Healing: Story of Pitsanuvej Hospital ~ Phitsanulok, Thailand

Rolling around Pitsanuvej Hospital, Phitsanulok, Thailand. I felt very cared for there, thanks to my “handlers”

What follows comes from my erstwhile “Healing Journal” – written/compiled on a foggy meandering journey to various countries (Pacifica, Phitsanulok, Cochin, Pokhara, Dikwella/Galle…) visiting all manner of hospitals, clinics and exploring various healing modalities and techniques.

Shared here more-or-less unedited for posterity (whatever that is) and to shed light to those struggling who might come across this riff. Please watch the “Healing Ramble, introduction” video for context on this series.

This entry, from Phitsanulok, Thailand, late 2016 was written in the weeks following – hence possible tense shifting. (Finally) organized and published May-June 2021 – i now live in Japan, am stable if far from “normal”.  No comments, sympathy requested or accepted. Carry on. 

Phitsanulok, Thailand, Oct. 2016~

[visited this hospital 4 times 2016-18, these notes are from the first 2 visits]

Intro: My various medical diagnoses (central sensitivity syndrome, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome / M.E.) are generally diagnoses of elimination meaning, (in brief): finding out what it *isn’t*, and if every other possible thing can be eliminated, these are your diagnoses (given the symptoms etc. blah blah blah).

While there is extensive research for specific bio-markers for these diseases (thanks Open Medicine Foundation et al), comprehensive universal, diagnostic methods do not currently exist (and yeah i know there are loads of folks who have alternate theories, whatever, write your own spiel).

waiting for yet another bus in the rain in Vancouver – was all too much for me. holy anxiety and stress and confusion

While in my [ed note: former] home in Vancouver, Canada, these tests are certainly available, I found the process to be an extremely laborious – ergo: after waiting for specialist referral appointment and meeting, i would be sent for a couple of tests requiring a bus ride to the lab, waiting, dealing with all the commotion and pain (yes) of testing and then following up with the doctor who wouldn’t necessarily give me the “science” behind the results – just a “its fine, nothing to see here”.  The results were *evidently* available on a website, which I found impossible to utilize, and the experience overall was very draining.

As such, I compiled a list of all tests I wanted to undertake, and sought a hospital at which I could do all and “own the data.”

own your data (in a cute folder!)

My thinking is, “the sooner I can eliminate all other possibilities, the sooner I can get on with a proper healing regimen and be assured I was doing everything I could to feel better and heal my body etc.”

getting sensors on for an EEG to check my brain impacted from various injuries and concussions

All the Tests: With this in mind, I went to Pitsanuvej Hospital, a private hospital in Phitsanulok, Thailand – a rather “regular” city in the middle of Thailand – to complete a variety of tests. The tests were most often done with blood draws or other samples, sometimes the results known almost immediately, sometimes the samples were shipped to other labs and results sent some weeks later.

I had visited the city of Phitsanulok (vaguely halfway point between Chiang Mai and Bangkok) and found it be be calm and not touristy and chaotic, and research led me to this hospital who were prompt and thorough in their communication to my inquiry.

The amazing admin / nurse / friend Ms. Athaya

At the hospital: I had careful attention from foreign patient liaison staff members, a remarkable former registered nurse turned administrator nearing retirement but with the pace of teen, and an RN from the Philippines who was a kind, thoughtful guardian angel and always on point.

my guardian angel and caretaker – so grateful

They ensured I was in the right place, at the right time, and would understand the procedures and the results. Such kindness. 

Big busy full service hospital, so many departments, just look at that board!

They provided information to me before arriving and came to personally welcome me at my crash space hotel when i arrived and took me to eat. 

(L to R) an exchange student from Brazil, me (haggard but dang looking good), MJ the guardian angel, Athaya the admin dynamo

I was also personally welcomed by the doctors and the staff quickly became accustomed to my presence (despite foreigners being sorta new customer group in this “regular everyday” hospital).

Special service desk for internationals

While at the hospital, I also received immunizations and boosters to protect me from other diseases (especially important as my immune system is compromised due to my syndromes) and I was heading to countries in which viral and other infections are more common (malaria, J.E., Hep A, B, other sundry i don’t know, i have a booklet).

The doctor who consulted me with about various things including some scrips – note: awsum mullet!

