Fog lifting

Typical drug-induced vision

So then. After some check-up I have been taken off nearly all drugs, down to just 2 pills at night now. Helen took our sackful of pills to show the doctor and he seemed flabbergasted that he’d given me so much and took me off them pronto. The other possibility is that the bill-inflaters in pharmacy have just tripled the amount to triple the bill.

Anyway I’m home & capable of medium-length sentences that often make sense (at least to me). I’ve got a 2 month pass before I go back for this particularly grim internal examination to see if the cancers are regrouping. Bladder function has improved, but very slowly, and further down the line is the prospect of prostate surgery if bladder function stalls. The doctor tells me to be patient and remember I’m an old man with old mens complaints. I spluttered and protested at this as I still hold this self-image of myself at 27. But I suppose I must concede he has a point. To some extent.

Anyway, could be worse. I could be back in the hands of vicious sado-nurses and moon-faced dead-eyed nuns with halitosis.

So keep tuned, urinary tract fans, you’ll hear it here first.

Published in: on May 3, 2011 at 11:24 am  Comments (2)  


Wave bye-bye to medical confusion misery with our cut-out ‘n’ keep A-Z of healthcare, lavishly compiled by Ming the Mangled of Masho.

A is for Antibiotics. Don’t bother with tablets & pills, they’re just bill-inflaters. Go straight for the intravenous drips. 10 minutes and you’re on Planet Woop-Woop & they work. Mighty tackle

B is for Bedbaths. At face value most guys would love the prospect of pretty Thai nurses soaping up below the waist. Reality is they are so rough, especially over raw scar tissue, & many wear rubber boots. They pull and tug you up & every which way, rip out your drips, bang your head on the steel gratings, final effect is like 15 rounds with Mike Tyson. Pretty hardcore.

C is for Catheter. Absolutely brilliant invention, you can drink as much as you like and watch the full footie game or movie without interruption. Sleep undisturbed all night too (but see Z). Should be made optional for parties & social gatherings – loo queues obliterated at a stroke – and you can hide your bag in all kinds of flashy accessories. Easy to remove should the need arise (ahem).

D is for Denial. Cancer? No. Maybe they mean Capricorn. Yes, that’ll be it. Clerical error. Lost in translation. Phew!

E is for Electro-cardiogram. Bit of a money spinner. Keeps ’em happy though. Also Enemas – oh yes.

F is for Food. For some impenetrable reason this must be cold rice slop essentially placed on the far side of the room where you can’t reach it. The terrified nurse is in and out in seconds so you’ve no time to complain. Then the doctor does his rounds and says “You’re not eating – how come?” “(a) It’s in another time zone and (b) who wants congealed rice slop anyway?”

G is for Gurney, or hospital bed. Made of solid tungsten, bedsores are guaranteed within 2 days. You got buttons to raise & depress the thing, side cage-bars to prevent movement, pop-out arm straps to completely immobilise you, whatever you do you feel more uncomfortable than before. Pure sadism.

H is for Hospital Room Temperatures. These must be set to minus freezing. Nobody knows why. The blankets (read towels) are too short to cover you so you need loads. Once in your room you can switch off the aircon and open your windows to let some warmth in. They hate it and try to re-establish the tundra but stick to your guns.

I is for Insurance. Minute you walk through the hospital door the meter starts running. That helpful nurse with a glass of water? Ker-ching! The bloke you crashes your wheelchair into doors? Ker-ching! All the food slop you couldn’t/wouldn’t eat? Kerching! Every needle, plaster, pyjama pants, dressings, you name it. When you finally check out there are pages and pages of itemised things you’ve used (window-cleaners? Per-lease). You sign, they fax (fax!) it to the insurance company who spend hours and hours deciding whether to pay or not. By this time you’re desperate to get out and get tempted to pay up yourself. It’s what they want. Stand your ground.

J is for “Just a moment please”. The pinnacle of Nursespeak. It means “I haven’t a clue what you’re saying. I may (or may not) fetch someone else”.

K is for Kidley Infection. Don’t you mean ‘kidney’? It’s what I said, diddle I?

L is for Laxatives. Don’t bother – go for the enema. Wahoo!

M is for MRI scan. Used to be like being inserted head first in a front-loading washing machine with bad techno blasting away inside. Pure claustrophobic horrors. Now its just an arch you slide through, but the machine speaks Australian. “Take a deep breath and hold it right there, mate”.

N is for Narcotics. Morphine is vastly over-rated. All it seems to do is give you naff lava-lamp explosions on your eyelids when you close them. You have to self-administer with a click-drip. Don’t bother.

