I have avoided mention of all my myriad medical conditions in recent months, as there has been quite enough to complain… err…write about… without resorting to yet more tomes on Mobi’s ails.
But my latest medical problem has now reached the point where I can no longer remain silent.
It all started late one evening, 2 days before we left Thailand for our trip to the UK. I experienced the most excruciating pains at the top of my abdomen, which lasted for well over 4 hours and it is no exaggeration to say that I was in absolute agony. (Yes, even worse than my heart surgery, and on that occasion I just wanted to die!). I was pretty sure it wasn’t heart related, and all indications were that it was an acute attack of indigestion, even though I had never experienced anything like it before. The pain eventually started to subside at around 5 a.m. and I fell asleep, totally exhausted.
The next day I stocked up on indigestion medication and assumed it was a ‘one-off’ aberration and thought no more about it.
Fast forward to my trip to England.
I had been in the UK for just over 2 weeks and was staying at my elder daughter’s home in Nuneaton when I had another attack. If it were possible, this attack was even worse than the one I had in Pattaya and my family were so concerned that they took me to the emergency room at the local hospital.
The hopsital staff then spent the next 2 hours convincing themselves that my problem wasn’t heart related. To be fair, they took one look at my chest scar and positively panicked when I told them I had a metal heart valve. Eventually the duty doc put it down to indigestion and gave me some meds and told me to go home and sleep it off. By this time I had been in hospital for over 4 hours and the pain had more or less subsided.
They also insisted in making an appointment for me to go to the anti-coagulation committee as one the many blood tests they had taken indicated my blood was a tad too thin, caused by the daily dose of warfarin (rat poison) I take to counter the effects of my artificial heart valve. I ask you? An anti-coagulation committee??? Sounds like something from ‘Ever Deceasing Circles’….
Two days later, I was back in hospital again, with yet more excruciating pains. This time I saw a different doctor, and after he had examined the records of my previous visit, he gave my abdomen a sharp squeeze in an area on the right side, just below my rib cage and I nearly jumped through the ceiling – the pain was so intense.
‘Gall stones’ he told me. Probably stuck in the bile duct. You need to have an ultra sound, and if I’m correct, the gall bladder needs to come out.’
It transpired that there was no way that poor old Mobi – as a visitor to the shores of his birth – could be given an ultra sound, or any other manner of ‘sound’ without his GP ordering it. And I couldn’t get a GP because I was non-resident.
Sort of catch-22.
(In case any of you may be wondering, I paid full governemnt national health contributions and a very considerable amount of tax for my entire working life up to the age 60, when I took retirement. But because I have lived outside the UK for over 3 years, and have consequently placed a zero burden on the UK social services, I am now only entitled to the absolute minimum of basic emergency medical treatment – enough to get me on a plane and out of the country – and my tiny state pension is frozen in time for ever more.)
I told the doc I was returning to Thailand in 6 days’ time, and asked if there was anything he could prescribe that would stabilise the situation until I got home. (I was having visions of having a gallstone attack on the plane and being hauled off the plane in Moscow and stranded there, along with young Ed Snowden.)
He understood the situation perfectly and dosed me up on acid-busters, and pain killers par excellence, which I have continued to buy and take since returning to Thailand.
Fast forward to Pattaya.
I was back in Pattaya about 4 weeks before I had the first recurrence. This was after I decided I was probably cured and that it was time to reduce the dosage of meds. It turned out to be a bad error of judgement and even taking ultra-strong pain killers, I was still up all night in pain. I quickly reverted to the original dose and realised that I had better do something about it if I didn’t want to take these meds for the rest of my life.
Since then I have been having attacks with increasing regularity and now have them more or less every other day – even with all the meds.
So last Tuesday Noo took me to Queen Sirikit naval hospital at Sattahip and after hanging around for most of the day, I saw a specialist who ordered an ultra sound which I had yesterday, (Saturday). I will see the specialist again next Tuesday.
He has told me that if the diagnosis is confirmed I will need to have my gall bladder removed by laparoscopic (keyhole) surgery. I was relieved to be told that it wouldn’t be done by general surgery, (cut open my stomach), as I had been led to believe that keyhole surgery was only done in the major private hospitals. He told me that because of my cardiac history, there would need to be a cardiologist standing by and if there were any complications, they might have to open me up.
I’ll face that bridge when I come to it – or they will, coz I’ll be out cold.
More on this next week….
‘There and back’ – a trip to ye olde country… Part 4
After our day out to Dungeness, and a trip on one of the world’s smallest working railway, we woke up the following morning to the sight of real English rain – remarkably, our first experience of wet weather since arriving in the motherland.
A quiet day at home was in order, but somehow or other we became persuaded to make the short trip to down town Tonbridge, despite the rain. After all, if you wait for the rain to stop in England before you go anywhere, you might have to wait a very long time.
