Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Party's Over, Part Two

I really don't think it's revealing a Western bias, because the people I see in waiting rooms at Paolo Hospital are all Thai except me, but I like bright, sparkling, well-lit medical facilities--a lot. And I like doctors who are willing to be precise about time frames and costs and what needs to be done. I like the dentist who spent time with me and was patient with my questions early yesterday morning.

She and a colleague can replace my crown in less than two months, if we get started on it soon, for around the same price of the previous dentist's bridge and multiple extractions. Without the extractions.

I took 24 hours to ponder this. I walked up to a dentist's office that a good friend recommended. It was closed of course but I wanted to see the location. It's further from my apartment than Paolo. It is easily as attractive a set-up, at least as far as I could see through the windows. It may be marginally less but as far as I can tell from my internet research, every place has similar prices except for the ones that are stratospherically higher. I'm going to use Paolo.

I realized last night that going to the House of Beautiful Teeth was like stepping back in time to the dentist office I went to in the 60s in Anchorage, Alaska-- dark, utilitarian, and no nonsense. The dentist there took a global approach to my mouth rather than focusing on the one problem that was bothering me, and she did so from a position of what she felt was unassailable authority. She was the doctor; I was the patient. Recline. Rinse. Hold that mirror. What do you mean, you want an estimate of time and money? This is medical care, for heaven's sake.

The dentist at Paolo Hospital is in the provider/consumer mode. I want something done and she will do it--very, very well. Her office and equipment glisten; even the x-ray apron had a certain dash to it. I feel comfortable in that sort of place--or as comfortable as I possibly can be when faced with a root canal, a post and core, and a crown.

The typical expat mantra here is "Thai people pay less than farang," and conversely Thai people say "So expensive" when farang tell what they pay for services or goods. But the fact is "Some Thai people pay less than farang." The patients in the House of Beautiful Teeth were working class, for the most part, or very young neighborhood residents. They go there because it's convenient, because the dentist is personable and her staff is kind, because when it comes to dentistry, they are still stuck in the 1960 mindset.

I'm not and neither are the Thai people who wait with me at Paolo. If I have to eat ramen for the next two months, I'll do it in order to have my dental work done in the 21st century. And even in that setting and under those conditions, I will still have tears leaking from my tightly closed eyes.


Anonymous said...

Oh, dear, so much stress. I'm sorry you have to go through this, especially now that you need to be surrounded with your family, rather than having work done on your teeth (I mean, who ever wants to go to the dentist, anyway?). But you will pull through that one, and I'm glad you found a place that feels safe. That's what matters. Maybe it's better than if you'd found out in the US, where dental care is outrageously expensive... Keep us posted, please.

janet brown said...

I just found this, Katia--thank you so very much. Yes, this is better than having it happen in the US--immeasurably so.