With my son, Bastian at the hospital

My health today is so much better than it was last month. Today I can eat and not feel full after a few bites, I can sit longer without my back hurting and I feel as light as air.

The new me is because of a laparoscopic cholecystectomy. This procedure removes your gallbladder and gallstones that have formed in it. I’ve had gallstones since 2007 and was only able to have it removed recently.

The people I shared my hospital room with said that I had “taken care” of these stones. They were about as a big as a cube of dice. If you’re able to have the procedure done as soon as you discover the stones they’re usually as small as peppercorns.

You might say circumstances and my fear of being operated on prolonged this necessary procedure. I’ve had on and off back pains and 3 major episode pains which had me rushing to the emergency room.

I regretted not getting the procedure done when I still had medical insurance and by the time I had decided to finally get it done I discovered I was pregnant with my youngest child.

It seemed like the pain kept building and building until I couldn’t function normally and eat a real meal. My dilemma was mostly financial and the length of the recovery time I would need.

I’m a work at home mom and all the more I need to be able to resume work right away as I don’t get the usual benefits of sick leaves. Fortunately, my bosses were very understanding and generous even paying me for the week that I didn’t work!


My gallstones

After my last episode of pain where I went to the the ER of Commonwealth Hospital and Medical Center, I was advised to have the surgery because my kidney would soon be affected. They had given me a quote of Php70,000 to have an open surgery done which meant I would be operated the old fashioned way with one long cut to pull the gallbladder out. The recovery time for this is 1 month. I already had previous knowledge of the possible procedures and as much as possible I wanted to have a laparoscopic cholecystectomy done. This would only need a week’s time to recover.

Now that I knew that I needed to get the surgery done I needed to find the best yet least expensive way. A friend suggested I try Philippine General Hospital (PGH) since it was a public hospital. So I gave them a call and was directed to the the GS3 Office after having explained my situation. The GS3 Office it turns out handles service cases and provides less expensive ways of getting surgery done.  They assign a surgeon to you and although you don’t have a choice in doctor you do have a choice of choosing your room. Although the private rooms are hard to come by as I was to find out the morning I was to be admitted. I ended up in a 6 to a room which turned out to be the better choice.

During the admitting process (which took about 2 hrs per person waiting time) we (I was with my mom and son) came across others who were to be admitted as well. In that waiting time alone there were 3 others who were also going to have cholecystectomys done. In my hospital room 3 of us were also having the same procedure done. It seems gallbladder removal was a popular procedure.

I was skeptical at first because I wouldn’t get to choose my doctor but since doctors from PGH (Philippine General Hospital) are UP (University of the Philippines) graduates I knew that they were among the best. I also found out that the doctors who perform for service cases are doctors who are affiliated with some of the best hospitals in the country like St. Lukes and Makati Medical Medical Center. That set my mind at ease.

I spent half of what the others spent. The laparoscopic cholecystectomy can range from a Php100,000.00 to Php200,000.00. My hospital bill came to Php46,000.00. It’s important to note that Philhealth was a big factor in the price reduction. It cut my doctor’s fee in half and covered my hospital expenses such as medicines, room, etc.

Although I wasn’t able to choose the doctor and then only met him very briefly on the day that I was to be released it didn’t bother me much. What mattered was that the operation was successful and there were no complications. Though my fellow patients had frequent visits from their doctors in the end it was the successful surgery that mattered.

This is definitely an option worth pursuing even for other medical procedures. If you are having financial difficulties, this process can help you get the treatment you need and still receive quality care.

*All advice given here in my post and in the comments below are from my own experience. Please seek proper medical advice before going to the PGH GS3 office.

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