Visits

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Chicken Feet

 As I was taking my morning walk on the beach front this morning, I came upon a chicken foot lying on the ground. Not the whole chicken, thank goodness. Just the foot. This actually was not surprising, because Indonesians eat chicken feet. They're called ceker. This particular ceker had been discarded for some reason. Perhaps it didn't taste footy enough? I don't know, because I've never eaten a chicken foot. One sees them on the menu in restaurants here, especially in smaller warungs or on the cart of the street seller. Ceker! Yum. I guess. 

Speaking of bodily appendages, I will mention that the young people in the Muslim community here will greet an older person, like me, by taking the person's hand in theirs and placing the back of the hand on their forehead, bowing slightly as they do so. I think that's nice, personally. It's nice to be offered respect, to be honored because of your age alone. You shall stand up before the gray head and honor the face of an old man, the Bible tells us. 

Sounds good to me. Much better than the western concept of the aged worthless eater.

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

The Surgeon's Knife

 Having spent countless hours in the hospital over the last two days, mostly waiting to see the doctor, to get an x-ray, to get an EKG, to consult over each, and then to perform the bureaucratic trigonometry of calculating and agreeing to a payment contract, I am finally ready for the surgeon's knife (although the knife itself, along with the surgeon, won't be ready for me until next Monday. 

Oh happy day, right? The elderly and unwell man's notion of success. Assuming the surgery itself is successful, that is. 

I am told as well by a good natured, rather cheerful cardiologist, that this all comes with somewhat elevated risk factors, given the aforementioned elderliness and unwellness. Ah well, he who plays it safe never brings home the gold. Or is it the bacon. In any case, the careful man brings home both the body and the hernia, whereas the bold man brings home either one or the other. 

Monday, May 13, 2024

The Beginning of the End

 So, I have discovered that the price for hernia surgery at Sanglah Hospital is half that at Kasih Ibu. Obviously, I will be getting the surgery at Sanglah. This, however, is old-fashioned open surgery, not the newfangled laparoscopic version, because I can't afford the latter at either hospital. Can't really afford the former either for that matter, but what's a guy gonna do? Hope to die before the next big problem shows up, I guess. So I'm gettin' this thing on the road. Tomorrow I go for a second appointment with Dr. Mulyawan at Sanglah, at which time I would guess the surgery date will be set. I do know, however, that I must stop clopidogrel at least five days before surgery, and tomorrow will be only day one. It appears that I will be compelled to stay in the hospital at least one day after the surgery (I would rather just go home and do my groaning in private). Evelyn hopes to come here and accompany me at that time. She's an angel. 

Saturday, May 11, 2024

Catpad

 In the brief space of time between my arrival this morning at Lillian and Coffee, ordering the usual, and settling into my chair on the front patio, my iPad had become by some uncanny magic sentient, adopting the character of a nervous cat, such that when I went to pick it up and continue my reading of Me Talk Pretty One Day (a marvelously hilarious collection of sketches by David Sedaris), the newly animated thing leapt out of my hands, briefly assaulted my chin, and then flew across the patio, landing some four feet away with a resounding smack on the cement. As a result, the creature is now broken, dead, having apparently expended its ninth and final life, and my life of reading is broken as well, or at least seriously injured. The good news though is that my stepson, Sasha, will bring me a new Kindle reader when he comes here in June. What a guy, right? My hero! Thank you thank you thank you, as President Biden would say. Apparently, I have done something right, something worthy in life after all. 

Price Wars

 Yes I do have a hernia in need of surgery is what I found out last week at Kasih Ibu Hospital. Not good in and of itself, but even worse is the fee they quoted for the surgery and a one night hospitalization. It strikes me as way too high, and friends tell me as well that it is way too high. Therefore, I made an appointment with another hospital, Sanglah, and I will see the surgeon there on Monday morning. Of course I have to go through the same exam all over again and then get Sanglah's quote for surgery. It is a tedious, frustrating process, and a painful one for the pocketbook in particular.

Sunday, May 5, 2024

Next

 I didn't have to wait long for my next big health problem to arise. It looks like it's going to be my hernia this time, which will likely need surgery. I've made an appointment for tomorrow evening to see a surgeon about that. I've actually had the hernia for a year or more, but in the last couple months it has become significantly larger as well as slightly painful and more difficult to reduce then beforehand. I purchased a hernia belt online, and it works well enough to hold the hernia in during the day, but of course as soon as I remove the belt, the hernia reemerges from within my abdominal cavity. So it is uncomfortable one way as well as the other. What consumes my mind now, believe it or not, his finding the best price for hernia repair. Ridiculous, right? But medical costs can vary widely here in Indonesia someone has to shop around. I am worried as well about the question of total anesthesia in the presence of multiple sclerosis and recent stroke. I remember reading once that total anesthesia is not recommended for people who have MS because we might not wake up afterwards 😜 Anyway, more on this as events unfold.

