Wednesday, January 31, 2024


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


 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


 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!