Saturday, February 26, 2011

Surgery on my face - A new experience

I sit here looking through one eye of my bifocals trying to type.  In August I bloged that I had to have a mole removed from my nose by a special procedure. 
Well the day has passed and I've had the surgery.  It was a long procedure 7 hours, give or take a bit, but was broken up into sections.  For the first hour it was mostly an assessment by the team and a q&A about all sorts of stuff, like medications, that could affect the outcome and talking pulse oxygen and blood pressure.  Then it was waiting time.
With this type of surgery you do a lot of waiting and if you are the "ants in the pants" type you will go crazy.   After another 45 minutes I was called in to the operating room and huge amounts of anesthetic was injected into my face.  I was literally numb all over.  They drew some lines on my face with a felt marker and then it was time to start the cutting procedure.  Having never gone through anything like this I didn't know what to expect.  There was no pain involved at all but it felt like they were pulling chunks out of my skin, a very strange sensation.  You could feel the scalpel cutting and the forceps pulling and when they cauterized the bleeding it made the end of mu nose itchy.  Then back to waiting while the new pieces of flesh were sent to the lab for analysis.
45 minutes later the results were in and it was back to the operating room.  The nurse was holding a piece of paper with a big map of my face.  In the center was this big red circle.  That area was still cancerous.   The whole area BTW.   This started out with a mole that was smaller than the end of your little finger now it as a hole about the side of your index finger and still cancerous.  The temporary patch was removed and I was numbed up again.  The surgeon started to cut away for another hour.  This time the hole was the size of your thumb if you look at it from the fingerprint side.  Then back to waiting.
Like clockwork after 45 minutes the nurse arrived and informed me that they had cut out all the cancer and that they would stitch me up in about 5 minutes.   In I went.  More anesthetic, and way more cutting.  She cut for the better part of an hour, more about her later.  The head plastic surgeon came in and they had a discussion about skin flaps and where to put the stitches and to cut a bit more, "here and here".   Then it was stitch up time, she stitched and stitched and stitched.  I was thinking of asking her if she would stitch the hem of my jeans at one point.  That took another hour and a half.
At one point she told me I was going to look like I'd been in a fight and I told her that I'd look just like one of my clients.  (A tidbit for all those who don't know what I do in Canada to pass my time - I have an interest in a gym and do personal training)  We got talking about the UFC - Ultimate Fighting Championships and Mixed Martial Arts. Seems she's a big MMA fan.  Strange, I wouldn't have guessed that in a million years.  She's very professional, about 6 foot, blond, incredibly pretty and has a body like a super model with very long legs.  This young woman with a blood thirst patched up people all day it was just surrealistic.
I was all done and the nurse patched me up with this huge compression bandage, and I was on my way.  I was glad I brought a huge bottle of  Tylenol for when the freezing wore off. 
The surprising thing is that it really didn't hurt much at all.  I took the Tylenol just in case but I really don't think I needed it at all.
My Right eye did swell shut and I iced it continuously for the entire evening.  The next morning I could just see out of it.  Today it's a bit better and my wife (It's nice to have a health care professional in the family)  took off the old dressing and put on a less bulky one.  It's feeling much better now.
The prognosis, Cancer free maybe 98%, The swelling should go down in a few days, only one black eye although they predicted two, and I can finally go for a new eyeglass prescription in a month or so.
Now for some pictures.  This one is from 2 hours after the surgery, taken by my 5 year old.
This one is from 48 hours after the surgery when the compression bandage was removed.  Somewhere in the 40 - 50 stitch range.
Next week I have to go to have them all removed.  Rats!!!!!!


I've had my stitches removed and everything is healing well.  Still swollen but the stitch line down the side of my nose is almost invisible although a bit reddish.

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posted by Ricefield radio @ 3:32 AM   0 Comments Links to this post

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Education and the Education Budget in Thailand.

