Too Many Encounters with Men and Women in White

That a complex machine can still keep on going after more than 60 years of daily use is pretty amazing actually.

Mine’s like giving way already haha!

2019 must surely go down in history as A Year of Hospital Visits.

I write this post with a bit of trepidation as I don’t want you to have the impression that I am a sickly old man.

I am not. It’s just that I am no longer perfect, health-wise. In fact at 63 – well 63 one month  from today – I think I’m not doing too badly.

But it doesn’t mean I am not bothered by health-related issues.

So if you bother at all, here’s my litany of ills:

Back in 2018 one of my eyes started becoming inundated with floaters. (Prior to that, I have since been suffering from some macular degeneration – a macular hole to be specific – resulting in my having to have costly “prisms” built into my eyeglasses. Nobody can understand why a pair of my glasses cost nearly S$1800/- just for the lens, I shit you not.)

Last year, the other eye saw the invasion of floaters too.

The ophthalmologists told me floaters – caused by posterior vitreous detachment – are like wrinkles. “We all have them,” a very cheerful but dismissive lady ophthalmologist told me. In short, get used to them. You’ll not notice them eventually.

Well, not really.

Getting used to floaters?

No way!

Sometimes, people talk through their asses.

Even ophthalmologists.

Next, it was discovered that I had a retina tear.

Got that fixed.

Thank God for laser!

But now my eyesight is not good.

I have to use a Kindle and adjust the font size up or to read large print books.

Next, painful inguinal hernia paid me a visit, and I underwent surgery to take care of that.

Now I have a mesh inserted into my body.

Amazing, isn’t it?

Finally, after many long years of suffering, I’ve decided it’s time to fix that painful back of mine.

Enough of suffering debilitating pain!

Enough of people wondering why I’m grouchy all the time.

(Well, try experiencing pain 24 hours a day, 7 days a week!)

Some consoled me by saying that “this is all God’s plan.” Gee for crying out loud, forward me that darn plan as God doesn’t seem to have my email.

Some assured me that what doesn’t kill me will make me stronger.

Yeah, would you like to try and become stronger yourself too by suffering pain round the clock?

Some told me that suffering leads to enlightenment.

Sure, look at all those Buddhists! Look at their happy faces. I’ve yet to meet a happy-looking Buddhist.

Some assured me that it’s all about karma, that I must have upset some people in my past lives.

Quite believable, considering how many I have already pissed off in my present life! By the way, if I haven’t offended you yet, please be patient, your turn will come.

(Yes, people forget your generosity and show you a fuck face when they see you or tell you they are busy when you fly into their country for a visit. Come on, it’s not like I’m visiting every month! But that’s another story for another day.)

Some even told me that long ago, by being crucified on the cross, some wandering, smelly mystic from the land of Moshe Dayan had already taken all my sufferings upon his shoulders and I should now suffer no more.

The operative word: “should.”

So are you saying that my pain is imaginary, you deluded numbskulls?

Anyway, long story short, I had a neurosurgeon perform a laminectomy on me.

(Thankfully the herniated cervical disc prior to my back trouble required no surgery – all that was required was an injection into the spine and it was fixed. That was back in 2009.)

Anyway, in September last year I had surgery to fix the multilevel degenerative disc disease I have been suffering from since 2012.

So many surgeries in one year, and to think that the last time I went under the knife was for tonsillectomy when I was 12.

But since the laminectomy, the back pain has not disappeared.

I read that it may take an entire year before I become pain-free.

My wife’s friend’s hubby had the same surgery done by the same surgeon and he said it took him about a year to be 100% pain-free.

But I went online and read that if pain persists three months after surgery, it’s unlikely to disappear.

I have also heard of a couple of people who underwent the same surgery and were immediately relieved of all pain.

I also met someone who said if the cause of pain has been surgically removed, then the pain should disappear immediately.

So I talked to lots of people and I read voraciously – both online as well as entire libraries of physical books on pain and healing that I purchased.

I was so confused by what I’ve read and what I have been hearing – all that information and misinformation contradicting themselves – that I have given up.

Given up reading, and talking to people about the surgery, that is.

Anyway, the surgeon was angry and defensive when I told him that despite the surgery, I was still in pain. So after a thorough and investigative questioning and “interrogation” by him, we agreed that the shooting pain in my left buttock has ceased but the back still hurts and the shooting sciatic pain is now in the right butt.

The surgeon is someone who hates to be a loser or to admit defeat, so he considered the pain in the left butt disappearing being a success. He merrily ignored the fact that the pain is now in the right butt and that overall back pain is still there.

To be honest, if I have money I’ll sue the living daylights out of this fucking scumbag.

But why waste time and money? Few people have sued doctors and won. Doctors look after themselves and they can call all their colleagues to be witnesses giving testimonies that favor them. Some doctors even do this for a living. They can be bought and will say anything for a fee. They don’t work as doctors anymore, they just testify for other doctors and get paid handsomely.

My surgeon then proceeded to prescribe physiotherapy, told me to lose weight and said “let’s not do anything for six months, after which we will do another MRI.”

So I go for physio every week now though I have serious doubts about its effectiveness.

I was told I have no glutes. So physio can grow me some glutes and cure my back pain?

Yeah pigs can fly!

Back and neck pain is big business for doctors. According to a study, in the US, US$88 billion was spent on back and neck pain in 2013, not far short of the US$115 billion spent on cancer. By the way “nobody dies from back pain, it’s not cancer,” said my surgeon.

In 2011, Cigna, an insurance company, ran a follow-up study on patients who had undergone spinal fusion surgery. It discovered that in 2015, there were roughly 85,000 such surgeries in America. The company found that two years after treatment, 87% of patients were still in pain and 15% had more surgery.