Tonbridge is an old Kentish town with a fair bit of history (which I won’t bore you with), and despite the mass pub closures throughout the land, it is still blessed with a grand assortment of drinking establishments, like the two pictured above.
Just off the town centre are the remains of 900 year old Tonbridge castle, which stands next to a very pleasant public park adorned with flower beds, some very grand old trees, and even the occasional squirrel.
Undeterred by the rain, we wandered down to the river Medway, which splits Tonbridge town centre into two. We were surprised to encounter a few of Kent’s finest youth who had managed to drag themselves away from their video games and Facebooks long enough to do something in the real world – like messing around in boats on a wet English summer’s day.
I’m not an architect or anything approaching an expert on buildings, but if this isn’t a good example of utterly forgettable English 1960’s architecture, then I don’t know what is….
Back in the high street, the rain had finally ceased, and we sat in the waiting area of a high street bank for a while as Sid did a bit of banking. Noo had to fend off sales staff who seemed determined to persuade her to open a bank account! They must be desperate for business.
I wonder what the difference is between American and English Nails?
Note that Noo was still obsessed with English fruit, especially delicious blackberries…
The next day, the sun was back, and we decided to spend a few hours in nearby Tunbridge Wells.
But before making the short trip to TW, my train-obsessed brother insisted on a brief detour. It transpired that he is a volunteer at a local train society which runs steam trains for fun along a section of disused Kentish railway track. There is even a disused train station where enthusiasts while away their spare time, playing at being ticket collectors, station masters and signalmen.
Sid insisted on showing us around ‘his’ station, Groombridge by name, which we all found absolutely fascinating….well, some of the flowers were, anyway….
Thence to Tunbridge Wells, and the historic ‘Pantiles’.
Do you think Noo was trying to drop a hint?
I can’t honestly say that I was particularly enthused by the early17th Century, spring, but I did quite like the ancient-looking sun dial, which I suspect is a lot more modern than it looks.
Tunbridge Wells town centre is a pleasant little place and, as befitting a town in the ‘garden of England’, flowers abound.
‘1984’ – Thai Style.
If George Orwell had been writing his ‘Big Brother’ masterpiece in today’s world of social media gone mad, I wonder if he might have written about certain quasi-totalitarian states cracking down on Facebook ‘crimes’?
In 1984 there were ‘thought’ crimes.
In 2013, in Thailand there are ‘like’ crimes.
Below, in an exclusive interview with the Nation Newspaper, the Police commander of the Technology Crime Suppression Division defends his agency against criticism over its threat to take legal action against Facebook users who “like” certain messages of a political nature.
Q : Is clicking “like” on Facebook now against the law.
A: It will be if you ‘like’ a message deemed damaging to national security. If you press ‘like’, it means you are accepting that message, which is tantamount to supporting it. By doing so, you help increase the credibility of the message and hence you should also be held responsible.
Q : Is this rule the same in other countries?
A: This has nothing to do with foreign countries, because they have different laws. We are taking preventive measures in dealing with this matter. Others may use the principle of law but we use the principle of political science.
Q : Do you think the police have the right to do this?
A: I don’t know. But believe me; I can take legal action against you. The Penal Code and the Computer Crime Act can be applied in this matter.
Q : Which message of the four people summoned by the Technology Crime Suppression Division (TCSD) was deemed unlawful?
A: Basically they talked about the possibility of a coup, which is groundless and is clearly against the Computer Crime Act. The TCSD action is just meant to have a psychological impact. We don’t want these four persons to be jailed. We just questioned them and it’s okay for them to say they didn’t mean to create panic. After this action, people are now more careful about their Facebook messages. I am mainly aiming at social peace.
Q: So you mean from now on, people can’t click ‘like’?
A: I’m not prohibiting anyone from pressing ‘like’. But if you ‘like’ this kind of message, you will be arrested.
Q : What about “sharing” such a message?
A: There are two kinds of sharing. If you share in a way to support the original message, this is wrong. But if you comment against the message, this is okay.
Q : Will this rule be applied to all cases?
A: We will just focus on cases of political violence. If you don’t prevent it, bad news will be covered by foreign media and confidence in Thailand will be affected.
Q : There has been a campaign that “liking is not a crime”.
A: It’s okay for people to “like” a Facebook page. But they can’t ‘like’ rumours any more. I think I have achieved my goal.
Q : Is the TCSD action intended as a threat?
A: No. We work without any bias about the political colours. Two of those summoned were red shirts, another is a white mask. The last one is Thai PBS editor.
Q : How did the TCSD go about this case?
A: I have a team here [at TCSD] and at the Royal Thai Police HQ. Our team searched for certain keywords and we found posts by these four persons. It was not difficult. We didn’t have a particular watch list.
Q : Do you think police will be criticised for this action?
A: It’s okay. I just do my work and I have achieved my goal.