The Ultimate Cut
Greetings All. As we seem to be talking about medical procedures I have had exposure to two different hospitals and procedures in the last 2.5 years. My fiancée gave birth in early 2002 and I had the ultimate cut (vasectomy) in late 2004. It was her second child, but my first.
We'll start with the birth details, since this directly led into my later procedure. My fiancée learned that she was pregnant in mid-2001. Not being yet fully wise to the ways of the world she sought my advise on how to proceed. I was not living there yet full time and was glad she asked. This led into a delightful sequence of events that culminated in the uneventful birth of our child in 2002.
From her previous marriage's first child 6 years previous, she saw a doctor (upcountry) only three times before her child was born. The delivery was via a mid-wife, no major problems developed and she had a normal delivery.
I insisted, and she happily agreed, that since the child was ours she should see a doctor regularly. I requested that she find a regular hospital and not one of these hole in the wall clinics that are all over the place. We found a nice hospital (unnamed for privacy) with almost 20 floors and large staff near the terminus of one of the skytrain lines.
Although she was not a regular patient there the hospital readily admitted her as an outpatient. They further supplied us with a tour of the facility, showed us credentials of the pre-natal and ob / gyn doctors. Most appeared to have trained in the US or UK within the last ten years. Reasonably impressed, we made arrangements via their program to receive weekly checkups for my fiancée.
During the course of her pregnancy I had to leave for work and made three different trips back while the bun was in the oven, so to speak. My fiancée gave me regular progress reports of her weekly doctor visits. She paid always with a credit card that we jointly hold from a US bank. Indirectly I could check to make sure she went by monitoring on-line the charges from this hospital.
Weekly visits for seeing the doctor, assorted pills, procedures. ranged between 800 to about a high of 2,000 baht per visit. Since we were not married then, my insurance was totally out of the picture for covering any of this. Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised at the affordability compared to what I have heard regular visits in the US would cost.
While in Thailand, the hospital made it clear that I was more than welcome to attend any appointment. While there I availed myself of the opportunity and it was almost always a pleasant experience. I was around for two sonograms, but sat out the second one outside. To me, although hi-tech I suppose, the procedure rather sickened me watching the computer screen of a little person all balled up.
I returned to Thailand in my fiancée's ninth month to be there for the birth. No, I wasn't one of those guys who has to physically witness it but was content to wait in the waiting room. I was offered to attend, but turned it down. A birth can be a rather disgusting occurrence and although I have been around people who have been shot, being a voluntary witness to a birth is not up my alley.
Anyway, my fiancée woke one morning about 9am and said the birth would be today. I started to ask how she knew, to which she responded that she KNEW from her previous delivery. I couldn't argue with that. In the late afternoon her water broke, just as we were about to take a cab. The ride was about 20 minutes, normal for that time of day. My fiancée was unconcerned. Just after midnight she gave birth.
The doctors and staff were wonderful, and for the most part all spoke or could understand English. In all I gave them high marks for being open and informative, something I have found that is not a strong suit for Thais. They insisted that my fiancée stay for another two more days in the hospital to make sure everything was normal. I had some pangs that they just wanted to run up the bill, but was soon disabused of the thought. My fiancée had a private room with meals for the whole stay.
Two days later we left with our child. The floor head nurse came by and asked if I wanted to settle the bill now or later. I told them I might as well see it now. I had brought 100,000 baht for what I thought the bill might be and had two credit cards at the ready. I was rather shocked when they handed me a 2.5 page bill of all the items / services provided. Total bill 17,800 Baht. I was floored with how little it was. This leads us to part two.
My experience was probably the next level below a first class facility. We decided that one child for the two of us (plus her previous child) was enough for us. By mutual decision, I went in for the BIG cut. We went to the hospital where our child was born and asked them about getting a vasectomy. Surprisingly, it wasn't a procedure they conducted there. We were referred to another hospital near Silom. I was only in town for about 8 days this time (I work a couple hour flight away) and this was the first day of the visit. We walked into the hospital and they made an immediate appointment with a doctor in the vasectomy section. There were about 7-8 other Thai guys waiting and one other farang. In about an hour we were called in and saw the doctor.