Monday, April 29, 2024

Dejavu

 I think that when Biden won the 2020 election and the MAGA garbage was swept out of the capital many of us thought the Trump nightmare was over. But it's not. It's like a virus that is resistant to antibiotics. And now here we are again coming up to another election, another season of hatred and vitriol heightened by the fact that one of the candidates is a four times indicted criminal facing more than 80 felony charges, found liable for rape, and guilty in civil court of fraud. Is this not nearly impossible to believe? My goodness, what a sad moral failure we have witnessed in our nation.

Saturday, April 20, 2024

Table for Two

 The Forbidden City ..., thought Eve. Now, that sounds like a place worth going. 

--Eve in Hollywood, Amor Towles


I've just finished reading Table for Two, Amor Towles' collection of short stories. The two words that come to mind are relentlessly entertaining. It is the sort of book that you feel sad upon finishing, because you must leave the worlds he has created and move on to other worlds that are not likely to be nearly as satisfying. But all of Towles work is like that - - these stories, the novella that comprises the second half of the book, as well as his novels, The Lincoln Highway, A Gentleman in Moscow, and Rules of Civility. Towels' voice is just so welcoming, so pleasant, so companionable, reminiscent in this way of Dickens or Twain or Melville. And as an extra treat, for those who have already read Rules of Civility, Towles brings back clever and strong-willed Evelyn Ross for a delightful romp in a novella exceeding 200 pages. I'm going to miss this author's wit and sophistication until he comes around again.

Thursday, April 11, 2024

Eid Prefer Not

 At the end of Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting, we have Eid, which is the end of the fast and a time for everyone to get the hell out of Dodge, wherever Dodge happens to be for each individual. Half of these individuals appear to have come to Bali, as the beaches and the streets are jam-packed with people on foot, in cars, and of course on motorbikes. Seemingly millions of motorbikes. My usual 7 minute trip home after evening coffee in Sanur took more like 20 minutes this evening. And it was not a leisurely 20 minutes, or a pleasant 20 minutes, or a relaxing 20 minutes. It was 20 minutes of hell on wheels! To make matters worse, there was some kind of ceremony or celebration at the banjar near my house which complicated the situation considerably. But I am home now and have given six waiting dogs their evening treats and then disrobed and disengaged my silly hernia belt, which came in the mail just today. I don't know that the damn thing does much, other than press on the hernia, but it will need further experimentation in the form of a walk to see if it is comfortable enough or whether it ought better to be stored in a drawer along with other useless items I have purchased in the past. No chance of a walk this evening though, as it is deadly humid outside and about to rain I believe. Everyone is going somewhere for Eid, all at the same time, and somehow, miraculously, they all seem to end up in the same place at the same time no matter what place that might be. So happy Eid to all, although Eid rather do without it.

Friday, April 5, 2024

A Table for Two

 I watched two depressing documentaries in the last week--something called God and Country, which is about the calamity called Christian Nationalism, and the other The Truth Vs Alex Jones. Well, one and a half, I should say, as I could not finish God and Country. It was simply too dreary. Heartbreaking, really. How in the world can these people have gotten so confused? Of course they were led. But how then could they have been stupid enough to follow? It is a shame, pure and simple, and an insult to the true faith. Has the world always been this full of hucksters? Well, I suppose it has, and I suppose people have always been carried away by various brands of brave sounding nonsense. 

Of course, the Jones documentary was keenly depressing as well, but I watched it to the end, wanting to see him suffer some punishment that might inflict some fraction of the pain he inflicted on his innocent victims. But this was not to be had. Sure, he suffered a judgment in the form of millions of dollars--but then simply declared bankruptcy and is still on TV broadcasting his idiotic, and often dangerous conspiracy theories. I don't know what I expected. Maybe some sort of particularly gruesome medieval torture? Not sure if even that would have been sufficient though. 

On a positive note, I happened to stop into PeriPlus bookstore today and found Table for Two, a collection of short stories by Amor Towles, one of our very best contemporary American writers. Coincidentally, a series is currently running on IMDb based on Towles' novel A Gentleman in Moscow, which is looking, after one episode, very well done indeed. 

Sunday, March 31, 2024

Intrusions

 For the past week or so I have been blocking stuff that has just suddenly appeared on my Facebook. It's not stuff that I would ever want to be exposed to, and yet it has somehow appeared of its own accord. It is as of some evil entity has looked into everything that I don't like and then bombed my Facebook feed with it. Admiring cult crap about Trump, for instance. Multiple posts about trans kids or sexual identity issues featuring people who are huffing and puffing about how you can't do that, a man is a man and a woman is a woman and blah blah blah. Tedious. And then there are sites championing the Confederacy and the heroes of the Confederacy. Where the hell did that come from? I mean, I've always been interested in the Civil War, but the war is over, okay? Do we really have to point this out? The South will not rise again. And oh by the way, the war really was about slavery. Sorry, that's just a fact. What else? Ah, many posts featuring screaming Palestinians and outrage at the evil nation of Israel. I do sympathize with the Palestinians and with the suffering that is currently taking place, but I don't need the propaganda and the ear shattering chants. It is not a solution. The trouble is, the more I block all of these posts, the more they continue to appear. It's like a virus on my phone. But I am as stubborn and as persistent as these cyber intruders, and my fingers can still do the walking, or rather the blocking, as long as it takes.

