Back by Popular Demand!
I must admit that I went through a lot of soul-searching before I finally put my metaphorical pen to paper to start writing this blog.
So, partly due to the deafening “clamour” from my old internet friends in Thailand, and also partly due to my concerns that I was experiencing the onset of writer’s block, I have pushed myself to undertake my first stab at any kind of writing for quite a while.
At the time of writing, my beloved family, Lek and Song, are in the third week of a four-week trip back to Thailand to visit relatives and friends. This is their first trip back home since arriving in England back in March 2018, so I guess they deserved a short break from their challenging lives in the UK.
Man’s best friend?
I am writing this in my home in Oakham, Rutland, on a bright sunny August day with the temperatures at a pleasant 22C, with only my mischievous little dog, Olly, for company.
I am fast coming round to the widespread belief that a dog is indeed a man’s best friend. Olly has certainly played a great part in warding off the loneliness that would have otherwise engulfed me – having already been totally alone for three long weeks.
I really don’t do ‘solitude’ very well – I never have done – (hence six wives) – but Olly’s constant pestering for attention, and the need to take him for walks, feed him and generally take care of him, has somehow made the days go past without me sinking into a deep depression that would have certainly descended by now.
Olly is a “Yorkie-poo” – a cross between a Yorkshire terrier and a Toy Poodle, but by some weird intermingling of genes, he is a little larger than either breed. He weighs around 5.5 kilos, is incredibly active and agile, and just full of fun. His size and shape belie his athletic prowess and I don’t believe I have ever seen a dog move so fast. Needless to say, he is a bit of a handful as he never sleeps for very long and always wants to play a new game.
He is similar to Shih Tzus that I had in Thailand, inasmuch as his coat is hypoallergenic and he doesn’t shed any hair at all. His lovely, soft coat just grows and grows.
So what have I been up to since my last blog in December last year?
Looking back, it seems as though the family has been dealing with one medical issue after another.
Song, my daughter, has been diagnosed with bad astigmatism and we have taken her on numerous visits to eye specialists at Leicester hospital. Every time we go, they prescribe increasingly strong prescriptions for her eyes, and to date, we have gone through eight sets of spectacles, and we still aren’t finished. Thankfully, the spectacles and medical care are all free.
Then Lek my wife gave us a big scare recently when she developed a lump on her neck which refused to go. The GP was so concerned that she arranged an immediate appointment with a cancer specialist, and after several visits, it was finally established that the lump was not cancerous, and was probably caused by a bacterial infection in her blood which had weakened her immune system. She has to go back for further checks in October, but in the meantime, the lump has reduced in size and she is feeling quite well.
As if that wasn’t enough, back in Thailand, Lek was bitten by a semi-wild cat and has had to have a series of rabies injections. Her last shot will not be due until she returns to England, so I’m not quite sure how we will handle that. Rabies has been wiped out here, so I can’t believe every doctor or hospital here carries vaccines for something that is rarely needed.
As for me – well I guess I am a walking (just) medical marvel. I too have made numerous trips to Leicester hospital for various treatments and follow-ups on many of my chronic conditions, including prostate problems, bowel problems, lung problems, and my poor old ticker.
After I had a cystectomy (a camera up my jimmy), I now have to self-catheterise several times a day to empty my bladder. It’s a bit of a bummer, but the only alternative is a ‘turps- like’ procedure, which in the scheme of things is quite a major operation and not to be taken lightly by people of my age (73). So we’ll put a hold on that one for now.
I have also had more colonoscopies (cameras down my gullet) to try and ascertain what is causing all my bowel problems, and recently I undertook a ‘nuclear’ test which involved swallowing a radioactive capsule. I was scanned before, and one week after I took the isotope. The result of this is that I have been diagnosed as suffering from Bile Acid Malabsorption (BAM) and I have to take a powder mixture every day to try and fix it. It’s too early to say if it is going to work.
And even more recently… I went to my GP to report I had completely lost my sense of smell for over six months and I also had a long-standing cough at the back of my throat and permanent hoarseness when I talk. He was quite concerned and has referred me urgently for a brain scan and an examination by an ENT specialist. I am still awaiting these appointments, so if you don’t hear from me again, you can assume the worst. However, I am reasonably optimistic that whatever the cause(s) are, I’ll still be here for a few years yet.
