Quiet desperation

And another weekend draws to a close.

Spending time in bars, more often alone than not, provides ample opportunity for introspection and observation.  I’ve mentioned before my growing sense of disconnection from the Korea life I’ve lived.  Several old time friends have departed recently and I’m not really putting forth much effort to make new ones.  Seems I’ve become the proverbial old man living with his memories of happier times.

Well, obviously whatever isolation I’m experiencing is largely of my own making.  I’ve gotten better at being alone and the truth is I don’t really have the patience or willingness to allow someone to intrude into the relative peace and safety of the solitary confinement I’ve constructed.  It’s not the life I had imagined, but its good enough.  For now, anyway.

Anyway, don’t mistake this meditation as me feeling sorry for myself. I’m actually quite optimistic about the future.  A future in which I put 12 years in Korea behind me. I think what prompted this thinking was encountering some other folks this weekend who seem to be struggling with their own versions of isolation, remorse, and hopelessness.  In a city of 13 million there are bound to be many lonely and empty lives on display.  It still makes me sad to see though.

Having said that, I had a pretty fine (and drunken) Saturday night hanging out with my nephew Justin and my communist friend Choonae.

And this was when we were just getting started!

After reaching the appropriate level of inebriation I suggested we abandon Shenanigans and make our way up Hooker Hill for a visit to the oldest bar in Itaewon, Grand Ole Opry. Justin and Choonae were drunk enough to agree and so off we went.

Choonae had never been to a country Honky Tonk so it was interesting to see her reaction.  She’s also quite a dancer (Salsa being her specialty) and she was fascinated watching folks do the Texas two-step and Country Swing dances.  She stood beside our table and emulated the footsteps involved.  And after one particularly good dancer (a Korean gentlemen) returned to his seat with his date, Choonae walked over and asked him to show her how to dance.  He did, and she picked it up right away.

I might have mentioned that I was drunk, which gave me the courage to do some dancing myself.  I’m nowhere near as good as I once was (nor even as good once as I ever was), but that didn’t stop me.  Justin captured some video evidence of my foolhardiness.

Anyway it was a fun time and I successfully stumbled home sometime after 2 a.m. (with a detour to Taco Bell).

I was hungover and lazy most of the day but forced myself to get off my ass and take a walk in the afternoon.

Not bad considering.

And the good news is my new meds seem to be helping quite a lot.  Haven’t needed my nebulizer at all today and just used my inhaler a couple of times (pre and post walk). Here’s hoping that continues!

Onward!

There is no pain you are receding
A distant ship smoke on the horizon
You are only coming through in waves
Your lips move but I can’t hear what you’re saying
When I was a child
I caught a fleeting glimpse
Out of the corner of my eye
I turned to look but it was gone
I cannot put my finger on it now
The child is grown
The dream is gone
I have become comfortably numb.

 

 

What’s up, Doc?

Where I need to be. Doctor’s orders…

Yesterday afternoon found me back at the Brian Allgood Army Community Hospital for a follow-up visit to get the results of my two CT exams (chest and abdomen) and my PFT (pulmonary function test).  This was my fourth visit to the base hospital and also the fourth different doctor I’ve seen there.  Not getting to see the same doctor twice is a function of being in the Space A (space available) category.  Soldiers and their families come first, as it should be, and us civilians are at the bottom of the pecking order.  So, I call in and get assigned to any doctor with an open spot.  Honestly, each of the docs have been excellent.  They actually come and spend some quality time having a conversation about my health issues and there is never a rush or a sense that they have better things to do.  A much more satisfactory experience than anything I’ve encountered in the Korean hospitals, and truthfully, better than any care I received back in the USA as well.

I had the chest CT a couple of weeks ago.  A nurse called me and said my lungs looked pretty good considering the abuse I’ve put them through (25 years of smoking).  There was a small nodule on the left lung that might be nothing, but she advised I needed to have another CT in a year just to be sure.  She told me the doctor wanted me to do an abdomen CT, so I got that done on Tuesday.