O is for Out-Patients Department. Bloody luxury.

P is for Paperwork. The raison d’être of the medical community, you are not in hospital to get well but to generate paperwork. Colossal amounts of forms must be compiled on every topic then utterly ignored. So every passing doctor or nurse will ask you what your temperature or blood pressure was last night instead of consulting your file. You can just make up numbers and they nod sagely.

P is also for Pyjamas. The tops are OK, but the bottoms are the most useless & irritating garments invented. They always, always fall down if you attempt to move. Try pulling your drip-on-a-stand to the bathroom at night with these round your ankles. After 2 days I just refused flat out to wear them at all. Still paid for ’em though.

Q is for Quit Smoking. Spend first 5 days immobile then another 15 days so drugged you can’t remember what cigarettes are and hey presto! You’re well on the way through cold turkey.

R is for Regulation . Like all Total Bureaucracies, hospitals run to rigid routines. Thus when you want to sleep (all the time) you will be constantly woken every hour to have silly tests done and be asked if you’re asleep. All is noted in the Paperwork that nobody reads. (Actually I may be a little unfair here; since they discovered my temperature soaring and blood pressure plummeting, denoting the kidley infection. Still, it annoys the living Bejabers out of you).

S is for Suspended Animation. That’s what we want. We spend 6 months out of it and they can do all the testing, slicing, probing, stitching, stapling, blood pressuring etc they want and we know nothing about it. After 6 months we revive, healthy ex-smokers. Well that’s the plan anyway.

T is for Tumours. The endoscope actually gives you take-home photos of the critters. When you close your eyes on morphine you see them totally black but limbed in bright yellow light. Nasty, & hard to shake off.

U is for Urine Test. If I’d had this very basic test 3 months ago I might have been spared a lot, but the Kan urologist didn’t think of it. It’s easy, painless and cheap, & the results are through in minutes. When did you last have one? Do it now, and have a blood test too.

V is for Visions. Largely very poor quality, and quite unpleasant, yet easy to dismiss. But dreams can be vivid and feature ancient events, feelings and people you’ve long forgotten about. Luckily a nurse will awaken you any minute and dispel it.

W is for Wheelchairs. Preferable without Thai drivers crashing you into everything.

X is for X-Rays. OK I suppose, but sooooo last century.

Y is for “You! Body Weight!” “You! Blood Pressure!” “You! Temperature!”. The eldritch screech of nazgul nurses as they continuously ruin yet another nights sleep.

Z is for Zzzzzzzz. Forget it, sleep aint gonna happen.

There’s a massive 5 points to be dispensed however my drug-addled brain decides. The question is: what have I missed from my litany of medical woe?

Published in: on April 1, 2011 at 7:55 am  Comments (25)  

Prostate yourself

By our WGYG medical victim, Ming the Bleary

Right. Got a heap of stuff I need to get off my chest and I know just the place.

About 2+ months ago I got a bleary eye, tears dribbling down my cheek. Thought little of it, talked to the staff if they knew of an eye doctor and got the default kneejerk response mai ruuuu (beats me Guv). Talked to Panitta the sensible pharmacist at Yaa Dii (Good Drugs) and she says there’s only one in town worth bothering with so I made an appointment. After an hour with needles in the unafflicted right eye, burrowing down to unblock the obstruction that wasn’t there, they declared success. Only after 15 attempts by myself  to point out their 50/50 error did they attempt the procedure on the visibly drippy left eye.

This is the stuff of nightmares. You can see it all as the needles close in and then you hear ao khem yao yao (Pass me the very long needles) as the giggling assistants home in with the hardware. First attempt went nowhere, bought a heap of drugs, made a second appointment. Same procedure with the assistants this time babbling on about the price of mango (expensive), zero result, more drugs, and a recommendation that I try somewhere sensible in Bangkok.

Back to Yaa Dee and Panitta recommends a hospital with very good doctors for this kind of thing, happily it’s on the right side of the Chao Phraya river so I don’t have to spend hours ploughing through Bangkok traffic. The minibus (screech skid brake) say they’ll drop me outside but don’t. I ask around and nobody’s heard of it (even though it’s only 500 metres away). Find it myself, check in, informed no doctors there today. Zoom 140 km back to Kan (Skid slam Jeez did you see that?) then repeat the journey  the next day when doctors apparently will be present.

