Medical Tourism at Bumrungrad Hospital - Bangkok,Thailand
OK - here goes. Although I live in Australia, this...
- 11 Jul 2012
OK - here goes. Although I live in Australia, this site has been terrific for me. I have gained a lot from reading other people's stories, motivations & triumphs. In Aus we have a fantastic health care system - no one goes bankrupt because they get sick & everything necessary is covered which I think is the idea behind Obama-care but that is another topic. I am now 60 years old with a 20 yr old and 16 yr old, still working full time as a teacher and this is my story. Having had big boobs all my life, I could have found a specialist to say they needed to be reduced which means I could have gotten a rebate on the surgery. However as we have never had full private insurance - see above- I would have needed to first find the right doctor, then pay for the operation and then claim a refund which as far as I can gather may have been $3000 off the $11,000 cost of the procedure. And I would have had to wait. These are rough internet figures as first you have to visit your (free) GP & then he/she sends you to a specialist who charges about $180 (your refund might be $75) & then get a second opinion etc - spending more $$$. Anyway I looked at medical tourism in Thailand and here we are at Bumrungrad hospital in Bangkok!
I have several doctor friends amongst others who I did NOT discuss this with fearing they would advise against it- citing horror stories, lack of 1st world support, a long way from home etc, plus of course why chop bits of yourself when it is not necessary, but my husband and I did some research. We went to 2 different presentations but we didn't feel either of these companies were "us"and eventually we chose to organize the whole thing ourselves directly through the hospital and email !!!
We arrived on Sunday July 1st, saw the doctor on July 2nd & I had surgery for breast reduction and droopy upper eyelids on July 3rd & my husband had LASIK eye treatment on both eyes yesterday at 4pm. One of the reasons I am writing this at 6am is a) we only told a few close friends and b) I CAN'T BELIEVE IT!!!!! As I say we have a great health system in Aus - we have never had any complaints but we have never been sick except me for 2 Caesars & 1 son with a hernia aged 2. Neither of us have ever seen anything like this hospital - I was born in England & lived in London & we have traveled the world including a year in Canada/US & this is like something from the mid-21st century with international patients.
The actual email bit was the hardest because although they spoke English much better than I speak Thai, there were some inconsistencies. Also you are allocated a doctor rather than choose one and of course we could not really choose one anyway as we didn't know any of them or have any recommendations. Also we were stuck with the dates that we chose - we have a 2 week mid-winter school break in July (yep that is our winter!) so we took an extra 2 weeks of long service to make it a month off work. We - or really I - started this correspondence/research in the middle of last year & contacted 3 different hospitals but we decided on Bumrungrad and they did tell me last year that their prices were going up July 1st this year by about 15% which gave us a bit of incentive!
So we paid up front before we arrived - mine was $5,800 for both ops which included 2 nights in hospital, Greg was thinking of hair implants - this hospital does EVERYTHING!!! - but cost was against us so he stayed in my room and paid about $2,500 for both eyes as opposed to $5,000 each eye in Aus. Again had we had full insurance we would have been covered for 70-80% but we have chosen to use the public system for our minor health care needs and use the extra $$$ we saved on the mortgage and travel.
We decided that we would NOT go ahead if anything was "iffy" or we felt worried when we got here but I cannot speak highly enough of the hospital - everything worked like a precision engine. We had appointment times, we were never even a minute off schedule, and ALL the staff from the porters to the nurses to the cleaners and the doctors were so incredibly caring and gentle. I went to my first appointment with Dr Komwit & just knew he was going to be good - he asked me lots of questions & made some suggestions - I had a mole at the end of my eyebrow that he agreed it should go, ditto skin tags under my arms and I inquired about lipo on my sides at the end of my boobs. He advised against going from my current DD or maybe EE ( I gave up checking long ago!) to B as I wanted & suggested C or D and in the end I decided to let him make the choice as to what was right for my build and of course the person that has developed around those big boobs! When I bought my bras in Aus, I talked to the sales lady & she advised C or even D and said she had had customers who had gone much smaller (b) & been very unhappy with the results. Too drastic I guess or maybe just looked wrong on their frame.
I am about 157cm and around 75 kilos (overweight at the moment) so I guess I needed some rounding. After seeing Dr K, I went and had blood tests, x-rays and an EGC - due to my advanced age! We were escorted to each department by a smiling beautifully dressed young Thai, we never waited more than a few minutes & everyone treated us as if we were the most honoured guests in their country. The results of the tests were almost immediate - the technicians told me about the ECG & X-ray results as they did them although of course they were then also sent to the doctor.