I also consulted with a doctor for a few prescription medications, which I don’t particularly enjoy relying on (but that’s a whole other story) but need to use in times of crisis, or as a preventive measure during extended times of travel. Airports are very challenging for me in particular.

Getting an EEG, had to do twice as i my head was a bit sweaty (not shocking in hot humid country) the first time

When needed, tests were performed with modern imaging equipment, including MRIs, and EEGs. The EEG was specific to check in my head for any damage to my brain after several fainting and concussion experiences.

getting dressed up for MRI – such style. my handler made sure to document me

The MRIs were to check my shoulder and hips where i have chronic pain. Report in English and data on CD to takeaway. For the record, MRI are rough with all the noise and small space – ugh. 

into the MRI tube. all the medical equipment was modern and high quality

Tests included: 

  • Anti HBS
  • Aspergillus
  • Autoimmune Encephalitis
  • Cortisol
  • Dopamine
  • HC for Fungus
  • Herpes virus
  • Interleukin 6
  • Magnesium
  • Serotonin
  • CMV
  • EBV
  • Lyme (2 tier)…

ya know, this’ll be easier than typing em all: 

Thailand lab test, part 1
Thailand lab test, part 2

There are more but this is already toooo much info… 

Plus hit up the dental clinic where I received three tooth fillings and also got custom moulded ear plugs made. 

Logistical notes: While these tests cost cash out of my own pocket, I found the benefit of doing them all at once well worth the expense, especially compared to months of appointments required at home.

paperwork was efficient and i prob spent $3000 CAD for like 27 tests and procedures from fillings to vaccinations

Also worth noting that the hospital had a cafeteria with good quality food in amongst all my other stops and tests around the hospital. 

food from the cafeteria was tasty, healthy and inexpensive

There was also a coffee shop which gave me a space to regroup after the blood draws and various tests. 

Yup, need a place to regroup and wait for appointments and taxis

Also worth noting on my first visit, there was a shrine to the recently deceased king of Thailand which added a very interesting cultural component to my visit as the country was in a period of mourning in which everyone wore black/gray clothing (a custom which I quickly adopted). On subsequent visit, was there for coronation of his son.

Learned much about the late king who was beloved by most people.
shrines and tributes abounded, everything closed and cancelled, wear black and grey clothes please

After my sessions at the hospital, I would take a tuk-tuk or taxi back to my guest house (Hip Inn with a big dog – more about this later) to rest and recover.

View of “regular life” from the Tuk Tuk – good for transport and poetry / sometime took a bike tuk
Rolling tuk tuk (in a custom made shirt from Chiang Mai by Ambassador)

Aftermath: The hospital stays in touch with me to pass along test results electronically, so i could add to my “data dossier” of *actual results*, rather than vague handwaving “ yes or no“ answers from my doctors at (previous) home.

On the downside, these doctors, like most doctors, don’t have a firm understanding of fibromyalgia or M.E., and as such would recommend physical therapy or other activities which are not the appropriate treatment from my condition.

Overall, I found the hospital to be very efficient, I was rarely waiting for more than five minutes for my next series of tests. While busy and efficient, felt calm. (Strangely, hospitals are rarely calm places to be), and very tidy.

wi-fi slip / ha i love collecting these lil artifacts (not surprising) and have a scrapbook full of em / this one is likely expired but you can get a new one is ask nicely

I also enjoy knowing that if something catastrophic were to happen to me, kind and pathetic care at a reasonable price is available. For inpatients, you can choose a private comfortable room for recovery after procedures if needed.

my admin is an active member of the Rotary club and hosts exchange students. she invited me to a festival (here with guardian angel MJ from the hospital)

A few notes: I’ve actually visited this hospital 4 times over a couple of years (photos above show from 2 visits based on hair and glasses), stayed at the same guest house (Hip Inn), ate at the same noodle stand. 

a tiny map to show you my world with hospital, station, post office, night market, guest house

Also in Phitsanulok, i regularly visited trad “Royal Court” massage (no, not that kind…) and will share the details in this series. There was the craft beer bar run by ravishing <-> and the hot pot place nearby, the night market and the new king’s inauguration – whew…  more to come about these topics and “on the ground” logistics… as well as more lousy photos of trains and postboxes and dogs.

Thanks for coming along the Healthy Road. Pack a lunch. 

Yup, we’ve started down the healing road…