Last Friday Noo and I decided to brave the dangers of imminent death by driving through Bangkok’s hinterland only a couple of days before millions of anti-government forces gather to shut down our capital city. This singular act of driving courage, (or foolishness), was so that I could keep an appointment with an eminent professor / medical specialist who, I am reliably informed, is the foremost expert on pancreas related medical conditions in Thailand.
We set off from Pattaya at about 6.15 a.m. and were in the Siriraj hospital car park , on the Thon Buri side of Bangkok, at just after 8.30 a.m. All things considered, it was a pretty good run, especially as we had the Friday morning rush-hour to contend with.
Being the perverse individual that I am, I declined to follow either of the routes that were selected by my GPS aids, (Garmin and Google-maps), as they would have taken me through the centre of Bangkok, and in particular, slap bang into the middle of the protest sites. So I superimposed my own route, which entailed us taking route 7, then route 3 and thence to the Bang Na elevated express-way to Dao Khanong, via the Rama 9 bridge. Once in Thon Buri, on the other side of the Chao Phraya River, I took a right along Suk Sawat Road, which pretty much took me all the way to the hospital.
Siriraj hospital, which is state-owned and is part of Mahidol University’s faculty of medicine, is by far and away the largest hospital in Thailand. It is much larger than Rajiviti hospital, where I had my heart valve replacement operation, and is Thailand’s principal medical centre of excellence.
H.M. the King of Thailand himself spent several years living and being cared for under its hallowed roofs.
My appointment was actually at Siriraj’s brand new state-of the-art wing – Siriraj Piyamaharajkarun hospital, (SiPH) – which was opened in 2012. It has been established as a separate, fee paying hospital which can draw upon the specialists and facilities of the main government hospital to which it is attached. The proceeds of this new venture are ploughed back into general hospital funds.
The building is something to behold, and although there is a small sign prohibiting photographs, I did manage to sneak a few illegal ‘clicks’, which I reproduce herewith below.
Note the opulence of the hospital, which I reckon employs more genuflecting, uniformed flunkies than Bangkok’s Oriental Hotel. Even the luxurious Bumrungrad hospital on the other side of the river must be envious of such extravagant trappings as the huge ‘infinity lake’ adjacent to the main reception area.
I was due to see the doc at 10.30, but as I had arrived early, they shifted my appointment forward, and I was ushered into the good doc’s office at 9.30.
I mentioned recently that consultations with Thai doctors are always a bit of lottery and you never know what to expect.
Fortunately, this doctor was one of the most learned and communicative that I have ever encountered – anywhere – and his command of English was excellent. He immediately put me at ease and was happy to patiently answer every silly question that I put to him.
We discussed my condition and treatment at some length, which resulted in the decision to undergo an endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) on 29th January. This will involve having a tiny camera inserted into my stomach to have a close look at my pancreas. The purpose of this is to assess the precise condition of my pancreas and to check if there are any cancerous growths. It will also confirm once and for all whether it is my pancreas or maybe something else which has been causing me so many problems.
The procedure will be carried out under anaesthetic, but I will be able to go home the same day.
However, it will be carried out in the ‘normal’ part of the hospital, so I as well as registering as a ‘private’ patient I also had to go to the main hospital building and register as a ‘normal’ patient. It’s a very strange, somewhat bizarre system, but I’m not complaining as it will obviously be cheaper than if it was done in the private wing.
Indeed, how could I ever complain about their fees? The good doctor, as previously mentioned, is a University professor and Thailand’s leading GI expert and he boasts a string of scholarly medical papers to his name. He charged me a grand total of 500 baht, (10 quid/17 bucks), for a 45 ++minute consult.
Crazy ain’t it?
Only in Thailand….
Despite the Friday afternoon exodus from Bangkok, the journey back home only took just over 2 hours. On the way, I was reminded, as ever, of the spectacular Bangkok skyline which can be seen to maximum effect when driving along the city’s network of elevated express-ways.
It very difficult to take decent pics when hurtling along in a car with the windows shut, but here’s a few humble efforts that might interest some of you who have never had the pleasure of driving along the ‘City of Angels’ multi-faceted Express-ways.
Last night, I had my second pain attack in 7 days. usually the pain takes 30-60 minutes to fully develop but this time, it came on so suddenly that it caught me unaware and I was already rolling in agony before I had a chance to take my pain meds.
It started at around 10 p.m. and was pretty bad – maybe a 9 out of 10 – and the pain didn’t subside until after 5 a.m. this morning. In all, I had about 2 hours sleep and I am trying to wrap this blog up while feeling completely zonked out – both by the meds and lack of sleep.
So please excuse any ‘defective’ or convoluted text…..