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Sunday, 25 March 2012

Of pills and medicine. Saigon : Vietnam memories 1965 1975


Of pills and medicine. Saigon

Once I found my three year old walking around with some coloured pills in his hands. On investigating further I found they were mine that I had thrown away but the maid had gathered up and kept. In fact she had quite a large collection of all the old pills and tablets that I had thrown away. Furious I chucked them all out. She then gathered them up again. The Vietnamese hated throwing anything away but this was highly dangerous. As she didn't know what they were for I didn't understand how they were to be used. On visiting a family member I was surprised to see a whole cupboard full of medicine. I would never keep more than aspirin or alka seltzer in the house unless it was something under use.

If one had a problem one could discuss it with a pharmacien and he would sell you what you needed without going to a doctor. Prescriptions didn't seem to matter. The pharmaciens were very competent and seemed to know a lot more than some of the doctors.

Unfortunately my French doctor got sick and went back to France to be operated on. He then returned to Saigon but his condition deteriorated and he had to leave again. He died shortly after in France. It was a great shame. A very good doctor, he was one of those rare one's I was comfortable with. Vietnam was a country where a person needed a doctor he could trust.

TB was endemic in Vietnam. One day I decided everybody should be checked. We found that an old family retainer living with us had it and I had to ask him to leave. He wasn't my responsibility and I couldn't put up with that in the house with children around.

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