Check in, get weighed, blood pressure taken, take lots of silly tests (the meter is running & the bill is rising) then see Dr Rosana. She’s really quite lovely and if there’s anyone you want jamming needles in your eyes it’s her. So tender in an immensely painful kind of way, I was smitten. Procedure failure again, so she packs me off to see a nose doctor, suspecting something up there causing the blockage.

Nose doctor Sathit jams all kind of hardware up my nose, including a camera, and announces the presence of polyps. These undoubtedly are exerting pressure on the tear duct and they’ve got to go. After 3 hours heated argument with the bureaucrat-fascists in the finance office who just want me to pay up rather than having them process my insurance (they can’t be bothered) then I’m off again with another carrier bag full of drugs. I’m due back in a fortnight to have the polyps removed.

Check in, take weight, blood pressure, more silly tests (ker-ching!). They zonk me out & do the operation and my first sight is someone waving a plastic bottle in front of me containing ex-polyps. “Polyp go already!” they exclaim, waving the evidence. Back in my room I’m groggy and just want to sleep but no bloody chance. Every 2-3 hours some nazi nurses come scuttling in to make my life a misery. “You! body weight” (6 pm) Why? Have I suddenly gained/lost 10 kilos?. “You! blood pressure” (9pm). You! sign paper now” (11pm). “You! bed bath” (2am). At this point my normally sunny disposition deserted me and I threw them out and extracted promises that they would not bother me again. “You! food” (4am) and yes, it’s a huge bowl of rice slop. How I missed remains a mystery to this day. I hobbled over to my door and locked it then pulled my IV drip onto the balcony and smoked like a fiend till the sun came up. If I locked the balcony door they couldn’t get me & I wanted it just that way, amused myself flicking my dogs ends 4 floors down onto their cars.

At 7am I decided it was time for “Don’t retreat, reload”. Starting buzzing them to come to me. “I want coffee, black, no sugar” “Cannot” “Can” “Cannot” “Wanna bet?”In dog end car park I can see a coffee shop with medical staff checking in before a long days bill inflation. “Right, I’m going there then, stand aside” “Oh it shut today already”. Default lies. When I got my IV drip to the door they relented and brought me a flask of hot water. And the coffee? “Cannot” “Can” etc. A nong brings me one sachet but I see another on her trolley & snatch it. “Cannot” “Watch”. About 11am, after another misguided bucket of rice slop, I’m told I can check out once the paperworks done. 2 hours later after much wrangling with the bureaucrat-fascists they admit my insurance has paid the 48,500 baht bill ( $1,600+ USD) and I’m on my way with a crate of new drugs (ker-ching!).

Get a taxi (swerve slam I don’t believe he’s doing this) with a funky guy who used to work in export but now drives cabs but his brother’s cousin’s girlfriend knows someone still in trade. Do I want to export anything? Yes, you. Normally I’m terrified on Thai roads if someone other than myself is driving. It’s just total traffic madness with amazingly stupid and dangerous high-speed stunts pulled all the time, I’m always jamming my foot on a non-existent brake. This time I just slumped behind him so I couldn’t see the idiocy in front and just zoned out on my remaining anaesthetic. Now that’s the way to travel.

I have another appointment to check up on the nose operation and faithfully take all the drugs as prescribed. 3 after breakfast, 6 at lunch, 4 at evening meal (which we don’t have, I’m on a diet) and another handful at bed time. After about 10 days I can’t pee. I can, but it’s slow, painful & inconclusive. I’m up all  night. Get back into bed and immediately need to get up for another dribble. I’m alarmed & google it to discover I have all the symptoms of major prostate disorder. I’m alarmed as my Dad died with this, family history etc., and I’m at the right age for this to kick in. Check out the Bangkok hospitals dealing with this and they want $$$$$$, way over my insurance.

Back to Yaa Dii and Panitta says there’s an army doctor in Kan who’s great and has a private surgery in the evenings. The local hospitals are a complete & utter waste of time for this. Go his clinic, get the old KY prod and sundry tests (ker-ching!) and he says I’m OK but need more drugs (a tiny bagful!)

Go back to the Bangkok hospital (screech slam Jesus!) to check on my nose. It’s OK & healing but the bleary eye problem remains. So the nose surgery was a bill-inflating distraction that achieved zip. Mention the prostate scare and doctor says “Oh yes, all the drugs I gave you often do that”. Say whut? Right, that’s it, no more drugs at all. I had such a struggle to persuade him of this, it’s inconceivable that a patient leaves a Thai hospital without bags of drugs. But I won after threatening to bin all and any drugs he prescribed (without paying).

