Friday, November 15, 2019

Acute and Chronic

One doesn't plan for the medical demands that eat up his finances. Of course he doesn't. When we are healthy, we simply figure that we will always be healthy. And then little by little, step by step, one ends up with the chronic problems requiring regular expenditure (such as my stomach problem which requires daily suppression of stomach acid or my weird internal heat problem requiring at least one capsule per day, and a very expensive capsule at that) as well as acute problems such as the need for cataract surgery. No, these are not things we planned for, and they really don't fit into our financial plans at all. But there it is. What's a guy gonna do other than helplessly watch as the money flows from his account? I have a friend coming to Bali next month. It would have been nice to take her out for dinner, show her around. But no, such funds are earmarked for medicines. Furstrating. Getting old, becoming ill, dragging around health issues like Marley's chains, is a distinctly unpleasant pastime. 

Thursday, November 14, 2019

In My View Four

An entire day devoted to sitting around in the hospital, punctuated by occasional visits with doctors and/or nurses. Turns out that one has to have any number of tests before actually having cataract surgery. So from 10 to about 4, I was a resident of Sanglah Hospital. Moreover, tomorrow morning I must go to yet another clinic for yet another test, and will then proceed with the surgery. Let's roll! A cataract in the middle of one's vision is truly irritating. Can't see to read, can't see to type, can't see to watch TV … can't see to see. 

So hopefully I will soon get the cataract removed and the fog dispersed. 

Strangely, I was accompanied by a whole gang of girls--Louis, Betty, and another girl whose name I have forgotten. My own little entourage. But I'm glad they were there, because on my own, especially not being able to see, I would never have been able to navigate the various dark and dim corners of the hospital we got sent to. Naturally, every component of eye examinations is located in a different, far flung area. Go figure. 

It does turn out, btw, that costs for this surgery vary widely in Bali. At Sanglah, which is actually considered a better hospital than Kasih Ibu, the price will be half as much. Again, go figure. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

In My View Three

As we proceed with the cataract issue, the fabled wheels  of Indonesian bargain hunting kick into  high gear. In accordance with the wishes of Louis and friends, I am now slated to appear at Sanglah Hospital, which, as is rumored, offers surgery for less than half the price at Kasih Ibu. Why this would be the case, I do knot know. Perhaps they eschew highfalutin modern technology, preferring the good old fashioned can opener to expensive surgical instruments and procedures? But no, Louis tells me that Sanglah is more 'western standard' than most hospitals here. So yeah … I don't know. Promotion on cataracts this week? Two for one? Bring your coupon? 

In the meantime, I'm typing this pretty much blind. I really cannot see the words that are coming out, although I can see the red underlining indicating a misspelling. How has this gotten so bad in the space of one week, more or less? Allergy? Multiple sclerosis? Given the itching and sensitivity now in both eyes (let alone the fog in the left eye), I would have to suspect an allergy of some sort. Something in the air. But the eyedrops given by the doctor yesterday at Kasiih Ibu are doing nothing at all. 

This is all even more frustrating in that just a coup9le weeks ago I had gotten new eyeglasses and was seeing better than usual. What a great feeling that was for the few days it lasted! The eyeglasses are now useless, as are the eyes themselves. 

Sigh, sigh, sigh. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

In My View Two

Well, I guess I have to apologize for speaking ill of Kasih Ibu hospirtal in yesterday's entry. This morning, I saw an ophthamologist there and was quite impressed with her. She determined straightaway that I have a central cataract in my left eye, which had only been made more obvious to me after getting something in the eye and having a lot of itching and irritation. 

The long and short, of course, is that this cataract, right in the middle of my vision, must be removed. The cost of this, however, is estimated at 31 million Rupiah, or about 2200 USD. 

Shit! Where am I supposed to get that? 

I am told that the operation is painless and only takes about 15 minutes, and when finished, you can just go home and resume function as normal. Sounds pretty attractive to me. And it sure would be nice to be able to see again. 

I suppose I could come to America and get the operation for free on Medicare (or I assume, anyway). Then again, it would cost 2000 just to get to America, so it all kinda comes out the same, don't it? 

Ah, the curious quandaries of the expatriate. 

Monday, November 11, 2019

In My View

I'm weighing this morning whether I want to go to the doctor for my eye problem. It sounds like a no-brainer, but, here in Bali, it's not that simply. One remembers what they said about teh skin cancer on the top of my ear. "Ah, yes, we must amputate part of your ear." Or, indeed, what I was told perhaps four years ago when I went to an eye doctor about vision problems. "Ah, yes, you have cataracts. We can remove." As it happened, my wife insisted on consulting a cataract specialist, who said "Ah, no, you have no cataracts at all. No surgery necessary." One can only imagiine what they might say about an itching, blurry left eye. "Ah, yes, must be removed. Can insert prosthetic eye."

On the other hand, the problem has gotten so annoying that I'm thinking about removing the eye myself. 

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Berkabut Mata

I've been having this problem with my eye just lately that's driving me up the wall. My left eye is itchy and foggy. This comes just after having purchased new glasses, although I don't see how that could be related. Just a koinkidink as my daughter used to say. Must be something in the air. Aside from being continually annoying, this also makes it impossible to see what I am writing. In past times, during my old working days, this would not have been a problem, as I was a very fast and accurate typist, and didn't really have to see the words on the screen. No so in my retirement years. I thought at first that this was a sty, but apparently I was wrong, as sty ointment has not helped. My pharmacist suggests this morning some sort of antibiotic eyedrops, so I'll give that a try. 

Friday, November 8, 2019

Long Division

He had nerve damage: input could not penetrate. The world stalled out at his edges. Sometimes he had trouble speaking to other people, rummaging for language, and it seemed to him that an invisible layer divided him from the rest of the world, a membrane of emotional surface tension.
--Zone One, Colson Whitehead

Hmmm … are we talking about MS here, or about, as the novel intends, a common affliction affecting survivors of the zombie plague, or both? Seems awfully familiar to me. 

"The world could not penetrate." So often so true, right? How many times have we found pieces of common meaning suddenly missing? How many times have we suddenly felt lost on some route we follow on a daily basis. The world has momentarily turned away, hidden itself. Where am I? Where was I going? We experience pangs of panic. I have never seen this street, these buildings before.

Here comes from the anonymous many colored mob, someone I know, but do not know. Here he comes, here she comes, hand outstretched, smiling, and we, forcing a smile, vanily search the disorder of our memory bank. Who is he? Who is she? Input is not penetrating. The world has stalled at our edge. Immediacy itself is a memory, a thing of the past. Our individual moments vacillate between sleepy vacuity and acute perplexity. .

Language, articulation--formerly cozy companions of mine--are found now in the dictionary, by rummaging through the thesaurus. I know what I want to say, but how to transfer that to the proper words? They must be pried now from the prison of my own tongue. It is difficult to carry on a conversation in this manner, all the while thinking How stupid I must sound. Witticisms, wisecracks, the well placed bon mot are tardy at best, therefore superfluous. That train has passed. We are slow, dreary, clueless, dull. They do not understand how very many things we could have said if only we could have said them. And so we are frustrated. We have trouble speaking to other people. 

Multiple sclerosis is that invisible layer, that membrane of emotional surface tension, that divides, compromises, alienates. Is MS, stripped of all the medical jargon, essentially merely a progressive zombification of ones person, lacking only, though thankfully so, the insatiable desire for human flesh?

Sometimes it seems this way.