Sunday, March 31, 2019
Friday, March 29, 2019
This morning, I woke up with a fever along with the return of the closed, sandy feeling in my throat.
It's gotten to be an old story. Well for a day, then back to the same old plague. Four doctors, four med doses. I give up.
I've forced myself out of my room for a coffee. Trying to get a little taste of the good ol days. So tired of just lying in bed, especially when lying in bed brings no positive results. And right now, sitting with my coffee and laptop, I feel like going back home to lie down.
What. A. Drag.
Thursday, March 28, 2019
Monday, March 25, 2019
In the past few days, I have been befriended by two little girls who live just down the road. Viana and Feby, both 10 years of age (kurang lebih). Of course, their consuming interest initially was in using my wifi, but gradually they have shown more interest in relating to the individual, the funny looking old man. They stop on their way to school to say hi. They pop in again in the afternoon. What these little tykes know about the use of cellphone functions in concert with wifi is astounding to me. Makes me look like a virtual idiot. Better just to watch and learn. But they're well-behaved, polite little kids. They happily stop when you ask them to stop and they cheerfully leave when you ask them to leave. They are not "allowed" to have boyfriends, they tell me. "Tidak boleh". I sit on the front step, listen to their chatter, and learn a new word or phrase every day.
If that's all there is,
if that's all there is,
If that's all there is, my friend,
then let's start dancing.
Let's bring out the booze
and have a ball …
If that's all ….
I can tell you a story of passions and grand pursuits; of desperate love and throbbing heartache; of struggle and victory and joy and grief--but none of these things would have anything to do with the man and the chair and the beans and the toast. For this is, he is, all that there is.
I remember that even back in Portland, I very often had trouble with respiratory infections during the springtime--throat, nose, lung problems--and I remember that a doctor once told me that I should move to Nevada for a dryer, more stable climate.
Hmmm. Plan for the future? Cowboy country? Finally learn to rope a wild stallion. (I tried that, actually, for some thirteen years in the past, but the venture eventually ended up in divorce. But, of course, that had nothing to do with the weather, nor Bali, nor Nevada neither :) )
Sunday, March 24, 2019
As often happens, my friend Vyt, a fellow expatriate in Bali roughly as long as I, pitched in with a counterpoint to my conclusions.
I quote him verbatim:
Once the fever subsides, things may feel different. I too have balanced the medical "benefits" of returning to what was once 'home' against the benefits of my happy home life here. The reality is, I could not afford to live back in the Antipodes, in fact, I could not afford to exist. The superior medical care I would receive would be counterbalanced by a long stint on a waiting list, during which time I could well cark it anyway. Quality urgent care is available here, although the local policies towards importation and use of pharmaceuticals do make treatment problematic. In short, for me, better the devil I know than the devils I don't.
As always, Vyt has a poinit. He has reiterated an argument, really, which I have always been well aware of. There is no perfect solution, no magic fix. One merely replaces some pluses with minuses and some minuses with pluses. The outcome is the same. Sometimes life is great. Sometimes life sucks.
Saturday, March 23, 2019
This is no fun, obviously. I would prefer to be active, able, and healthy for the remainder of my life, up to the point where I just peacefully die in my sleep--an unreasonable expectation if ever there was one. (My father always said that I am not a reasonable person).
I love Indonesia. I love Bali. I love this congenial society. I love living in a nice place with beautiful surroundings and a pool. I do not like the idea of living in a closet in a cold and dingy part of Portland (or wherever), eking out an existence on government assistance so that I can "enjoy" the benefits of seeing competent doctors.
But when you are ill (as I still am ill), the mask of stubbornness, gradually peeled away, begins to show madness beneath.
There are those here, for whom I am forever grateful, who do their best to be helpful. And yet, they are not doctors, they are not caregivers, and some are not even often available. They have, after all, their own lives. When contracting an illness in Indonesia, one is fairly likely to grow more ill yet in the course of his efforts to try to do something about it. (A motorbike is not an ambulance, common alleviating medicines, antiquated now in the West, are not cutting edge measures).
In short, marshalling my meager resources for good reasoning, I cannot avoid coming to the conclusion that my days here in paradise are numbered. Enjoy them while I can, to the extent that I can? I guess that's what I will do--if I can ever manage to get over this flu, that is.