Afternoon spent with more needles in eyes and no progress. Gorgeous pouting Dr Rosana announces that I must have another operation (ker-ching!) to replace the blocked tear duct with a bypass synthetic tube thingy. Around $12,000 USD. She too is flabbergasted that I want no more drugs. “Not even nasal spray?” Not even that.

So that’s where I’m up to. I’m due a check-up with the prostate doctor on Saturday for more KY fun followed by the new eye operation on Feb 15 with another overnight stay with rice slop and demented nurses. But the prostate problem vanished pronto as (a) I binned all the hospital drugs and (b) I only took the prostate ones.

Had I known all this I would have settled for a bleary eye. I mean, it’s not crippling and easily explained away (“I always weep when in the presence of genius tourists”). The next operation will only be a temporary fix as the by-pass needs replacing after 3 years (ker-ching).  But it’s times like this you realise how valuable the cheap, accessible and professional medical services are ‘back home’ (wherever that may be). And I’m just so f**king incandescant with fury at the time, effort and mind-numbing idiocy that has gone into such a trivial affair.

Analytics have got/ my type worked out/ analytics on me/ the poison render//

Published in: on January 21, 2011 at 7:36 pm  Comments (17)  

Jagged little pill

By Medical Ming, our  pharmaceutical correspondent.

Been on antibiotics for the last 12+ days. Let me tell you why.

We always avoid doctors and hospitals when we get ill. They are generally clueless and only interested in selling you drugs. The meter starts running once you’re through the door. Check body weight (Ker-ching!) Take blood pressure (Ker-ching!) Check height – why? why? (Ker-ching!). Helen was feeling run down once and went for a check-up, the doctor said he hadn’t a clue what was wrong with her, then he said “Do you want any drugs?” “Will it cure my symptoms?” she enquired. “I don’t know” says he “What do you want?” . He was most crest-fallen when she decided not to buy any old random drug. A patient, buying nothing? Unthinkable! What if they all start doing it?

So that’s why we all avoid doctors and instead get diagnosis and treatment from the very sensible Yaa Dii (Good Drugs) pharmacy. It’s where I went when I came down with a throat infection last month, I know it’s pharyngitis, I used to be prone to it. Got my antibiotics and off we go. No body weight, no blood pressure, just a swift purchase.

Took ’em for 2 days and felt OK & stopped. I know, I know, finish the course. So it came roaring back. Bought some more, finished the course, back it comes after 6 days orbiting Planet Zob with no beer. This time I had no choice and had to go to the hospital.

  • You body weight (Ker-ching!)
  • You blood pressure (Ker-ching!)
  • You measure height (Ker-ching!)

Wait an hour then see the doctor. He listens to my story and diagnoses pharyngitis. This amazing medic doesn’t even need to examine my throat, he just shuffles his wedge of papers, asks me where I bought my shirt and Shazam! Instant diagnosis. Prescribes more antibiotics then goes off on his sales pitch.

  • Do you fever? A little (Ker-ching!)
  • Is throat sore? Yes. (Ker-ching!)
  • Headache? Yes. (Ker-ching!)

Go to the cashiers desk to pay and find I’ve been sold overpriced paracetamol, strepsils and decongestants that you can buy in a 7-11. I give them back and mayhem erupts. “Doctor he say you buy now!”. I tell them it’s a “Have already” (at a fraction of the price) and they back down. And no, I don’t want 3 plastic bags for a single strip of pills.

Take the pills, finish the course, and  had the first beer in over a week. Then the bug bounces back. Back to hospital.

  • You body weight (Ker-ching!) You weighed me on Saturday!
  • You blood pressure (Ker-ching!) It’s rising, Pinhead!
  • You measure height (Ker-ching!) Have I grown since Saturday?

See new doctor, he studies the notes, I point out the key parts and turn the pages so they’re right way up, he asks me where I come from and prescribes the same again. Go through the whole rigmarole again at the cashiers (No I don’t need bandages or a crutch, have already) and walk out with my meds. Take ’em, bug comes back again.

So here I am, firmly planted back at Square One. Days and days feeling totally spaced out and no beer. Might be good for my diet though. Panitta at Yaa Dii now says it’s not bacterial at all but viral, so stop the antibiotics. It’s probably stomach acid reflux into the throat. She had something for it but after rooting through a jumble of boxes finds she’s out of stock. Maybe 2-3 days she says.

But wherever you are, don’t knock your medical services, you’ve no idea.

White boy in town/ Big black, blue sound/ Night club, I paid in/ I got a stamp on my skin//

Published in: on August 7, 2010 at 7:51 am  Comments (43)