Medical Dramas on Ko Phangan and Surgery on Ko Samui

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This morning, 4 months into our trip, my husband is having emergency hernia repair surgery on Ko Samui. I’ve always said medical care is great in Thailand, but I wasn’t expecting to test it out! My fit, healthy, Iron Man husband was absolutely fine on Saturday afternoon. He was playing around with the kids. We got a taxi to Thong Sala, the big town on Ko Phangan, for the Saturday night market. When he got out of the taxi he was in pain.


“I feel like I’ve been kicked in the guts.”

He was grey and clammy. My first thought was appendicitis, that hits in the lower right side that he was clutching. He sort of stumbled around the market a while, things didn’t improve.

For the record, the market was very average, it wasn’t worth the special trip.

For some reason hernias popped into my head, I don’t know why. We had a quick look. There is was, half a grapefruit sized bulge. An inguinal hernia.

There is an emergency medical facility on Ko Phangan, it was just around the corner.

The people there were great, the doctor spoke little English but a paramedic could translate for us. They gave Chef muscle relaxants, pain killers and a hot water bottle and arranged for an ambulance to take him by ferry to the hospital on Ko Samui in the morning.

The insurance are paying, thankfully, but it was a long, anxious wait for them to agree. The cost of the hernia repair was estimated at almost $7000 AU.

We didn’t expect anything like this, goes to show, always expect the unexpected, always be prepared. Always have travel insurance.

I’m not well either, I’ve been suffering breathlessness along with the odd palpitation and hot flashes. Classic perimenopausal symptoms and anxiety, or something more sinister? With Chef stealing the limelight I haven’t had a chance to get checked out. I’m just trying to exercise more, hiking up the hills here helps regulate my breathing. ( I worked out what it was, I think, MSG, read here!)

Appreciate What You’ve Got Right Now, Don’t Take Things for Granted!

A couple of days ago I was bored with sitting on this beach on Ko Phangan . Lovely as it is, I don’t dig beaches and that day the kids were driving me nuts and I was pretty fed up with James for being less than perfect.

I wish I could go back and have that level of boredom again. The coming weeks are going to be tough. The recovery from an open hernia repair and a general anaesthetic isn’t going to be easy. He won’t be able to do much and certainly won’t be able to carry much. We may have to ditch his backpack and some gear, starting with all the kids’ books I’m carrying, they’re heavy.

Maybe I needed a wake up call, a lesson in appreciation. I’d rather like to have my fit, healthy husband and his comedy mustache back right now. I’d rather like to feel well myself.

But onward and upward, if we don’t have the hard times we don’t appreciate the good.

As I keep saying, this isn’t a holiday, this is real life in a different location, warts and all.

We stayed at Haad Salad Villas on Ko Phangan for 6 weeks. Other than our medical issues, it was a wonderful time and he highly recommend them.

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About the author
Alyson Long
Alyson Long is a British medical scientist who jumped ship to chase dreams. A former Chief Biomedical Scientist at London's West Middlesex Hospital she started in website creation and travel writing in 2011. Alyson is a full-time blogger and travel writer, a published author, and owns several websites. World Travel Family is the biggest. A lifetime of wanderlust and over 6 years of full-time travel, plus a separate 12 month gap year, has given Alyson and the family some travel expert smarts to share with you on this world travel site. Today Alyson still travels extensively to update this site and continue her mission to visit every country, but she's often at home on her farm in Australia.

20 thoughts on “Medical Dramas on Ko Phangan and Surgery on Ko Samui”

  1. Stop crying about how hars everything is. You Are TRAVELLING With kids. Shit happens, people have hard life’s living in a stable home.

  2. Oh sorry, didn’t mean to make my post sound like a lecture. And didn’t mean to add to the anxiety.
    It’s hard when people read things instead of hearing a tone in the voice or facial expressions or not being able to just give a hug.
    I occasionally have bouts of anxiety that I manage pretty well, I’m just a worry wort that’s all. That’s why I function with as much under control as possible and all the safety boxes checked and then I can kick back and have a good time. I just try and put myself in the same position with my child in another country. I was mostly just writing some tips of the things I would love to read in a more detailed blog for future reference. My biggest fear is something happening to me and my child just being stranded. Not that I’d want to fill her with every possible bad scenario just to see how she’d manage it. I guess in a real emergency (that hopefully never happens) I’d just like to have some comfort that my child won’t fall apart at the seams and will try and methodically and calmly put some strategies into place to get help quickly and safely. And as for the peri-menopausal, I totally get that too. It’s not easy being a Mumma sometimes. We need care too. xox

    • Only joking Kym!! My anxiety is about my breathing, you over breath, your CO2 levels get too low, your body over breathes even more. It’s a vicious circle leading to panic attacks if you don’t know what it is and control it, which I do. I don’t worry about the sort of stuff you mention at all, we’re absolutely fine where we are. Thanks for caring and thanks for all the comments!

