It was another eventful day yesterday. I knew since the beginning of the week that I needed to take the afternoon off in order to head down and see my doctor at St Louis Hospital in Sathon to get a new supply of my cholesterol pills, after which my friend and I were due to meet the owner of the studio we want to buy to discuss things. As my body has the habit of doing, it maliciously thought that if I was going to take a half day off sick for something, it’d make damn sure I actually was sick, and I woke up with nausea, a pounding head, ear infection, tight throat and a headache.
Bangkok is a fantastic place to be if you’re ill and don’t have to do anything, able to turn the A/C to “arctic”, and snuggle up under a duvet in a dark room ordering stodge from MacDonald’s delivery for sustenance, but it’s awful to feel ill here when you have to go out and about, especially when facing a 40 minute taxi ride because you don’t live on a sky train route. Taxis are always pot luck no matter how they might at first appear, and I consistently have bad luck with them when I’m sick. Yesterday was no exception and the diver enjoyed putting is foot to the floor, cutting in and out of traffic where he could despite my warning him that might just paint the taxi several shades of puke.
Arriving at St. Louis at around 2pm I got drugged up by the doctor and asked her for copies of the medical examinations I’d undergone last time I visited, which I would need to take to a more specialized hospital to begin my hormone treatment. These included mammogram imaging, ultrasound, bone density imaging, hormone levels, Immunology, and my usual blood sugar tests for my diabetes. St Louis is a convent hospital and one of the cheaper options in Bangkok with good staff who speak English. The cost for all that came to 11,386 Baht (246 GBP), 5,656 Baht of which were my diabetes pills for the next few months (122 GBP). My medical insurance, provided by the company I work for through Bupa, only covers 1,000 Baht per month for outpatient costs so the rest was mine to bear. (Having diabetes is expensive in Thailand.)
I asked my doctor again if there was any other hospital she could recommend besides Yanhee, (the most well-known hospital in Bangkok for male to female transitional procedures, both hormonal and surgical,) as Yanhee is notoriously difficult to get to and in an area with very heavy traffic. Further there are no sky train or underground links nearby. Unfortunately while there are a number of expensive (by comparison) clinics around Bangkok this is the only economic hospital she would recommend that could handle my diabetic needs too. I’ve read some bad reviews of it online by westerners who have visited for transitional surgery but I’ll make my own mind up when I visit in a couple of weeks, bearing in mind that it is a government hospital, and will not offer the same luxurious surroundings of Bumrungrad or Samitivej, where they have a string quartet playing in reception on Saturdays!
I’ll also expect to spend a lot of time waiting, but coming from England, I’m quite used to that. I was done at St Louis at around 3:45pm and luckily beat getting caught in a massive storm while I was there, as I needed to head right across town to the Asoke area where the studio is. Jumping on skytrain I was relieved that it was uncharacteristically quiet, and happy to see that the large statue of three figures on their hands and knees rimming each other outside of Siam Center (visible from the Siam sky train platform) was still causing hilarity. (Only in Bangkok!)
Arriving at the studio at 5, it was only the second time I’d met the owner; last time having not slept very much, and this time trying to shake off the fog of sickness that was shrouding me. We talked about many aspects of the business as well as things in general, including this blog I’m writing. She asked me for the link which I shared with her by email earlier today, and as I talk about the studio here I’m trying hard not to let the knowledge that she’ll read it inhibit what I write in any way!
Our proposal to work with her for the next few months to get a feel for the business and know the studio’s members, teachers and pupils was received well, if not without healthy caution, and it’s something to which she will have to give serious thought before she can make a decision. What I’d not considered until then was that, as much as my friend and I say we genuinely want to buy the brand and operation, and intend on doing so, she has no guarantee that in a few months’ time we won’t change our minds or be forced to back out due to an unforeseen change of circumstances. Given the officially declared accounts, which don’t represent the actual healthy financial situation, the owner understands that we would not be buying the company, but need to set one up ourselves. Our participation over the next few months would involve my friend teaching the Saturday classes and my addressing the marketing and social media side of things, as well as our coming in to the studio as often as we can. This would enable us to know the business, the people involved, the working state of the finances and how we can successfully manage the business given that we both have full time jobs. This “soft” takeover would also help us not to lose so many members as might be expected with a sharp change of ownership. For the owner it means delaying the project she’s going on to, as well as taking a risk on us, but the studio would remain profitably hers all the while, and it ultimately means passing a business she’s loved on to people who will also love and nurture it, and by then who will also understand the commitments enough to make a continued success of it without running it in to the ground. This business is one with a lot of heart on both sides, and we want to make sure it is a success. While the decision is pending at present and the next part of this story as yet unknown, I’m happy to say I’ve met a new friend in the owner whatever the outcome. (I know that because she called me a dick head.)
Labour of Love:
Journey Towards Transition: