For the last 4 months the Old Sea Dog has been cast ashore for a number of reasons, but mainly for chemotherapy for cancer.
The cancer was detected following a severe pain one night in my kidney region and a visit to the urologist the next morning detected kidney stones. After a discussion with the doc we decided that the best course of action was to blast the stones with laser and a few days later a laser was inserted through the only opening that leads to the kidney that does not require cutting into the body. That’s right, the one-eyed trouser snake has to ingest the optic fiber laser.
During the operation some cancer was detected and was burned out after a sample was taken for analysis. Maybe it was luck that the internal investigation was undertaken otherwise the cancer may not have been detected so early.
A few weeks later and following more pain and bleeding from the kidney, a follow up operation was performed and a tumor was found in the kidney. This was not detected earlier as it had been masked in the x-ray by the stone.
A further operation was scheduled to remove the offending kidney followed by a course of chemotherapy that will last over 6 months.
I had not realised just how serious the operation was until I was informed that an ICU bed had been reserved for me “just in case”. Apparently some patients do not recover well after such drastic surgery. When I woke up in the recovery room everything was ok and I was transferred back to the ward. The nurses there were very good. All of them were Thai and spoke good English. The rooms were showing some signs of age but the service was 5-star. My only complaint was the food. The western food was pretty bad but the Thai menu was acceptable.
The side effects were not as severe as I had been led to believe. Mostly a bad taste in my mouth all the time and constant tiredness to start with. I have also lost most of my hair and the remaining tufts are white. I am thinking of a Trump Comb-Over if nothing grows back soon.
I am now 4 months into the chemotherapy and this leads into the main reason for this submission.
The boys were on school holidays and I was feeling really good again after the 3rd cycle of chemo and consider I am ok to drive the 5 hours to the family farm for a few days and to let the boys have time with the grandparents.
My wife is the most attentive companion I have ever had. OK, she has her faults but generally is the very best. When we go on a road trip anywhere she packs enough drinks, snacks and other food to keep all the family happy for the entire trip. She doesn’t even complain when I leave the toilet seat up at home.
We arrived un-announced at the farm about lunch time to a very warm welcome. The first duty was to unpack the truck and then set up the hammock I purchased on the way there. Following this I set out for a walk around the farm to see how it is looking. The rice has plenty of water as does the corn.
The new dam is full and there are pipes there for bores for irrigation during the dry season.
About 20 rai of the farm land belongs to my wife and was paid for by me last year mainly as an investment. The parents rent the land from us and the family are really happy to have additional land to farm. They even purchased a new tractor and implements at their own expense.
I love to visit the farm and I also love to come home again so 3 or 4 days is usually my limit there. The sleeping arrangement is on hard mattresses on the floor together with the boys and under one big mosquito net. It’s just like camping indoors.
One of the effects of chemo can be the body’s inability to stave off infections. This trip the mosquito bites brought on a bad reaction which lasted almost a week before they cleared up.
Day 2 at the farm. Eat, sleep, eat, sleep etc. Early afternoon I was asked to drive my wife to the local market to get food. I am used to appearing in places like this and being stared at and overhearing comments about the Farang. I just smile and ignore them. I am the only farang seen in the village on a regular basis.
Later I was looking for my wife only to be informed that she had gone fishing. I was directed to the creek along the boundary and went to see if she was catching anything. There she was standing on a flimsy platform over the creek with a net about 2 meters square suspended on bamboo poles which she was dipping in the water and bringing up after a short time with a few very small fish. These she emptied into a bucket with about 50 others she had already caught. Her brother had a net suspended in the creek in the main flow which funneled the fish into a net at the end. There was half a bucket caught in there which was added to the rest of the catch.
These fish were beheaded, rolled in flour and deep fried. Any protein is welcomed up there and actually they tasted quite good.
As usual we had to go to visit all the relatives there and were given all the excess produce they had before it went bad. Nothing goes to waste if it can be used. Bananas, coconuts, custard apples etc, as well as many vegetables. Lots of this produce was given to neighbours at home on our return. Just as well I have a truck to transport all this.
Day 3. I had had enough of being attacked by mosquitoes and being kept awake by crickets, frogs and roosters all night. Time to head back to civilization.
Not much longer now and I can get back to the briny and start to get rid of the excess weight I have developed eating all the time out of boredom. I am not allowed to drink alcohol and with everything tasting bad I have been flavouring water with cordial. At least this is palatable. I long for a nice cold beer. Maybe the occasional one next month.