No, I didn’t try suicide. It took the nurse three tries to find a vein that would accept having the CT dye injected. Finally had to settle for the wrist…

During the CT the fire alarms went off which was a little disconcerting.  They finished the test though, then escorted me out of the hospital.  I’m pretty sure it was just a drill.

Anyway, my physician yesterday was a young Army Captain.  Even though Dr. Pence had not ordered the tests, he had obviously reviewed the results before he sat down with me.  He said the lung nodule was 3 mm in size and could be from previous damage or could be a precursor to lung cancer.  So yeah, I’ll get that checked next year for sure.

The abdomen CT was clear.  Woot!  What about the PFT?  Well, it confirmed the COPD diagnosis and revealed that my lung function is at Stage 2 (moderate) of the disease. COPD is progressive and irreversible.  All that can be done is to take steps to slow its progress and delay reaching “end stage” for as long as possible.  So, that’s my plan.  I figure on dragging it out for 20 years or so.

I told Dr. Pence that I planned to move to the Philippines in a few months and asked him if the hot and humid weather would cause me any problems.  He said that on the contrary, those conditions would be much better for my condition than the cold and polluted environment of Seoul.  So, there you have it.  I’m going to live in the PI because it is what the doctor ordered!

Anyway, I’ve not had the shortness of breath issues that led me to the ER last month.  I have a chronic cough that wakes me up at night and I’m still hocking up sputum. I’ve been using albuterol in my nebulizer and through my inhaler.  Dr. Pence noted that during during my PFT the albuterol had limited effect.  So he prescribed two additional meds to be inhaled.  Both are in a powder form, sorta like cocaine I suppose.

They come with these fancy dancy inhalers so I don’t have to roll up a dollar bill and snort it up my nose. Not that I wold know anything about that…

That’s the story of my health.  Long may I live!

In other news…

I’m not letting diminished lung capacity keep me from completing my appointed rounds. I have noticed I don’t have the stamina I used to enjoy, but with my trusty inhaler I’m still able to get the steps in.

And I’m dealing with the agony of de feet…

And it is encouraging to know that there are in fact honest women out there in the world!

Hope springs eternal.

 

 

With a Spring in my step

Springtime has arrived in Korea!  Weather is warming up, gaenalee is blooming, and the cherry blossoms can’t be far behind.  I think spring is the best season of the year here and seeing as how it is likely my last one, I intend to enjoy the hell out of it.  Spent 18,000+ steps doing just that today.

Had a rather strange and different weekend, but different is good. That’s about as far as I’m going to take it, at least for now. Oddly enough, on Saturday’s walk I encountered two people I know.  Both of them bar owners in Itaewon. What are the odds?

Friday was St. Patrick’s Day and I dressed for the occasion.

Josie, my Filipina housekeeper and bartender at Shenanigans celebrated her birthday with an ice cream cake I was proud to provide…

Had my taxes done and was rewarded with being elevated to the 28% tax bracket. These posers can’t hang with me, that’s for sure.

Sorry baby. But we’ll always have the Philippines….

Speaking of the PI, here’s a shot of sunset on the bay courtesy of my new friend John. I’m looking forward to enjoying this view every fucking day for the rest of my life. However long that may prove to be.

Back to the Army hospital in the morning for the abdomen CT.  No idea why the doc ordered that. but I guess I’ll find out soon enough.

Ah, the season of love you say?

Don’t tell me of love everlasting and other sad dreams
I don’t want to hear
Just tell me of passionate strangers who rescue each other
From a lifetime of cares
Because if love means forever, expecting nothing returned
Then I hope I’ll be given another whole lifetime to learn

Runaway train

Doctor’s office called today.  Apparently the chest CT came back clean enough that I don’t need to worry about it.  Well, there is a nodule in the left long that he wants me to have checked next year.  I guess something else showed up on the periphery of the chest CT because now he wants me to schedule an abdomen CT.  Sure, why not?