Sunday, March 24, 2024

The Rapture Exposed

 If i knew the world were going to end  tomorrow I would plant a tree. 

--Martin Luther 


I came upon this quote from Luther the other day as I began to read into Barbara Rossing' s The Rapture Exposed, and although I had known of the quote beforehand, I found that it inspires new rumination. What it says in essence is that hope springs eternal, that ends are always beginnings, that the spirit never dies but always answers by going forward, living anew. God is good, and God is forever and will forever be with us. 

In The Rapture Exposed, Rossing carefully and succinctly dissects, dismantles, and refutes the end times fantasies so popular in certain parts of the church for the past half century and more, as typified in books by Hal Lindsay and the widely read Left Behind series of novels and so on. The rapture! The tribulation! Pre-, mid- and post tribulation. Take your pick. Whatever flavor of falsehood suits you, because it is all falsehood, a hodgepodge of cherry picked verses, all out of context and purpose, designed to arrive at a scenario conjured up in the late 19th century. But, as Rossing says, God saves us

 ...not by snatching us out of the world, but by coming into the world to be with us. This is the central message of Jesus's incarnation and of the Bible.

I noticed a religious debate on Facebook a few days ago concerning the so-called rapture, and in particular a comment from one person who had confidently laid out the whole floor plan of the rapture scenario, having obviously lifted this straight from the pages of one book or another on the subject.

I decided to reply to her comment, and to ask her whether it bothered her at all that the rapture she was talking about had gone completely unnoticed through 18th centuries of Christian theology. How is it that our most distinguished and honored theologians and philosophers had missed this for so many hundreds of years?

"I don't care what they say," the woman answered. "I rely on what the holy spirit tells me."

Well one can hardly argue with that. Or with the holy spirit, I mean. My goodness. How are we to refute what the holy spirit says to this random woman? Eighteen centuries be damned.

So I wished her a good day and went on my way, despite several additional extra-Biblical instructions and lessons that showed up in my feed.

There was a time when I also believed in the rapture, simply because I was a new Christian and this was what I was being told. I attended an Assemblies of God church at that time and heard about the rapture every Sunday, either in sermon or in song.

Ultimately, I was disavowed of this belief by actual knowledge of scripture--what it said, what was meant. I saw where things had been twisted and tortured, misinterpreted, and then all scrambled together in hideous disregard of orthodoxy to build the ramshackle platform of modern end times theology. And it hurt me. Because God himself is misrepresented, from the pulpit to the rooftops, from the TV screen to the big screen and on the printed page. The great majority of churches reject rapture theology as non-biblical, nonetheless these teachings ride on the wings of popular culture and reach both believers and non-believers through the modern electronic media so that Christianity is now seen through this distorted lens. And I for one don't know how this can possibly be undone. It is the central heresy of our time, it is epidemic, and though the antidote, scripture, is readily at hand, people refuse to take it. Sounds eerily familiar, doesn't it?

Nonetheless, I plant a tree, and I do so daily.


Friday, March 22, 2024

Things of Little Importance

Just thought I would stop by briefly to mention a few things that will be a little importance to those not living in Indonesia.

I learn today in reading the Sanur Weekly that a large number of people were caught ignoring Nyepi, the Balinese day of silence when people are expected to stay indoors, make no noise, and use no lights. The majority of violations were committed by Indonesian citizens, although a number of foreigners were also found to be at fault. Most were merely told to go back to their hotels, although some were detained and later question by Indonesian immigration authorities. One Russian woman decided it would be a good idea, for some reason, to wander the streets even though she had already overstayed her visa by more than 60 days. No doubt she will regret her excursion, as she will soon be deported. A family from Jakarta enjoyed a drive in their car on the completely empty roads, saying when caught by the police that they had not realized they were supposed to stay inside. Given that there is no such thing as empty roads in Bali, this excuse is fairly hard to swallow.

In another article, we are told that tourist arrivals in Bali are up by 21% from the same time in 2023. During the first two months of 2024, a total of 3,550,108 domestic and international tourist arrivals were recorded compared to the 2,933,636 arrivals during the same period in 2023. So much for the dire predictions of ruination of the tourist industry that would follow COVID.

