What is the most challenging aspect of stroke treatment?
Our treatment protocols follow internationally recognized standards, so the treatment itself isn’t necessarily the hardest part. Stroke treatment
requires fast response, and treatment decisions must be made quickly. That can be stressful for patients and their families.
Along with the best possible care, it’s important that we provide patients and family members the support and information they need to understand the situation, without feeling overwhelmed. So my greatest challenge is to take care of everything involved in the treatment and decision-making process despite the time pressures.
What got you interested in neurology and stroke treatment?
is an area that’s benefited greatly from new technologies and treatment advances, especially in diagnosing and treating strokes. We’re using many of the latest technologies and procedures at Bumrungrad. For example, new stenting techniques can stabilize a patient’s condition almost immediately – a major step forward from stroke treatments being used just a few years ago.
In your day-to-day work as a physician, what inspires you the most?
At Bumrungrad, we see patients from all over the world and we treat nearly every kind of medical condition, but some cases leave memories that never fade. One in particular involved a 20-year old patient who was paralyzed from the neck down. After she endured a long period of treatment, I’ll never forget watching as she walked again for the first time.
Then there was a pregnant woman in her late 20s who became paralyzed just after giving birth. After several months of treatment, she was finally able to return home to be with her new baby. Seeing a patient leave the hospital healthy again is a wonderful experience.
What made you decide to become an oncologist?
There have been so many important developments in cancer research in just the past few years. While I was in medical school, several new medicines and cancer treatments were introduced. And when one of my relatives was diagnosed with cancer, it drove me to learn everything possible about the disease and made me want to be involved in the fight against cancer.
Things are constantly evolving in oncology. I recently attended an oncology annual meeting overseas and was struck by the sheer volume of research being conducted, and many treatments being developed which hopefully will help many patients in the near future.
Q: What aspect of your work keeps you motivated?
A: When I was starting out 20 years ago, there was only limited research in the area of gynecological cancer and hardly any physicians chose to specialize in it. During my first few years as a doctor, I began to realize that this was becoming a more important area of oncology, and the number of patients becoming seriously ill was growing quickly – even though the disease is preventable and doesn’t have to be fatal.
I cared for many cancer patients in those early years who had practically lost the will to live and fight on. But we managed to treat them successfully and today they are alive and well. Of course some patients suffered recurrences, but we can still help them. That’s more than enough to keep me motivated.
Q: Do you take a different approach when a patient’s condition is very serious?
A: Starting out in medical school, you’re taught to think in a very scientific way. But once you start taking care of patients, you realize that healing is both art and science. The challenge lies in how to inspire patients to trust you during the treatment process, to figure out how to help them come to terms with potential risks, and to help them feel hopeful in a realistic way.
Doctors need to have the right set of skills, but they also need a broad range of experiences to be able to inspire that feeling of confidence for their patients.
With more than ten years of experience in laparoscopic surgery, Dr. Theerapol is considered one of Thailand’s leading experts in the field. He is also recognized as one of Thailand’s pioneers in the laparoscopic colectomy procedure; he has helped more than 500 patients using this advanced technique.
Q: What has proven to be the most challenging part of being a doctor?
A: In simple terms, doctors have to make the right recommendation and be able to explain the reasoning behind it. Every patient is an individual, so the doctor’s challenge is to design a treatment plan that is best for each patient’s own situation, and one that satisfies their needs and those of their family members as well.
Q: What’s the most satisfying part of working at Bumrungrad?
A: The medical care at Bumrungrad is widely regarded as the leading standard. The medical staff are extremely efficient, and they always give me tremendous support. This allows me as a surgeon to make full use of my particular expertise.
Q: What first caught your interest in laparoscopic surgery?
A: Back when I was beginning my surgical residency, the first thing I noticed was how quickly the laparoscopic patients recovered after surgery. Around the same time, the laparoscopic colectomy procedure was being introduced, so I was able to jump right in and be active in something new and exciting almost from the beginning.
Laparoscopic surgeries of the colon and rectum are now achieving success rates very close to those for traditional invasive surgeries.