Three o’clock in the morning, is there a doctor in the house?

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.

Categories: Uncategorized | 13 Comments

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13 thoughts on “Three o’clock in the morning, is there a doctor in the house?

  1. Mary Ann Tarpey

    Wow! You certainly know how to experience the WHOLE country! So glad all worked out well and you had such good care. Am enjoying your posts. Stay well,
    Mary Ann

  2. Cathy

    Wow! What experiences you are having! Glad that all is well! Love, Cathy

  3. Judy Sassetti

    We’re so happy to hear that all went well. It must have been pretty scary to need surgery so far from home and all that is familiar. These are memories much better remembered after the fact when the kindnesses and competency rise above the fear. We appreciate your posts. Bob and Judy

  4. Marcella Marie Missar

    Seems to me, that you had medical assistance better than you would have had here in Delaware where we are surrounded by hospitals and doctors. The Peace Corps may find permanent volunteers in you and Tom!!!!

  5. Sarah Kelzenberg

    I’ll bet you are glad that that episode is over. Here’s to a healthy rest of your time as a PCV!!!

  6. Glad you’re recovering so quickly, Suzanne! What an experience! We found that the PC medical staff in Rwanda were amazing. We also felt totally cared for. We’d give you points also for surgery while being a PCV! Hooray! Take care!

  7. Dana Wright

    Suzanne, Glad to hear that you got the first rate care and that you are recovering nicely!!! Love, Dana, Jackie and Chloe

  8. Cass and John

    We are grateful that you are better and that you had access to such caring people and good medical care. We can see by the photos your gradual improvement. We are glad that the Holiday Inn was available to you both. Hope all goes well as you ease back into your routine.

  9. Cheryl & Steve

    Gosh, sounds like you are having the complete PCV experience! So happy you received excellent care and are feeling better. Take good care. Hopefully, your next adventure will be less exciting. Glad you were able to fully enjoy your trip to Costa Rica without medical problems and you were “home” where you had connections and medical care available.

    Thank you for keeping us updated; we look forward to hearing from you.

    Cheryl & Steve

  10. Carr Mary

    Hi Suz,

    You look good from what I can tell in the picture. I am so glad the care was good. Not only good but
    sounds like outstanding. Take care and will email soon. With love Mary and Jeff

  11. Mary Romine

    So glad you are doing well . . the advantage to finding out when it is all over! Continue in good health, both of you. Just love your adventures…


  12. hmhurt

    Suzanne – I can’t believe what I am reading. I have not been receiving the blog for two months and just stumbled upon this while googling something else. I am grateful that you were well cared for and for Tom’s ability to ‘avoid eye contact’!. God bless. It is snowing wildly here in Littleton. You would have enjoyed an article in the Denver Post this a.m. about Dick Ling. Your are missed and I also see that you were able to get away to visit the kids in Costa Rica. Take good care. Hope my blog starts arriving.


    • Hi Suzanne & Tom, If my memory and note serves me correctly, a birthday is
      in the air! HAPPY BIRTHDAY SUZANNE!!
      We just had another snowstorm this Sat. but it was “light” only 4-5 inches.
      My tulips are up about 3″ so spring can’t be far behind. WE are doing okay.
      One day at a time, so to speak. Love, Gina & John

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