Friday, March 22, 2019
Although I felt fairly well the night before last--no fever, throat stuffy but not sore--I woke up the next morning running the rapids in a river of sweat, and the sore throat had returned as well.
Luckily, I was able to get Louis and her boyfriend to drive me to the hospital. Really don't know whether I could have made it on the scooter. After dropping me off to face the interminable waiting period alone, they went off to look for a new phone to replace my lost iPhone. There were, I was told, nineteen patients in front of me.
So anyway, I eventually saw an internist, who determined that the infection was 'all in the head' (physically, not mentally), and prescribed a combination course of antibiotics and antivirals along with the chalk that people call aspirin here.
Take the medicine, rest, and eat bergizi.
"Bergizi." I had never heard of this food before. What could it be? Fish? Poultry? Vegetables?
"What is bergizi, I asked. I've never heard of it."
"Oh! Bergizi. That means healthy, ya. Healthy food. Never heard of healthy food? Maybe that why you sick, mister."
Ah well, a little humor even in illness.
Day one now of new medicine and bergizi food. So far, low level fever, stuffy but not very painfully sore throat. Fatigue. (I guess that's where the rest part comes in). Give it five days, the man said.
And so I will.
Wednesday, March 20, 2019
Now it's off to immigration in a couple hours to attend the renewal of my yearly permission to stay here in Bali--an odious task in the best of health, sure to be more odious yet in my present state of health.
When that's all done, it is my understanding that Louis will be returning to Bali later in the day, at which time, I am hoping, she can assist me in purchasing a new phone. I know nothing about phones (other than how to lose them in mysterious ways), so I would prefer to leave this to the phone expert. In fact, I've not bought a phone in years. I always used whatever hand-me-down Louis gave me after buying herself the latest model.
After that, I may make another pointless trip to the hospital. What else is there to do, except maybe go back in the pool?
There are actually many administrative things I need to do, but most of these cannot be done. The numbers are in the phone.
Tuesday, March 19, 2019
Monday, March 18, 2019
Dr. Ari happened to check in with me, and hearing this, told me I should go get a blood test.
Off to Bros Hospital. I was dripping with sweat, three-quarters conscious, and thought "Hey, I'll take Grab Car."
Upon arriving, the Grab Car driver phoned to say he was here. Going out to the street, however, I found that he was not here. Not a surprise. Most people can't find the place.
So I called and began to explain where it was.
"No, I'm am there," he said.
"No, Pak, you're not."
I began again to explain the location and name some landmarks, at which point he hung up on me. A message came saying that he had "cancelled" the ride.
Shit! Okay, I'll do it myself then.
Off to Bros Hospital on the motorbike. Except that I had forgotten exactly where it is, so I took along my phone with earbuds.
Having arrived, I swam in my own sweat down to the check-in station and straightaway realized that my phone had not swum with me.
Back to the bike. Phone is gone. It had been in the front pocket on the bike while I listened to directions. Someone must have seen it and taken it.
Back to the check in. Reporting that my phone is missing, they begin a search with their security service. I am ushered fairly quickly in to see an ENT. It is her belief that I have a virus, not a bacterial infection. New Pills are prescribed and I am sent for blood work.
Back to the check-in desk. It is reported by the security staff that while their security footage shows arriving, going into the hospital, coming back out perhaps ten minutes later to search the bike, then going back in again, it showed no one else coming near the bike during that time.
In short, the phone is gone.
Except that, back at home, Chris locates it on his own phone through icloud. It is shown to be somewhere roughly in the vicinity of Bros.
But it's raining now, and it's getting dark, and I'm still sweating, and my damn throat hurts, and I'm just gonna give up on the whole damn mess!
Sunday, March 17, 2019
How strange it is, my stepdaughter once said, that you were so central once upon a time, and then just disappeared. I have tried over the years to hold to my fingertips by whatever means possible, online, through social media platform. And yet to them, or so it seems, without a physical presence that they can see and touch, I no longer exist. Or rather, I exist in memory only, in stories of the past, like one who has died.