Speaking in terms of millions, it is forecast that some 190 million Muslims are expected to travel throughout Indonesia during the upcoming Idul Fitri holiday season at the end of Ramadan. Hopefully most will be headed for domestic destinations other than Bali. Nothing against Muslims, just people in general, for, as Mark Twain said, "The more I learn about people, the more I like my dog."

Saturday, March 16, 2024

Feelin' Groovy

 I am waiting today, as I did yesterday, for the Wi-Fi guys to come and fix my Wi-Fi. I'm finding that it is really boring to be without a TV. Lol. Or rather, I have a TV but it will not work without the Wi-Fi. So I've been amusing myself somewhat by reading a novel called Tragedi Pedang Keadilan, by Keigo Higashino. That doesn't translate very well to English. Something like The Tragedy of the Sword of Justice. Anyway, it is a rather entertaining murder mystery type thing. Other than that, since I can't go anywhere, which is because the wi-fi people never give you a heads up on when they might come to the house, I am variously sitting around or walking around in circles wondering what I should do. So I decided to dictate a little bit here on the blog. I guess I have mentioned that I use voice type now rather than typing with my fingers because my right hand just doesn't work very well anymore. Voice type is much easier than trying to use my hand, but it does require proof reading and editing as the program gets things wrong often enough or misunderstands my pronunciation. Of course I cannot use the internet on my phone very much because it eats up my pulsa. They call it pulsa here--the phone time you pay for. I would like to post some new pictures on the blog, but naturally one needs the internet for that as well 🙄

Friday, March 15, 2024

And The Next Thing I Knew ...

 I was just writing earlier today about the toxic nature of election season as expressed through Facebook comments. Later on in the day I posted a comment on an article about a speech Biden had recently made. I expressed my opinion that Biden speaks with wisdom, compassion, and just plain common sense. And my goodness, as if to prove my point, a torrent of poisonous replies arrived over the next couple hours. Most had nothing to do with the article at hand but were of a personal, insulting nature. You make me sick, for instance. You are a complete idiot and a liar. How is your mail order bride doing? You are a pedo. And so on. These are voters, folks; and not just voters, but Trump voters. That ought to tell us all something. They are of a type. I have seen it again and again. Like Trump himself, they revel in personal attacks and in childish name calling punctuated by poor spelling. It is certainly discouraging. It is, as Hillary once said, deplorable.

Here And Gone

 Another Nyepi day has come and gone. Evelyn was here, as I have mentioned, and we were able to see a few of the Ogoh-Ogoh in Sanur. I had read that there would be no parade this year, but it turned out that there was just no Ogoh-Ogoh competition where prizes are awarded from entries all over the area. There was a parade here in the evening which we could have gone to, except that it was pouring down rain. So we were able to hear the parade, which is on the main street just close to my house, but could not go see it.

We are now entering the season of online hate, by which I mean election season. The usual comments stream in following any statement I make, and have of course nothing to do with the post at hand but much to do with the by now very familiar accusation that I am old and that my girlfriend is Asian and surely a mail order wife and that I am a pedophile. These are so common that it begins to seem that there is a Trumper playbook from which they are extracted. Because they are always the same. How is one to reply to such things? I may point out that what they have said has nothing to do with the post we are discussing, but that elicits nothing other then more of the same fixation with colored women, old age, and pedophilia. I guess it is best to just not comment at all. There is no serious discussion, there is no meaningful debate. That said, my 50-year-old girlfriend is always flattered at the thought that she could be young enough to be the target of a pedophile 🤣

After having my recent problems with eye infection, and going through multiple vision exams, I was told that I would need new glasses. After the problem cleared up, it seemed to me that I was seeing pretty darn well. Nonetheless, I dutifully went out yesterday to the optical store to have yet another exam and order new glasses. My usual optician, which is called Retro, was closed. I don't know if it is permanently closed or if they are just on vacation. In any case, since I had already taken the trouble to go to the mall, I decided to drop in to another optician called Optic Seis. I vaguely remembered having some kind of problem with this store, but I couldn't remember what that problem was. So anyway, I went into the store, had my vision checked, and went through the process of ordering the glasses. In this process, one is continually directed to the most expensive option for new lenses. One keeps saying that one just wants the basic lenses, but one is aggressively encouraged to buy the most expensive ones, twice as expensive as the basic ones. Ah ha. Now I remember what the problem was. Anyway, the man took down the order and was ready to receive my payment when I suddenly remembered to ask a rather essential question. 

"How much different has my vision become? How different is this new prescription from the old one? What is the change?"

"There is no change," the man says. "It is the same."

"Well then ... why am I buying new lenses?"

"I don't know."

Right.

So the end result is that I did not buy new lenses. My goodness, why would i?

Today it is raining again and my Wi-Fi is not working for some reason, and I cannot watch TV, and so I am writing down these unimportant thoughts just for something to do.

