A Retiring Attitude - Tips on Retiring In Thailand
By Hugh Leong
My wife and I hadn’t done anything together for a long time so I thought that we could go out and do something as a couple for once. Like a good wife, married to the same man for a third of a century, she said “Let’s go and get our annual physical checkup.” Now that sounded romantic. If you haven’t had experience with the medical services in Thailand, and you are thinking of a checkup, here is what you would be in for.
I usually go for twice as many miles than I should before I get around to changing the oil in my car. So I wasn’t surprised to learn that it had been three years since my last “annual” physical. There are a number of hospitals in our area where one can get a complete work up. There is the government hospital. It is very affordable and since the hospital is affiliated with the local university’s medical school, the doctors are all very well trained and most have had advanced studies in the US or Europe so they speak English. There are also very good private hospitals here that cater to the many Farang Expats and medical tourists. Many of the doctors are the same as you would find at the government hospital (they moonlight), the equipment is first class, the service impeccable, but the price is about three times what the government hospital charges. Waiting times are much less though so we opt for the private one.
At Thai hospitals everyone is a walk-in. We told the admitting nurse what we wanted and she took a detailed medical history. Waiting time so far, 0 minutes. After that we then had to pick and choose, sort of like from a restaurant menu, all the different test and procedure we thought we should get.
The computer gives a list of suggestions for people our age and the nurse walks us through what each procedure is for and she helps us decide. My wife doesn’t like mammograms and I hate the prostate exams so we decide to forego them. The nurse gives us both a stern lecture about how important they are and we reluctantly give in. I see from the list that it is a “digital” prostate exam and figure that anything digital entails the use of a computer so I think that maybe it won’t be so bad this time. I forgot that the word “digital” has another meaning altogether (“finger”, same root though). I didn’t get off as easily as I thought.
Here is what I chose. Blood test for blood sugar, kidney and liver functions and about 100 things including cholesterol and 4 different kinds of cancer, an EKG, ABI (Ankle Brachial Index) which test to see if there are any circulatory blockages, chest X-ray, abdominal ultrasound that looks at liver, kidneys, spleen, bladder, etc., urinalysis, BMI (body mass index) and Fat Mass (where I got a pretty strong lecture), and of course that “digital” thing. The computer figured out the bill right there. A minute later we were off to our tests. So far I hadn’t had time for the book I brought to read while I waited.
Everyone I went to from the technician who drew blood, to the X-ray guy, to the nurse who scolded me for being too fat, to the “digital” urologist, were all skilled, very professional and very respectful. The test results were ready the next morning. When you come back you talk to a doctor (in English) who explains all the results and offers suggestions or follow up treatment. If there is any indication that you will need to consult with a specialist then you are sent to one immediately. No waiting.
At the end of it all you are given a Health Checkup Report that has all your results and recommendations. This is very useful if you need to consult with different doctors in the future.
I would say that my wife and I had a very successful, fun, day out. You might want to try it. Time spent: 3 hours. Cost: 6,000 baht. Knowing that you have a clean bill of health: priceless.
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