I am reminded of an episode from the old Star Trek series. Captain Kirk has been caught in some sort of weird space glitch and disappears. The crew members believe him to be dead--for, you see, he is not there. But really he is right there, floating around among them. Soon, one or another of them begins to see him. I saw him! The captain! He's alive. Of course, no one believes their story at first. You've just got to accept the truth, Lieutenant Uhura. He's gone. But the evidence steadily increases. Alone, floating, Kirk seeks his old crewmates, reaching out. All that is needed is for them to seek him.
Perhaps there is an episode of The New Generation where Picard disappears and no one cares. Lol.
I have not disappeared, my loves. I am here. I hunger for your gesture, I wait on renewal, faithfully ready to become.
I was born a lucky man. I inherited the entire world. And then I added all of you, an overabundance, to my astounding good fortune. You are the treasure of my heart--an untouched treasure for the last eight years, and therefore one which, though locked in this fleshly vault, accrues its own gathering of interest year by year. I see you in my dreams, and we speak, and we embrace. I long to see you all again, to be for you both what I am and what I should have been, to somehow live the absent years.
My love is not absent. It knows no bounds. It merely waits to be received.
It's a very different area than I am used to, a very poor area right in the lap of the abundance of Sanur and Renon. When Dr. Ari made his house visit the other day, he asked whether I feel "safe" here.
"Safe? Yes. Why? What do you mean."
"Oh, this is still a closed area."
"Closed? In what way."
"Hmm. In the way that it is not open."
I'm not sure what he meant by all that. We moved on to my back and my flu.
Just up the street, there is a line of old ramshackle sheds. I had assumed that these are, or were, some sort of storage sheds, or perhaps animal enclosures, but I do believe now that there are peple living in some of them.
This reminds me of a time I was with Louis looking for villas for herself and her boyfriend. We had looked at an exotic place with all the bells and whistles, large pool, well-kept garden with gardener, all the modern appliances and conveniences. You get the picture. I had walked to the road and met a worker by the side of the field. I was looking at three or four makeshift structures in the field, erected from boards leaning together and cardboard and tin slabs for roofs.
"Do people live there?" I asked the man.
It struck me that for a handful of change, the villa owners on the other side of the street could significantly alter these poor folks' lives altogether.
But that's not really the business of villa owners. Or of anybody at all.
The narrow street that I followed, just down the way from my apartment, is spoked with even more narrow gangs (or alleys), and the main street itself finally ends (or proceeds) with a dirt path.
Here, I saw many children, all of whom piped up to say Hi and laugh gleefully with whatever I happened to reply in answer. There are many dogs as well--all of them rather scrubby and worse for the wear except for one brilliant white dog, not a scratch or a spot of dirt on him. Strange. Next time I'll bring along a couple of snack sausages Lol.
As the flu recedes (or at least seems to today), the back pain resurfaces as a considerable problem. Nothing much to do about that, however, than to watch and wait. There is some vague suggestion in the air that Louis has ordered up a masseuse for me. I'm thinking that that might feel nice on the back, as long as he or she doesn't touch it!
Saturday, March 16, 2019
I escorted the doctor to my home and it was determined that the back injury, although quite painful, did not seem to be a serious problem. No bone damage, no internal injuries. He gave me a prescription muscle relaxer, noting that there was, however, nothing he could give me for the pain. In Indonesia, we do not have pain medications, except for the very popular and perfectly useless packet of Panadol.
He then turned his attention to my longstanding flu, and this proved to be the real problem. Took one look in my throat and said 'Ohhhh!" Took a listen to my lungs and said "Ohhhh!"
Infection, infiltrates, inflammation--the whole nine yards.
He laughed at the over-the-counter antibiotic I had bought at a nearby pharmacy and prescribed a strong antibiotic. He also prescribed an effective expectorant and an anti-inflammatory medication.
And so I am hopeful this morning, though still feeling like cold doo-doo.
I did discover last night that trying to sleep with back pain is not a highly recommended pursuit. I slept perhaps 2 hours out of the eight otherwise spent in lying awake and examining my life from start to finish (or as far as I've gotten) in excessive detail (more on that later).
It is 9:30 in the morning now and I think I will try to go back to sleep.
