It seems that somehow I managed to discharge myself against the advice of the doctors today. Im thinking it may have been when I refused to allow a third round of injections by the stern no nonsense and definitely no English doctor this morning that did me in. “Your causing too much trouble and we are ready to get rid of you” is what I imagine was written across the top of the Vietnamese document now tucked into the front pocket of my backpack. Truth is, which we only later learned through a 4 way Skype translating session with my mom’s Vietnamese speaking colleague, the doctor, an English teacher patient from our hospital wing, and my spokesman Max, that due to one of many miscommunications we had signed something saying I was leaving and refusing service. So why am I still lying here receiving IV fluids all afternoon you may ask? Turns out they thought I was dealing with transportation issues and were letting me crash here and get meds on the house. I am essentially a hobo with a free IV…let the ridiculousness continue!

Most of the afternoon was dedicated to maneuvering the red tape necessary to readmit myself for care. While I wanted nothing less than to hightail it out of there, I was still struggling to breathe and one more night of monitoring would do me good. At an exorbitant price of $40 a night, it was decided that we could afford a bit of big of extravagance in hopes of finally clearing this all up. In any case, it seemed that Max still had many nooks and crannies left of Lao Cai to explore and much to learn from the Vietnamese following he had amassed over our time spent here.

The “crazy aunt,” of room 410 taught him the difference between single and married in Vietnamese, some hospital security guards gave him a assorted tasting of the local liquor, and it was a joint effort between hospital staff and our hotel owner Tong for him to master numbers 1-10. While I got to know the ins and outs of bed 361 in wing B2 of Lao Cai General, Max learned the inner workings of a foreign medical system, a Chinese border town, and a language and managed to do it all off of very little sleep. His support as well as comedic relief and optimistic outlook is the only reason I made it through this experience with some sanity intact. It seems that everyone the hospital could sense how much I needed him, and when it came time for him to make the trek back to his hotel in Lao Cai and leave me for my 2nd full overnight, they put up quite a stink about him leaving. “Here is your spare bed brother. We really think you should stay with her brother (PS: we convinced everyone we were brother and sister because it made things easier and surprisingly no one challenged us or even asked that many questions = the one time the language barrier worked in our favor)” I know they all love him, but I also got the feeling they did not want to be left alone again with the uncommunicative foreign girl in case anything went down and I really couldn’t blame them.

That night was rough. For many hours I couldn’t sleep, and once sleep began to rack my body it seemed frightfully uncontrollable, as if it was pulling me under into something I might not wake up from. I found myself in the cold dark hallway alone, having my first ever panic attack. Skyping with my dad finally brought me back to reality while concurrently really worrying my parents as to my well being. It took much of the next morning to convince them there was no need to airlift me out of there or to take drastic measures like getting on a plane to Vietnam; once Max was back all order was restored and we were finally ready to start making our way out of here…or at least so we thought.

To be continued…again.