For the love of cake – my night in a Malaysian hospital
It all started innocently enough. ‘I’ll catch you up love’, I say, as I kiss Scott, my husband on the cheek, and off he goes, to where we currently call home – an authentic Chinese Shophouse, in the heart of Penang’s UNESCO heritage zone, lovingly restored by it’s owner, which we found on AirBnB (if you’re not already a member use the link to get £25 credit for signing up). After spending a couple of hours in the bar having a few drinks and a bite to eat we’d decided to head home, watch some TV and grab an early night. Little did I know that I’d end up spending the night in a Malaysian hospital.
Bidding Scott a brief farewell, I make my way from the bar, where we’d been sitting, into the cafe, through what must be the longest shophouse ever.
The China House Cafe in Penang is a great place to visit if you love live music, good food, great coffee and most importantly, cake. Every day they have 50 different sorts of cake available to eat in, or take away. And that’s what I was after – a slice of some, as yet un-chosen, delicious cake. So much for that plan!
There I am merrily walking through the various sections, past the loo’s, into the garden, past the wine bar and on my way to the all important cake table when, thwump, down I go, flailing like a large overturned turtle. In what should have been a fairly simple task of getting from A – the bar to B – the cafe (and it’s cake table) I completely miss the fact that there’s a lowered section of floor to one side of the main thoroughfare. As I move over to one side to let someone pass my right foot slips into the lowered section, my ankle twists under me, and I find myself grabbing a chair (and it’s very surprised occupant) as I fall. Fortunately he manages to stay on his chair but I hit the ground with a thud. Somewhat surprised and shocked I realise how much my ankle hurts and look down. A ping-pong sized lump has already appeared. A worried staff member runs over to see if I’m okay bringing an ice compress with her. She’s also surprised to see the big lump that’s appeared and, after a few words with a colleague, tells me they’re calling an ambulance.
All the while Scott’s at home blissfully unaware. I message him but, without my glasses, struggle to write a coherent sentence – so he thinks I’m in a restaurant called Fallend and that he should come and join me. After a couple of attempts I manage to convey the issue and a few minutes later a slightly confused hubby appears in the restaurant probably wondering what all the fuss is about, why I haven’t just come home and more importantly, why I don’t have cake. But even he looks concerned when he sees the big lump and my tearful face – yes, I cried a bit, it hurt.
The staff won’t let me move in case the ankle is broken so I sit there, on the floor in the restaurant, beside the table of bemused diners who are still waiting for their dinner.
After about 2 hrs the ambulance turns up. The paramedics manage to help me up and we’re all relieved to discover I can put some weight on my foot, so it can’t be too bad. At least I don’t need to be stretchered out of the restaurant. Nevertheless the paramedics recommend taking me to the hospital for an x-ray just to be on the safe side. So off we go.
It doesn’t take too long to get to Penang General Hospital, the island’s main public hospital. Which is good as the ambulance ride is charged by the kilometre. We’re even more relieved to discover the ambulance only charges around RM1.40 (under £0.20) per kilometre (cheaper than a cab!!!). I’m helped out of the ambulance into a wheelchair and towards the outdoor waiting room. My heart sinks as it’s very busy with people waiting to be seen and it looked as if we might be in for a long wait.
Scott sorts out the admin whilst I sit and look around at the other patients. Compared to a saturday night at A&E in any UK city hospital this is a very different scene. For one, there are no beer related injuries (apart from mine!) and certainly not the usual motley crew of drunks and trouble-makers that you’d expect to find at 11pm on a Saturday night in a large city centre hospital. It’s a mix of locals, many with their families. Everyone’s sat quietly waiting their turn. The waiting room is outside which wouldn’t work quite so well in the UK! Here it’s a welcome relief although I’m sure I wouldn’t think that if we were there during the day when the temperature gets up to the high 30’sC.
It’d be fair to say the hospital’s seen better days and there were a few eye openers!!
After Scott shows me these pictures he’s taken of the mens toilets, I resolve to hold on to my need for a pee until we gethome!
It takes about 1 ½ hrs for me to be seen. The doctor takes one look at my ankle and prescribes a strong painkiller (administered by a jab in my bum) and sends me off for an X-ray, which happens really quickly. There’s only one person ahead of me in the queue. I wasn’t given any glasses or protective clothing to wear whilst they X-rayed my foot – I am not sure that’s right so I shut my eyes tight, just in case, and hope I’m worrying for nothing. Other than these ‘minor’ concerns it’s over quickly and I’m sent back outside to the waiting area.
It’s another 1 ½ – 2 hours before I’m called back in to see the doctor. Fortunately the X-rays show nothing broken so she packs me off home with a prescription and instructions to keep the foot rested and elevated for a few days.
Despite the hospital being a bit tatty my experience was positive and I have nothing but praise for the doctors and nurses who looked after me well, were kind, helpful and spoke good English.The staff at the China House Cafe also deserve a special mention as they went out of their way to look after me on the night itself, icing my ankle, keeping me cool and when I left for the ambulance the lady (I didn’t get her name sadly) who’d sat with me whilst we waited for the ambulance even gave me a big hug. The next morning she called to check on how I was doing. Pretty amazing huh!
But even the best slice of cake in the world isn’t worth this much bother!
Total cost for no cake = RM185.40 (about £35)
ambulance RM1.40 per km (cheaper than a metered taxi) total 11km = RM15.40
painkillers and jab no charge
GRAB taxi home RM10