One way or another it feels as if I spent the entire week hanging around in hospital. OK, that may be a slight exaggeration, but there is no doubt that medical matters have once again occupied much of my time I recent days.
The problem with regular Thai hospitals – as opposed to high priced private hospitals – is that patients have to turn up at the crack of dawn, and have to wait for hours upon hours while the machines of medical bureaucracy slowly turn until you eventually succeed in actually seeing a doctor.
I guess you pays your money and takes your choice – and as this particular punter has no money left to speak of – I have little choice but to join the Thai masses and endure the system.
Last Tuesday I presented myself at the hospital at 7.40 am to find out the results of my ultra sound test (which I had done the previous Saturday).
It wasn’t until 1.45 pm that I finally saw my doctor, a wait of a mere 6 hours. The annoying part is that the doctor didn’t actually appear until around 12.30 so why we all have to be there so early is a frustrating mystery. Anyway, that’s the system, so I have to put up with it or walk….
The ultrasound was inconclusive. My liver and kidneys are fine and there are no stones in the gallbladder – only sludge – and the gallbladder is not in flamed or infected. While the sludge in the gallbladder cannot be totally ruled out as the cause of the pains, it is most unlikely, especially as the gallbaladder is in good nick, so more tests are needed to nail down the cause.
I was sent me to another doctor – a surgeon – who recommended that I have a gastroscopy (camera down my throat to look at the upper stomach) and an endoscopy, (a camera inserted in a vein and then sent to look at my lower stomach) to try and ascertain the reason for my abdominal pains.
Normally, patients are admitted for one night to have this procedure, which is carried out under general anaesthetic, but as I have a piece of carbon engineering that’s been bobbing up and down in my heart since June last year, these procedures immediately become more a tad more complicated.
This is because I have to take warfarin to thin my blood and prevent clotting around the carbon valve. Thin blood poses a potential danger when surgeons start poking around in my tummy as it takes much longer to clot than ‘normal blood’ and if the procedure causes any internal bleeding, I could bleed out and die…
So… I had to make an appointment with a heart specialist, but before that I had to have a whole load of blood tests and x-rays.
Back to The hospital on Thursday for x-rays and blood tests. This all took about 3 hours which I suppose wasn’t too bad.
Then yesterday, Friday, was the marathon to end all marathons. We arrived just after 7 a.m. and were sent from pillar to post in preparation to see the cardiologist.
I saw the cardiologist at 9.30, who almost gave me a heart attack as up to then I had not seen a single female doctor in the entire hospital, and suddenly – there I was – face to face with the one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen in my entire life! She had a truly beautiful face.
I tried to recover my composure as she spent ages poring through my records, my blood tests and asking about my heart operation last year. Eventually she wrote a page of detailed instructions in my file and sent me back to see the surgeon .
When this little medical problem is cleared up, assuming I’m still alive, I think I might go back to see this raving beauty and get her to give me a cardiac check-up, as right now, I’m monitoring it myself, with the help of the internet!
We waited until 2 pm to see the surgeon and after he read the cardiologist’s recommended plan of action, he sent me off to see the anaesthetist.
The anaesthetist, who was the second female I saw that day, didn’t seem to like me very much and was particularly put out when she discovered that I monitor my own heart condition and adjust my meds without consulting a cardiologist. She told me off, and when I smiled benevolently at her she got really angry and said ‘It’s your life!’ and stormed off. Ah well, you can’t win’em all. Fortunately she had signed me off before her abrupt departure and her assistant was much more conciliatory and completed the necessary forms of consent so that I can be admitted.
Meanwhile, my surgeon had gone out for a late lunch and I had to wait until 3.30 before he finally returned. He told me that I was now all approved for surgery…, phew!… and that I will have to stop taking warfarin 3 days before my op, and they will put me on an intravenous drug (hepalin) to keep my blood at the right levels for the op, whatever that may mean…
Finally back to the in-patient booking office to change my admittance date as I will now have to stay in hospital for at least 3 nights. It was past 4 pm when we finally made the journey home in some of the most torrential rain I have ever seen. In all, we were in that bloody building for 9 hours!
Don’t get me wrong – this is all pretty much par for the course; Rajavithi Hospital in Bangkok (where I had my heart op) was no better.
Some of the interminable delays are no doubt down to high work loads, but although the hospital had plenty of patients awaiting treatment or consultations, it was by no means over-crowded. It is a very large hospital, seems well-staffed and is designed to cater for a large number of patients. Many of the delays are down to bureaucratic procedures.
Although the docs have access to desk top computers, where they can look at x-rays etc, all the patient’s records are in paper files, and every doctor seems to spend a majority of his/her time searching for stuff in the files and then writing interminable notes, that go on and on and on. Then he has to write instructions on special forms about what happens next, and he has to rubber stamp and sign the forms and file notes many times. Finally he produces an array of coloured marking pens and highlights sections of his notes all over the place in a variety of different colours – all of which no doubt mean something to someone.
To give you an example of bureaucracy gone mad, every doctor who examined me had to list all the medications I am currently taking in my file – even though the same list of meds had already been entered by the previous docs who had seen me. On top of this, I had provided a print-out of all my meds which was also enclosed in my file! I think my meds are listed at least 4 times in different parts of my medical file.
I hate to say it, but I can’t help thinking that the hospital needs a ‘time and motion man’, – there’s an obsolete expression for you – to streamline the procedures and free up the docs to make better use of their valuable time.
Anyway, I made it through the system and I’m all set to be admitted on 26th October with the ‘procedure’ scheduled for the 28th.