Feeling relieved and somewhat reassured but still anxious, we set off for a quick trip around our nearby surroundings. Thailand is a 3rd world country of that there is no doubt and amazing 21st century buildings rub up against very basic problems that would not be tolerated at home such as broken pavements - think holes 2 foot deep! -electrical wiring hanging down to head height and open drains and it is very easy to write everything off as "not as good as at home" but the hospital was .... Words fail me! We had been here before but only as tourists - we now looked at all the "foreigners" and wondered if they too were here for treatment - certainly the many, many nationalities we met at the hospital were and the hotels in the vicinity were full of patients too. Especially noticeable were the number of middle easterners many wearing traditional dress –men usually in loose comfy western tees, shorts & sandals although occasionally with long white robes with various types of headgear but 100% of the women in traditional black robes, some with just hijab headscarves but many with full burka face coverings which just gives a slit for the eyes, some with 100% cover – not even the eyes revealed behind their multiple layers of gauze – one had bits of metal in like a hanging L shape covering her nose and mouth – all in that lovely cool shade of black here in the 35 degree heat. Many of them carried the discreet, classy brown cardboard bags with light and dark green writing and green handles - the Bumrungrad take home medical kit containing information about what to expect, any medicine needed - in my case including large swabs to apply the antiseptic cream to my eyes and Greg had 2 rolls of tape to attach his eye guards at night - so that we could tell who was a patient at a glance.
OK after a sleepless night we arrived at 5 am, & I had some lovely touchy feely nurses who really made me feel that I was in safe hands and then Dr K arrived. I was sitting on the bed and he was kneeling in front of me drawing on me in purple pen when I asked him what caused the skin tags. He was a man of 50 ish - hard to tell but I am going to ask him! - & he didn't answer for ages. I thought maybe a) the question was too frivolous to be considered, b) he didn't have the right English word or maybe he just hadn't heard me. Suddenly his shoulders started heaving and he said "Degeneration" - he laughed and laughed while at the same time patting me on the shoulders - maybe it was the pre-op but is suddenly seemed that we were in this together & laughed uproariously - very odd considering the situation! I had my eye-lids done first under local and yes the needles stung but as he promised "no more pain now" after the needles although it is still not something I would want to do on a regular basis - or ever again! Then I had a gauze pad over my eyes and the anesthetist had said he would come then and give me a general prior to the surgery. That was the worst bit - I could hear people but not see them, they all had their roles to play -putting the surgical stockings on my legs, securing my arms and I was really scared and very alone. Then the anesthetist was talking to me, telling me he was going to give me a good dream and not to worry and some anonymous nurse found the time to hold my hand ...then my husband was offering me a drink & I was in the fantastic bed with all the moveable parts and the special overlay that moves - I guess to do with circulation, a nurse was putting ice packs on my eyes and boobs ..... and….. it was all over!
That was about 4.30 pm on the 3rd (op at 7 am) & I don't remember much, just kept getting the icepacks changed. Dr Komwit came about 2.30 on the 4th and told me he was very happy with everything, he had taken 450 grams of tissue from one side and 475 from the other and 1000 gms of fat and to prove it, it was all there in a big plastic bag on the floor! And there it stayed until we left - not sure why, I did sign a thing that asked the hospital to dispose of it - maybe to prove it had been done, maybe I might want it replaced, maybe a souvenir - who knows?? I used a bedpan for the first night but was up about 6am on the 4th still with drains in but Dr K took them out and the compress bandage off on the 5th in the morning before we left at 3pm to move to a hotel 3 minutes from the hospital which at $60 a night is cheaper than the hospital & their "residence" but close enough for emergencies. The hospital was incredible - everything was thought of for our comfort with a long couch next to the bed which was fitted with sheets & pillows at night and proved long enough even for my 6ft 4 husband. I think I waited an average of 3 mins after ringing the bell at any time & was always greeted with a smile and a bow - even my rose was changed daily! There was an enormous TV at the end of the bed which could also be used as a huge computer screen - all tv channels and new release movies of course! My husband had already moved all our things - one sport bag each, the laptop and my hand bag - and the hospital offered a wheelchair and a porter to transport me but basically all I needed to do was walk to the lift, go to the ground floor and leave the hospital, cross the road and walk into our hotel so a wheelchair seemed a bit of overkill! Once in our room, we watched TV & chatted until Greg left for his 4pm eye surgery & was brought back to the room by a porter at 7.20. He had shell covers on his eyes but said they were fine which changed after about 30 mins when he couldn't stop his eyes streaming with tears and it was difficult for me to get the 3 lots of drops in - after all he had had bits sliced off his eyeball & I must admit that was the one time I wished we were still in the hospital.