Thursday, February 29, 2024

Yes, I'm Still Kickin'

 So it appears that my eye troubles have finally come to an end. Yay. And surprisingly I have no new illness to report 😅 I do need to get some new glasses though, as my vision seems to be much different, which is to say worse, after the stroke plus the eye infection plus the eye virus 🙄

It is Galungan now in Bali, which will end in Kuningan 10 days later. This holiday this year has fallen right before the annual Nyepi, silent day, holiday. Happily, Evelyn will be coming to spend Nyepi with me, so it won't be as boring as usual. Actually, she was here for Nyepi Day last year as well, so I am doubly blessed.

I have been meaning to do some writing here, and had been intending to address some of the political bullshit going down in America, but every time I start out to do so, a wave of depression washes over me and I just think What the hell is the use? I guess it is only the good people of America who can now save our good country, seeing as how even the Supreme Court of the land appears to be corrupt and more in the business of propping up Donald Trump than in delivering actual justice in the land. We are contending therefore with a lawless person, a lawless political party, and a lawless Supreme Court. God help us and, as president Biden says, God save the Queen.

And with that, I will keep my peace. For now, anyway.

Saturday, February 10, 2024

Quiet

 Well the family is gone now and the villa feels awfully quiet, especially in the evening. It's just me and Etta the dog.

We had a good time during their stay here. Nothing extravagant. Just hanging out at the Villa or at the beach or at the mall. And I felt fairly well as the days went by. My eye steadily improved. I saw the doctor on Tuesday and she said that there was still a small spot of the virus in my eye. However, it has not been hurting as it did before and my normal vision seems to be returning. I will need to get glasses after the eye is totally well. The stroke or the eye infection or both seem to have changed the vision in my right eye.

So now it is three more days alone here and then back to my little house in Sanur. The maid says that I must sleep in the little bedroom upstairs on Sunday and Monday because she wants to make up the big bedroom for the return of the owners of the villa. I don't quite like sleeping upstairs because there's a ghost up there. But I will need to just maybe sprinkle some holy water and chant some incantations to make the place safe for sleeping 😄

Monday, February 5, 2024

Waiting Game

 Finally, a third doctor at Sanglah seems to have cured the infection in my right eye. I hope. After a week of inserting ointment and anti-inflammatory and looking at the world through a fog, the eye appears to be almost normal again. I had hoped to return to her today, but it turns out that the appointment is for tomorrow. So one more day of a blur.

In the meantime, Evelyn, Michelle, Monica and I have been enjoying a sort of lazy time at the villa. The girls do a lot of cooking and I do a lot of eating. The weather has turned fairly foul, with rain beginning in the early afternoon and turning to thunderstorms at night. Happily, we are enjoying the use of Louis' car, which allows us to all get out together, because of course we all cannot travel about on my motorbike 😅

Thursday, February 1, 2024

Visitors

 Today Evelyn and her two daughters will arrive to stay with me for about a week and unfortunately I am profoundly fatigued, I guess from the herpes zoster infection, or maybe from the damn medicine. Moreover, the ointment I have to use five times a day in the eye makes my vision blurry and continually causes the eye to tear. Good grief

Oh well, I will do my best. At least Evelyn can help me apply the stupid ointment, because every time I try to do it, it is as likely to go onto my cheek or my stomach as into my eye 🤣

Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Light

My eyes like the light
They drink it in
As if they thirst
Let them pour it out as well I say

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Strange Cases Indeed

 And ivory-faced and silvery-haired old woman opened the door. She had an evil face, smoothed by hypocrisy: but her manners were excellent.

--The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Robert Louis Stevenson


What an odd pair of sentences, don't you think? Read it several times, and then several more. Note the unusual juxtaposition of ivory and silver with evil. And then smoothed by hypocrisy? How so? And her manners were excellent!

The novel indeed is an excellent maze of conflicting terms and shades, of conspicuous contradictions, hopelessly separate and yet inseparably connected.

The genius is all in the startling language, reminiscent somewhat of Stephen Crane. Or is it Crane who is reminiscent of Stevenson? They were roughly contemporaries. Who knows ... maybe they were the same person!


Its Will, Not Mine

 I have been waiting with bated breath to see what new problem my body will come up with once I get rid of this I inflammation of the eye, but it surprised me by not coming up with a new target of attack at all but by adding a problem to the already existing problem. I have now developed, in addition to the bacterial infection in my right eye, a herpes zoster viral infection as well. Oh what a clever body I have.

So I'm just back from a new doctor today, ostensibly for the old and amazingly persistent allergic problem, and have learned of the new viral problem. This sort of virus, she says, takes advantage of a weakened condition as might be found in a system weakened by stroke, for instance, or by multiple sclerosis or indeed by an infection in the eye. 

So now I am to treat both illnesses at the same time, the new viral infection with an ointment that will be used five times a day. This, the doctor hopes, will be sufficient to overcome the viral infection, although she is guaranteeing nothing at this time. I must see her again in a week after giving this new treatment a trial. The ointment which is meant to chase out the virus will make the vision foggy in the meantime. And what fun that will be!

