Happy Easter for those who believe in that sort of thing.
I found an egg today. Or it found me. During my hike an Church ajumma insisted I take it. Happy Easter!
Long time no post, eh? Sorry about that. I’ve been both busy and unmotivated. What can I say? Well, let’s ketchup!
This past week I was busy keeping a promise. I’m glad I did even if I am not the same man I was back when I made that promise. I’m sorry for any hurt that may have caused.
Speaking of promises, this month marked the fourth anniversary of the vows Jee Yeun made but did not keep. Well, as long as she is happy now.
There is no question that I’m dead inside. It is just the way it is. I’ve accepted it.
You know, I don’t want to come off as being some pussy who can’t get over a broken heart. I’m over it and I would certainly never go back to where I was. It’s done. But the reality is also that I’m haunted by memories of what I had and lost. The things that used to bring me joy in life are now painful reminders of my foolish belief in love. And wherever I go and whatever I do, it seems I am confronted by the past. It is one reason I need to leave Korea, sooner rather than later.
I’m a selfish bastard for sure. I’m going to embrace that and live a selfish life in the Philippines. It is who I am and what I’ve become. There is peace in acceptance.
But enough about me. Ha! Just kidding.
I’ve given my 30 day notice to the landlord. Looks like next stop for me will be lovely Pyeongtaek. I’m still targeting a September re-retirement and move to Subic Bay. But my Uncle Sam has enticed me to stay on through the Eighth Army transformation out of Seoul by providing me LQA (living quarters allowance). That saves me two grand a month and these days I’m all about the money!
Since my last post here I made a trip down to Camp Humphreys to check out our new office space in the Eighth Army headquarters building. Not bad at all. While there I had a realtor show me around some of the amazing properties available. He asked me where I wanted to live and I said “walking distance”. “To work?” he asked. Nope, to the bars. I reckon that to be 20 minutes drunken stumbling max. So, somewhere in Anjeong-ri right outside the main gate would be ideal. The realtor of course wants to show me big new expensive places, and I just want something simple and convenient.
I guess the compromise was this single family house right in the middle of Anjeong-ri.
4 bedrooms/4 baths (2 down, 2 up). Way to much house for me, but…
Real nice kitchen area too. We’ll see. The problem is I need something fully furnished and I’m only going to be around for 4 months, give or take. Doesn’t make me an attractive prospect for landlords.
I’ll need to do some more looking and see what happens.
There’s this nice restaurant right across the street. Or maybe it’s a pet shop. Have to check it out.
Speaking of work, here’s a picture of the meeting between the Korean Employees Union and the Ambassador. Well, former ambassador now… I’m the left handed guy…
Also this month was siblings day…here’s me and the brothers when life was much simpler…
I actually got asked this question by my Army doctor. Gave a similar response…
Sharing the fun with three of my employees on a recent Friday night…
Sounds like good advice…
…except when it isn’t. A conundrum…
Spent some time up North last week. It was pretty quiet…
Why yes. Yes I am.
Everything put together, sooner or later falls apart.
On the border…
I made it a few steps into North Korea but these guys weren’t going to let me go any further.
See what I missed?
I also had business in Busan. Not with this mermaid…
When the lights go down in the city…
Back in Seoul for my river walk on Saturday…
On the river.
And today it was Namsan.
Found the broom but no trace of the wicked witch of the Easter.
It’s been a long time since I broke the 30,000 step barrier…
Still crazy after all these years.
Ah well, it is what it is. I’ll try and do better.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Now I wind up staring at an empty glass Because it’s so easy to say that you’ll forget your past...
Another Valentine’s Day being spent on my own. And truthfully, that’s pretty much the way I choose to be. But it weren’t always so. And it seems there is always something there to remind me when I wasn’t alone.
Delving through my old posts on the Philippines information board I frequent, I came across something I wrote back in August 2009 called “My Dilemma”:
So next month marks an anniversary. One year since my last visit to the PI. You guys with PPD (post Philippines Depression) can imagine how much worse it is when you don’t know when, or if, you will return to paradise.
See, next August I am eligible to retire and can draw a generous (and well earned I might add) government pension. I could live comfortably almost anywhere, but in the PI I could live like a rich man. And that has a certain appeal to me.
What’s the problem then? Well, as the old Elvin Bishop song says “I fooled around and fell in love”. With a Korean woman.
