February 14, 2002
Iím going to give you my narrative; use what you'd like and edit the rest. My main intent is to warn others of the risks of SRS with Dr. Preecha, and about the shoddy way he treats his patients.
My original plan had been to go to Dr. Brassard in Montreal. Unfortunately his waiting list was 14 months, and Dr. Meltzer's was 18 months. I went to Dr. Preecha instead. He could do the SRS operation and several facial operations I wanted in short order, basically as soon as I got there. Dr. Preecha had been recommended to me by several other girls I had met on the Internet, and he seemed the perfect choice.
During the weeks until my passport arrived, I was in constant contact with Dr. Preecha's nurse, a "Mr. Eddie," who managed after some prodding to answer most of my questions. I finally flew alone to Bangkok on August 21, 2001.
I arrived exhausted in Bangkok late on the 22nd, actually close to morning of the 23rd. I was supposed to meet Mr. Eddie at the terminal in Bangkok; however, his instructions, while detailed, were completely wrong. After paging Mr. Eddie at the information booth, I was finally able to meet him. On the ride to the hotel he seemed friendly and helpful.
I was supposed to go into surgery on the 23rd, but it seems that Dr. Preecha had not quite planned for me, so I was put off until the 24th, and told to come to the office at noon. I did so, and was sent to the bank to change my traveler's checks for Thai baht, which I did in the company of a young woman from the doctor's office who spoke almost no English. I arrived back at the clinic about 12:45, paid my bill and was told to wait. I waited until 4 PM, but still no doctor. They then put me upstairs by myself to wait, which I did for another two hours before coming downstairs to ask Mr. Eddie what was going on. Finally in the early evening, I was shown in to see Dr. Preecha. He spoke very little English, despite promises to the contrary by Mr. Eddie. He showed me pictures of the procedure, and discussed the size of my breast implants and roughly what would be done to my face.
I was then placed in a taxi, which I thought odd since the hospital I was told the doctor used (Bumrungrad) was only a block or so away. I was in a panic as I was taken on an hour long drive through a strange city to what I was sure was the wrong place. I was trembling and crying in the back seat, trying to make myself understood to the taxi driver.
We eventually arrived at a hospital on the other side of town. I was herded through admissions, sent up to a room, and sedated in preparation for the operation. I joked with the nurses as they readied me, and I was quite happy to finally be getting on with what I had come for.
I woke up sometime on the 25th; I donít really know what time it was. I tried to ring for a nurse, but my arms were extremely painful to move so, I willed myself back to sleep. I woke again the next day. The nurses were there, and I was cleaned up and given something to drink. I was helped up and made my initial walk. My arms were still extremely painful to move at this point, and the nurses must have noticed this.
I was given a menu, and to my shock, the name read "Mr. Ricky." I tried to explain that this was a major error. I went back to sleep and was awakened next with breakfast. It was left for me on the serving tray, but I could not raise my arms above the bars on the side of the bed to get to the food. I was starving, but all I could do was try with my dry throat to call for the nurse. The call button was placed behind me, completely out of reach. I was not able to eat for a third straight day, and no one seemed to care.
Eventually I was awakened to be cleaned up. I was finally given a drink, and set out on a walk through the hall. On my way back I noticed the name tag on my door said "Mr. Ricky". I managed to raise my arms and take down the offending sign, with tears in my eyes and madder than I ever remember being.
I went back to my room and got myself into bed. I slept for a few hours, only to be awakened by the food service woman so that I could fill out my menu selection. The name on top of the form said - you guessed it - "Mr. Ricky". I refused to fill out this menu, and did not eat for a further day.
When I next awoke, the head nurse and several others were in my room. She was concerned since my temperature was abnormally high and I didnít seem to be eating. I explained to her about the problem with my name; she left flustered and not understanding. A few hours later I received a visit from a resident who had done his internship in Chicago. I explained the problem to him. He assured me that the problem was over, and that I would not be insulted again. I ate a bowl of soup and then went off to bed with the false feeling that at last the problem was solved.
In a few hours the food service lady came around again, again with the same problem. The next day the resident, the head of the hospital and the head nurse came by to tell me how sorry they were. They assured me that all three of them would check anything that came to me to insure it was in fact for Ms. Rikki.
I should mention that during this entire time, no one from Dr. Preecha's office came to check on me. It seems that the people from the Discovery Channel were there, and Dr. Preecha and his staff were too busy to take care of someone so insignificant as a patient.
Forgiving all this, I went in for my second set of surgeries, which were facial, and two days later I was moved to the Zenith Hotel to recuperate. I stayed there for about six days until my LASIK eye surgery at Bumrungrad, which was on the next block. I was taken over on the day of surgery by Mr. Eddie, and was told to give the staff his number so that he could collect me that evening and take me back to my hotel.
Following the LASIK surgery on both eyes, I was completely disoriented and unable to walk on my own to the hotel. I was taken back down to the main desk and Mr. Eddie was called. He explained that he had to pick someone up at the airport and couldnít help me get back to my hotel. He apparently tried to get one of the hospital staff to take me back, but none were willing. By this point, I was fit to be tied, and I attempted to walk back to the hotel on my own. I was in considerable pain and most likely would have been run over in the heavy Bangkok traffic, had not a friendly taxi driver taken pity on me and led me back to the hotel. I let myself into my room, where I was visited the next day by Mr. Eddie.
Finally, it was time to get back to my home. I was given a letter from Dr. Preecha, telling the airlines that I would need wheelchair service. Korean airlines never provided this, so I dragged my own bags back to Seoul, then to Chicago, and finally to Philadelphia.
On the advice of Dr. Preecha, I went to my gynecologist about three weeks after I got back. My gynecologist told me to wait an additional 30 days past the time that Dr. Preecha had specified before attempting intercourse. In October, over two months after my surgery, my doctor noticed an area on my genitals which was raw and inflamed, and told me that it appeared that I had been injured.
I notified Dr. Preechaís office and asked for his advice, since my doctor here did not know how to proceed. I received no answer. I attempted to speak to Dr. Preecha several times that month and in subsequent months, from October 2001 to February 2002, but with one exception I received no answer. In December I became depressed and suicidal, convinced that I would never heal. I wrote about this to Dr. Preecha, and he responded with the suggestion that I sit in front of a room heater daily, and discontinue dilation. This was the one and only time I heard from Dr. Preecha following surgery.
In February I arranged to see a Dr. Wheelis at Johns Hopkins University. He diagnosed the problem as follows (I will try to quote him as exactly as possible):
"Your urethra was formed incorrectly; no woman has a urethra this large. Because of the way the urethra was constructed, each time you urinate you put pressure on the original suture line. This is a little like rubbing a cut with sandpaper every day. This area will have to be corrected surgically, or it may take a very long time, perhaps years, before it will heal on its own. I will have to excise the affected area and get rid of the extra skin. I'll then re-suture the site, and this should allow it to begin healing."This is where I stand right now. Iím scheduled for outpatient surgery at Johns Hopkins on February 25th. After nearly six months of pain, perhaps I can finally look forward to a normal and pain-free life.