I asked about the PFT results and apparently they are not in.  Oh well, the suspense won’t kill me any faster than the COPD does.  Meanwhile, I walk.

Took the long way home (around 1 hour 45 minutes) along the Han river today…

Made it home by sundown. Logged just shy of 24,000 steps for the day.

I don’t seem to be losing the weight I gained during the height of my illness.  But I’m staying on track regardless.

can you help me remember how to smile?
make it somehow all seem worthwhile
how on earth did i get so jaded?
life’s mysteries seem so faded
i can go where no one else can go
i know what no one else knows
here i am just drownin’ in the rain
with a ticket for a runaway trainand everything seems cut and dry
day and night
earth and sky
somehow i just don’t believe itrunaway train, never goin’ back
wrong way on a one-way track
seems like i should be getting somewhere
somehow i’m neither here nor therebought a ticket for a runaway train
like a madman laughing at the rain
little out of touch, little insane
it’s just easier than dealing with the painrunaway train, never goin’ back
wrong way on a one-way track
seems like i should be getting somewhere
somehow i’m neither here nor there

runaway train, never comin’ back
runaway train, tearin’ up the track
runaway train, burnin’ in my veins
i run away but it always seems the same

Up and at ’em…

A hump day mid-week post, what are the odds?

Woke up at 0430 with a coughing jag which gives me an extra hour to fill, so why not spend it with my faithful reader(s)?  Which is not to imply I actually have anything of interest or value to share.  That’s never stopped me before!

I did have my chest CT and PFT on Monday as planned.  I need to wait on the results which I guess will be contingent  on my securing an appointment with one of the two Army doctors who’ve seen me and ordered the tests.  Given my space A status (space available) hard to say when that might be.  In the meantime, I’m better than I was but not as better as I hope to be.  My nebulizer and inhaler are keeping me in the game, so there’s that.

My first appointment was at 0800, so rather than burn sick leave I reported to my office at 0600. My reward was this fine full moon. Sadly, my photography skills were insufficient to capture its full glory.

Where the hell are impatient people like me supposed to park?

While awaiting my pulmonary function test I killed time reading this pamphlet. Got me thinking maybe these questions would be appropriate to ask the women I meet as well.

I posted a few days ago about my planning for some spontaneity in my life. Daughter Renee reported she got the same message when she popped the cork on a bottle of wine. Made us feel connected while thousands of miles apart.  Randomly spontaneous if you will.

It is a little known fact that my failure at statistics is why I can’t claim a masters degree. 30 of 33 hours completed. Damn statistics!

Oh, I filled in for the dart team at Shenanigans Monday (the soldier members of the team being otherwise occupied with Key Resolve).  Played a singles match and went 3-0.  It was good to be throwing again.  I look forward to restarting my darting “career” in the Philippines.

And that’s all I’ve got this morning.

In other news

This morning I will be visiting the Brian Allgood Army Community Hospital.  I’m going to have a chest CT and a pulmonary function test.  Although I am much improved, I still encounter episodes of shortness of breath and an occasional coughing jag.  I’d rate myself 90% better, and with my trusty inhaler and nebulizer I can self-medicate when I have an incident.  These tests today ought to help confirm the earlier COPD diagnosis and might lead to a different treatment regimen.  We shall see.

Got in some decent walking this weekend, although my stamina is still nowhere near what it was prior to my illness.  I’ll keep after it though.  One step at a time.  Heh.

And now for some pictures!

Some might say HUGE!

So, my Korean haircuts include this facial thing. Daughter says I look like Hannibal Lecter.

Hmmm…

My son celebrated his 39th birthday last week. By my reckoning that makes him several years older than me now.

A nice memory of my recent visit to the PI where I made the acquaintance of John, Joe and Anna. I’m ready to go back!