Now, this woman is 93% perfect. She takes care of all my needs in a way that is beyond anything I ever imagined. And I’m a man who likes to be taken care of. She does everything for me down to the smallest detail without complaint. In fact, she tells me it is “her pleasure”. She is an amazing lover and an old fashioned good hearted woman. I go to the bars about three nights a week for darts, and she never complains. She comes along and has actually become a pretty big fan of the game. All my friends think she is great and her family seems to have taken a liking to me as well. When I got sick last year, she was at my side in the hospital 24/7. Hell, to reference another old song, she’s like the gal The Band sang about: “up on cripple creek she sends me/if I spring a leak/she mends me/I don’t have to speak/she defends me/a drunkards dream if I ever did see one…”
Yep, I’d have a hard time finding anyone better for me in this world than her.
So, you may be thinking, “what’s the dilemma?”. The 7% of the GF that is not perfect is that she is extraordinarily jealous. Almost to the point of being insane about it.
And she found my collection of photos from previous trips to the Philippines. She says seeing me with those “young girls” just makes her sick to her stomach. She deleted them all.
Now, even hearing the word Philippines enrages her. And whenever there’s a Filipina in a bar she accuses me of staring at her and tells me “I love Filipino women too much!”.
She accessed my email and found communications with a platonic friend in the PI and went nuts.
If I go to a filipino bar I like here in Seoul she gets pissed.
She checks the messages/call history on my cell phone.
She checks the stamps in my passport when I travel.
She counts the frickin’ money in my wallet to make sure I’m not spending money on others.
In other words, that 7% is getting to be a real pain in the ass.
But damn, she does love me, and you know, there is something to be said for being loved.
But any future I might have with her, means there is no Philippines in my future.
And she is right about one thing–I truly do love the Pinays.
Hence my dilemma. One year out from retirement and I need to be firming up plans. If I stay in Korea with her, it means getting married (will need a visa). If I’m going to the PI to retire, well, I need to be going there and making some decisions.
I’m stuck at 50-50 on the pros and cons. I mean, I could pay someone in the PI to take care of all those nice things my GF gives me free. But as the Beatles so astutely noted, “Money can’t buy me love”.
I guess it’s a good thing to have choices in life. But it feels pretty fucked up right now.
Well, of course regular readers know that I chose love over the Philippines. And as it turned out, I chose wrong. I’m still not really over it and I definitely don’t understand it. But there is of course no going back. I can only lament the wasted time.
But as Facebook reminds me today, there were moments of love. I even made a movie about it, circa 2013.
Painful to watch now. And for those who say it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all, I call bullshit.
One thing is for sure, I am bound and determined to never love again. Don’t need it, don’t want it. Happy Valentine’s Day!
Mem’ries, Light the corners of my mind Misty water-colored memories Of the way we were Scattered pictures, Of the smiles we left behind Smiles we gave to one another For the way we were Can it be that it was all so simple then? Or has time re-written every line? If we had the chance to do it all again Tell me, would we? Could we? Mem’ries, may be beautiful and yet What’s too painful to remember We simply choose to forget So it’s the laughter We will remember Whenever we remember… The way we were… The way we were…
I won’t call it a miracle, but I’m feeling almost normal these past few days. Practically no cough, little sputum, sleeping through the night, and most importantly, no breathing issues.
Maybe it’s the drugs. The Prednisone (a steroid) keeps the lungs clear. The Azithromycin is a strong antibiotic. The Albuterol is a bronchodilator that I’ve only used a couple of times so far, mostly as a preemptive measure before engaging in physical activity. With the exception of the inhaler, my meds run out this week.
Shouldn’t be an issue as I was instructed to do a follow-up visit on Wednesday. Ah, but I got caught up in a classic Army catch-22 situation. I called to schedule the appointment but was told as a “Space A” (space available) patient, I can only call in at noon on the day I want treatment and will only be scheduled should, well, space be available. Now, I understand and support that military members should get first priority. But it was an Army doctor who told me to come back. The schedulers couldn’t help, rules being rules and all. I called the patient advocate and she confirmed that notwithstanding doctor’s orders, I could not schedule an appointment in advance. Given that it took me three days of trying to get my first appointment I expressed concern that any needed refills of my prescriptions would not be forthcoming in a timely way. She suggested I use on off-base provider. So, it looks like the Hilarious Dr. Yoo remains in my future. It’s okay, at least I have a diagnosis.
