Go For: A government hospital where certain health issues are taken very seriously.
The last month was characterized by an unusual event. I was almost admitted in RIPAS. RIPAS is a government hospital in Brunei where all medical services as well as medicines are free to the citizens of Brunei. For expats working for the government, and their families the hospital charges a small fee. (More on that later!) After I came back to Brunei from a pretty busy period of travel in India, I had mild chest and arm pain. I was unable to decide whether it is chest pain or chest muscle pain. Also I was not exercising for the last couple of months due to travels. Was it due to lack of movement or bad circulation? I resumed my exercise routine to negate obvious reasons. After about 15 days, the pain was still there. I knew it probably wasn’t that serious, but why take chances when it has to do with chest pain!
Since it was a working day, we scheduled our trip at 11 a.m. A general trend is to go to a hospital as early as possible in the Being unable to get a slot, which is always the case according to our friends, we double parked, and a put a note with our mobile number on the windshield.
Meanwhile, at the registration counter in the hospital, I was charged what one would charge a tourist, though I was not a tourist. With apologies, the front-desk lady mentioned that she cannot help it as the rate is generated by the computer. However it was not a big issue as the fee even for a tourist is one fourth if you compare it with the fee in any world class hospital. Within 15 minutes after registration, my name was called out. So fast! A nurse checked my BP and temperature and ordered an ECG which turned out to be normal. Another wow! I was certainly impressed by the efficiency. I thought I am done. But wait: I was then given a number to see a doctor. It was 11:45 am then. There were six numbers ahead of me. After 10 minutes, the waiting lounge started looking deserted and numbers too stopped moving. It took some time for us to realize that the sluggishness might be due to the lunch time. Brunei has some of these systems, you understand them only when you have lived here for some time. Another reason to go to hospital early.
By the time my turn came to see a doctor, it was about 1:45 p.m. Once again I told him my health complaint. He examined me with his stethoscope and also conducted a quick blood sugar test, whose results was normal. He told me that he wants to conduct some other blood tests and that I will have to wait until blood reports come in which would take few hours. However, to my surprise, the waiting was made so comfortable. Soon, I was lying down on a bed in a day ward and I was under observation. The ward was very quiet. All of us were served a cake and coffee at about 2:30 pm. A nurse came in to check the blood pressure and to draw blood out for testing. I was totally unprepared for this turn of events, and had started getting bored.
For entertainment I looked around. On a bed diagonally opposite was an elderly lady. I was amazed to see a constant stream of her relatives coming and meeting her. She spoke with each of them and each of them greeted her with respect. In a short span of two hours, she had about eight visitors. And through out this, she was constantly accompanied by two teenaged boys.
On another bed was a young man in his late twenties. His beautiful wife stood there besides him for all of the 3 hours I was there. (I did not see any chair with any of the beds.) No one around me was ill to the extent that they needed a helper. But then, that’s the Bruneian family spirit!
I also overheard a conversation between a doctor and a patient next to me. Apparently the patient had fallen down some stairs and lost consciousness for a few minutes. She was admitted to the hospital by two passers-by. The diagnosis happened through an interesting question answer session between the doctor, the patient and the two onlookers. It turned out that the lady hadn’t eaten anything since the previous night. She was discharged without any medication.
Next was my turn. A doctor came and told me that my blood reports are normal and the chest pain that I am experiencing is likely because of muscle pain. I got prescribed some painkillers — and I got supper before I was discharged.
I had completely forgotten about me getting charged as a tourist. The medical treatment provided in the government hospital was much more worth compared to the meager fee they charge to a tourist. As a customer I had no issues. Couple of days after this incident, the lady at the registration counter called and asked me to come over to get refunded back the extra amount I was charged. This happened without me doing any sort of follow up. Amazing courtesy!
Within 2 weeks of above incidence, I had a second visit to RIPAS. Now my arm is paining. And the pain shoots up in the neck area. The pain is acute. In this visit there was no issue at the registration regarding my status and I was charged a legitimate fee.At least today it looks like that the real culprit behind the chest and muscle pain I have been experiencing is my left arm.
After the nurse visit, it was a wait before I would see a doctor. My turn was 8th. I was already with my kindle book, and also went to canteen to eat lunch, and so had no problems about entertainment. When my turn came which was after a wait of one and half hour, the doctor who is a general practitioner prescribed me slow releasing pain killers along with a arm sling and and insisted to come back again if the pain does not subside. Looks like he had guessed it right. The pain did not subside and I made another visit after a week. This time the consultation was a little longer. The doctor (different) checked on me if I was working and if I lived alone. He showed me arm anatomy and mentioned what he suspects. He prescribed me pain killers and a gel and has now transferred my case to an orthopedic clinic which is a specialist clinic. As per today I am given an appointment which is 18 days away. I have bought a cold press and I apply it 3-4 times a day.
The feeling is weird because I do not have a diagnosis except an educated guess that a nerve in my hand is stressed. I type in my symptoms in Google. The Google tells that the pain could be a result of arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, bad circulation, muscle cramp, spasm. It also could be psychological or could be stress.It talks about unlimited causes, complex treatments, and scary effects. But it also says that there are no worries as long as there is no chest pain.