It’s been a bit of hectic week for me. Along with prioritising my novel in an effort to have the first draft completed before I go to the UK in early June, I have also been checking up my medical situation to ensure that I don’t die in the process….
Medical matters – (skip this part if it bores you)
I’m joking, of course, (about dying), but it’s now three years, almost to the day, since I had my aortic valve replaced with a metal one. Since that momentous event, I have done precious little in the way of medical follow-up with heart specialists etc.
I did have one small emergency, a couple of months after the operation back in 2012, when my heart went into alarming atrial fibrillation. I more or less sorted the problem by myself by taking the appropriate medication (to stop the fibrillation) and by resuming all my regular blood pressure medication, which I had stopped taking after the valve was replaced.
I had foolishly assumed that after the operation, my blood pressure would return to normal – the hospital had omitted to tell me that a new aortic valve would not cure my hypertension. (High blood pressure). Nor did they tell me to resume the BP meds when I was discharged.
Once I resumed my meds, especially the beta-blocker which slows down my heart, there has been no repeat of that alarming incident.
It is now two years since I have had a full range of blood tests, so this past week I had the whole gamut of blood tests run at a local lab and then went to see a cardiologist at Siriroj hospital in Bangkok.
I gave the doc a copy of the blood test results and she gave me an ECG, followed by an echocardiogram – the first since my operation.
It seems that I needn’t have worried as I’m in surprisingly good shape. My blood results were all good, the ECG was normal and the echocardiogram revealed that my prosthetic valve is working normally, as are my other two heart valves. In fact, All the functions of my heart as well as can be expected in the heart of a ‘soon to be’ 69-year-old man.
I can’t tell you how relieved I feel about all this, as since my operation, I have been pretty much going it alone, (with reference to internet medical websites), and I did worry that my health might have deteriorated. But not so, it would seem.
I have to take a huge number of pills to keep my blood pressure under control, but as long as they do the job, then I can smile and live with it.
After I finished with the lovely young cardiologist, (what else?), I went to my GI specialist, at the same hospital – the good Professor,who has been treating my IBS for the past eighteen months.
I am also taking an inordinate number of pills to keep my IBS under control and they are only partially successful, although I don’t doubt my stomach would be a lot worse without them.
I think there has been a slight improvement over the past three months, since my last consultation, but I still get pains in my gut every morning, mainly caused by gas in the abdomen, and I usually go to the loo at least three times every day, sometimes more.
As well as pills to treat the symptoms, I have been on an anti-depressant drug for over a year now, as my specialist is convinced that the root cause of my IBS is in ‘my mind’ – in other words, it is created by stress.
When I first saw him, he was convinced he would be able to cure me, but now, 18 months down the line, I think he is starting to wonder if he can.
He is still convinced that stress is the main cause of my problems, and he has asked me on several occasions to see a psychiatrist, but I have always demurred. He called my wife in to ask her if she thought I was stressed.
She told him that in her opinion, I was very stressed and that I worry too much – especially about money.
He said to me: “Your wife tells me that you were cheated out of all your savings – is that right?”
“Do you mind if I ask; was it a Thai that cheated you?”
I smiled. “No, it was an Australian.”
“Phew! I’m pleased to hear it wasn’t a Thai. If you don’t wish to see a psychiatrist, may I prescribe another drug for you?”
The upshot of my consultation is that he has prescribed another anti-depressant drug, to take along with the one I am currently taking, and see if together they can help to reduce my stress/anxiety. I am familiar with this new drug as I used to take it several years ago when I was suffering from serious depression; so we shall see.
Lek now has her UK visit visa, and all the final arrangements are in place for our 3½-week trip to the UK, from June 4th to June 30th.
I am now only two – or maybe three – chapters away from completion of the first draft of my novel and I am confident they will be finished before my UK trip.
The plan is then to take a month’s break from writing, and when I return to Thailand, I will do the final review and edit with fresh eyes. So with luck, I will be in a position to publish somewhere around the end of of July to mid-August.
It seems that the rainy season has arrived as there is barely a day goes by when we don’t hear thunderstorms raging somewhere in the locality and we are experiencing quite heavy downpours several times a week.
The rain lasts anything from 5 minutes to an hour or so, but I wish they would last longer as we really need the rain. Even so, on a couple of occasions the rain has been heavy enough for the swimming pool to overflow.
The day we went to Bangkok for my hospital appointments we had torrential rain for over two hours and all the roads were flooded and the power went out. Ironically, it was also the first day of the new school term and for many pupils it was a washout.
But there still needs to be a lot more rain to replenish the all water in Lake Mabprachan as it is still at an extremely low ebb after during the long, two-year near-drought.
I am continuing to enjoy having my young family around me and Lek’s almost 7-year old daughter, Song, is an absolute delight. She is very cute and absolutely full of energy and enthusiasm. Every time her mother says something to me in English, she immediately asks her what it means and she remembers it. She’ll be speaking English before we know it.
Lek recently ‘discovered’ a very large field-cum public park which is only a short drive from where we live. So we are now in the habit of going there in the late afternoon – maybe three times a week – with the dogs. The dogs love it and go crazy chasing each other and exploring – and we all get some much-needed exercise, from walking and running around. It is a very pleasant family occasion.
Below, are a few photos of us in the park. It’s actually a huge memorial garden for some rich local doctor who died some years ago and is maintained by his family. Apparently, he owned a lot of land in the area, including the land where Siam Country Club Golf course now stands. For all I know, the doctor’s family still owns it.