Transportation in Vietnam is almost always by motor bike. This can lead to many problems from serious accidents to minor irritants. One of those minor irritants ended up in my eye about ten days ago. One thing Vietnam has lots of is dirt. The country has not been paved over. I am not talking filth here, just dirt. And the wind blows and the dust begins to rise. I wear glasses, of course, to protect myself from the worst of it. The dirt and bugs that seem to hone in on your face when you are cruising at eighty kilometers. Something broke through my defenses last week and my left eye started complaining. Minor itching and a little tearing at times. I treated this with an eye drop medication that was suggested by my optometrist brother-in-law. I have used it before and it seemed to work and after five days I discontinued the stuff. The eye seemed okay. Two days later the symptoms started again. I resumed treatment but this time it did not help. Yesterday morning I looked in the mirror and there was a noticeable lump in my lower eye lid. I pulled the eye lid down and there was a large red spot on the lid. Not painful, just irritating. So off to the local hospital for a quick check. The doctor was quick and to the point. That needs to be lanced and cleaned out, ASAP.
Now the dilemma. Eye surgery in Vietnam? Well, not eye surgery exactly, but close enough for nerves to start fraying. The doctor wanted me to go to the hospital in Danang the following day to have the procedure done. I wanted another opinion. I had researched eye doctors in Danang previously. One was a standout and I called to make an appointment. Days he works at the hospital and the lady at his office spoke no English. She hung up on me and would not answer my calls again. (Ah, cell phones!) So I had my housekeeper give her a call. She said to call back at 5 p.m. and we did. The doctor said to be there in one hour and I was worried enough to hop on the bike and thrash my way to Danang. Forty kilometers.
His office was small and there were about ten people waiting in a primitive reception area. The nerves were firing again and I am thinking this does not look all that professional or comforting. But I waited to see the doctor to get an opinion. Finally my number was up and I entered the office. Not state of the art but clean as a whistle and modern minus three or four years. The doctor spoke above average English for Vietnam and looked over my problem with confidence. After standard questions he had me lie down and I was ready to be cut. A cane type of anesthesia, I recognized that flavor, and ten minutes later he is over me with the electronic microscopic glasses.
I think that this must be everybody’s nightmare. Someone coming at your eye with sharp instruments is disconcerting, at the least. The razor sharp blade getting closer and closer. Makes me twitch just reliving it. But he made one small painful cut and that was that. He drained the offending pustule quickly and had an eye patch on me within five minutes. Fast, clean, and professional. He proscribed three types of tablets and the same eye drops suggested by my brother-in-law.
Now the hard part, paying the bill. I have just had surgery, with an anesthesia. Prescriptions, temporary eye patch. What’s it going to cost? In the U.S., at least $500 and probably more like $1000 or up! They gave me the bill. 200,000 VDN.
Eleven dollars and forty-two cents in USD. Remember from the time of making the appointment to out the door and fixed. About two and a half hours.
No, I don’t carry health insurance here. The $750 dollars a month that I was spending in the U.S. just goes a lot farther in this society.
It certainly makes you think, doesn’t it?