These kids came marching by my villa making a gawd awful noise at 0900 yesterday. Not sure why. The first full moon of the lunar new year perhaps?
It was a bitterly cold morning but I got out in it anyway determined to tackle my old nemesis, Namsan. Made it to the base of the steps to the top and then thought better of it. Too soon to push my self that hard. Did get in close to 20,000 steps though.
Sometimes there is a poetry to walking…
…if you know where to look, the signs are all there.
Not bragging but one of my staff members suggested I be nominated for an Equal Opportunity and Diversity award.
“- You’re all about providing equal opportunity to Asian women who want to date you. – You promote diversity by connecting with various women in Asia. – You frequently visit Asian countries and promote their economic growth by spending your money at their hotels, bars, shopping malls, and restaurants.
– And lastly, you adhere to equal employment opportunity by hiring a Asian women who’s also over 40.”
Oh lord, it’s hard to be humble when you’re perfect in every way!
Speaking of the office, we have a new addition:
It’s kind of an intimidating photo, don’t you think? I feel like he’s saying “get to work McCrarey or you’re fired!” No worries, his civilian hiring freeze is keeping me plenty busy these days…
What else? Well, this proved to be a sad reminder of my reality:
Well, I won’t be fooled again!
I leave Friday for ten warm days in the tropical Philippines. Am I excited?
Why, yes. Yes I am!
Pulled pork in the crock pot and a Han River stroll on tap.
Life is good when you are feeling good. Let’s keep it that way!
Feel free to skip this post if you are weary of hearing my tales of woe regarding my health.
Okay, for the rest of you then…
Today I successfully secured a coveted appointment at the Brian Allgood Army Community Hospital on my third day of trying. Oddly enough, I started experiencing shortness of breath about an hour before my 5 o’clock appoint. And it was the worst occurrence I’ve ever had. I was having difficulty even talking to the intake nurse about my symptoms. The took my blood pressure (185/100!) then I met with the doctor. He could immediately see I was in some pretty serious distress and asked me how often this condition occurred. I breathlessly explained that I never let it get this bad since acquiring my nebulizer. The good doc said let’s get you some nebulization going now and while I was inhaling that sweet relief, he listened to my chest and apparently didn’t like what he heard.
As is usually the case, I felt better almost immediately. But apparently my blood oxygen was staying in the low 80s (normal is 95+) which meant I was experiencing Hypoxemia. That’s not good and the doc wanted me to visit the emergency room then and there. And so naturally I did.
The took my blood pressure again (still over 180), did an EKG, and started me on another round of nebulaziton.
Suckin’ in the ER.
Then they wheeled me down to x-ray to get a gander at my lungs.
My first ever ride in a wheelchair on the way to the x-ray department. Whee! (I’ll be happy if it is my last ride in one though).
At least I had something to read.
By the time I got back to the ER I was feeling much better and my vitals confirmed it (blood pressure back down in the normal for me 140s, and blood oxygen back in the high 90s. So, now I wanted to hear the long elusive diagnosis. Doctor says it seems to be a case of Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Damn, I was afraid he was going to say that! (A couple of friends had suggested that may be my problem, but I was in denial).
There it is, the price I paid for 25 years of moderate smoking. The fact that I’ve been off tobacco for over 2 years now is certainly a positive. It appears my COPD is still in the early stages, and there are things I can do to slow it’s progress. So, that’s what I will do. We all got to die of something, but my death is far from imminent. My dad had COPD and made it to 83. That’s a worthwhile goal I reckon.
I came home with some drugs and an inhaler and instructions to return for a follow-on visit in a week.
In the meantime, it is always possible I will run into someone like this:
We had a little Superbowl party in the office this morning…
Good people, good food…
….and lots of it…
No way anyone comes back from being down 28-3 at the half, right? Right?
In other news…
baby brother turned 60 this week…
Tried to walk on Saturday, this is as close as I got to the Tower….
But I had enough energy to make it out to Shenanigans…
And later enjoyed some delicious grilled pork belly. Soju was not my friend that night however….
Thank you Facebook for reminding me of the ex-Korean girlfriend, Se Hwa. Well, I’m sure she is still Korean, but you know what I mean.
I’ve learned a lot since then…
Bitter and disillusioned is not too attractive I reckon…
Speaking of Facebook, this is some of the troll bait I’ve been chumming to my lefty friends…
Seems a lot of lefties these days are engaging in the same eliminationist rhetoric of their ideological predecessors…
Open up and let ’em in!
