I managed to dig up a couple of old file photos of the now grizzled veteran duo of Steven Barber and Christiene Thomas from back in the day, circa 2000 with their respective college teams. Both are now nearing the end of their pro careers in Thailand. That's UCLA ex, Michael Fey in the MONO jersey and T J Cummings (son of former NBA star Terry Cummings)
Walking through the mall in Bangkok I ran into a couple of American basketball players. Stephen Thomas (Georgia) and Chris Charles (Villanova) now plied their trade with perennial Thai powerhouse club Hi Tech Sports Apparel out of Bangkok. My timing couldn’t have been better as they were in the middle of the Thai Pro League playoffs and the deciding game was right around the corner in a couple of days.
I made the trek to the outskirts of Bangkok where I caught the game, which unfortunately my new friends lost. Each team is allowed two Americans, with only one allowed on the court at a time. Thomas had a nice offensive game in the low post and facing up from about 12 feet out while Charles was a dominant shot blocker. You could quickly see why Charles had been past defensive MVP in the Asian Basketball League. The other squad (MONO which is a Thai Television Station) were led by two former UCLA players. I’m drawing a blank now on who one of them was, the other who was nursing a foot injury was Michael Fey. Considering my tight ties to Coach Alford & his staff at UCLA it never ceases to amaze me what a small world it is and what a tight fraternity the basketball world is. Halfway round the world and it felt like any other gym in America. Well there is an exception to that. With about 500 fans in attendance, they made noise comparable to several thousand in the USA. With their nonstop drumming and chants it was more like the atmosphere at a Brazilian soccer match.
Well, dang it if I don’t have another health issue. My “dead foot” is acting up and it seems my sciatica is the culprit as the pain in my lower back has resonated all the way though my thighs hamstrings and shins to the point where I’ve slept one or two hours a night (and then only from exhaustion) as the pain has been excruciating. Once again, it’s time to seek medical care. As noted earlier, in the Philippines many doctors and clinics…and churches are located in the malls. Not so in Thailand. If you want to see the doctor in Thailand, you go to the hospital. Yes, that’s right. You go to the Emergency Room/Outpatient department tell them your symptoms and line up for inspection. I did some additional due diligence and decided on Bangkok Christian Hospital. Thai Medical Care is recognized as being excellent by the way. I hop on the bullet train at 6:30 AM, and am at the hospital doors by 7, Once again, I’m amazed that 20 minutes after filling out the standard paperwork a nurse is ushering me back to the doctor on duty.
I could have seen a specialist but he didn’t arrive until 9AM so I opted to see the general practitioner this time around. She diagnosed me as having a severe muscle strain (not sure I totally agree) and wrote me a scrip for a pain killer and a muscle relaxant. The pain killer was Celebrex and off the top of my head I forget what the muscle relaxant was. At that point I was accompanied by two male orderlies to the pharmacy/checkout area. My prescriptions were filled in 5 minutes and I paid my bill with cash. The orderlies then bid me adieu. Looking back on it, I assume they were the “muscle” guys who made sure you didn’t bolt without paying the tab. Are you ready for this? The cost for outpatient treatment, nurse and doctor visit PLUS filling the two prescriptions came to 1415 Baht ($40 US). Once again, quality treatment without breaking the bank.