Still next morning he was marvelling at the details he could see without glasses - he has worn glasses all his life and is basically as blind as a bat without them but the left eye, always the worst is now "degenerating" as Dr K would say and so he would need ever increasingly stronger lens. What they have done is to make one eye "long sighted" and one eye "near sighted" & it will take months for his brain to be able to work them both as a pair and independently - night time will initially be hard but he is so happy with the results and has pinched my "good" sunglasses & I catch him looking at himself in mirrors - he has always had to wear glasses that darken automatically & this has often proved a problem especially when skiing or driving or when humidity makes them fog up - now he can wear ordinary sunnies & take them off if they fog up. He has seen the doctor for a 1st check-up & has another check up on July 13th - in the meantime no swimming, sweating or crying plus lots of drops. Me?? Well today is Sunday, my op was on Tues at 7am so I guess today is day 5 and I am ... fine! I feel incredibly tight across my chest and looking in the mirror at the line of purple stitches across my eyelids makes me feel queasy. I have anti-biotics -Keflex and Arocosia and then can take Lorazepam for sleeplessness if I want and also Tylenol for pain. This is the amazing thing - there is very little pain, discomfort yes and where the drains came out is sore but no toothache or headache like pain at all. It is very hot and Dr K said no sweating so I have spent a lot of time sitting/lying and my back hurts a bit from all the inactivity - sit by the pool, sit in the lobby, lie and watch tv, sit and read ... for a very active person, I feel frustrated but never pain. Sleeping is a problem as we are living a very odd, suspended kind of life only going out spasmodically as the pavements are a trap for poor eyesight and those trying to not step up/down, open wound sites or make ourselves sweat but I think we are getting there. Last night we tried to eat earlier and go to bed earlier and then I was up at 6 writing this so that conforms more to our days at home - trying to not doze off during the day to make sure I am sleepy at night. The day before yesterday I couldn't sleep so got up to have my umpteenth shower & then sat and did emails until suddenly the keys started to sway and the room started to move - that was the moment we both realised that we had needed to come together - for moral and physical support if nothing else! Greg woke up at my second call and got me into bed & everything got back to normal & I fell asleep fairly soon - could have been a combination of drugs or sitting in the dark in front of a flickering screen or anything but we decided yesterday was a hotel day even for meals and today seems fine - Dr K will explain all tomorrow I am sure! We did find a lovely gelato place but unfortunately Greg's Kiwi/Apple gelato may have been made with klong water. Just as well we weren’t too far from a bathroom. Our scales show him 5kgs lighter -don't men make you cross although I really wouldn't wish that on anyone!
I saw Dr Komwit and he is very happy with the progress and took out ALL my stitches & I looked in the mirror for the first time. Not sure .... the tummy area all looks too fat now but at least if I exercise & diet, I know I can shift it - hope it acts as an sput towards that. We had a chat about various aspects of plastic surgery - sometimes it is just as good to spend the money on travel! -and he has asked me to come back on Saturday morning prior to flying to Myanmar just to be 100% sure.
Today is Day 8th and I have had 2 full showers and washed my hair. I am still wearing the bra 24/7 & painting the scars with Beterdene twice a day - I am so glad I read this site and brought my bras from Aus as I think we would have been hard pressed to find one fit here - even after the reduction! Now that I have had the all clear I feel lots better although the bruising and scars are a bit scary and I don't want to look - my darling husband is painting for me! His eyes seem great but he is having problems with his brain adjusting which also happened every time he got new glasses and is to be expected. My eye lids look great - no more droopy but there is still some swelling about 2 inches below my eyes which Dr K says will take a couple of weeks to fade and the swelling & site under my boobs up to 3 months ' ... everyday is getting better and better - you will see, trust me"
I will get the before and after photos from him and post them but everything is a bit harder from a hotel room!!
Hope this helps someone else!
See my story above.