got back we sent all the receipts straight to our insurance company, paid our $100 excess and claimed it back, no questions asked.
4 – Get a photo. Even if you’re feeling like you’re about to pass out, get anyone accompanying you to get a record of the event. Gavin said I turned an interesting shade of green in the taxi on the way to the hospital and he was so tempted to take a photo but thought he probably shouldn’t. How good would have that photo been for this blog post?!

Calypso Grand Hotel was our lifesaver in this situation, we’d highly recommend staying with them when you visit Hanoi! Book your stay here.

What are your experiences with overseas medical?


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