So it’s not cancer and it won’t kill anyone, does that mean people can be cavalier about it and doctors can continue to milk it?

No one cares, anyway.

Tell people you’re going to the hospital, and no one bats an eyelid, no one bothers to ask about the visit, or ask about what the doctor said. They are busy planning their next big healthy meal so they can live forever or their next big vacation to treat themselves to more happy times. Or obsessing about their own relationships with people who matter more to them than grouchy old me. Even if they have a break from work, you think they have time for you? They would rather be out gallivanting with their friends and bragging about their fancy meals on social media.

When you are not well, there should be a support system to cushion your hurts.

But no, nobody really cares.

Truth be told, I’m extremely heartbroken by the behavior of certain people in my life but again, another topic for another teardown.

Yup, now is neither the place nor time to elaborate on this.

I am somewhat low-spirited by the whole thing.

In my mind I was already planning long treks in Tasmania post surgery with my best friend, but that’s unlikely to happen. Visits yes, lovely long treks in the bush, and 100% pain free, unlikely.

How sad.

I am only human, come on.

But I remind myself: No expectation, no disappointment.

Of course there are also countless well-meaning people who have made it a point to tell me that suffering is from the devil, never from God.

Thank you very much, that sure helps a lot.

Good to know that the devil’s lurking around me like my fucking shadow.

So who or what am I supposed to believe now?

And what am I supposed to do now?

Summon the exorcist?

Someone even said that pain in each part of a person’s body is linked to certain states of mind he is in.

Well, I am not a disbeliever in psychosomatic syndromes but this person claimed that my back pain happens because I am broke financially.

What the fuck!

I am far from wealthy but I am no where near broke.

Does that mean if you are happy, you would walk around with priapism?

If you can believe that, you can believe anything – including you being a general in Alexander’s army in your past life.

Or you being a consultant to Confucius once. In your past life of course.

All that being said, long story short: I am still in pain today.

Well, pain may be unavoidable but I psyche myself that suffering is optional.

My mind is strong! My willpower is solid!

I have a high threshold of pain. Despite so many years of pain, I have walked in North Korea, I have walked in Russia, I have walked in China, I have walked in Germany, I have walked in Greece and I was walking around in my hospital room on the very evening of the surgery itself and was discharged the next day.

In fact, the most painful part of the entire surgical episode was not the surgery itself but the removal of the catheter, after the surgery.

(They stuck a tube in my dick during the surgery. I was under anesthesia then, but when they yanked it out, I was fully awake. No words can describe that pain when the catheter was wrenched out!)

For my back, I did not take a single pain-killer post surgery.

(I don’t need the side effects.)

Till today I stinge on pain-killers. Always have. And always will.

I tell myself: “Pain is my friend; pain is not my enemy. Pain tells me to take a break to decompress.”

So when the pain comes, I do all kinds of physical maneuvers – such as bending down – to “decompress.”

If I avoid looking like an idiot by doing bends in public, then, the pain intensifies by many fold, plus, debilitating numbness will pervade the lower half of my body, and render me quite unable to walk any further.

(Yes, mentally I can handle the pain, but my body is not able to deal with whatever accompanies that pain.)

It’s disconcerting and extremely disturbing to feel as if you’re holding a foreign object, a Bratwurst, or worse, someone else’s thick dick – not that I’ve done that before – when you try to pee after the numbness has set in.

There’s more.

In the course of my two surgeries, it was discovered that I had low platelet count.

Thank goodness the hematologist finally told me not to worry, it’s not alarmingly low.

I hope it doesn’t get any lower.

(Yes, by now I’ve seen quite a few “logists.”)

But that wasn’t what I was told before my back surgery though. In fact, I was warned by the anesthesiologist that bags of platelets would be on standby in case a transfusion is needed during surgery and that I might even wake up in Intensive Care, that is, if I do wake up at all.

They actually booked a room in Intensive Care in case they need to wheel me in there.

Well, obviously I did wake up in a normal ward, after five, six hours of back surgery.

Wasn’t wheeled into Intensive Care like a living vegetable, thank goodness.

Also, MRIs done just before surgery revealed the presence of kidney cysts, something already detected back in 2018 when I was visiting Hong Kong. Back then, I was told they are common and there’s nothing to worry about.

“But they’re big,” I told a friend’s son, who’s a doctor.

“But you are a big guy,” he retorted.

Like many young doctors, this one has zero interpersonal skills, zero EQ and probably zero bedside manners as well.

So, big cysts for big guys huh?

What the fuck!

But the urologists here insisted on my having them investigated.

So was sent for a CT-scan and took the Prostate-specific Antigen test.

Fortunately nothing life-threatening was found.

Except a tiny nodule on the right adrenal plus one gallstone measuring 3.7cm or about 1.5 inches.

Was told not to panic but to see an endocrinologist.

So an appointment was made for that.

The endocrinologist concluded that the nodule is not life threatening yet he has scheduled some blood and urine tests to be done in April. However, tumors of the adrenal gland are mostly benign and do not result in over or underproduction of adrenal hormones. Net net: adrenal cancer is very rare, so I’m thinking of not going for the tests.

And since I’ve been in and out of hospitals, I also opted to have some moles and skin tags removed, especially when one of those moles was beginning to itch.

Why not?

No harm adding one more “logist” to the list – dermatologist.

Let’s just hope that after this 62-year-old machine is finally somewhat fixed, I won’t die from being hit on the head by a flower pot thrown by some retard from a high-rise.

With my luck, my dad will probably outlive me.

The sprightly, feisty, and relatively healthy old man will be 90 next year.

He is also mentally sharp as a tack and is still earning his keep by researching and writing.

The Chinese add a year to their age, so by Chinese reckoning, he will be 90 this year and our family is planning a big celebration for him.

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