Medical Debacle in Chiang Mai
My wife & I decided to leave Thailand and move back home by July, 2016. We have sold our condo here & my wife has sold her business. Only things left to do are sell our vehicles.
When I read what you wrote in closing your May 8th column I had to agree. The last straw or our "trigger Point" as you once said was reached recently via a small medical care problem.
A few weeks ago I decided to finally check on a cramping I get at times in the solar plexus area some days while tying my shoes or bent forward etc.
On a lark after dropping my wife at work I pulled into the large new branch of the most well known hospital here.
I know they are not the cheapest but figured a small check-up should be no problem & I had used them before to check a skin rash & cost for that was fair enough.
I am promptly shown to a doctor who questions me & concludes that I am in good health etc. He wants to order an ultra sound @ 5000 baht… so ok no problem & I have it done. (I am self insured & pay cash here as
I find insurance here does not cover well nor does it cover me back home where I do have insurance.)
After the test he tells me… well, you have no problem with the solar plexus area (I later find it was just cramps from my long exercise days). But he tells me they see 3 kidney stones in my right kidney & I need to see the urologist.
Fine…so I go to see the urologist there & he now tells me I need a CT scan with contrasting dyes to better see the stones size etc. 12,000 baht for this… Well, ok I guess if I need it I need it right? So I agree & they schedule me for next day as I need to fast before testing.
Bill for first day was 7500 baht (not 5000 as stated) for ultrasound ++.
Next day I meet the urologist & ask some questions about whether the dye could be problematic as I had read
if you have any kidney problems it can be a problem…but he assures me no problem & we just need to do this test etc.
Ok 11,000 baht yes? He confirms yes 11k baht.
So I am prepped with large needle etc for dye entry.
Then when I go to radiology the girl lays me on CT scanner & explains what will happen etc. She takes a couple scans with no dye for comparisons later.
Next she plugs in the contrast dye & it feels a bit odd….and suddenly I hear a voice above my head…Khun sign please this!
I look up & right & see a lady standing there with a paper. She is asking me to sign an agreement for another 24,000 baht added on to this bill! It is written mainly in Thai as far as I can see but I see the "Raka 24k baht".
I ask her in Thai what is this all about. She answers in Thai that the doctor thinks maybe more tests would be good.
I say in no uncertain terms I don't agree as we have not even seen this test nor discussed others…. She smiles & leaves without any further discussion.
Now I have this dye in me & am feeling really confused/nervous as to what the heck is going on. Is there other problems etc?
After 4+ years here I am pretty much fine with most things I expect folks to try & get more from me …not everyone but many do try yes. No problem I can deal with it.
But what I never expected was for the medical industry to kick me when I am down like this. But this was the last straw…my trigger point has been reached!
Suddenly although I *thought* I knew Thailand could be like this it was like I had been kicked in the gut & the heart because I do love Thailand & have loved living here but, I am so glad we kept our home in the west.
I learned much from your column before & after moving here but, you know, I am not a naughty boy type just a normal married guy so it was a bit different for me here. Fairly normal quiet life in a city. But like I said I thought I was fully aware of the faults here. Double prices…folks trying to charge me more…cops looking for something that does not exist when stopped on scooter etc.
But I speak Thai well & I usually all those things ended fairly or I walked away. But this one just shocked & hurt enough to say…Ok, that is surely the trigger point.
The doctor could have said he wanted more tests etc when we met before procedure. But instead he sends this lady in to get a signature exactly when they plugged in the dye. In hindsight I do not think that was a coincidence. The timing was just too perfect.
The follow up after CT scan showed (shockingly the exact same as ultrasound) yes 3 stones under 1 cm in size so they could use easily Shock Wave Lithotripsy (SWL) @ 55kbaht.
But doctor here wants to operate thru my back & pluck them out for "roughly"? 200k baht. Exact price to be "determined”!! He also never mentioned anything about the 24k "extra tests" requested. Lastly, at end of that day charges were not 11,000 baht as quoted but closer to 14,000 baht.
Anyway I am hopefully just going to wait till back home & have it checked again or treated there, as I have no symptoms at all right now. Also I have insurance there.
I cannot really describe how bad I felt that day.
I am not the usual naughty boy in Thailand. I have a great wife & a great marriage. I do not fool around or cruise bars. My wife & I have been together over 8 years & still have a great marriage. Our reason for coming here was just to be close to her parents in their final years as they are both 90+ now. So this event really hurt because it was like I lost Thailand. Even though I am savvy… I thought….to Thailand's faults but this was a real kick in the gut. Already we have all the govt stuff or lack of govt stuff as the case may be + the immigration problems here in CM at a point of needing to pay someone 10k per year just to get renewed + more hassles with TM28 & 30 declarations for where you live etc etc etc. Just too much already, really. But I could have endured all of it really I could. But this medical one just felt so hurtful because I wonder what could happen in an emergency if I were unconscious & my wife hounded to sign things.
This event was a very small medical example I know…But what it made me realize is how fast things could slide here in a real emergency. Imagine if for some reason I was unconscious… Who know what my wife would be told I needed & being a emergency I am sure she would sign anything put in front of her at least till she could no longer pay.