Today the parliament passed the mid-year budget in principle with 265 votes to 61 while 93 MPs abstained and 2 didn't vote.  What does that mean in reality.  Well to put it into perspective 28.3% of the budget is on education spending.  What you say, can't be!!!!  Well it is.

According to Thailand spends more on education than anyone on their list.  A full 11.2% more than the USA,  15% more than Australia and 15.6% more than Canada.  There are probably a few who would argue that the Thai education system is as good and they will likely also argue that the world is flat.  A hollow arguments at best. 

So, I'll tell you a little story.  Once upon a time last year, in the Summer, Thai summer that is, when I was doing research for a story on the Reds.  We also decided to try and find a decent school for our son who was then four.  We had some criteria.  The school had to be primarily English language, had to be clean , had to have a low teacher turnover, realistic student teacher ratio and had to be somewhat affordable.   Guess what?   We couldn't find one at least not in Phayao, Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, Lamphun or Lampang.  We found lots of schools but all failed on one or two counts, sometimes all of them.  Now, as a family, we may be a bit biased.    I attended school in the West and my wife worked on her graduate degree at University in Canada.

We decided to send our son to school, in Canada.  The opportunities offered by the better end of the Thai school system were just downright lousy, not to mention expensive.

So off to Canada we trundled, bags in hand.  The move wasn't all that traumatic as we have a nice little house on the West coast and we all have Canadian citizenship.  So off to the school we went to register prior to the first day.   Only the principal was in the school but she was so helpful and made our son feel at home instantly.  The school is relatively new, maybe 10 years old.  Only bad thing I could find was the soccer pitch was not draining too well, but I digress.

This school is chocked full of computer labs with wide screens,  Teaching aids, well stocked library, a gymnasium and it's clean as our house.  Did I mention WiFi?

In our son's class there are 18 other students as the class limit is 19 from the local school board.  For those 19 students there is one teacher, one teacher's assistant and one special needs teacher.  As our son speaks a second language, Thai, he's got a ESL teacher that he shares with two Filipino students and a Mexican.  Funny part is, they now all speak English better than they do their native languages, but they insist the ESL teacher is a necessity.  I'm not sure - kids adapt very quickly.

My kid just loves going to school.  No rote learning, just it's all interactive kids teachers in a loosely laid out setting that they all feel comfortable about.  Kids are allowed and actually encouraged to explore and ask questions of themselves, their friends and the staff.   Yesterday, we went to the school because they had a Parent student learning session, based on mathematics, where the kids could move from one station to another and ask questions of the parents and the teachers.  Try that one in Thailand.  Not likely, it's more like - Ga Gai - Ka Kai - Ror Rua over and over and over again - Ga Gai - Ka Kai - Ror Rua.

Now to the costs.  If we stayed in Thailand we would have had to put out at least 70,000 baht a year for a school we felt a bit confident with, or God knows how much for one that was acceptable, but with reservation.  Then add on all the extras like school trips busing etc and you can add a couple of thousand more a month easily.

In Canada the school costs us nothing, it's on our house taxes that we get to pay, even if we are in Thailand, about 15,500 Bt a year.  We don't have to pay for the bus as it's free.   Now the extra cost items.   The school buys all the yearly supplies in bulk for a year - books, pencils, rulers, crayons, felts etc cost 625 bt. They just went for swimming lessons for a month, cost 750 baht and it was optional.  They have a hot lunch program, also optional, on Fridays cost about 75 baht. 

Not counting the house tax, that you would pay anyway kids or not, the total cost for a year at a Canadian Elementary school somewhere around 5000 bt or under 500 bt a month.  Even a peasant could send their kid to school here.

Not to be outdone the Government will cover the entire cost of correspondence via the Internet for 2 years when we decide to move back to Thailand. in the future, which we plan.

Now after reading all that can someone tell me, what does that extra 15.6% do for the Thai school system other than line someone's pocket?

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posted by Ricefield radio @ 3:13 AM   1 Comments Links to this post