And this about sums it up…
What else? Well I’ll be heading out to the Philippines later this month to do some retirement reconnaissance.
Will look at some places on the old Subic Bay Naval base…
Not sure I’m completely down with moving to the PI and living in an American subdivision….
But then again, I do like creature comforts like a big ass kitchen…
A backyard patio…
And waking up each morning to a view of the bay like this one…
Of course, I need to make sure I’ll still be waking up every morning. Still not completely recovered from whatever it is that ails me, but I’m getting increasingly concerned. This afternoon I again experienced the shortness of breath thing which is quite disconcerting. So I was motivated to go on over to the Army hospital on base and get registered. Well, actually, turns out I was still registered from my former tour of duty here.
Couldn’t get an appointment today though. Civilians are at the bottom of the pecking order. I’ll try again tomorrow. Just want to get another opinion about what is happening and hopefully a resolution. Time will tell.
These past few nights my dreams have all been Philippines related. Not in any specific way, they just took place in the Philippines or featured Filipinos.
While my sub-conscious has apparently taken something of leap into the future, here in the present I’m consciously aware that I’m withdrawing from my Korean life. Such as it is.
Yesterday was the opening night of the new dart league season, the first season in over 10 years in which I haven’t participated (well, except for the year I was stuck in the states waiting on the green card for Jee Yeun). I was at the bar of course to cheer for the home team, but more and more it feels like I have one foot out the door.
Eight or nine months to go yet, so I need to maintain some focus on reality, but I’m very much aware of the fact that a new life beckons. I’m not so foolish as to expect it will be better, but given my state of mind, different will suffice.
Korea for me has become a land of broken dreams and broken promises. And there always seems to be something to remind me of that sad fact. So I need to let go and move on. I’ve been wallowing in self-pity for far too long, I fear if I stay here I may drown in it.
In other news, it was back to the doctor on Monday morning. Dr. Joe did the honors this time, and I walked out with another impressive collection of pills. I honestly do think I’m slowly getting better, but without the meds I can’t get a decent nights sleep. And it’s no good being sick and tired. Trust me on that.
I will likely feel better about things when I can start walking again. It’s just been too damn cold. No matter how warm I dress, breathing that cold air wreaks havoc on the lungs. Hopefully next week I’ll get back in my routine.
Ah well, enough of this. Things change. Stick around.
If there was an award for most pessimistic, I probably wouldn’t even be nominated.—anonymous
It is strange to be totally in the dark and not having a clue as to why.
I did manage to fumble around for my flashlight and then found the breaker box. Sure enough, the main switch was flipped. Reset it, and it popped back off almost immediately. Contacted the realtor who reached out to the landlord. When I got home from work everything was back in order. Nothing like a little excitement in life to spice things up!
In health news, I was back to see the hilarious Dr. Yoo today. A new chest x-ray revealed much improvement in my lungs, but still a ways to go. I’m sleeping through the night now which is huge. Doing my nebulizer at least twice a day which seems to make my coughing more productive. And best of all I’m not having the shortness of breath episodes now.
I’m slowly working my way up to getting back into a regular walking routine again. I’ve noticed a considerable reduction in stamina (real heavy breathing on the slightest inclines) but this too shall pass I reckon. The leg is still sore, but not so painful I have to rest every five minutes like before. So I guess I’ll just walk it off.
First hike of the year along the Han…
A plaintive plea to which I responded “get over it!” In the long run it will hurt less that way.
And in the category of punctuation matters:
I only drink when I’m alone or with somebody…
And so. More and more I’m feeling my Korean life fading away. Shit’s gettin’ real, but it’s no matter. No distance. It’s the ride.
Welcome to my first post of 2017! I’d wish you a happy new year but…
….I will wish you more good days than bad instead. My goal is to get out of this year alive!
So, regular readers know that I rang in the New Year in the Philippines. The trip turned out to be about half as good as I hoped. I’m going to do a post about the travel portion of that visit soon. This post is about the bad part.
Here’s a helpful hint: Don’t take a vacation when you are sick. I had my meds and figured I’d either get progressively better or stay about the same. Didn’t think things could get worse until they did.
