From Thighland to Thailand

March 2, 2012

Thailand 4.14

Filed under: Uncategorized — markchinmd @ 11:50 am

Thailand 4.14: Go to Jail, Do Not Pass Go

March 1, 2012-Wednesday

I am trying to keep up daily but sometimes I’m up until 3 am in order to get something posted. Besides, Bill’s a slave driver.  But this is the process:

Steps for Blogals:

  1. Figure out what to write or make things up
  2. Look and wait for that Kodak Moment
  3. Upload the text usually without proofreading
  4. Select from the daily photos and load onto computer
  5. Upload to which takes forever!
  6. Edit photo into blog

Soooo, I try to get the text up first and then I have to go through the process of getting the photos into the blog and this takes about 2 hours of uninterrupted wifi.  Then I have to add photos from time to time so please check for updates of the prior blog or two blogs for additional photos after the text is up.  I give credit to Jennifer Chin for the idea of adding the photos to her blogs last mission trip.  They add an invaluable look and feel to what we are experiencing.  Plus it gives you something to look at if you don’t want to read what I have to say.

Five ways Thais suggest you loose weight:

  1. “6 months?” – Golden Triangle Inn manager rubbing Mark Pattons’ belly
  2. “you look Bigger” – Luka slapping me on the arm.
  3. “You were fat!” – Lin telling Steven after seeing older picture of him on Facebook.
  4. Van ride with a team of 12 members bottoming out the shocks with an audible “Clunk” at every bump we went over.
  5. Offering Coke Lite  or Coke Zero before you even ask.

Admittedly we are larger compared to the typical Thai.  They tend to be leaner and shorter.  Villagers are even smaller.  However, as one patient told me, “It would be a shame to die of low cholesterol.”

Yesterday we made a detour from Ghan’s village through the back roads tip-toeing into Myanmar making a few team members with prior governmental connections nervous.  They were fine.  As long as they kept their heads down out of view and brown paper bags over their bobbing heads dodging these red laser beams.  We drove up to the Myanmar border and did a little flea market/bazaar shopping before our return to Chiang Rai.  One day we hope to return to Myanmar once again.  Kudos to bob and Cindy Wu for their continued efforts and multiple trips on their own to treat the children and citizens of Myanmar.

Back to work.  Today we went to the Thoeng District Prison.  I was wondering if thongs were part of the uniform.  No, but blue scrubs are!  So that is why we couldn’t wear our blue surgical scrubs because we might be mistaken for prisoners or one of them might try to slip out with our group.  I think we would know but we all tend to look alike.  When I think about it, many people wear scrubs back in the states thinking that the scrubs identify you in the health care field Like it’s a status symbol or something  especially if you’re wearing a stethoscope around your neck (You can buy those and scrubs anywhere).  We got a lot of stares wandering around the streets like were a group of smurfs.  No status symbol here.  It dawned on me that we actually look like a group of prisoners on a field trip.  It’s like seeing a group of orange clad individuals picking up trash along the highway back home except they wear blue here.  No wonder why people were avoiding us sans the beggars.  We need a color change.


We saw male and female prisoners.  Most of them don’t look like your typical thug with tats.  They’re pretty nice with sad stories some even subjected to what may have been injustice.   I ran the risk of embarrassing patients when asking them “What are you in for?” but it helps me to relate to them. I wasn’t prejudice but I saw mostly drug dealers, a murderer, and a pedophile.  This was odd.  Well when you see a five-year old felon, you have to wonder.  She had pink eye and was with her young mother.  They had been here about a week.  Apparently she fled from North Korea through China.  Then they traveled on the Mekong River through Myanmar and into Thailand.  Here she as intentionally got caught and after about a week they are processed and taken to the South Korean Embassy who will accept them and take them to South Korea.  If you get caught in China or Myanmar, you get sent back to North Korea.  It’s a novel way to see the sights of southeast Asia and get a free ticket back to the destination where you wanted to go in the first place with no charge.  Only the accommodations might be sketchy.   Good for them!

