I had my big toenail ripped off, ouch!
22.04.2008 - 22.04.2008 91 °F
The day started off normal enough. After BF, the group decision was to visit the big market and see if there were any bargains to be had. It is quite a walk from the Blue Star, so we took a taxi. Split 3 ways it is very cheap way to get around NT. I really wasn't fired up to 'shop until I dropped', but went along for group harmony. I did find a VN t-shirt that looked good, but could of done that a block from my hotel. After shopping, the new plan is to walk over to a bank so "V" could change a travel check into VND. It was not too far, but it was sunny and HOT! I still had my umbrella purchased in DaLat, so I was not getting too much sun. Lucky for me they have chairs in the VietCom Bank. It takes awhile to change a Canadian travel check into US dollars into Vietnamese dong. But, I was sitting in an air con lobby, so I was not complaining. Then the group decision is to walk back to our hotels. I vote that is this stupidity. It is too far and too hot. After a bit of arguing, "H" votes with me and then "V" switches his vote when I tell them I will pay for it. Now it is 3 against one and we hail a taxi. I am happy to pay 20,000VND rather than endure another death march in the VN sun. I learned my lesson in DaLat. That slog took a lot out of me. My legs hurt not only that day, but the next as well.
Once back to our hotels, we agree to meet in an hour and hit the beach. We meet at Blue Star lobby and walk across to the main NT beach. It is Sunday and heaps of VN people are out and enjoying their day off from work. Most are hiding in the shade of the tress, good strategy on a hot day. We price the beach beds closest to us and get a surprise. This lady wants 30,000VND for one beach bed. It is 3:00pm, hardly an all day rental. She won't budge and we walk off a bit pissed off. This is more than we pay in Pattaya. I know the Sailing Club is less than that, so we head down the beach. They want 20,000 for a beach bed and I agree. "V" & "R' decide even this is too much considering the time and they head for the trees. I pay and get ready to read my book. Unfortunately it is partly in the sun and I want full shade. I should of got the guy who takes your money to do it for me. First mistake. I get in front and try to drag it into the shade. Mistake #2 it turns out. These things are solid wood and are heavy! I got in the front and try to drag it a few feet into the shade of the umbrellas. Unfortunately I drag it right over my toe. Well, that is not exactly true. The solid wood front hits my big toenail square on and rips off 90% of it. Ouch! It is bleeding pretty good and there goes my idyllic afternoon on the beach. I limp across the sand in my bloody sandals and show my friends my damaged toe. They suggest a hospital but don't know where. It is only a block to Octopus Divers on Biet Thu St. I know these guys are familiar with injuries and the location of a hospital. There is only 1 guy there at this time of day, the rest are out diving. He gets a motorbike taxi guy and tells him the name of the hospital. Off we go with my foot balanced as well as I can on the footrest. 5 minutes later we are at the emergency room entrance. I limp into the ER and show the first person I see my toe. He scurries off and finds an English speaking guy. I don't know if he is a Dr, a PA or nurse, but he knows what to do. A quick consult and they decide to rip off the entire nail. I lobby to save the nail, but that is not possible, all agree on that. He irrigates the toe, then gives me a shot of Lidocaine to numb the area. He waits a few minutes to let it work and finds out how I injured my toe. He then gets out a large pair of tweezers to remove the nail. I brace myself and with a quick jerk, off comes the entire big toenail. Luckily, it really did not hurt very much. In fact, the toe did not hurt very much after the first few seconds of the accident. Good thing, as I am not a real hero when it comes to dealing with pain.
Now that the toenail is off, the guy uses disinfectant and then wraps the toe in a dressing. I limp out to the see the Doc and he writes a prescription for pain pills and antibiotics. They make up the bill and give it to me. I am pleasantly surprised to see that it is $15 for the visit. Compare that to going to an ER in the US. I thank everyone involved and limp out to the parking lot. My moto guy is still waiting for me, as agreed. He takes me to a pharmacy close to my hotel and I fill the antibiotic part of the prescription. The one he wrote down is about a a dollar per pill. Since I need 3/day for 7 days, I object to a $21 bill. She tells me about another antibiotic that is much less money but still effective. 30,000VND for this antibiotic. Now we are talking. I pass on getting the pain pills filled, it does not hurt. I pay my moto guy and limp into the lobby. Huong, the front desk lady says she would have called a Doc to the hotel if I had shown it to her first. Well, I did not want to limp that far when I basically knew it was beyond a pharmacist or a friend attending to it. Besides, if I had done that, I would not have visited a VN hospital and had a new experience. Professional and affordable. I got good care at a reasonable price. I suspect VN citizens pay even less, but so what? I was happy, the Doc was happy, a win, win deal for all involved.
I checked with the guys at Octopus Divers later that day and all of them recommended salt water treatment. It proved to be good advice as it scabbed over in a few days with frequent use of salt water. I made my own, table salt and bottled water. I poured it over my toe several times a day until I was happy with the scab forming. This accident really only effected one day out of a 30 day trip to SEA. I feel fortunate that my stupid accident did not ruin my trip. It certainly could have if it had become infected. By keeping it clean and using the antibiotics, I dodged that bullet. A potential disaster turned out to be a educational experience, for me and now, for you. Don't hesitate to use the VN medical system if you injure yourself or become ill.