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  • hardie karges 2:42 pm on March 10, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Bumrungrad, , , kidney stone, medical tourism,   

    Medical Tourism in SE Asia: This is Spinal Tap… 

    IMG_2193Continued from previous…

    Fast forward to Bangkok and I arrive on schedule, 10:00 hours, no wait at immigration on these early regional flights, too early to check in at my hotel, and feeling better after a half-stream piss at the airport, so walk the back road from the ‘Airport Rail Link’ station at Makkasan to my hotel near Bumrungrad hospital, waving—but not flipping—off the tuk-tuk drivers who only love me for my fare…

    I decide to wait another day for the medical care, though, since I’ve been granted a minor reprieve, and since it won’t be cheap. I bite the bullet the next day, though, since this could gone on forever, and is the silliest of servitudes, impairment is. That means sonograms, again, telling me what I already know, that I have kidney stones—duh. They haven’t dealt with the obstruction, since that is not viewable by ultrasound…

    IMG_1302Doc says I’d need a camera shot up my little thingie for that, and that’ll cost $4-6K, and to grab it, too, or nuke it, adding in the same breath that it could be a fraction of the cost elsewhere, ‘after hours’, specifically the police hospital, then I notice he’s a police colonel himself, so got it, hint hint, just call this number and talk to Nurse Ratchet, and don’t let her ratchet up the price, I tell myself accordingly. Bumrungrad is the all-English ex-pat hospital of choice BTW…

    Sounds weird to me, though, so I decide to make the rounds of other hospitals before making any decisions. Chulalongkorn is well-known, so I visit, but not really to my taste or liking, too busy, must be a government hospital. I don’t much like crowds, especially in hospitals. Ever heard the word “Bedlam?” That was a mental hospital, though, I believe, or ‘lunatic asylum’ as they say in Mississippi. Still, I don’t like people screaming down the hall, for any reason, including pain…

    So I make an appointment to meet with a urologist, two days away, then continue on my way, next stop Sukhumvit Hospital–bingo. They make a quick estimate of the ‘cystoscopy’ at a favorable price, then tell me to come back the next day to meet with a urologist. So I do. He has a better idea: do a CT scan, which would show a stone in the urinary tract, no matter where (since he can’t just take my word for it). So why didn’t they suggest that at Bumrungrad? Good question…

    IMG_2196And Bam! There it is, bigger than sh*t, and not that large, either. So we schedule the ‘surgery’ (sort of) for the next day, with one night in the hospital, all for a couple thou USD—I sign. You can’t do this in the US, by the way, or do I have to mention that? I should mention, though, that I had a stone twice that size stuck in the same place last year, did the CAT, still nobody told me I had a stone the size of a bread truck lodged there…

    To quote my LA urologist, as he talked on the phone to ER (he never viewed a scan, X-ray, or even sonogram): “If there’s one there, it can’t be very big,” quote unquote. ER must have seen it, though, and again I quote: “You’ll have to piss them out.” Only one problem: a 10mm stone won’t necessarily pass, though mine finally did, after six weeks. I’m still considering a lawsuit. I won’t even get into the Primary Care-ER-Insurance-Specialist runaround, in which referrals are sent by MAIL, as in SNAIL!!

    And next day at Sukhumvit Hospital goes like clockwork, nothing weird except the spinal tap—ouch! No anesthesia, just a curtain so I don’t freak, and it’s all over in less than an hour. Doc’s even got a plan for a permanent fix, maybe, fingers crossed. And it all comes in at a cost of two grand and change, for which I get my life back, after a week with Cathy—my catheter. I think I love her…

    IMG_2194Did I mention previously that I hate the US healthcare system—no matter the price, whether it’s Obama’s or whoever? Okay, so I did. Let me re-count the ways: 1) It’s overpriced, 2) It’s mediocre quality, 3) It’s Byzantine, 4) They can’t estimate costs accurately, and worst of all: 5) They don’t communicate with you. That’s one reason I’m here. Most ‘medical tourists’ fly over for the surgery, then fly back. Some of us just stay. I guess I’ve backed myself into a little corner of the universe, but I think I can live with it…

