Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Peeved and pissed

I walked around for two hours before I found the hospital. They never picked me up from the airport, which they said they would, and they never picked me up this morning, although I had asked to be picked up, should I get lost, which I did, as it was. When I turned up at the PAI, exhausted, sweat pouring off me, and not in the greatest possible mood after two hours of wandering about the lively Sukhumvit and all the small in-roads off the main road, I was greeted at the reception with a bit of surprise, that I now attribute to their surprise that I even ever made it, given that I was never issued a visa support letter (for just in case, especially if for medical purposes), never picked up at the airport, or the hotel this morning. So I waited for my appointment with the surgeon, all excited and all happy that I finally made it. The surgeon was a lovely middle-aged Dr Sotin, I received my first examination, the doctor inquiring me about the cancelled second surgery - "Yes, I had to cancel the second one as at this point of time I'm unable financially to afford the second surgery due to some delays with the last month's salary, but I plan to be back within this year for the removal of the organs" - and then I was taken downstairs for the meeting around the administrative details. I was dealt with by some dude, who never introduced himself, and someone who also never introduced himself to me, but who turned out to be Jessie, from his email. He asked whether I was getting a mastectomy. I said "Top surgery, actually". He went on "So there was this patient, and she was getting a mastectomy, too. But she got the keyhole surgery first and then the skin removal". My eyebrows went up, my frown deeper. "And you're no longer getting the hysterectomy and the ovarectomy as you were planning?". "No, not at this time." Jessie: "That's fine. So the price is....." To my extreme surprise, Jessie quoted one thousand dollars over and above from what I had been quoted all the while by the PAI. At this point, I could no longer keep it in, and said "Well, actually, mastectomy is different from a top surgery. In mastectomy, you're only removing the mammary glands. In top surgery, you are not only removing the glands, but also doing the chest reconstruction, that is, necessary surgical intervention around areola and nipples, too, which is why it is called top surgery for FTMs. And by the way, being the PAI staff, you must never be so insensitive as to refer to your transmale patients as "she", that is so beyond tolerance and professionalism." He went off, promptly came back quoting yet another, lower, and as he said, "the very last figure" - as if I was haggling down the price of a kg of mango - which was still 600 dollars more than was originally quoted to me. I didn't have a choice, did I. I was then explained how I should be picked up tomorrow morning, etc, and how I was supposed to be done the medical tests, etc., and then I was ushered out of the clinic and into a car - ah, the mythical PAI free transportation vehicle so well advertised on their website! - taken to a hospital, called Piyavate. Not only was I now truly lost, I was also furiously thinking: "What the hell is going on?! I mean, I was never told that the surgery would be done at this hospital, neither was I ever informed about my surgeon's name much beforehand although I had been asking for it since the first contact with the PAI". Getting the wifi access code from the receptionist, I decided to look up the surgeon, making the registration staff at the Piyavate wait, and turns out the surgeon I was supposed have my top surgery with didn't even specialise in FTM top surgeries. Why did I even bother to come to Thailand, right, if not for the surgeon who did specialise in such surgeries. At this point I simply took my documents, announced that I was no longer sure of what was going on, and that therefore I was leaving. The PAI driver, instead of taking me back to my hotel, took me back to the PAI, where Jessie, bless his little heart and soul, exasperatedly opened the car door and asked "So Anaraa, are you, or are you not getting your surgery tomorrow?" My answer: "Absolutely not, not with the misleading and misinformation and disinformation you had liberally doled out on me, I am afraid I can't entrust my life into your clinic's hands". And here I am. Sort of totally lost. Signing off.

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