I can’t remember the last time I woke up feeling entirely well. Nothing that ails me is serious enough to call for major medical intervention, but persistent stomach pain, super tight muscles, and strong anxiety have been a part of my day-to-day life for many years.
Mostly I’ve learned to deal with it as it comes, but now and then internal pain or social avoidance will require me to pay closer attention to my body.
A few days ago I visited Hong Ngoc Hospital on the strength of its online recommendations. After speaking with my doctor for 30 minutes I was ordered in the following day for a battery of tests, including, but not limited to:
- Blood Pressure
- Chest X-Ray
So many tests were performed on me over the course of 5 hours that at this point it all seems like a blur. I was not allowed to eat the night before my endoscopy, so when blood was taken from me I fainted a few times. Imagine the shock on the faces of Vietnamese nurses who thought they would have to hoist me up after falling.
In retrospect it was hilarious.
My tests came back with the following bad results: I have IBS and my cholesterol is a bit high. Anxiety is also ruining my quality of sleep. Nothing drastically terrible and nothing that I can’t change, or at least begin to, over the next few months.
What stood out to me about my experience at Hong Ngoc were a few things: the cost, medical record access policies, the number of people at the hospital, and the overall pace of the hospital.
In total I paid 5,500,000 VND for my doctor’s consultation, medical procedures, and two weeks’ worth of pills for IBS and sleeping. Everything was paid in advance, in cash, without insurance. That’s approximately $275 USD for what would have in the United States easily cost me above $4000 without insurance.
The quality of care was excellent and I have absolutely no complaints about the attention I was given. I don’t know that I would ever elect for very serious surgical procedures or mental therapy in Vietnam, but for everything else, including vision and dental, I am more than happy with what I received for what I paid.
Any record that the hospital has on me I own. My doctor looked at me strangely when I asked her if I was allowed to keep all of the scans and records that Hong Ngoc had compiled on me throughout the day. I can’t remember a time I have ever been able to easily request medical charts or records on the spot in the United States. That’s appalling.
Hong Ngoc was a madhouse, to put it gently. 99% of the patients at the hospital were Vietnamese and they seemed not at all bothered by the number of people there or the frenetic pace of everything. The room in which we gave our blood for testing was set up like an assembly line and everything was done so quickly.
Sit down, give blood, faint, give blood again, faint again, move on to X-Ray, be whisked away into a room for liver testing, be hurried onto a table for an ECG, hurry Philip, stand up, it’s time for your endoscopy, take this cocktail, lay down on a bed, be hooked to an IV, be given drugs that knock me out for 30 minutes, wake up from the dead, feel a slight stomach pain, endoscopy is all done, sit here so you don’t faint again, how old are you?, you married?, want to go for coffee some time?, do you like this nurse?, you are too stressed you need to relax, here are some pills, call me for coffee or tea some time when you’re free. Don’t forget to exercise. Bye.
I’ll be fine but I will need to retire my license as a chocoholic moving forward. Depressing, but not the end of the world. Things could be worse.