I have required the medical services in Thailand twice now.
The first was at the end of June when I needed to see a GP because I was experiencing some swollen lymph glands in the neck (looking a bit hamsterish). There is no national health here, so it’s Pay As You Go.
To be fair, the experience was not that unpleasant. Made an appointment, arrived early, was late going in, receptionists the same disposition as those in the UK. Lets just say: for the Land of Smiles they let the TV adverts down. When my name was called I was escorted by the nurse, not sure what gender, but hey ho, does it matter?
The nurse weighed me and took my blood pressure. The doctor came in, poked around, felt in the right place and confirmed it was nothing to worry about, just a virus. A course of antibiotics would clear it up, if not come back in ten days. Total cost including drugs, 200 Baht (£4). Less than half of a prescription in the UK.
My latest sortie with Thai health care was a little more serious. I had a pain in my back for a couple of days and thought it was due to sitting awkwardly on a lakeside when fishing, so I had a massage thinking that it would help and it did, for about two days. The pain returned and I started to feel bit off colour. On the Wednesday I started with the shakes, shivers, headache, but no fever. Lynne tried to call a doctor out, but apparently they don’t do home calls. So reluctantly, it was a visit to the hospital. We were recommended to go to Chiang Mai Ram Hospital; expensive but allegedly a good place for ‘farangs’ (foreigners).
The taxi dropped us off at the front entrance, the doors were opened by two smartly dressed hospital employees, warmly welcoming us “Sawadee Ka”. My first thought was this could be expensive.
I registered and waited to see the doctor. The wait wasn’t too long and after checking me out, the doctor decided to admit me. The next question was “Do you have insurance ?” Yes I do. I have now become a VIP!
A wheelchair was summoned and I was kitted out in a a mask. Because of the symptoms: temperature, aching bones and joints, they suspected it could be Dengue fever. I was taken upstairs and delivered to my room. Private room, with en-suite, cable TV, kitchen, microwave, kettle, dining room table, additional bed and two easy chairs, not forgetting Wifi.
After a number of tests and blood samples taken, it was deduced that I had Acute tublo-interstitial nephritis. Bloody hell that sounded serious. First thought was, will I make it through the night? Sounded bad, in fact it was a simple kidney infection.
Two days in hospital, then four days as an outpatient and all is well. The service I received was OK. The food was no better than the notorious National Health food.
Before I could leave I had to settle the bill. Grand total inclusive of food, drugs, lab work, kidney scan and consultations: £850. This included the two people who open the door when you leave and thank you for using Chiang Mai Ram Hospital.
Today, Monday, feeling much better.