Friday, March 15, 2019
I had gone to bed at around 7 pm yesterday evening, figuring that I would kill the illness with an overdose of boredom. Got up at about 6 in the morning and thought I would step outside to enjoy the cool air. I was unaware that it had rained during the night, and as soon as I stepped onto the ceramic tile porch floor, my feet flew out from under me and I ended up slamming my back against the edge of the doorstep.
I will not attempt to describe the pain. Just picture the results of an overweight old man crashing flat on his back. Good thing I didn't hit my head. I guess.
So now the flu has become a persistent though secondary issue. The left side of my lower back is deeply painful and I can barely walk. Forget about bending over to pick up anything.
I complained about my woes on Facebook. What else was there to do? And straightaway, my old friend Vyt, God bless him, contacted me and said that he would send a doctor to my place. Is this the third or fourth time Vyt has saved me from trouble? I've lost count.
So I'm waiting for the doc now and we will see if he can prescribe any medicines, after first determining, of course, whether I need to go to the hospital.
This is life in paradise, folks.
Wednesday, March 13, 2019
Tuesday, March 12, 2019
When these sort of things are happening to my brain, I begin to feel panicky. What am I going to do? Who is going to help me if I'm in trouble? I begin to realize how very heavily I relied on Louis, without really noticing the extent of it. She was the one in control, who had everything together, the common thinking part of my brain. Now that's missing, like a lobotomy. No wonder she found it all such a burden. It is a burden to me, and often a non-negotiable one. Shutdown. Tune in (off), turn on (off), drop out.
Ah, but the good news is that I seem 90 percent over the deadly flu. Thankful for that, at least.
And you know, it just occurred to me that I need to have my motorbike serviced. Already a month beyond the recommended period.
I'll think about that tomorrow. Perhaps.
Monday, March 11, 2019
I had set the date and time for the move with one of my local friends, who did show up on time, but minus a truck. Given that I was moving four years worth of stuff first to my new place and then to Louis' villa, a motorbike was not going to work. Nor were two motorbikes. So the first task was to find a driver and a truck, just after the nick of time. That being accomplished, the driver surveyed the items to be moved and decided on a price of Rp. 300.000.
Having loaded my items (it would take two trips for both my things and Louis'), we headed for my new place in Sanur. On the bypass, I missed the proper turn, which entailed a slow return in heavy traffic, which in turn irritated the driver. He decided Rp. 400.000 would be more suitable for the trouble inflicted. Okay.
I had previously arranged with my friend and another friend who was helping carry the things for them to make the second trip to the second location on their own, given that I was feeling lousy with the flu and just wanted to go to sleep. Okay, no problem.
Except that it was. About an hour later I began to receive phone calls. The two friends had lost sight of each other during the second transport, could not find each other, and the friend riding with the driver in the truck did not know the phone number of the other friend who was, by that time, waiting at the villa. Unable to solve the problem, they began to call Louis instead. Not a pleasant scenario for any of us. Louis, by the way, is in Thailand, which, as she reminded me in a distinctly shrill phone call, was 'thousands of miles away'. The question as to why I couldn't seem to handle the simplest thing was posed.
Well, my two friends passed close enough in the night (for it was now night) to be reunited, and straightaway headed for the villa.
The driver decided, at this point, that Rp. 500.000 would be more appropriate for his trouble. The move was becoming rather more expensive than originally anticipated--which, actually, is something that one can count on in Bali.
Most people with MS will understand that under the stress of trouble and confusion, the MS brain will begin to slog to a halt. So it happened with mine at this point. I forgot how to speak Indonesian. Just staying upright was demanding enough.
But oh well. All's well that ends well. I'm in the new place today, feeling better than I have been for the past month or so, so will just take it from here, and try not to move again any time soon!
Friday, March 8, 2019
In my dream, my stepdaughter said something that seemed very wise, although of course I don't remember exactly how she said it. It was rather poetic, as I recall, but I cannot remember the phraseology. Basically though, what she said to me was "You are not merciful enough with yourself."
That's probably true. What persists with me most keenly are my own faults, rather than the faults of others. I tend to blame myself, to believe that I could have done more in any given situation regardless of what anyone else was or was not doing. And that is true, too. I could always have done more. Don't we all feel that way, through the clear lens of hindsight?
