Sunday morning January 27th 2013, 3am. Suzanne was having difficulty with some pretty serious pain which had started much earlier in the evening. It was serious enough that we called our PCMO, that is the Peace Corps Medical Officer, and also woke up our host dad who is a doctor.
They conferred and thought it might just be spasms so an antispasmodic medication was given to her. The hours passed. Things seemed to quieted down, but by 5:30 AM the pain was back with a vengeance.
Another call to the PCMO and it was decided a trip to the hospital was necessary but which one? Near our site is a well equipped medical center. But in Tbilisi, near the Peace Corps office, is another hospital which is prefered by the PC and which is excellent. Arguing for the closest site didn’t win. The PC doctor felt they didn’t have the ability to do some procedures and didn’t want us to lose time there. As this decision is being made Tom pulls out a suitcase and starts putting clothes in….meanwhile, Suzanne is trying to give him suggestions on what to take while trying to control the pain.
Now here is the good part…. the Peace Corps arranged for an ambulance to come to the house. Once there they checked Suzanne and cleared her for the trip to Tbilisi. If they had detected anything to prevent this, the trip would have been to the medical center near our site. So it was off to Tbilisi on a 5 hour trip with an occasional siren sounding to move us quickly through traffic. As we are settling into the ambulance, we realize the whole family is now up and very concerned for me. Our host mother sees only one blanket in the ambulance and runs to the house for another one for Suzanne. In the pitch dark of early morning we are all settling in and saying goodbye to our host family.
I’m not sure how I managed to stay silent during that ride. I had been given no meds of any kind. Tom says I fell asleep but I don’t remember doing so. We arrived at the hospital ‘Medi-Club Georgia’ and very quickly I was evaluated, given a CT scan and learned I had acute appendicitis. Since I was stable the decision was to operate the next morning. The operation was a laproscopy and went very well. The rest is pretty boring…a 4 day hospital stay in a very, very nice room with minimal meds and interruptions. The staff was excellent and the food okay (a soft diet). The only real issue I had was that I didn’t sleep very well the whole time I was there. There were very strict visiting rules but Tom managed to circumvent them, clever sleuth that he is, and be with me most of the time. “No eye contact” was his method!
Finally, I was released but needing to stay in Tbilisi til the stitches came out…about 5 days. Tom had been staying at a hostel that the PCVs used but said it wasn’t appropriate for recovering so he booked us at the Holiday Inn. It was wonderful as I slept well and we went out for short walks each day extending them just a bit. Today the stitches came out and we have tickets on the early train tomorrow for Batumi/Gonio.
One final note…I have achieved great status among the PCVs as surviving surgery in a foreign country. Thru no effort of my own. All the plaudits go to the Peace Corps doctor (Dr. Tamara) who was with me every step of the way as my advocate, my advisor, my friend. She was tireless especially since our other doctor was on vacation and there were 3 volunteers in the hospital! I am so very grateful for the regulations that are in place for our benefit and for the first rate facilities chosen for our care. And I am totally confident that every PCV would be offered the same assistance in whatever health situation they may find themselves around the world.