Seems to never stop – operation postponed

Sawadee Khrap

Seems to never stop – On Wednesday Siriraj Hospital call and asked me to come in and set an appointment for Sunday 8th for the operation.  WOW so quick and short time notice.   So got up at 4AM and made it to the bus station at 5 AM for the bus to Ekkami terminal BKK – then cab to Siriraj.  Arrived at 8:30 AM and went to the 1st floor of the Cardiac Center.   Had my blood sampled for some more test and received my papers and had the appointment set for 1PM Sunday 8th.  But now they stated that they also needed 250,000 deposit made when I check in to cover all possible costs – I remember that I was told that a Angioplasty would run 60,000 and stent maybe another 60,000 for a total cost of about 120-150,000 Baht.  That was a a big surprise.   I had  80,000 cash on me and my credit card maxed out would only add another 92,000 Baht  = total I have right now   172,000 Baht.    Didn’t know how I would get the additional balance by Sunday.  In any event headed home – had lunch then called a friend of mine to see if he would go with me on Sunday.

All this time, actually starting a day before, I had watery and itchy eyes.  Since they seem to be getting worse, I stopped by Dr. Mongkol’s office to get some quick drops.   What the hell – both infected  -  told that I had to cancel the operation and get my infected eyes cleared up first – antibiotics, drops and salve – should be fully gone in a week.   Went home, called the hospital and cancelled, called my friend and told him the story .   Siriraj said they will call me when they can reschedule in July or Aug.   At least I now have the time to gather the needed funds – and maybe by that time my blood pressure will have been steady long enough so it wouldn’t be needed – wishful thinking probably.  Beginning to look like I really need the operation to do it right.   Sooner or latter I’ll get through this – I hope.

As always I’ll keep you posted.

Ciao

Continuing saga of my Arteries

Sawadee Khrap

And on and on  it goes on, This week I have been able to reduce the morning pills I take to four.  And then just within the last 3 days , the medicine used to open the arteries was replaced with Valpress.   Franks HeartThe old stuff Metropolol started to give me problems so the switch was made – then I found I could reduce the other BP reducing medicine Madiplot  –  last night almost all the edema in my legs went away – perhaps elimination the Madiplot entirely will help this further – we will see.  Now after a 20 min 1 mile brisk walk this morning – my blood pressure is 146/69  and a pulse rate of 73.   Valpress to the rescue.  But I am noticing a small amount of edema coming back – looks like it’s the remaining Madiplot causing it.

The above photo is the 3D CAT scan of my heart taken in Siriphat Hospital in Chiang Mai – remember this only cost 16,000 Baht as compared to BKK Hospital in Pattaya with a charge of 53,000 Baht.  It would appear that if my blood pressure is under control, which it seems to be the case now, as Dr. Nathawut (Siriraj Hospital – BKK) said – leave well enough alone unless there are symptoms and right now there are none.   So I’m hoping that no operation will be needed – I will just monitor my BP for the next several months and see if the kidneys respond and I do not have future symptoms -  All in God’s Hands.   750,000 Baht down to 50,000 baht already spent – great for my budget.

Finally an answer–Angioplasty at Siriraj Hospital

Sawadee Khrap

Well I may finally have my answer to what is needed.  I met with Dr. Nathawut ( Cardiologist, Instructor at the University) at Siriraj Hospital, BKK.

I left home at 12:30 to get to the bus station by 1:00 – ticket to Ekkamai – 2:10 – then we were hit by a massive thunder storm and that among other things delayed the bus till 3:10 – arrived at Ekkamai at 5PM and got into a taxi to go to Siriraj – driver took a route through town – hitting massive gridlock (should have gone around)  – arrived at Siriraj at 7:00, actual appointment was for 8PM  – safe so far, but no time for dinner.   And didn’t get back home till 11:30 PM – one hell of a long day.

When I got to the hospital – I was taken directly to see the doctor – He went over the supporting documents I had from the CAT scan done in Sriphat, Chiang Mai, which showed that I had 5 semi blocked arteries, 4 of which had no symptoms.    The ones going to my head and stomach weren’t causing problems now and the one to my left side (arm)  had developed new arteries for getting blood – so for now  – don’t do anything.  Trying to open them may cause more problems.   However, the blocked artery to the kidney could be the culprit raising my blood pressure. 

