When we were in Krabi we met a German woman who had come to Thailand to have her eyesight corrected by laser surgery. She told me how easy it was and how much it cost (48000B) and recommended the Bumrungrad Hospital in Bangkok. It was much cheaper than in England or New Zealand so I decided to have it done. I emailed the hospital and got an appointment for the day after we got to Bangkok.
We decided to stay in the Sukhumvit area near the hospital and see the sights that are accessible by Sky Train this time and stay in Khao San Rd and see the sights in the old city next time as transport between the two areas is a nightmare. We stayed at the Miami Hotel which has a pool and costs 650B. The hotel hasn't changed or been decorated since the 60s - they still have one of those telephone exhanges that someone needs to plug wires into a big board to connect you.
The day we arrived was a Saturday, so we took the Sky Train to the Chatuchak Weekend Market. It was very big and quite good as it is a locals market as well as a tourist market. On the way back we stopped at Jim Thompson's House (100B each). Jim Thompson was an American who settled in Thailand after the Second World War. Until his mysterious disappearance in Malaysia in 1967, he dedicated his time to reviving the Thai silk industry. He was an architect and his house is cleverly built from several traditional Thai teak houses, full of rare antiques and set in a beautiful jungle garden.
LASIK Eye Surgery
Skip this bit unless you are thinking of having it done and want to know what it is like.
The first appointment took about three hourrs. First there were lots of tests and then I met the doctor. He said that everything looked good so far and I need one more test to find out if my eyes were thick enough to have it done, which would cost 1100B. The test just involved having eye drops put in every five minutes for an hour and then having my eyes scanned again. I went back to see the doctor and he said I could have it done in two days time in the evening (he also said I had very large pupils and seemed to find this funny). Not everyone can have it done though and we met someone in NZ who had the test and was told that his eyes were not suitable.
The day of the surgery I returned and had a few more tests. The doctor told me that the less I moved my eyes while the laser was on the better it would work. He gave me a red dot on a piece of paper to practise looking at. Then I had to pay (48000B). A bit later a nurse gave me some happy pills to relax me and they wheeled me in a wheel chair to another floor (which was weird because I could have walked, although I was feeling happy by then). Then I had to change into hospital pyjamas and lie on a bed for a while. Then they wheeled me into an operating theatre. This was a bit scary as I thought I just had to look into a machine but there were people there with surgical masks and everything. I wondered if they had sent me for the wrong operation!
They covered me with a sheet until just one eye was showing and then taped back my eyelids and put drops in. They moved me under the laser and programmed it and then started poking around with my eye and brushing it. None of it hurt but it felt very wierd because I could see it all happening. Then they put a metal implement round it which I think cut a flap in the very front of the eye and lifted it up so the laser could go straight in without going through the front bit of the eye - I couldnt feel anything but my vision went blurry. Then there was ten seconds of laser while the doctor kept saying "don't move the eye, don't move the eye". I couldn't focus on the laser and everything went black so I didn't really know if I had moved my eye or not. There was also a smell of burning! Then he covered my eye with a bandage and told me to close it. I sneaked a look through the operated eye and could see the inside of the bandage so that made me much more relaxed for the second eye. The whole thing took about an hour but it felt much less. Then he checked my eyes and said everything was fine and I was wheeled out to get dressed and go home. Laura came and met me and walked me to the taxi as it was quite hard to see through the mask.
I had to wear the mask all that night (it had little holes in but you can't see clearly). He said to keep my eyes shut as much as possible except when walking or going to the loo. In the morning I took the mask off and could see! My eyes felt a tiny bit sore but basically everything was perfect. I kept looking out of the window and testing each eye. Later that day I had a checkup and he said everything was fine. He gave me an eye test - the left was better than the right but they were both better than they were before even with my glasses on. For two weeks after you have to wear the mask every night so that you don't touch your eyes in your sleep and you can't swim or use the computer for more than two hours a day.
I had to take antibiotics the night of the operation and the morning after and then eye drops for two weeks - all to prevent infection. I had two more checkups over the next few weeks which only took five minutes each. The hospital is really good and like a five star hotel. The doctor (Dr Kittiwat) spoke perfect English although not all the nurses did. They all called me Mr Mark. The only bad thing is that they don't really tell you what is going to happen - I didn't know I would be in an operating theatre, I thought I would just look into a machine in the eye test room. It is amazing to be able to see clearly all the time now.