“Enough of medical problems!” I hear you all say.
What else has been happening in the weird and wonderful world of Mobi and his brood?
Let’s talk about the weather.
Firstly the weather – for as you know, the only thing we Brits always talk about is the weather.
The weather over the past eight months has been somewhat variable. We had some bitterly cold days during the early months of the year, but thankfully, not much snow. Then Easter produced some summer-like temperatures but it turned cold again for the main part of spring. June saw a mix of torrential rain and sunny days, and in July we saw some of the highest temperatures ever recorded in the UK, (31.7 C in Cambridge). But this was short-lived and was followed by more, very changeable weather.
Here in Oakham the weather for the early part of August the weather was quite pleasant, with dry sunny spells being mainly the order of the day, but in other parts of England – mainly in the north, and east – they weren’t so lucky. A year’s worth of rain fell in a few hours in parts of Yorkshire and Lincolnshire and caused widespread flood damage.
Then over the past few days, all hell has been let loose with storm force winds and yet more torrential rain occurring all over the country. A huge dam in Derbyshire’s peak district started to break up and all the villagers below the dam were evacuated for over a week while the water levels were reduced and temporary repairs made. And in my own back garden, a largish tree was blown down, and there it still lies, across the lawn, pending the return of Lek to clear it, as I’m just not up to it. What a summer we’re having!
As if all that wasn’t enough – on Friday we had a power cut – right across the UK which played havoc with the transport systems – especially train services.
Sometimes it feels like I’m back in Thailand…
Song completed her primary school education in July, and in September she will be starting at the local secondary school. This impressive school is a twenty-minute walk (or ten-minute bike ride) and educates about 1,000 pupils from Oakham and surrounding areas. We have visited the school several times and the buildings and facilities are state of the art and we have met with teachers there who all seem very dedicated. I am sure she will fit in very well.
Her English has been coming on in leaps and bounds and I am confident that within the next two years it will be pretty much up to scratch. She is a lovely, outgoing girl with a very sunny disposition, has made loads of friends and is very popular. I am sure this will hold her in good stead for the next stage of her education.
Lek has also settled in extremely well. She has made many friends at work and is part of the Thai community who live in around this small market town in the middle of England.
During my daily video chats with her in the wilds of Nong Khai, she is increasingly expressing her desire to get back to her home in the UK. I can’t tell you how gratifying this is. As I write, there is only one more week to go before we are reunited once more.
Brexit – What else?
Of course, along with the rest of the population, I am totally obsessed with the political situation and the vexed subject of Brexit. Of itself, it is quite fascinating and this is undoubtedly one of the most tumultuous periods in politics since the Second World War – or maybe earlier. At least in the nineteen-thirties, the politicians were sensible enough to form a government of National Unity, but this time around there is little chance of that happening.
If it wasn’t for the fact that Brexit will play such important part in our future lives, I could sit back and enjoy the crazy, roller-coaster ride; but as it is, I find it frustrating, stressful and very worrying – along with everyone else, on both sides of the Brexit divide. I wish I could say that come Halloween, it will all be resolved, with the new Boris government finding the right way forward. But that seems unlikely at best. All us poor minions can do is sit back and watch the politicians screw up our beloved country.
Meanwhile, life in Blighty goes on and everything seems as rosy as can be expected with Brexit hanging over us. Yes, I have my ongoing medical problems, but I am determined to try and see the positive side of things and place my faith in the wonderful National Health Service to keep me alive and reasonably mobile.
I do hope this sort of brings you all up to date with the life and times of Mobi, and I sincerely hope it will not be too long before I put pen to blog paper yet again.
All the best folks!
A few pics….
Life with Family and Grandkids over the Past 8 Months
Song in Her School Show
Proms in the Park – Oakham Style
Running for Cancer
A day at the Farm in Oakham
A walk in the woods
Olly, the Wonder-Dog
Lek and Song Back In Thailand
Neung – Song’s Elder Brother
House Blessing at Lek’s home in Nong Khai
That’s all folks…..