There's an old Jewish rabbinical saying to the effect that each individual among us is responsible for the life of every other individual.
A heavy burden, that. But not an improper one. We fashion reality in concert with every other human being. And, on a finely focused level, we do so in concert with every person we love.
Thursday, March 7, 2019
But it's more than that, as I realized this morning.
Leaving this house is like closing a door that had hitherto remained at least slightly open. It is the end of something, the final stage prop in the history that brought me here and sustained me here. Here is where we were last together as a family. Louis. Sasha. Me. Us. And though it was only I who remained this last year, it was still I and the house, the home, the history. Like a soul which stays in a body, so was I. Like breath, like a heartbeat, faint yet present. Something. A pulse.
Here forth, there will be nothing that contained us together. Nothing that knew our presence, our scent, echoed back the sound we made.
Old roads, old hopes, old struggles and strivings have led not to paradise but to a deserted island, and ended in a tale full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.
That's one way to hear the story.
There are, thank God, other ways as well.
Wednesday, March 6, 2019
So happy Nyepi Day, all; and many more to come.
Monday, March 4, 2019
There is much of the long ago past that I remember very clearly. Very clearly indeed. But much of the present, much of the last couple decades, is a blur. Or absent altogether. A sad thing in its way. An inability to appreciate the things you have forgotten. On the other hand, I suppose it can be a good thing too, especially where separation, the end of a marriage is concerned. One cannot be very sorrowful over what he cannot remember anyway. If I miss anything very keenly about Louis, it is the Louis of 10 and 12 years ago, the girl I called "Tikus" (mouse in Indonesian). But she left along the way. I guess we all leave along the way. She once said that I myself had changed. I wasn't who I used to be. I didn't believe it then, but perhaps she was right. Do we change, or do we just become dull, lazy, careworn? The spark is gone, women will often say. A cliché, sure, but even clichés are based on real things, real feelings. There's no more romance, no more electricity. And men will say, "Well, that's your fault!" Lol. Am I not what I used to be? I don't know. Most often, when I remember what I used to be, in the way that I remember it, I have to cringe.
The new area I'm moving to is tucked in between Sanur and Renon. It's not an area I had previously spent much time in, as there was no reason to do so. I do remember looking at a house in the area once with Louis. But for the most part, I've only driven past on the motorbike. So it will be interesting to explore new places and new sights. I'm the sort of person who puts down roots, very stubborn roots, wherever I happen to be. A bit of a strange thing to say about an Oregonian who ended up in Bali. But I never picture anything changing. Or rather, I don't like to picture it. Set me down in a certain place, wind me up, and watch me trace the same circles day in and day out. Change comes upon me, like a piano falling from a fifth story window. I don't seek it, but I adapt, pressing always toward permanence.
Sunday, March 3, 2019
This is a small western style apartment complex (although if you've never seen an Indonesian apartment complex, you won' t know what I mean). It is clean, quiet, functional, and the couple who manage the place are wonderfully nice people. Also, it has a swimming pool! I'm moving up in the world, man.
Moreover, there is plenty of room (again, comparatively) and I will be able to bring my main pieces of furniture, including my expensive King Koil bed.
So the move is set for Sunday next, for which I have reserved the able services of my Sumba friend, Samuel.
Although I have a couple friends helping in a search for a new place, it seems very likely that I will need to move all the furniture, and myself, to Louis' villa in Sanur and continue to look from that locale.
In the meantime, the flu continues to thrive.
Saturday, March 2, 2019
So far, the places I've looked at are pretty gloomy. Tiny, drab, not clean. Ugh. I begin to say to myself, "Okay, that's enough, I want to go home now." Like Tutor Turtle in the old cartoon, if anyone remembers that. Tutor would get an idea of something he wanted to do--like be an astronaut, or a caveman, or what have you--and his friend, Mr. Wizard, would say a magic spell and Tutor would be transported into his desire. It never went well, and Tutor Turtle soon found himself in trouble. "Help, Mr. Wizard!' he would say, "I want to get out of here. I don't want to be an astronaut anymore." At which point, Mr. Wizard would chant the spell, "Trizzle, Trazzle, Truzzle, Trum, time for this one to come home."
I say to myself, I want to go home.
But I have no home to go to.