Monday, March 5, 2007

Things That Make You Go "Hmmmm..." or How My Bladder Saved the Day

I was originally thinking of calling my blog "Things that make you go Hmmm..." to describe my interest in random bits of knowledge, but

1) It's one of those overused phrases that is, like, sooooo OVER, and
2) It makes me think of vomiting in Thailand. Well, doesn't it for you?

In 1992 my mother and I went to visit my brother Aaron and his wife Colleen, who were living in Bangkok. Colleen's brother Kevin was also visiting. We decided to take a trip down to Pattaya, and stay at the yacht club Aaron and Colleen belonged to. All 5 adults crammed ourselves and some luggage in a Jeep for the two hour drive. Needless to say, it wasn't comfortable.

We tried to keep ourselves entertained and we were listening to music and talking. After about an hour we were starting to get punchy. A flat-bed truck carrying some sort of bizarre pre-cast concrete alien space ships passed us as the song "Things that make you go Hmmmm..." came up. For some reason, we all thought this was just The Most Funny Thing Ever and we all giggled and laughed, including my usually taciturn brother. I think those things were probably enormous septic tanks.

Colleen soon got very quiet and complained of a major headache. Meanwhile, I really had to pee, but my lovely brother would *not* pull over. Then my Mom started feeling ill. I kept asking Aaron to pull over but he wouldn't. I started to feel ill too, and I said I had to pee so bad that I was getting a headache, this was damn serious, and I don't care if we are 20 minutes from Pattaya, PULL OVER!

Aaron finally pulled into a gas station. There was a bizarre chemical smell in the air. My mom and I booked it to the line of toilets. In SE Asia, most of the toilets are squatty-potties, not seats like we have. I remember squatting there thinking that I was sooo comfortable and tired, and didn't really think I would ever get up... I pulled myself together and came out just as my Mom did. She reported having the same strange feeling in the toilet. Were they magical Rip Van Winkle toilets?

Then a shout! Colleen was down! She'd just keeled over from a standing position and hit the ground, out cold! Aaron was yelling for someone to help, and Kevin was standing there dazed. Mom and I came over, feeling very weak and light headed. My heart began to pound. Colleen slowly came to, but couldn't stand up. My mom felt worse.

We thought that maybe the strange chemical smell in the air was making us sick, but why was no one else at the gas station sick? There were plenty of Thai and farang (foreigners) around, and they were all fine. Did we get food poisoning? No, we'd all had different food for the last couple of meals. We didn't even eat at the same restaurant. Finally someone opened the back hatch of the jeep to get something and realized that a strap from one of our bags had lodged in the hatch breaking the door seal. We'd been sucking in exhaust for an hour and a half, and we all had carbon monoxide poisoning. Luckily we had no AC and Aaron, our driver, had been driving with the window open so he was the least affected.

We all piled back in the now well-sealed jeep, and slowly drove to a nearby hospital with Aaron sticking his head out the window the entire way. We spent 30 minutes or more arguing with the doctors who told us we had food poisoning, which we deduced to be impossible. Finally, on our insistence they gave us oxygen and some sort of mysterious pills. Meanwhile my mother developed nausea and constant vomiting.

Hours later we made it to the yacht club. Colleen and my Mom spent the weekend vomiting and headachy, and the rest of us lounged around weakly in the surf. A friend drove us gals back to Bangkok in an air conditioned chauffeured car, and Kevin and Aaron drove back in the Jeep with all windows open and alert to danger. A mechanic checked the Jeep later, and it turned out there was indeed a hole in the muffler.

We are all alive and well today despite our brush with death by deadly gas. What would have happened to us if we'd stayed in the car and not stopped so I could pee? Colleen had already been sleeping, and the rest of us may have slipped under soon. I like to think my small bladder saved the day! Still, when ever I hear "Things that make you go Hmmm..." I think of those alien cement pods, and the carbon monoxide that made us loopy enough to think septic tanks were funny.

1 comment:

Stephanie said...

Look at your white hair!! And thank goodness for your small bladder. That must have been freaky-scary.