    • Ah-no offence intended either Kym; it’s nice that people are concerned!

  3. You don’t know us from Adam, but we are a family who loves reading about your adventures! On behalf of all the nameless people who are reading your blog, we just wanted to let you know that we’re thinking of you all 🙂

    • Thanks Anita, thanks for saying hi, it’s great to hear from the faceless readers. Keep commenting, it’s good to know who’s out there! I think we’re all recovering nicely today, stress levels and anxiety are going down.

  4. You need to see a doctor missus-I know I joked about our age and everything, but it may not be that, and you need to get sorted! I thought Kym came on a bit strong (I was getting the shivers when I read her reply), but I get exactly what she’s saying; it wouldn’t hurt for the boys to have a couple of emergency numbers on them.

    Anyhoo, not that anything is going to happen, but a sarcastic reply or two would make me feel better! 😉

    • I’m fine! I’ve had anxiety once before, it’s a pain in the butt but I can sort it, I hope. And I really am peri menopausal, have been for a long time, this is all kinda normal! I feel much better today anyway and I’ll do my hill think again in the morning, by the end of the week I’ll be running up there!

  5. Blimey Alyson, you guys are having it tough at the moment – don’t forget your own health though.

    How much longer can you stay put? How longs left on your visa? Do you have to move before chef is all healed?
    Is there anything you could get to help you move your stuff – like a cheap pushchair to load up, maybe the kids could take it in turns pushing it??

    I hope the operation goes smoothly


  6. Hope he is well ,I was always wandering if in real situations this $2.50 a day insurances will pay the bills .. What insurance do u carry ?
    Be well . Enjoy life

  7. Oh heck – these are tough times. The only consolation – you are in a great country if you have to be ill. I can’t speak highly enough of the care I was given there.

    And – maybe it’s time to look to your own health, too. I didn’t listen to that little nagging voice telling me I wasn’t well, during my long trip, and carried on travelling from place to place, heaving luggage, finding my way around – all the usual excitements. What I ignored is the fact that this is exhausting – just the finding your way around, where to eat, managing the heat. I was in Cambodia when my body finally threw itself on the floor and said, ‘no more.’ I had to get myself to Phnom Penh, and flown from there to hospital in Bangkok.

    The purpose of telling you all this – if your body is trying to tell you something, then listen to it. Better to stop for a while, rest while you both recover, and then think about where next. (And the kids – they’ll be fine!)

    Good luck to you all.

    • I know Jo, the time has come. I need to start owning these peri menopausal symptoms and looking after myself a bit better. I’ve been reading up on it, the early morning hikes up the hill are helping.

  8. love you and your honesty and how i read your blog and get confused if it’s you writing or me. kids- annoying, husband- less than perfect and then boom, life reminds you to appreciate what you’ve got. hope the recovery will go well. yes, you won the award hands down love. and ouch, getting rid of the kids’ books. i always hate that part. in good news, you will find how even less than ridiculously little you need to live off of. hugs to you dear friend, gabi

  9. You should change your name to TRAVEL TROOPERS
    You’re doing great. Going beyond the average travel sagas of sorting out accommodation and budgeting etc. You are the chosen ones to experience EVERYTHING so you can report on it all, worts and all. It gives you so much more to document. Travel Insurance is a big deal and some don’t take it seriously. You need to be the voice for those thinking of following in your footsteps. People need to read the nitty gritty. The language barriers when something as scary as medical issues are concerned. There is no room for error to get things mixed up, especially when operations are concerned. The hygiene standards of hospitals. Fast and ready contact numbers in your own country for insurance purposes. Technology set-up, money on cards, skype, email, pre-paid credit on phones, time differences. You seem to handle the issues as they arise hard and fast. You must be the internet queen. And what if the shoe were on the other foot? Does hubby have all the info on hand too to make quick decisions and sort things out? And what about the children? What sort of things have they been taught for safety? Do they have phone numbers and contact details in their own daily backpacks should anything happen to both you and James or if they get lost? Do they know how to use all the gadgets you’ve taken to make phone calls or skype or text etc? I think you’re all amazing, I’d have a meltdown and pull the plug if it were me and run home to the comforts of Mum – hehe. Onwards Soldiers. xox

    • Actually, no, the kids wouldn’t know a phone number, but why would they? We’re always with them, they’re never out of arms’ reach. If we’re dead there’s no point in calling us! Maybe I should get them to memorise grandma’s number just in case, not that she’d be able to come out here and rescue them, but I wouldn’t want them being shipped back to Australia. Thanks for adding to my anxiety Kym!!!

  10. Glad to hear he is doing OK and hope you feel better soon and have things back to a relative normal quickly. 🙂


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