I wait outside my wife’s office in the Bangkok heat and one of her coworkers, Six (6 of 9 I like to say – Star Trek humor) exits the building first.
“Happy Birthday!” she tells me, a day early.
“Thanks! How did you know?”
“Your wife told me. How is your diarrhea?”
Sigh. So it isn’t the ONLY thing my wife told her apparently.
Information travels fast in small towns and large, from close by and far away. Funny thing about the combination of travel to far off places and intimate yet public interweb connection: when I spent so many years in one place, I never got so many birthday wishes. Facebook and Twitter changed all that.
I’ve managed to survive 42 complete years and currently count 50 countries visited, most of them in the last 10 years or so. Not so old, but I found it amusing to wake up to an excessive collection of medicines at the bedside.
After a reckless experiment with seeing just how long seafood dim sum can keep without refrigeration and still be eaten, I paid a visit to the doctor.
My mother-in-law, the most caring person on the planet, treats me as her own son, her 5 year old son perhaps, and accompanied me even into the doctor’s office. The last thing I need is the doctor to start sticking things in doctor places while she is in the room. Fortunately he just goes through the motions of blood pressure and heart listen to determine I indeed have a stomach problem and need antibiotics as I pretty much guessed. “Could you use some electrolytes?” No sir, I’ve been drinking fluids just fine. He seems disappointed and double checks. Then he fills out the prescription form and dismisses me. Wait a second, doctor. Um, what are you prescribing? Antiobiotics. Check. Anti-diarrhea meds. Check. Three of them. What?? But I have THIS. I pull out my little plastic baggy of pills that I didn’t take the last time. “Oh. I see.” He ignores the date on them from 2 years ago and reads the med name uncertainly aloud. “Um, yes I think this is the same as Immodium.” So he crosses ONE of the three meds off the list. Then there’s the pill for anti-cramping. But no electrolytes anyway.
I have local insurance and the bill comes just under the 2000-baht ($60) per visit limit. Well thank goodness I didn’t get electrolytes! His time was 400 ($12), the nurse 150 ($4). The prescription goes into the computer and I never see it again. Downstairs meds are dispensed at double the normal price. I grumble that the scam is on and that the impressive medical care of Thailand that brings foreigners for cheaper procedures done with state-of-the-art equipment and Western-trained doctors is showing more signs of profit is everything. Things fall apart.
And so do I. Blood pressure up a bit. Headache today. Two more pills.
Plus diarrhea and everyone knows it.
So what to do with another year if I am so lucky to get the whole 365? Goals: find publisher for the book about my year in Italy. Learn yoga and stick to it. Can I add 10 more countries before next June? A novel? Screenplay? “Get the band back together?” Sure, why not all of these things. But what gives me pleasure (beyond the immediate displeasure of harboring the Dim Sum Plague) is the knowledge that I really don’t have any wishes to make any drastic changes in my life. I love it just as it is. But I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.
Lucky to be where I am… wherever that is.