The other morning I went to one of Bangkok’s leading hospitals to take advantage of nearly half-price super-deluxe five-star medical services that were still twice as expensive as any check-up your average Thai citizen has ever heard of.
But this extravaganza was supervised by my favorite doctor, someone who has overseen my gradual decay over the years, the very person who wrongly accused me of being pre-diabetic about a year ago (see “Sons of the Undead: Lives of the Pre-Dead Zombies“), before she realized the equipment had erred. The doctor who nevertheless promoted the idea that forgoing “carbohydrates”—i.e. rice, pasta, potatoes, bread and anything else that’s good to eat in this world—would be a good idea even if diabetes didn’t loom in my near future.
Whatever. This time I spent more than 7,000 baht to learn that everything was tickety-boo, except that I had tonsillitis and a touch of neurosis (the last was self-diagnosed, though I notice my doctor didn’t dispute this). Once again, my blood ran pure as a mountain stream; my heart promised to outlast the rest of me; my brain showed no more evidence of dysfunction than it ever had. Nothing but good news, discounting the fact that I might have to continue to support myself for decades to come.
“But you could stand to lose five kilos, Mr. Piprell,” she told me. “You should cut down on your…”
“I know. Cut down on my rice, potatoes, pasta and bread. Right?”
I was thanking her and saying it looked as though I might live long enough to need another medical, some years down the road, and let’s hope I could afford it, when she said, “Wait a minute.”
And the following explains in part why I still go to this by Thai standards ludicrously over-priced “five-star” hospital and this particular doctor.
Oops, I thought. She’s just had another look at that chest X-ray.
New reason to live
“Have you ever tried a hula hoop?”
Was this something good to eat that wouldn’t kill me? Then I remembered hula hoops; they’d been a craze when I was a boy. But I’d never tried one, I said. My doctor told me she herself had lost two kilos in one month with the aid of this simple device. Furthermore, she said, she could ask one of her staff to demonstrate this thing for me, and I could buy one at SuperSports afterwards if I felt like it.
Next thing I knew, this remarkable piece of work in a skirt she probably borrowed from a sister who was a size smaller than her, but that was okay, was leading me down a hallway to a deserted area, carrying a big hula hoop with jolly baubles around its circumference.
With all the aplomb needed to demonstrate life preservers on transoceanic flights she showed me how to stand, where to hold the hoop initially, how to turn my body 25 degrees and make tentative thrusting motions with my pelvis, and then… Whoa! Look at that.
“Watch my back, Mr. Piprell.”
“I am watching your back,” I replied. “Yes, indeed.”
And it was quite some back, though I didn’t say this.
The site from which the hula hoops image was taken posts the following advice: Please consult your Doctor before attempting any of the Hula Hoop® tricks.
The Thai government has recently revived a three-year-old plan to tout the country as a “medical hub.” This, many believe, can only exert even greater untoward pressure on costs for locals. In any case, affluent Thais and foreigners are flocking to take advantage of what, by some standards, are reasonable prices, high-quality medical services and what are often described as “five-star” facilities.