One really does stand in awe of the body's irrepressible will to be ill.

Monday, January 29, 2024

Jekyll.and Hyde

 ... "and just to put your good heart at rest, I will tell you one thing: the moment I choose, I can be rid of Mr Hyde."

--The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Robert Louis Stevenson


I truly and fully enjoy rereading this little book from time to time, because, for one thing, it is not a little book. It is a big book packed into a small space. Every sentence counts, every word has been carefully chosen. The novel is written in the manner of many of its time--a third person narrative that seems on the surface to remove the reader from the immediacy of the story. It has a deceptive cadence that tempts one to skim, which would be a grave mistake, for you will miss the story all together. Every time I read the novel, I see more, and I see what I have missed on each previous reading. Of course, Jekyll is fooling himself in the text quoted above. He cannot be rid of Hyde any more than the Apostle Paul could be rid of what he called the body of this death (Rom 7:24). The difference, perhaps, is that Paul knew his predicament whereas Jekyll does not.

So apart from amusing myself with Stevenson, I'm once again watching over Louise and Wayne's Villa, which is to say that I am living here for 2 weeks while they are away on a cruise. Come February 1st, I will be joined by Evelyn and her two daughters and I'm looking forward to a great time together. If only my eye wasn't so messed up. Sometimes things like that can spoil all of one's fun, you know? But I may try to see the doctor again tomorrow, for the fourth time now, in hopes that she has some new idea. On second thought, that seems like kind of a waste of time and money to me. Hmmm. Well I will decide tomorrow. Things always look brighter in the morning, especially when my eye can't hardly even see them at night 🤣


Friday, January 26, 2024

The Debt

 "She couldn't show that pain to anyone else until she'd perfected the way she wanted to tell it, until she had complete control over the narrative. Until she'd polished it into a version and argument that she was comfortable with."

--Yellowface, Rebecca F. Kuang


Have you ever known someone like that? Someone who takes actual history and fashions it into a story that seems more suitable or more personally bearable?

I have. I do.

It is said by psychologists that sometimes when people feel beholden to others for one reason or another, it becomes a terrible burden to them and they must somehow alter the details in such a way that the roles are switched, the story is rewritten from start to finish, and it is now they to whom something is owed.

An example of such behavior may be found in the relationship between Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald in the young years approached Hemingway with genuine generosity. He was the known writer at the time, quite famous already for his early work. He took Hemingway under his wing, so to speak, and forwarded that young writer's work to his own editor at Scribner's. So compelling was Fitzgerald's praise of this new author's work that Scribner's agreed to pick up Hemingway's short stories and novels. In short, Hemingway owed his early success in publishing to Fitzgerald's self defacing interest and support.

Later on in his career, when Hemingway had become the famous author and Fitzgerald was fading, Hemingway sought to change the story and to portray himself as the generous benefactor and long suffering friend. Rather cruelly, he assassinated Fitzgerald, figuratively of course, in a number of works such as The Snows of Kilimanjaro and A Movable Feast. Hemingway, for whatever reason, could not bear to owe anything to his competitor and fellow author. The true story did not fit with the general fiction Hemingway had made of his life--the self-possessed man of confidence and competence, leaning on no one.

Some people change the stories because they have to, because our histories are not always pleasant, not always honorable, not always how we want to think of ourselves in the present. But for me, this would be unbearable. The truth is the truth, and when it seems undesirable or shameful or weak or unbefitting, it is still the truth and is best embraced and acknowledge and regretted and repented. And from there comes regeneration. That is the best way.


Thursday, January 25, 2024

Foggy Days

 I see two worlds, one foggy, one clear. They are half worlds and make not a whole and yet are two complete worlds each unto itself. Close your eyes and see.

It's nearly downright Shakespearean, ain't it? Shades of Macbeth and the three weird women.

Well, that's my world these days, or rather my worlds. My left eye sees as it has been accustomed to seeing while my right eye sees through a fog. Today, however, the fog began to lift and dissipate for long hours at a time. The visual acuity in the right eye is not good, and yet it has been unsmudged for goodly parts of the day. I hope that that is a good sign and that the fog in the right eye will soon dissipate altogether. To be sure, the right eye is still red, and today for the first time is actually painful in the right upper quadrant. That's a new development. Before now there has been irritation and itching and some pain in the eyelid, but never a pain in the eye itself.

Hmmm. Could be good, could be bad, yeah? Only time will tell.

As I said, the vision is not good, but I cannot have any of this examined more thoroughly until the eye itself clears from what appears to have been allergic conjunctivitis. So it's a waiting game now. The last doctor I saw predicted that the eye would be well by next week, but I very much doubt this. I'm thinking it will be more a matter of weeks in the plural.