I wonder what they will find.
A Lust for Life – Is it the end of the line?
It seems that it’s bad news all round this week.
A couple of days ago I heard from the agent who had previously encouraged me to restructure my novel. This I have been doing since May , and recently I resubmitted it to her for further review. Unfortunately despite all my efforts, she still doesn’t think it cuts the mustard.
She urged me to publish it as an ebook, which was something I had always intended to do, once I had exhausted all other options.
So after spending the best part of three years sweating on this work, I must now accept defeat and get on with other things. In the absence of anyone else showing even a glimmer of interest then I think I must stop hoping and stop wasting any more time on it. I am not particularly surprised by this turn of events, and in some ways it is relief to get it all over with, one way or another.
I do feel a little frustrated, inasmuch as I have received so many wonderful comments from people who have actually read it and have clearly enjoyed it. But I have to concede that while there may well be a ‘niche’ readership out there who enjoys reading such novels, a vast majority of the reading public are looking for something somewhat different from the sort of work I have to offer.
I have concluded that I probably write in an old fashioned style which is not going to draw a modern day readership. My favourite authors are from the 19th and early 20th century, and it is probably these writers who have had the greatest influence on my style of writing
I am currently reading ‘The Rainbow’ by D H Lawrence, which is beautifully written, but I wonder how many of today’s reading public could be bothered to read it. There are no wiz-bang gimmicks, time-shifts or fast paced action, that might hold the attention of the contemporary reading public, most of whom have notoriously short attention spans.
Modern novels generally tend to have much shorter paragraphs and chapters, than classic literature. I’d almost bet that if I tried to send any DH Lawrence novel to a modern day publisher claiming it to be a new piece of work, I would almost certainly receive the predictable rejection slip – ‘it’s well written, but so sorry, not for us…’
This is all fair enough, and I accept it. After all, I personally prefer a good modern day film to some of the supposed 60 year old classics. Many of the so-called ‘film noires’ of yester-year leave me cold. I guess it is much the same with literature for many people.
Whatever the reason, I accept that my writing is not commercial so it is: “fare thee well, my trusty ‘A lust For Life’, may you die a slow and not too painful death on the pyres of Amazon’s unread, unloved and forgotten ebooks”.
Whether or not I ever turn my pen to a new literary effort remains to be seen. I almost certainly will, as I find writing therapeutic and relaxing. It is one of the few times in my daily life when I can get out of my wretched skin and be in a ‘different place’ for a short period of time.
But in the meantime, I have the little matter of staying alive and finding enough money to live on to occupy my daily thoughts
‘There and back’ – a trip to ye olde country… Part 5
London – A magical blend of ‘Ancient & Modern’.
On 1st August, Noo and I made our second and final trip to London, on what turned out to be a scorcher of a day.
Our plan was to take a ride on the London Eye, to be followed by a river trip to Greenwich and back, which in the end proved to be quite enough to accomplish on what was an extremely heat sapping day.
We took the train from Tonbridge to London Bridge, and even though we had booked our London Eye tickets in advance, we were obliged to spend over 90 minutes queuing in unbelievable heat – weather more typical in my home environs of Pattaya than in the heart of what is usually a cold, wet and windy island off the coast of Europe.
These days, the London Eye must be second only to the Tower of London in being one of the most photographed structures in The UK. Be that as it may, here is my humble contribution.
The views from The ‘Eye’ are truly spectacular.
Back on terra firma, we took the short walk over Westminster Bridge and boarded one of the countless river boats that were fighting to entice all us ‘lambs for slaughter’ into their little crafts for trips up and down the River Thames.
Off we went on the first leg of our journey, which took us down river, past Big Ben and Westminster, Cleopatra’s Needle, the old ‘County Hall’ which is now a hotel, the famous OXO building, (which is the only building that is able to put a commercial advertisement on its façade), St Paul’s cathedral, the south side, dominated by the new ‘Shard’, Tower Bridge, the ‘square mile’ of the city of London, complete with Gherkin and Cheese Cutter, and the tower itself.
The last pic (above) shows the ultra-modern ‘Towers of Babel’ doing their best to overwhelm and subsume the 900 hundred year old Tower of London, but singularly failing to do so. Somehow it all works – well it does for me…
Passing under Tower Bridge, we proceeded past London’s ancient, disused docklands, which these days boasts countless converted and new buildings which primarily provide luxury apartments and penthouses for the rich and famous, along with upmarket pubs and restaurants where they indulge their poncified stomachs.
And thence to yet more ‘Babels’ devoted to the pursuit of money – London’s second ‘square mile’ of pure greed – Canary Wharf. Again, I love the architecture, if not the motives of those who work there.
Leaving Canary Wharf behind, we passed yet more strange and fascinating buildings, including one that seems to have a doffed top hat, (what else in the this millionaire’s playground?), before arriving at our destination, Greenwich.
I confess that the plan was to alight at Greenwich and do the tour of the Cutty Sark and the Greenwich Observatory, but by the time we reached Greenwich pier, it was already late afternoon and we were very hot and sweaty. The whole area was jam-packed with tourists. God knows how long it would take us to get back on a boat for the return journey to Westminster after we had spent a couple of hours or so walking around.
We chickened out, and decided to remain on board for the return journey, and had to satisfy ourselves with pics of the 150 year old clipper and the 350 year old Royal observatory that I could take from the river.
On the way back, I happened to notice that our progress along the Thames was being closely monitored by a flying object of a mysterious kind. Undoubtedly, word of Mobi’s exploits in London had preceded him to the nation’s capital!