His prognosis is to preform a angioplasty on the kidney artery and see if correcting it will bring my blood pressure back to a normal range.  If this helps lower my BP then the medicines to control cholesterol and BP should be enough.  Estimated costs is now about 80,000 Baht + costs of extra stents if needed or if there are any complications – (US $ 2,500+)   within my budget.   He only preforms these operations on Sunday’ afternoons so they will call me and let me know a scheduled date and time –hopefully within the next 3 months.  Siriraj is a teaching university and general Gov’t hospital and therefore has a very large patient load. 

So oatmeal in the morning, 30 minute walk around the condo every morning and try to get another 30 min walk during the day – watch the diet and take my medicine and get on with life.

Excellent, what he wants to do is the least expensive, least invasive  – just get the job done – saving me from the private hospitals, who always want to protect their bottom line.  They’d be happy to work on all 5 potential stents areas  – and then handle complications if they arise.  Starting at 500,000 Baht  (US $ 15,600)

So if you need medical assistance – head straight to the Gov’t Teaching hospitals – Siriraj,  BKK or Sriphat, CM  —- these are the main and largest ones and get a diagnosis, estimated cost and time frame – unless of course you have Insurance – then by all means go to a facility like Bangkok Hospital or Bumrungrad International – ambience is better, service is excellent, technical quality is equal – errr  maybe -  What the hell – You can afford it.

Ciao

Will this ever be completed ?

Sawadee Khrap

Last week I was waiting to hear from a heart doctor in Chiang Mai and got the news that it would still be better to have it done in BKK – Damn back to where I started – He said he doesn’t understand why the high pricing now in CM but expects it is just because they can – “tourist trade” is catching on all over Thailand  –  local Thai’s would have to wait at the local Gov’t hospitals and he thinks that BKK would be as good and I would not have the plane and hotel fees to pay on top of the operation – So off to BKK I went.

First to King Chulalongkorn Hospital – took the bus from Pattaya to BKK (2hr  124 Baht) then a taxi to Chula – (1/2 hr  200 Baht)  not bad, got there about 11 – what a zoo – there must have been over 1000 people there – got in line and was at the information desk in 1/2 hr.  Lady there told me to comeback at 6:30 AM next day so I could  be in the front of the daily queue  – so I stayed over night and went in the morning.   Back in line  #58, going well, everyone told me that my Thai Drivers License would be sufficient – for the next 2 hrs stood in 3 lines and finally got to the photo taking one – there I almost passed out because of the heat and was told that I couldn’t go any further because I needed to have my Passport, -  DL won’t do.  Shit   Went home and would start again.   That evening I talked to a doctor at a hospital in Sir Racha – his hospital charges the same as BKK but he suggested that I go check out the other big Gov’t Hospital Siriraj in BKK -  better service , better staff and less patients.

So Wednesday I headed to Siriraj Hospital – left Pattaya by bus and taxi – didn’t want to be last in line so I left at 4 AM got there at 8AM — He was right  – started in line and was helped with everything by a “very cute” intern pre-med student – he walked me through the entire procedure and by 10:30 had my appointment with a cardiologist set – 6PM Friday.  Finally, would talk to a doctor and get pricing, schedules and exactly what would be needed. —-  what a relief.    The doctor in Sir Racha was right – about 1/2 the number of patients, – excellent friendly staff,  -pre-med students support, – pricing I am told same a Chula -  Tomorrow afternoon I will go again to Siriraj.     More news as it happens.

When this is over I will have gained a complete comprehensive view and education on getting medical care in Thailand – that is Gov’t Hospital care at reasonable pricing.  I’ll post my findings here for your benefit.

Ciao

Serenity and Peacefullness–Our actual state

Sawadee Khrap

Particularly during this last 3-4 weeks, since I found out about the current artery blockages, I need to thank God for showing me “A Course in Miracles”.   As always, everything I need, I have, if I but look around and ask.   I also realized, that in 1989, while driving my car in Pacifica, I must have had a minor heart attack.  I remember having a extremely sharp chest pain – didn’t last long – but it was a very sever pain similar to what I have experienced lately and so strong that I have not forgotten it.   I remember pulling over to the side of the road and waiting till I regained composure and brushed it off as bad indigestion.   That was also during the time frame of the start of my sobriety and relationship with Christ.