Drug sentences seem to outweigh violent crime sentences.  A 77 year-old man was sentenced to 10 years for killing his friend (With friends, who needs enemies?)  Another inmate was serving over 30 years for trafficking amphetamines.  He might get 20 for good behavior.  One girl started crying to Ghan when she asked why she was here.  She was only 32 and blind for 10 years and was incarcerated for 3 years and had many more to go.  How can a blind person commit a crime to be thrown in prison?  Well, her “friend” offered to take her to Chiang Mai to see a specialist to help her with her eyesight.  Her friend, unknown to the patient, put drugs on her to smuggle. The patient got caught.  Her friend did not.

I still don’t have the knack that kane has for evangelism.   The other day I had a patient who complained of knee pain and it hurt when he prays at the Buddhist temple.  I had the interpreter tell the patient that in my religion we don’t have to kneel, but he didn’t bite.   Today I told the patient who killed his friend that he is forgiven by our God even though his legal system didn’t.  He didn’t seem too impressed but someone was going to hook him up with the outreach minister at the prison.





Case of the Day:  A previous undiagnosed 50 year-old diabetic woman staggered into our clinic weak and dehydrated and near collapse held up by two people.   Her blood pressure was low and she was critically hypotensive and her blood glucose level was sky high, off the register.  Untreated she would be either in a diabetic coma or ketoacidosis.  She may die. She needed to go to the hospital but needs a referral by the prison doctor.  The doctor was not in.  He won’t be in until next Tuesday.  No one is on-call.  Then MTI jumps into action.  General Patton gives the command.  An I.V. is started by Dr. Wu and1500 cc of fluids quickly hydrates the patient and her BP is stabilized.  We need insulin.  We didn’t bring insulin.  “I’ve got insulin, but it’s locked up in the lockers!” cries Dorothy.  “Where’s the key?!”  It’s Dorothy’s own personal stash and she volunteers it for someone else.  She’s an inspiration.  (No one on the team volunteered their Viagra when a patient requested it before when he couldn’t go “Bump-bump”).  What if Dorothy needs Her insulin herself?  What will happen to her?   What if she runs out?  She goes to Swenson all the time.  That’s not even what she’s thinking.  She runs back to the locker.  The jail bars are between her and the locker. With two fists clenched around the bars shaking them she yells at the guards pointing to locker.  “I need insulin” She successfully retrieves the vials and syringes and gets the insulin.  She runs back to the clinic. “Give her 15 units!” yells Dr. Patton.  We watch and we wait.  The sugar level finally begins to register down from “HIGH”.   She will not die today.  Can we say that she was “Saved” today?  Thanks Dorothy for making a personal sacrifice.  And I thought I was heroic giving up my Atkins bar and Snickers bar to someone.  Way to go MTI!  We were not there by accident.

We had an Amber Alert:  Uncle Dennis went missing.  Auntie Sylva must be getting scared right now. The team gathered for our typical 6:30 pm meal and most of us were almost done.  Sorry Uncle Dennis but we didn’t notice you were missing until 10 to seven.  Only because some of us wanted second serving and wanted to make sure everyone had eaten first.  We were irritated that Uncle Dennis wasn’t there.  “Where’s Dennis?” we asked.  Ike saw him last.  Ike was sleeping when Dennis slipped out of the room.   “Did you see him?” “Where could he be?”  His room was checked to see if he was in the bathroom or the bathtub or if he had fallen.  We searched the grounds, upstairs, downstairs, and behind the walls and adjoining compound.  No Dennis.  Some searched the streets, massage parlors, 7-11, Swenson’s,

and the bazaar.  No Dennis.  Larry, Lester, and Richard spotted this shadowy figure against the approaching tuk-tuk’s headlight standing on the corner next to the coffee shop.  The silhouette looked familiar.  “Dennis!” they called in unison.  “Hey guys!  Going to dinner?” he asks innocently.  “Where were you, we were Worried about you when you didn’t show for dinner.”  “Isn’t dinner at seven? Heh, heh, heh.”

Ho, ho, ho.-Mark

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