Surgery with Dr. Pichet in Bangkok

By Lynn

I arrived in Bangkok just after midnight on October 10, 2002. Smelling the city odors, I flashed back to memories of Vietnam over thirty years ago. I have post-traumatic stress disorder from the Vietnam war, and my therapist suggested that perhaps Bangkok was not the best place for my SRS. But I was 54, and felt that time was running out. Saving enough money for surgery in Canada or the US and then going on a long waiting list would have postponed my surgery to after age 60. I had the funds for Dr. Pichet in Bangkok, and I decided to face my fears. No one in the Arizona gender community had gone to Dr. Pichet, and I knew little about him. I am not sure if my going was an act of bravery or just of needing to move on with my transition. Whatever, I was once again in Southeast Asia running point.

At 8 AM the morning of my arrival, two of Dr. Pichet's staff members picked me up at my hotel, Wantana Mansion, and I met Dr. Pichet at 9 AM. He and I chatted about my options; I asked tough questions and got honest answers. He made me understand the risks involved. For someone who has trust issues, I found myself taking a leap of faith with Dr. Pichet. By noon I was in the OR, going under for the surgery.

I had neglected to tell Dr. Pichet about my bad back, a result of 14 years in construction and maintenance. I can get intense pain if I lay on my back too long. Waking up in the hospital room in the middle of night after coming out of anesthesia, I was a bit out of my head and had severe back pain. I could not speak Thai, and could not communicate my back pain to the nurses. It was a very long night. I explained my back pain to Dr. Pichet the next morning, and he quickly gave me an injection that eased the pain. From that point on I had a pleasant hospital recovery, with caring and very professional staff.

And I was never alone. Nit, Dr. Pichet's personal secretary, was there in the hospital room with me the entire three days. Her presence was most appreciated and unexpected. We had some wonderful chats. She is a neat lady and I do miss her.

The fourth day I was back in my hotel room. I could have stayed in Dr. Pichet's clinic the entire time, but I had paid my hotel bill up front and the hotel would not give me a refund. Dr. Pichet made up for the error and provided me with plenty of food and beverages, reducing my expenses in the hotel. Dr. Pichet saw me daily. One night I had a bad panic attack--nothing to do with the surgery--and I called Dr. Pichet in the middle of the night. He gladly attended to my needs.

I always had the option of spending my days at the clinic, which I often did. Next door to the clinic is Tesco, an English-based grocery. I got fresh fruit, peanut butter, whole wheat bread, cheese, hard rolls, and tuna fish sandwiches. I found Thai food too sweet or too hot, and I got the runs from the local chow. I spent a good part of my time in Bangkok chasing down American-type food. The clinic has assorted delivery menus, from KFC to pizzas. When Dr. Pichetís staff found out the type of food I wanted, they went out of their way to get it for me.

I also ventured out on my own to the big hotels for cheeseburgers and lamb stew, and at the Grand Hotel I had a wonderful rib-eye steak. Dr. Pichet showed much concern for my safety, and he preferred that I use cabs and drivers he knew personally. Still, I often went out on my own in any old cab, and Dr. Pichet politely let me know that this was not a smart thing to do. Besides, he preferred that I move around as little as possible during the first few days after surgery.

I made friends with the resident British living at the Wantana Mansion, and there was never a lack of companionship or conversation. The hotel itself was cheap, and I could have used a little softer bed, but it only ran me about $10 a day American.

While in Bankok, I learned that Dr. Pichet owned his clinic, which accounted for his lower surgery prices. He had patients coming in from Korea, Europe, Japan, and the USA while I was there. He does at least one SRS operation a week.

In spite of my refusal to stay put, I recovered nicely. When I left Bangkok on October 28, I was really just beginning to enjoy the city, and then I had to leave. Once home, I did focus on taking good care of myself. I received detailed instructions for care from Dr. Pichet, and my healing has been excellent. Those who have seen the results of my surgery have all given it good reviews, and it pleases me to stand before the mirror. I am at peace, and I am indebted to Dr. Pichet's medical and surgical skill.

To sum it up, I offer the following advice to new prospective patients:

1. Tell Dr. Pichet your needs. If I had mentioned my back problem earlier, some discomfort could have been avoided. Communicate.
2. Bring a companion with you.
3. If you choose to stay in a hotel, spend a little more money for comfort.
4. There is a British market next to the clinic.

© 2011 by Anne A. Lawrence, M.D., Ph.D. All rights reserved.