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Same Time, Same Channel

 I have no new problems to complain about today because the old problem with the right eye persists to this time. It has been over a week now and there has been little improvement in the eye, in my estimation anyway. I saw two doctors at Sanglah Hospital and both recommended basically the same treatment: first an antibiotic, then just sterile water and an anti-inflammatory eye drop along with methylprednisolone three times a day. However, the eye remains red and itchy and blurry and really annoying. So last time I saw the doctor, which was Monday, she said it should be gone in another week, or if it wasn't, I should come back. I can tell you that I won't be going back to Sanglah. Will just try another hospital. Aside from being allergic to gentamicin, I seem to be allergic to something else as well in the air, as I have had a lot of sneezing over the last few days. Anyway, the long and short of the matter is that I will not be able to complain about a new problem until I have gotten over this current problem. Hopefully. One really should try to have one problem at a time, don't you think?

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Sightless in Sanur

So I got myself down to the eye specialist this morning. My appointment was for 8:30. I arrived in the hospital at 8:00 because I was really eager to get this ball rolling, on doing something about my red and swollen and painful eye.

Well, despite my promptness, the doctor did not see me until nearly 10:00. She looked at my eye, looked at the ointment I had been taking for what I assumed was a sty, and said to throw that away.

I had shown this to the general doctor at the small Sanur clinic on Monday. He said yes that's the proper medication and also gave me an anti-inflammatory, methylprednisolone, and an allergy medication. The doctor at the hospital said I could throw those away too if I wanted to.

The long and the short of the thing is that I am allergic to the medication I had been using in my eye, gentamicin. I told the general doctor at The little clinic that I was allergic to azithromycin and erythromycin but he said oh no, this is different, no problem.

Well, it was a problem. A big problem. And now I will be dealing with it by using three types of eye drops six times a day if possible, a cleansing solution, a new antibiotic, and an anti-inflammatory.

The hospital doctor also wants to see me again in about a week because she wants to examine my optic nerve, given the MS.

Good grief.

 

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Cursss

 We come now to the next curse in my course of seven deadly curses, or however many there will eventually be. In this one, I have developed an infection in the right eye. Infected by what? Not sure. Could be something in the air. Could be something I touched. The point is that the eye is now nearly swollen shut, is painful, gives me a headache, and the rest of the time itches. I suppose it ends up being nothing more romantic then a stye, but it surely is annoying. I went to just a little clinic in Sanur yesterday and they prescribed gentamicin ointment and some methylprednisolone for inflammation and the usual series of warm compresses and so on. But after I left the clinic, I remembered that the lens on both of my eyes is an artificial replacement lens placed after cataract surgery. I began to wonder whether any old antibiotic is good for these artificial lenses. Also, Evelyn will be coming to visit later this week and I don't like having this ugly eye while she is here with me 😅. So the long and short of it is that I have made an appointment with the same doctor who did my cataract surgery some years ago. I suspect that she will have a more effective treatment than the small clinic, or in any case the appointment with a real professional will set me more at ease. Unfortunately, the appointment is for 8:30 in the morning tomorrow. Hope I can make it.

Friday, January 12, 2024

Bon-a-Part

 I am about a quarter of a way into the new blockbuster Ridley Scott movie Napoleon and I'm finding it astoundingly boring so far. All I can say is Good Job.

Yesterday, I relented in my irritation with Dr Yoanes at Kasih Ibu Hospital and went to see him specifically regarding my long time shoulder pain along with a few matters touching on what seemed to be an unusually active MS.

He tells me that he sees no MS on the recent MRI of the brain. He says that no doubt the trouble started with MS, but now MS has done the damage it was fated to do and has become instead vascular disease.

As you can imagine, this is certainly a surprise to me and initially of a rather doubtful character, but the man speaks with such firm conviction and confident grasp of multiple details of advanced knowledge, already saved up and ready to go in his head, that I can't help but find it immensely impressing. Impressing and, I will be quick to add, quite uncommon in the Indonesian medical system.

So who knows? What he sees are multiple strokes over time arriving at a fairly major stroke more recently, responsible for placing me where I find myself at this point. In short, in rather poor health.

But concerning the shoulder pain, he declares, again with great confidence, that this is adhesive capsulitis, commonly known as frozen shoulder. For this he has given me a couple of medicines and referred me for physical therapy at a different hospital, where he says there is an excellent rehab program for these issues.

So I do intend to go ahead and get an appointment with them and see what good result might be achieved. I would indeed like to increase the ability to move my shoulder more naturally without incurring increased pain and to restore some strength and function so that we might decrease the ever advancing atrophy in the right arm.

It's worth a shot, I reckon, and I am happy to avoid a shoulder MRI, which would be quite expensive and which would, according to the good doctor, not lead to any useful conclusions. There is the possibility with frozen shoulder of receiving an intramuscular injection to try to mitigate the pain, but that is not a cure, only a temporary relief, and can, as he tells me, cause more problems than it solves, especially in older people such as myself.

