Danang, Vietnam–Medical Emergency

So, a funny thing happened.  I’d been jogging on the beach every other day for about two weeks.  These were not long trips, or especially difficult–about two miles each time.  Then one night I got to the half-way mark and I started having a serious case of heartburn.  While it was certainly inconvenient, it was no big deal and I finished exercising.

The problem was that the discomfort didn’t go away even after I’d stopped jogging.  Instead, it progressed.  I don’t often get heartburn (not anymore at least) and so I didn’t have any antacids on hand.   But Ryan is a nice husband and so he ventured to the 24 hour K-Market (a Korean convenience store) down the road and bought me some milk.  This didn’t help either, but I eventually was able to get some sleep.

When I woke up the next morning, the problem was even worse and it became more and more of an issue throughout the day until my arm eventually went numb around 10pm.  (I should mention that I had found some legitimate antacid tablets at a local pharmacy that morning and had taken the maximum dose throughout the course of the day.  Nothing.  Now it was 24 hours later and my arm was numb.)  This had me a little worried.  It was my left arm.  In addition, shooting pains were making it difficult to breathe and I began holding my arm like a broken chicken wing.

I called my father who is a doctor and he told me to go to the hospital.  We took a cab and about fifteen minutes later I was ushered to a bed in the Danang Emergency Room.  This was an interesting experience with the language barrier and all.  The doctor spoke fairly good English and the nurses tried.  They were efficient and attentive, checking in often and getting the message across one way or another when they took me first to get an EKG and then second to get some chest x-rays.

I was mortified to be causing so much trouble over heartburn, but by this time I could barely move and breathe.  Ryan was calm and supportive and this kept me surprisingly calm.  In fact, there were times when I had to stop myself from laughing (this would have hurt really bad).  I kept thinking that my sister would get such a kick out of my broken chicken wing arm.  It was so pathetic!  I asked Ryan to sneak in a few photos.

It was eventually concluded that I was suffering from a rare case of Intercostal Neuralgia (or nerve pain located in the rib cage between the ribs).  While the condition is usually a result of either illness or injury, neither seemed to apply to me unless my jogging was to blame.  This seems unlikely, but it remains the only conceivable possibility for my strange medical emergency.

The doctor gave me a stout pain killer, with a prescription for more, and sent me home on muscle relaxers.  I’ve never been so relaxed in my life!  I feel like I was literally melting into that bed.  A week of rest put me right as rain and I’ve had no problems since.  All in all, it wasn’t a terrible experience.  It was even surprisingly affordable at $849,600VND (which is less than $40USD).  Still, I guess I’ll have to think twice before I go jogging on the beach in the future.  Sad Panda!

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One Response to Danang, Vietnam–Medical Emergency

  1. Michael Miller

    This is a good litany that turned out well.

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