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Is The Third Time Is The Charm?



Black Pagoda Patpong Bangkok


I thought last week that I was finally done writing about my cardiac adventures. Dr. Patarapong had finally fixed the damned thing, at least for the foreseeable future. Little did I know that a week later I would once again be strapped to the same damned operating table for yet a third time! I really did like the guy, but this was getting to be ridiculous. My first encounter with the Good Doctor was in the late fall of 2005… If you read "How it All Began part 8", then you know how after escaping from a nearby Thai government hospital (that was doing its best to kill me), I eventually made it up to Chiang Mai Ram Hospital where Dr. P. brought me back from the brink. From that moment on I swore to my wife to I would never go to a government hospital again…not even for a hangnail! She, being as tight-fisted with money as any Thai woman raised without two spare baht to rub together, did some swearing of her own about “how expensive” a private hospital is. Not having health insurance and not having a lot of money in reserve health care money is a legitimate concern for us. Still, after my first close encounter with Thai hospital “care” I wasn’t eager to wager my very life on a second go round! I’m willing to skimp on some things. Yes dear, I don’t “need” the premium toilet paper etc. However when it comes to my body, and I’m not too stinkin’ proud to admit that I love my very own body being in full working order, I’m not looking for cut-rate service! That’s especially true in LOS, where one can “earn” his or her degree with the help of a thick envelope of “tea money”!

Last week I wrote about my second close encounter with Dr. P. in "Life and Death Redux". By the way, many sincere thanks to the many Stickman readers who sent me best wishes for a speedy recovery! When I got home from the hospital I felt great! Well perhaps a bit worn out, but mentally and emotionally I was ready to hit the pavement at full speed! I would have in fact headed off to school the next morning if my wife hadn’t restrained me. I felt that good! Anyone who’s been through a serious illness might relate to my euphoria at simply being pain free. Anyone who has stood toe to toe with the Grim Reaper and walked away to tell the tale might understand how utterly and delightful it is to be able to “stop and smell the roses”. It’s not every day that you do get a second chance at life. So forgive me if I was ready to start living it! I was ready to turn over a new leaf regarding my diet, and if I wasn’t, my teerak was! We hadn’t even left the hospital when I was being sternly lectured about everything that I was no longer permitted to enjoy. After a second, even more expensive hospital bill than in 2005, she was damned set on protecting her “investment”.

Now before the emails start coming. Let me say a few words about my diet up until that point. Yes I will admit that I was slightly overweight, but no more than 5-6 pounds. Yes I will admit that I was definitely no vegetarian, but I was definitely eating more fruits and vegetables. Hell, fruit is one of the things I love about this place. Yes I admit that I liked butter, sugar, fried food and a whole list of other foods that aren’t “healthy”. Hey, blame it on my education. You don’t go two years training at the Culinary Institute of America without seriously loving food! But despite my eating habits my blood chemistry was right on the money: HDL. LDL, Triglycerides, etc. Blood sugar was and will always be a problem with me. I had Diabetes on both sides of my family tree. It’s under control, but I do need to be vigilant without going throughout my life as some sort of Ascetic in a hair shirt. If I want a beer now and then, then I will have the god damned thing and perhaps a second! I for one don’t want to look back at my life having denied myself a few of its innocent pleasures.

So returning once again of those halcyon days after coming home from the hospital, let’s just say that thoughts of another immanent coronary incident were far removed my mind. However that very incident wasn’t very far from my body. The “bomb” was ticking before I had even left the operating room. Dr P. had done an angiogram in order to determine where the problems lay and what need to be fixed immediately. As I lay looking at the monitors I saw the insides of my beating heart and was both amazed and dismayed. (If anyone would like a CD showing the workings of my coronary system, feel free to write. It sure would be a great icebreaker at a dull party!) Dr. P. recommended two stents. One for an artery that was completely closed and another for an artery that was severely restricted. He had considered a stent for a third artery, but said that this did not seem to be critically narrowed. And of course the cautionary words of my thrifty minded wife were probably still going through his mind about “how expensive” this was going to be. Looking back at it from hindsight, it would have been better if he had just gone ahead and fixed the damned thing and be done with it. Literary note: If I were a real writer, such as Korski, instead of a rambling commentator, this would be considered “foreshadowing”.

Sure as “God made little green apples yesterday afternoon I began to feel some extremely disquieting twinges while finishing up my last class for the day. The pain wasn’t as intense as it had been the week before, but there was no mistaking what it signified. This time I wasn't waiting for the middle of the night to do something about it. My wife and I practically flew up to Chiang Mai Ram Hospital to have Dr. P. check it out. As I suspected that one artery that he hadn't fixed a week ago was now beginning to lose functionality. There was nothing else to do, so I told him to go ahead and fix the damned thing. And fix it he did! After I was wheeled into ICU I felt better than I had in a long time. I was feeling so well in fact that they discharged me this afternoon. I would have gotten out of there hours earlier, except for…the bill! My wife, who has never left Big C without a close scrutiny of the receipt, spotted a 10,000 baht discrepancy! After two hours of moaning the hospital finally, and most reluctantly the hospital admitted their error and took the disputed 10,000 off of the bill. It still cost me over 120,000 baht before we left. This was the third time I’d been down this road. Hopefully the third time will be the charm!

Stickman's thoughts:

Glad to hear you're back on the road to recovery, again!

These bill discrepancies are a major concern. I wouldn't think to check the bill in a hospital but looks like I will have to do that in the future too…