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

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Being diagnosed, picking doctor not a walk in the park

Part 2: New York or Bangkok?

(In Part 1, I discuss how exposed to major expense are expats who elect to go without medical insurance tailored to living abroad.  I also explain what went into my decision on purchasing a policy.)  

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One day after surgery. I thank drugs for my smile and the hospital for my fashion statement.

Let me say that I never have thought of myself as the fragile sort of person who could easily break a hip like so many older men and women who topple because their bones give out while they are upright.  For them, such a fracture is usually the cause, not the result, of a fall.

After all, as I am inclined to boast, I work out daily with a combination of lifting weights or sweating on an elliptical training machine.  Then there are walks of several miles most days as well so as to help me manage my weight.

I also enjoy hiking, frequently upward, on vacations, so I’m unusually fit for someone my age, I like to think.

I confess viewing with horror the prospect of being referred to as “elderly” should I be so described as the victim of a crime or a collision with a motor vehicle.

My level of fitness undoubtedly contributed to my uneventful and quick recovery.  My bones, according to my doctor, are strong.

I broke my hip on a Sunday evening in July, and an x-ray Monday morning Continue reading

Young Cambodians swarm 4-month-old night market

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The main parking area. Vehicles jam the intersection outside one corner as they jockey for a space.

Night markets are an enduring feature of countries in Asia.  The one in Phnom Penh’s Riverside neighborhood leaves me cold, but I remember being enamored of the first one I visited.  It was in Hong Kong in the mid 90s.

Well, there’s a new night market in Phnom Penh across from a distant corner of the Russian Embassy and virtually within sight of the modern Aeon mall.  As I walked there Saturday night for a look, a steady streams of motos doubtless had no other destination in that direction. Indeed, I discovered that is where they were going.

When I threaded my way through one of the parking areas to what is dubbed Jet’s Container market, Continue reading

Month in Bangkok drives a decision on moving there

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Somewhat dated and romanticized view of “downtown” Phnom Penh with Central (or, in Khmer, “New”) Market in foreground. Source: Cambodia Hotels and Travel Guide

Part 2 of 2

In the first of two parts regarding whether moving to Bangkok from Phnom Penh was a good idea, I listed a number of pluses.

If you read Part 1, it will not surprise you to learn that Continue reading

Bangkok would be a mixed blessing for this expat

Flower delivery for Lunar New Year in Bangkok

Part 1 of 2

After three and a half years living Phnom Penh, I have developed itchy feet, a symptom of which is my increasingly frequent travel to other countries.

One country I have visited several times over the years is Thailand, next door, and I have much appreciated the contrasts between Bangkok’s, size, food and diversions to Phnom Penh’s.  Smaller cities in Thailand have their winning characteristics, but I don’t find that they enjoy the same vitality or energy for me as the capital while they certainly provide significantly more opportunities for all that nature offers.

I have been wondering whether we should make our home there.  We still own almost nothing more than can fit in two large suitcases each, so it is no problem in that respect to pick up and go.

But does it make sense?

To approach a decision, Continue reading

An expat’s perspective on health care and immigration

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BNH, the hospital in central Bangkok where I have received annual check-ups.

Technically, I am not an immigrant, though I make my home in Cambodia.  I have only a mailing address in the United States.

What I am is a retired expat whose year-to-year visa allows him to reside in Phnom Penh, where my savings go far indeed.  It is a good life, but it is one without a citizen’s rights (such as they are in Cambodia) and without dependable medical care.

Fortunately, I am an expat in excellent health now into his 70s.  Should I develop problems, the quality of my medical care here generally is suspect and its cost would be prohibitive for anything serious.

You see, I am uninsured outside the United States.  Even if coverage were obtainable from a reputable firm at my age Continue reading

Bangkok building takes architecture to new heights

Meandering around central Bangkok recently, I kept seeing from different angles a startling building nearing completion.  It arrested me from every point of view, and it is as memorable to me as the Gehry-designed Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain.

I looked up the nearly completed skyscraper online, and dezeen architecture and design magazine provided me with background that I have shamelessly extracted here in part.

At 314 meters, or 1,030 feet, the MahaNakhon tower was intended to be Continue reading