    …and on the surface it might seem that my travel career is over, too, since who knows when or how many times this might happen again. I can’t travel much if I have to stay close enough to a hospital to make sure that I can empty my bladder twice a day, minimum. Curses! I hate old age! I hate the accumulation of repeated mistakes all packaged together and presented to me as evidence of my failure as a human being. I hate karma…

    There is another way, of course: just carry a catheter and learn to use it. They’ll love that at Customs. They’ll see that rubber tube and naturally think I’m tying up in the bathroom, and I just might be! It seems so sinister, so unattractive, so self-consumed and dangerous. And still, that would only buy me a few days, at most, not all that much better than just making a run for the border if and when disaster strikes, like I just did. I’ll figure something out…

    I’ll have to. Living life cloistered and cashiered is hardly thinkable, though not inconsistent with my recurring desire for the Buddhist monk-hood. Now I won’t pretend that the Universe planned it this way, and for a reason, because that would be silly and superstitious. But it’s good narrative, and it might as well be that way, because that’s ultimately the package that I’ll buy. Welcome to the future. It’s been a rough week…

     
    • Esther Fabbricante 4:00 pm on March 10, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Decisions, decisions. Making changes is not easy.

    • davekingsbury 11:08 pm on March 12, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Blimey … hey, is that why you call us Limeys? … what a roller-coaster ride! Glad you had a good outcome but as you say, the future’s unclear. Devil and deep blue sea come to mind. I have to admire the sang froid of your writing, though, do you find meditation helps?

      • hardie karges 1:32 am on March 13, 2017 Permalink | Reply

        Meditation helps with everything. Sang froid is part of the culture, called ‘jai yen’ = ‘cool heart’ in Thai. I think ‘limeys’ refers to the practice of sailors carrying limes to prevent scurvy, or so I once heard… 🙂

    • davekingsbury 3:44 pm on March 13, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      ‘Cool heart’ is, well, cool … best wishes, anyway!

  • hardie karges 2:03 am on March 9, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , medical tourism, , Sen Monorom   

    Mondulkiri, Cambodia, part II: Self-Evacuation—in a Void, Asteroid… 

    IMG_2168

    Continued from previous…

    Now here I am in the remotest outback of Cambodia, but not THAT remote, and so entranced by the landscape, and my linguistic tribulations, that I’d forgotten that simple requirement of quality medical care. Now my kidney-stone drama of the previous year is back, first in Mandalay, Burma, a month and a half ago, then at the border in Mae Sot, Thailand, about a month ago—and now…

    Part of my undefined gut problems of the past week, I finally realized there was a kidney-stone, ANOTHER one, large enough to cause some pain exiting the kidney, and block some urine flow, before finally passing. But that’s not all. There must have been two. And the second one won’t pass, stuck at the taps, just like the one that caused me so much anguish last year in Tucson and LA. But this ain’t LA… (More …)

     
    • Esther Fabbricante 2:41 am on March 9, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      OOh Myyyy.

    • kc 4:02 am on March 9, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      good luck getting rid of that barbed rock, or few.

  • hardie karges 1:20 pm on June 29, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ACA, , medical tourism,   

    Thailand on the Installment Plan: Medical Tourism… 

    IMG_0546continued from previous…

    …so after six weeks and much weeping and wailing I finally passed a kidney stone the size of Boulder, Colorado, this after my urologist decided that I must have a swollen prostate gland, since six weeks had passed and I still couldn’t piss a full stream, after he had assured me that there was no stone, or at least “not one very big,” this conclusion without even looking at a screen, where one of the various CAT’s or MRI’s or X-RAY’s or ultrasound scans must surely be available for viewing—not!

    No one told me I had a barely-passable-if-I’m-lucky 10mm stone or I’d probably have nuked the mother in Mexico for $2-3K some 2-3 weeks ago! No, my big city LA urologist talked on the phone to someone somewhere supposedly looking at my scans and ended up concluding something the opposite of what the ER guy had already said, namely: that there were more stones.

    But at least there’s a semi-happy ending, and my situation improved rapidly after the monster stone passed, so I cancelled my appointment with the highly recommended Bumrungrad Hospital in Bangkok, but kept my flight to Thailand, albeit with some trepidation and plenty of duct tape and plaster. Did I mention that Thailand is my second home? (More …)

     
    • Esther Fabbricante 12:14 am on June 30, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Oh, my goodness. I am speechless. I hope you are on the mend.

      Esther

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