After hearing to me what sounded like a canned speech, my fiancée beat me to the punch asked if the vasectomy would affect my sexual performance. The doctor said no and his experiences said sometimes it was better. I was rather dubious of that claim but let it pass without comment. He said he could not do the operation unless I thought about it for 24 hours in case I got cold feet, because there was no realistic chance of reversing it. We agreed and made the appointment for the operation.
36 hours later I was back at the hospital. They escorted us to a changing room, where I was told to strip and put on the ubiquitous white gown with no back. They told my fiancée she now had to wait outside. They walked me to an operating room. <Oh God – you're not going to tell us the nitty gritty are you….I don't think I can read the rest – Stick>
In the room, the attendants (there were five, two males and three females) laid me down and proceeded to velcro strap down all my limbs. One of the female attendants draped a towel over my face blocking my vision towards my lower extremities. Little light bulbs start lighting in my head, that this is not going to be the same as an office procedure that it is in Farangland. Too late, I am here.
What I kind of objected to now was, one of the male attendants tells me he has to wash me. I said no problem. He grabs some soap and washes my crotch with water that had obviously been pulled from the closest refrigerator, it was only about 5-10 degrees warm (39-45 f). I felt the male attendant got a little too friendly doing this as all the attendants now moved in the direction of the focus of events to watch and speaking to each other in Thai with very chatty overtones. After about a minute he stopped, when the doctor entered. There I lay with a now semi-erection open for everyone to see.
The doctor told me he had to rinse the area again and give me a local anaesthetic. He said something to the staff and they all backed away some, one female nurse coming to stand by my head. I told him fine with the local. He doused my unit with about another 1-2 liters of the frigid water. At least that made the erection go away. Now for the humiliating part (if the previous wasn't), the doctor takes my scrotum and pulls it in the direction of my knees, sticking the needle in the vicinity of one of my testicles. NOW I know why they velcro'd me down. If I had been mad I would thought about getting up. Too late now they are underway.
The doctor made one cut right at the base of my penis. It felt like he then put in his finger inside my scrotum to feel around for the vas deferens. He fishes out one and I hear a 'snip' like cutting a small wire. Then he makes another incision near my left testicle. He fishes around again with his finger or some sort of instrument and doesn't snip anything.
He grabs hold of my left testicle and again pulls it down what I think is about 8-10 cm. Despite the anaesthetic tears are welling up in my eyes. I asked him to be gentle as I can still feel things. He said not to worry. About 10 seconds later I hear another similar snip. He mutters something in Thai and proceeds to sew me back up. As a distraction in mid-procedure I asked the nurse by my head for nam plaou (cold water) to drink. She said in just a minute. I asked her two more times and received the same answer, and a total lack of movement towards the 20 litre water bottle that she is standing right next to.
The doctor left the room along with the two male attendants. The female nurses wash me again, gently this time, dress me and bring me to the dressing room. After dressing I went out to the waiting room, where the doctor came to see me. He told me to come back in eight days to have the stitches removed. He tells my fiancée and I no sex for ten days. I said I was leaving with my fiancée in 5 days for my job in a close by country. He said it was okay just get the stitches out there.
I was brought to the checkout counter. They gave me the bill. It all came to 5,700 baht for doctor, OR, and all the pills they loaded me up with. There must have been over 50 pills of five different types to take. I was miffed some at the lack of consideration at the second place and would not chose to go back there again if I knew it would be like that. In Farangland I have had several friends go through the same procedure and they made light of it and the seriousness of the experience.
Post script. By the third night after the operation I was having raging erections at night. By the sixth day the erections at night were stretching my stitches to the point of pain. As the incisions themselves appeared to be closed I cut the stitches off myself and the pain from the tight stitches disappeared almost immediately. Two nights later we made love, gently. I can say from then on, there were no problems. I just would go to a different place to have the operation done.
You're braver than I am!