If there is any good news concerning my condition, it is that I seem to have finally gotten on top of the sinusitis problem, which has been a real pain in the ass, or rather in the head. It has caused such headaches and such pain in my forehead and behind my eyes, that I am glad to see it go. This has been accomplished by taking the noxious steroid nose spray therapy for more than two weeks and also by drastically cutting down on smoking--down now from more than 20 a day to about 5 a day. That is cigarettes, not packs😉

So there's your exciting update on my condition, likely about as thrilling as this tedious Napoleon movie.


Monday, January 8, 2024

Where Was I?

 Well let's see, where was I in The saga of my multiple health problems? Oh yes, the shoulder pain and the chiropractor.

It turns out that the chiropractor, although an interesting guy and informative one, ended up exacerbating the shoulder pain big time with his massage machine. By the time that evening came around, I was in excruciating pain and remained so for about the next four days. I attempted to treat this pain myself with rest, ice, and heat, and on the 5th day it seems to be improving a bit.

In the meantime, I exchanged a series of messages with my neurologist at Sanglah Hospital, with whom at first I had been very impressed.

Not so impressed now.

Basically, I informed him that I needed the MRI of the shoulder that he had mentioned earlier. This would show one way or another whether the pain was a cervical spine problem or whether it was coming from a muscle beneath the shoulder blade which had become frozen. That is the more likely thing, but has to be proven before one can receive an intramuscular injection.

His answer, strangely, was that the MRI would be very expensive. And then he said nothing more to further questions regarding whether he could order the MRI or if I should contact someone else to order the MRI.

So, again: Patient treat thyself. And I guess we also figure out for ourselves how to handle the procedures if one wants to have medical intervention. Like what business is this of doctors, right? 🙄

In the meantime, my sinusitis seems to be improving and I am becoming accustomed to the effects of the stroke medications, clopidogrel and atorvastatin. Don't like them, but getting used to them.

As I may have mentioned, a new international hospital is set to open in Sanur in the first quarter of this year, and conveniently enough, it is only a few blocks from my house. I will certainly look into transferring there for care when it opens. It may well be more expensive, but at least one will get reasonable medical care. Hopefully.


Friday, January 5, 2024

The Walking Dead

 Once again it has been a long while since I visited my blog, mostly because I have been sick as a dog. Well, not mostly. Totally. Always.

First there was the stroke. Then I managed to get a sinus infection on top of it, which then turned into regular incredibly stubborn sinusitis. I'm sure that some of you have experienced the same thing.

So there have been a series of doctors and emergency room visits and so on. I can tell you that if you live in Indonesia you might as well just suffer at home, because if you go to the emergency room you will find yourself suffering unattended in a non-air conditioned, humid, sweltering hell, where no one, by the way, knows any damn thing. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Patient heal thyself.

But I'm not done. Just before Christmas I lost the air conditioning in my house and naturally there was no one available to come and fix it. For days. Louis and Wayne were very kind to  invite me to stay in the spare room at their home, which of course has functioning AC. Nonetheless, one would prefer to be in his own home. They were very gracious, but I couldn't help but feel that I was interrupting their holiday season.

So this broken AC situation went on for days and then more than a week. Even when we got a service man to come out and look at it, he couldn't really figure out what was wrong. So he just kind of made up things to make it look like he knew what he was doing, and then left.

Today, already January 5th, a repairman has actually got the unit running, but God knows how long it will continue to run. Fingers crossed.

I should have mentioned, as a prefatory remark, that the weather here has been unusually hot, practically unlivable even with AC.

Given all of these difficulties, I have hardly had time to learn how to live with a stroke or how to go about recovering from a stroke. Because basically I've just been lying in one bed or another like death warmed over.

Ah, and then there was the resurgence of my longstanding neck and shoulder pain. It became very painful indeed the other day and Wayne finally convinced me to see a chiropractor he had seen in the past with satisfaction. I have spoken about this pain to my doctor and he believes that it could be a frozen muscle beneath the shoulder blade. This, he says, could be relieved with an intramuscular injection. However, an MRI would first need to be done to prove that this is indeed the problem rather than something else like bony injury. And that of course costs money. And I just got done doing a head CT. Which also cost money. Not to mention the money I have paid to neurologists and ENT doctors and pharmacies. Sheesh.

So anyway today I saw the chiropractor, a very personable and seemingly professional German fellow. He took my history and listened and poked around and pushed this way in that, and then said, curiously enough, "I don't think you had a stroke. I think you just have MS".

And you know what? I think he might be right. I thought the same thing from the beginning.

But with all this discouraging news, I will end by saying, at the risk of jinxing myself, that I seem now to be on the mend. God willing.

I hope everyone out there had a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Mine didn't just suck, it just simply didn't exist.

Looking forward to Christmas 2024!