All things good, bad or indifferent must come to an end

Hourglass

Getty Images/iStockphoto

In the 10 years since I began blogging, I have posted on this site my insights, quibbles, news, analyses, complaints, observations and random thoughts.

The blog evolved from the darks ages, when I emailed (then emailed) a weekly newsletter about real estate in an effort to market my business as a broker.  Its name changed from “Service You Can Trust” to “I, on Cambodia.”

This post is my one thousand-four hundred-twenty-ninth.  This post Continue reading

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With defenses down anywhere, bad things can happen

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We dodged heavy rain inside part of the NagaWorld complex before our unfortunate encounter.

As the tune will do after hearing it, ABBA’s “Dancing Queen” stuck in my brain.

I was humming it to myself when we left the NagaWorld complex, where we had caught an otherwise forgettable free show of singing and dancing on a Saturday night in order to outlast heavy rain.  The hour-long spectacle ended with the cast cavorting in the aisles and performing the Mama Mia hit.

So was I only faintly aware of Continue reading

For many Cambodians, dental work takes a back seat

x1111 - 1 (1)Some of the young Cambodians I encounter are enduring braces in a country where orthodonture and cosmetic repairs are a decided luxury.

Those fortunate Cambodians tend to be the ones who work in the service industry — the ones I see most often close up — and likely have come from families that may be poor but not dirt poor.  They usually are graduates of a university or still are acquiring higher education.  Some are offspring of astoundingly wealthy parents who make up the minuscule elite class.

With respect to individuals without resources Continue reading

Mobile vendors suggest department stores on wheels

x1 - 7They remind me of my Uncle Herman, who was a butcher married to one of my grandmother’s four sisters.

In my mind’s unreliable eye, I remember him working from a pushcart outside a market in Boston’s Haymarket Square.  There was an associated store just behind him as well, and I’m pretty sure it had sawdust on the floor and butchers in bloodied white aprons.

I know Uncle Herman called me by a pet name that I recall was Continue reading

Blind masseur recounts the inspiring story of his life

There must be scores of storefronts in Cambodia where massages are offered by blind individuals.  I gather seeing hands massages are available in other countries as well.

Although a massage here is not an extravagant indulgence for me and other expats, I have gone in five years to only two place where it is the blind who do the work.

My first experience — it happened to be in Battambang — was too painful for me to relax.  My second time was in Phnom Penh, when I was seeking relief for a shoulder that was sore for months.

A masseur named Hab also administered considerable pain, which my shoulder needed, but it was not until he uttered “no pain, no gain” in English that Continue reading

Insurance decision will cost an expat no matter what

Part 4: It’s gonna hurt

(In my three previous posts, I explain the complicated decisions expats must face regarding their healthcare, especially when the unexpected occurs.)

When expats consider medical insurance, they quickly learn the decision about getting or foregoing it can be complicated.

What they don’t always accurately take into account is how the costs of insurance will grow and how risky the lack of it can be.

Having it is expensive. Not having it can cost a bundle too.  Worse, not having it can be dangerous.

With insufficient insurance, inadequate personal resources or both, a patient who is unable to receive quality care in his or her adopted country or another one could end up permanently maimed.  Or Continue reading

Deciding where and which treatment to get took days

Part 3: Lucking out

(In Parts 1 and 2, you can read how I came to be self-insured and how I struggled to decide what to do about my injury.)

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The proof is the putting in of my bionic bone

Bangkok made the most sense to be treated.  But which hospital, which doctor?

Online, I checked three reputedly very good hospitals in Bangkok looking for a specialist whose training was not confined to Thailand.

I found an orthopedic surgeon at arguably the best and most expensive hospital in the country, Bumrungrad, which is among several there favored by many expats and medical tourists. A middle-aged Thai who has had training in the U.S., Dr. Siripong Ratanachai, telephoned me twice and answered my emails quickly before I reached Bangkok and connected us to each other via the Line free message service.  (He asks and answers questions at all hours, even months post-op and sometimes with just a whimsical emoji in response to a condition report.)  I count myself lucky to have found him.

Next came more decisions.  While making them, I lived on massively unhealthy and effective doses of ibuprofin.  Hey, it worked!

My subsequent choices related to getting to Bangkok and staying there.  It took the rest of Tuesday and Wednesday — two and three days since my fall — to complete my research so as to book airline tickets, arrange for wheelchair assistance, ascertain that the crutches that I had acquired would be acceptable onboard our hour-long Bangkok Airways flight, figure out how long we might need a hotel at a competitive price and then make a reservation there.

Thailand adjoins Cambodia, but we were, after all, engaging in international travel with no notice.

Immediately following my flight on Thursday, we met with my exceptionally patient doctor after my admission to Bumrungrad, which has its own waiting area at the airport and a free shuttle van to the hospital.

Dr. Siripong confirmed what I had discovered online about screwing my bones together as a poor option.  According to him, that approach would result in my right leg becoming about an inch shorter than it was prior to surgery and require me to put no weight on it for six weeks. As I recall, he also said that such treatment results in a 30-40 percent risk of problems in the future.  His remark about ensuing problems was consistent with what I had read, the rest of what he said being news to me.

I had a total hip replacement at 6 a.m. that Friday morning and was, incredibly to me, out of bed by 4 p.m. using a walker for a few minutes.

(I have been aware that post-op treatment these days means getting the patient out of bed as soon as possible.  It helps that they don’t stint on painkillers at Bumrungrad; their use explains why I am smiling in Part 1, I suspect.   I did put a stop to opioids after two days, and any pain was by then not a problem.)

I was on crutches the next day, out of the extraordinary hospital after my fourth night, by which time I could manage experimentally indoors without a cane, and had an unremarkable follow-up appointment with Dr. Siripong the next Monday.

I was instructed  to send him photos and videos from time to time and visit again at some point.  Call me a bad patient, but my recovery has been so swift and easy that I was in touch only twice.  I’m guessing Dr. Siripong understands why I haven’t otherwise messaged him.

Next: It’s gonna hurt no matter what

Email: malcolmncarter@gmail.com