I arrived with my “tour guide” at our chosen Puerto Galera lodging, the Tribal Hills Mountain Resort pretty much on schedule at 1600 on Thursday the 29th. I’d left home at 0430 though, so that constituted a long day of travel and I was pretty bushed. Now, the day after Christmas PG had taken a direct hit from Typhoon Nina. Lots of downed trees and the roads were pretty much a mess, but the resort was not in bad shape. Except that the power was out. No worries, they had a back up generator. Although from 1300 until 1700 it was down for maintenance. So, we arrived in our room without power, or more importantly, no air conditioning. Took advantage of the wonderful deck off our room with outstanding views of the surrounding mountains and the ocean.
It wasn’t long before I noticed a bite on my arm from what I presume was a mosquito. I belatedly got out my insect repellent and liberally applied it to the exposed areas of my body. Shortly thereafter, a worrying rash appeared all over the arm that was bitten. Then it spread to my neck and chest. And then the other arm. What the fuck? I took a long shower and after a couple of hours the rash receded into nothingness and I felt no further ill-effects from the experience.
I had no idea just how isolated the Tribal Hills Resort actually is. It’s on top of a mountain accessed by a narrow road that goes straight up. I’d judge it to be a steeper climb than getting to the top of the stairs on Namsan. And given my diminished lung capacity and bum leg, that was a non-starter. They resort does offer a free shuttle to the base of the mountain near White Beach. Although truth be told White Beach seemed like a sleepy little village with nothing much of interest to do there. And the shuttle stops running at 2200 hours. So the resort has a restaurant and pool bar, who needs to leave, right?
Except late on the first night I experienced a new low in my battle with my lungs, as in a prolonged period where I had shortness of breath. Which felt like drowning to me. I tried not to panic which would lead to hyperventilation, but it felt like I was going to pass out at any moment. My tour guide asked if I wanted to go the the hospital in Sabang, a good 45 minutes away under the best of circumstances. And these weren’t the best of circumstances in Puerto Galero. Imagining the nightmare of a small town provincial hospital in the PI, I declined the offer. Back home during coughing jags I’d work up a sweat and found some comfort and relief having my fan blowing into my face. I mentioned how I really longed for that fan now, and to her credit my tour guide set out on a midnight quest to find me one. I assumed it would be fruitless because the resort basically shuts down after the last shuttle run, but she had roused a staff member who came to the door with fan in hand shortly thereafter. It did provide a modicum of relief and I made it through a mostly sleepless night.
Things went better for most of the next day, which included a visit to Sabang. So glad I didn’t try to go there for medical assistance! That night I had some breathing problems again, but with the fan and some deep breathing exercises I learned from the web I was able to deal with it. Again, just a couple hours of sleep though. Decided to check out one day early and head back to Manila. Call me a pussy, but the thought of not having access to emergency medical care should it be required was fucking with my mind. Besides, there was just not much to see or do in PG and it seemed like a pointless place to ring in the New Year.
Had a nice New Year’s Eve celebration on P. Burgos street in Makati, coincidentally located very near the hotel I accidentally booked (I’ll cover that in the trip report installment). More of the same, felt fine mostly until it came time to lay down for some sleep, which brought back the coughing fits and shortness of breath. Managed a little more than 2 hours sleep from pure exhaustion, and woke up with the zit from hell on my cheek. What’s up with that?
Last day in country had the worst bout yet and the tour guide suggested I get a nebulizer. I considered it briefly, but figured what I really needed was a doctor’s opinion, so I opted to wait until I got back to Seoul for that. The plane ride from Manila went without incident, even managed a bit of sleep. Once we landed I made it through immigration, bag claim, and customs in a jiffy. Started walking to the AREX station and got hit hard with the lack of breath thing again. The train departed in five minutes so there was no stopping to rest. Made it on board and collapsed in my seat. I did my breathing exercises and told myself to suck it up and calm down, and eventually I did. No other option really, it was after 1900 so my doctor’s clinic was long closed.
Caught a cab from Seoul Station and somehow managed to successfully navigate the cabbie to my villa’s front door through grunts and gestures. Good thing too, because carrying my suitcase up two flights of stairs set off another lack of breath incident. This one wouldn’t go away. Around 0100 I was seriously thinking I needed to go to the emergency room for some oxygen. Couldn’t think of anyone I felt comfortable calling to take me at that ungodly hour, and I figured trying to explain to 119 where I lived was pointless. So I somehow managed to get through the night. Through the power of sheer exhaustion I even managed a couple hours of sleep.