Today I did a quick check of todays lesson (113) at  “Pathways of Light” daily “ACIM” lessons web-page and just had to post part of it here – this is exactly how I feel.  Many are walking this path with me and it’s nice to share our thoughts.

“I definitely can see that my life is more peaceful than it was before I began studying the Course. Every year has brought me to more consistent levels of deeper peace. Yet I still experience frustration, impatience, irritation and disappointment, which shows me that I am still valuing things of this world more than my unity with Love, my one Self. The fact that I do experience more consistent peace shows me that the practice is working. It’s worth continuing the practice.
Each time I remind myself that I am one Self united with my Creator and that salvation comes from my one Self, my identification with a separate self image loosens. My attention shifts more and more strongly to the one Self that I am in truth. I am grateful for these lessons that provide a structure to help me shift my identification from the false to the true, from the conflicted to the peaceful. “

The Saga goes on – this Friday I will speak to another Heart Surgeon in Chiang Mai, who I’m told can do the operation at a rate similar to that of BKK Chulalongkorn Hospital.  If all is agreed I will probably go to Chiang Mai and have at least one stent put in.  I feel more secure having it done in CM, I’m really starting to feel alone now in BKK & Pattaya since most of my friends here have moved away – I still have many friends in CM.

Soon I’ll post the whole story for anyone who’s thinking of coming to Thailand for medical reasons ( paying from their own pocket ), so they won’t get caught up in the “Medical Tourist”  trap – great if you have it, but a nightmare if you are not insured – retired and over 70.   Still I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

Ciao.

Trouble in Paridise – BUT – doesn’t water skiing look like fun

Sawadee Khrap

Very glad Dan asked me if I wanted to go see the Cable Skiing yesterday – it’s getting really boring staying home in the condo with very little to do – waiting for the next doctor appointment to see what is going to happen.  I really want to thank all of you who offered to help in some way after I sent out my cry for help, especially financially if needed  – that took a big load off my mind and helped getting my BP back in check.   It’s always the ones you don’t expect to help that come through and the ones you think would be there are staying in the background.  But, such is life I guess.

First, I was overcome by the cost that they told me for putting in the stent – after I went through all that mess about the CAT test cost – now this -   Again I find this hard to believe that 400,000 B is the usual cost for stent placement – that would be out of the question for an average Thai – so I have been checking with local BKK Gov’t hospitals (should be about 1/3 the cost they told me at BKK Pattaya) like King Chulalongkorn Hospital – largest and oldest in Thailand – a teaching University Hospital too.  Don’t know exactly what but will find out later this week – something I can manage  (and I’m certain without needing help).

In addition, the meds are another problem – just checking on the ones the last Dr. gave me until my appointment on the 17th.    Apolets for example , a generic anticlotting medicine, costs about 1000 Baht for a months supply which was prescribed for me at Chiang Mai hospital  – verses  Effient ( a free sample was given me to try – newer and much more effective at lower doses – but hold on to your seats – I fell off mine again) – Effient is priced at  6,000 B/30 day supply – and this is from cheap mail-order catalogs – I don’t  know what BKK Pattaya hospital’s pricing is, but you can bet your ass it’s not any lower  —  again over the top for greedy Drug companies.   Thailand saw this as a problem for their population who are mostly poor farmers so locally making generic replacements available was a necessity – so many of these generics are available in Thailand for Thai’s incomes –  I want to start out on this road  – not the expensive “Medical tourist/Insurance“  high road.

The problem with this shit is once you start on it you have to stay one it from then on or complications can arise.   So on Thurday 17th  I will discuss in detail the on-going cost for these non-generic  recommended solutions as apposed to Thai generic solutions.  At least I’m learning and hope anyone reading this can be prepared if they need these services.  I don’t think there is any better reason for having this blog.

