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.)
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