Walked home from work one day last week and encountered some snowflakes.

Out for some drinks on Friday night and who shows up but Ben and his lovely wife Leah on a date night. First met them back in Columbia, SC a few years back and now here they are again.

Other friends I encountered on Friday night, Mike, Eve, and Choonae.

Bullshit!

Saturday was Namsan day…

I observed the last dying embers of winter…

And a sure sign of spring…rooftop dining!

But best of all was finding these fresh strawberries at a local market in Kyongridawn. Made my Sunday smoothie sweet indeed.

Out alone as usual on Saturday night. I’m such a rogue after all…

Wound up in Grand Ole Opry where I ran into a memory of Eun Oke.

And finished the weekend with a Han River walk.

And that’s the way things roll around here.

 

I plan to be spontaneous tomorrow…

…right after I stop procrastinating.

Sorry to have devolved into a once a week blogger.  Honestly though, work has been sucking the life out of me.  After 35+ years of government toil I’m still amazed and confounded about just how inept and cowardly bureaucrats can be.  No details that I can share, but my head has been exploding in anger and frustration.  Beyond my power to fix but that doesn’t make it any easier to bear.

I guess another reason for the dearth of posting is that after all these years there is just not much left to say about my life in Korea.  The fact of the matter is that I’m more or less disconnected these days.  But no, a better description is unplugged.  I’m still here, just like the lamp in the corner, but I just ain’t got no juice so there is no light.  Which is a sure sign that it is time to move on to something else I suppose.

I’m going to keep my promise and get us through the move to Pyeongtaek.  Then I need a change of scenery.  I truly do love much of the Korea life, but I’ve accumulated too much baggage to ever be truly happy here again.  Hell, I may hate the Philippines, but it will be a change.  And that’s what I need most of all at this stage of my life.  Worst case scenario, I’ll have something to blog about again!

“It is not in the world of ideas that life is lived. Life is lived for better or worse in life, and to a man in life, his life can be no more absurd than it can be the opposite of absurd, whatever that opposite may be.”  –Archibald MacLeish

 

The first weekend in March…

…is in the books.  Let’s go to the photos:

Friday night I brought my darts out of semi-retirement in honor of my old friend Tom (next to me in this photo). I’ve been knowing Tom since I first came to Korea and he was one of my early dart mentors. Tom just retired from the Army and flew home to join his wife yesterday. Good luck Tom and thank you for your service!

As for the tourney, I faced off against my old nemesis Brandy…

And as usual, he was too tough to beat. My partner Ricky and I settled for second place money…

The folks who finished in the money…

Now, any of my readers here at LTG that are also my Facebook friends, you’ve seen the pics from my Namsan hike already.  But recycling is good for the environment, so fuck you very much.

Sometimes its just too much to bear.

I wouldn’t draw any conclusions…

Getting there is half the fun…

And I was up for it…

Break time…

A pause for patriotism…

The soul of the city…

No “Gangnam style” dancing allowed!

Why ride when you can walk?

Love. What is it good for?

My towering achievement for the day!

Build that wall!

Pondering that age old question, am I on the right path?

That rings a bell!

I was hoping to exercise here but it didn’t workout.

A bridge too far?

I’ll have one permanent resident visa, please.

It was a good hike and the first time I’ve tackled the stairs in a long time.  Came home with a powerful hunger.

Threw some steaks on the grill…

And made a meal out of it…

Had a drunken Saturday night.  Saw a friends wife with another man.  Not my business of course, but it made me sad anyway.

The pot roast ingredients for my Sunday crock pot adventure.

Walked the Han for 20,000 steps and came home for a simple little salad…

And I used ranch dressing. Fuck the Russians!

Alright, back at it tomorrow.  My Deputy has moved on down to Pyeongtaek so it will be a little tougher to dump my workload on to her.  Damn it!  I hope to join her down there in a couple of months.

And that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.