So I’m blowing off a little steam – but keeping the BP down – and still putting it all in God’s hands – just doing the footwork.   By the way, my BP is down to 130-140, even after a 30 min morning walk around the complex.   Still some fear about the surgery, but I do have a friend who will come down and be with me at the hospital -  Ahhhh what will tomorrow bring.   But thanks for being there for me, without your prayers and help I wouldn’t have made it this far.

but here’s a great shot from yesterday at the water skiing   -    P.S. Not Dan

_MG_1365Ciao


Update–Back from Chiang Mai Hospitals

Sawadee Khrap

Well it’s a long story – Just got in from the second trip to Chiang Mai  – prognoses is I need 3 stents for artery blockage.  Can’t do it in Chiang Mai so I am back to Pattaya to have it done in Bangkok Hospital, hopefully here in Pattaya – maybe in Bangkok.  

IMG_1081But what a ride – if you are planning to come to Thailand for “Medical reasons” make sure you try Chiang Mai first – much lower cost and still excellent specialists.  I went to Sripaht Medical Center, Faculty of Medicine, Chiang Mai University (Suan Dok Hospital Complex). 

Costs were very, very acceptable – I had a CAT scan done, Treadmill Stress test, Heart Echo-gram, full blood testing, saw 3 specialists – 4 times each, overnight stay in hospital – deluxe private room with drip, Chest x-Ray, three air-flights from BKK to CM, one bus ticket from Pattaya to CM,, 10 days at local CM B2 Hotel, food during the entire trip, medicines and the entire cost was 55,000 Baht  ( US $1,700).  Plus I meet and had dinner with a  wonderful young man who is a nurse at the hospital – actually “Customer Service Support Nurse” -  nice.   But now will come the expensive part – the stents.

It all started when I decided to get a blood test as a general checkup from a local testing facility here in Pattaya. They informed me I had high blood pressure and weaken kidney and should check it out.  So I stopped by Bangkok Hospital Pattaya and saw their BP specialist.  He checked my BP and stated “That mine was the highest he had seen all day and I needed to get a CAT scan done ASAP.”  Wow, I then asked what that CAT scan would cost  – 54,000 Baht  (+cost of visit 1,700 Baht + 300 Baht for some medicine)  total cost he was talking about  56,000 Baht so far and I hadn’t gotten off the table.

Shit – my blood pressure sky-rockeded – so I left there and stopped at my local clinic in Pattaya.  Dr. Mongkol Clinic, Jomtien.  The first thing the Doctor told me was to calm down – calm down – he checked the medicine and cut that in half and things seemed to get better – but I still have a large BP difference in the right and left arms indicating a problem.   So I decided then to go to Chiang Mai and have a full test done there and check on the CAT scan cost as well.  I didn’t really mention to them the difference in the arm BP so they used my Left arm and did a battery of tests (without the CAT scan) – see above – everything seemed ok – And their Cardiologist changed my BP medicine and stopped all the side-effects I was having from the stuff from BKK hospital  – great – so I came back to Pattaya. 

Again to Dr. Mongkol – but he was still worried about the different BP and that I hadn’t gotten a CAT scan yet.  So back to Chiang Mai I went and told them about this – a CAT scan (16,000 Baht) was ordered but I had to go through a special setup procedure to stop any harm the CAT dye activator would do to my weakened kidney – back and forth to the different departments – Cardio, Kidney, BP – 12 Doctor visits in all – finally the CAT scan – discovery – 3 severe blockages.  By this time I had been to Chiang Mai twice, and stayed 10 days at the B2 but the full cost was just approaching 53,000 Baht – However during that time  I got to connect with many of my old friends there and dinner with most – include the dinners, movie, and my food during the day – TOTAL cost so far  55,000 Baht —- BUT they cannot do the stents in Chiang Mai.

So here I am in Pattaya waiting to get the stents done – I will go in as a patient of Dr. Mongkol, who used to be a teacher at the BKK training facility  (as Thai patient not as a medical tourist ) and low and behold one of his former students is a highly respected Cardiologist at BKK Hospital – perhaps some savings there – He thinks so – I hope so.  I’ll post what that cost will be when I find out next week and have the operation done.   But so far the savings are substantial.

Not the end of the story – BUT if you are planning on some medical needs  – check with Chiang Mai hospitals first.  I like Sriphat – but others are there too – stay away from Bangkok unless absolutely needed – it has become the tourist center and has the prices to prove it.

Well now the ending is in God’s hands – with that I will rest.

Ciao.