If I Can Do It, You Can Do It

Traveling Overseas for Surgery

For those of you who need a medical procedure that you can’t afford, I have a success story about medical travel that you might find helpful. And I’ve written a book about it, Hipwrecked, which details my experience before, during, and after my trip and includes my daily e-mails, in which I did my best to take everyone through the entire experience with me. I found affordable healthcare. It’s out there, if you look.

That said, if anyone had told me that one day I ‘d be in India getting a sponge bath, I’d have laughed out loud. But, in 2008, I found myself enrolled in the University of You Are Not Your Body and I had surrendered to its curriculum. I was a medical tourist, getting double hip joint replacement surgery. In New Delhi.

All my life I’d been active and athletic. I was in great shape and in great health. So what happened? In my case, it was genetic. My doctors said it was the way I was built and the surgeries were an unavoidable eventuality.

The shock of the news was outdone by the shock of learning my health insurance covered so little of the cost of the procedures that I couldn’t afford to have them. I’m not poor. I’m also not rich. I’m in that soon-to-be invisible group – the middle class. Or maybe we’re the soon-to-be poor.

Since I refused to be defeated (even though I felt utterly defeated), my husband and I did our research. We discovered that the typical cost of excellent healthcare was significantly less overseas. I was stunned. At that point I learned about Medical Tourism agencies. They help you choose the right country for your particular surgery and they make your arrangements for you. This isn’t to say it was easy. Traveling to a third world country halfway across the globe for three weeks was not my first choice, but I find I do really well when I’m out of options.

We spoke with my surgeon, Dr. Hegde, on the phone and he answered all my questions, including some I asked repeatedly (“Will I be all right?” “When will I get to wear high heels?”). I liked him right off the bat. Still, I angsted over the final decision to go and when I realized it wasn’t going to happen here in the states, I went for it.

At first everything was foreign to me, which shouldn’t have been such a surprise, because, well, I was in a foreign country. But as the days passed, I found India more and more to my liking. The care was wonderful and, more importantly, the operations were a huge success. I now can do just about everything I want to do, although I must admit I do miss the full lotus pose. But I am pain-free, fully active, and feeling very much alive.

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