As I prepared to depart for Soonchunhwang hospital this morning, I stepped on the scale. 201 pounds! A new record low for me, and down an amazing 6 pounds from last week. I obviously haven’t been walking at all and on vacation I don’t strictly keep to diet (had a fantastic mango split for example). The weight loss I’m certain is the result of my body and heart working overtime lately. My fit bit advises that my resting heart rate has been in the high 80s to low 90s. During my fits I’ve pushed it up to 130. Prior to my illness my resting heart rate was around 70 and I only saw 130+ at the summit of the stairs to Namsan. I DO NOT recommend this weight loss program however!
Arrived at the International Clinic without an appointment. Receptionist asked if I preferred to see the hilarious Dr. Yoo or the sexy Dr. Kim. I opted for Dr. Yoo who has been treating me for years. But I felt compelled to mention in all other things I would pick Dr. Kim. The receptionist smiled and said she understood.
Explained to Dr. Yoo (who coincidentally also has a cough and he blames Chinese pollution) what was going on, basically everything I’ve said above in more abbreviated form. I know, why is HE so lucky? Get over it! I told him I needed to get this fixed. He said if I had a fever he’d want me in the hospital. I told him being hospitalized was something I really wanted and needed to avoid. So, he had me do blood work, an EKG, a chest x-ray, and a nebulizer treatment. After completing these rounds, I returned to see what Dr. Yoo’s conclusion might be. I was happy that my hard working heart was still doing it’s job. The blood work showed all indicators in the normal range. The x-ray revealed that my lungs remain congested (no duh). And the nebulizer treatment as far as I could tell was a success. At least I wasn’t coughing.
He told me I was on the “borderline” for being hospitalized, but if I was willing to come in everyday for some nebulization we could try that. I suggested that I just purchase my own nebulizer and do that at home. Dr. Yoo was down with that. He also had mentioned having me hospitalized to administer intravenous antibiotics, but he was willing to try something stronger in pill form to see how that works out. So, as of now I remain a free man!
My new best friend!
Don’t we make a nice couple? And check out that zit! Massive!
The doctor does wants me back in the morning for a follow-up, I guess to see how I’m reacting to the meds. I’ve done two nebulizer treatments at home now and have had no issues with the cough or breathing problems. I also had an uninterrupted two hour nap today which left me feeling surprisingly energized.
I’ll go to bed tonight feeling hopeful that the corner will indeed be turned and I can avoid the nightmare of being in a Korean hospital alone with no one to assist me.
I tagged this post in the “me, me, me” category which obviously fits. I’m thinking I need to add a category of “aren’t you glad you’re not me?” I suspect many of my readers come here to feel better about themselves. Hey, glad to be of service. No man is totally worthless, he can always serve as a bad example.
Back to Soonchunwhang hospital this morning to deal with my leg issue. The hilarious Dr. Yu was not available, but the affable Dr. Joe was there to assist. After describing what had happened, he opined that it was either a back issue or something muscular.
Well, I don’t think it is my back. And I’ve had a similar, although not as severe, issue with my leg in the past. I asked Dr. Joe to review my medical history from a couple of years ago and see what Dr. Yu had prescribed. He did, and I walked out with a prescription for muscle relaxants and pain meds. Oh, and a shot in my ass as well.
Hopefully this will carry me through my holiday vacation plans.
Let it be forgotten, as a flower is forgotten, Forgotten as a fire that once was singing gold, Let it be forgotten forever and ever, Time is a kind friend, he will make us old.
If anyone asks, say it was forgotten Long and long ago, As a flower, as a fire, as a hushed footfall In a long-forgotten snow.
Today marks the sad one year anniversary of the date my wife sent me packing. I’m mostly over it by now, although I do still frequently think of her. I remember when she loved me and wanted to share in my life, although truthfully those days ended a long time before my ultimate departure. I also remember the promises and vows we made to each other that she coldly broke, walking away because she decided she didn’t “have a happy life with me”.
It has been said that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. And I guess it only hurts until the pain goes away. In one sense this breakup did kill me because I am certainly not the person I was anymore. I’m bitter and cynical and have no faith or trust in the whole concept of “love”. Fuck love, who needs it? I’m no longer in pain because my heart has become a heaping mass of scar tissue. These days I’m satisfied with being comfortably numb.
But don’t mistake my epiphany about the meaninglessness of love as an indication that I’ve abandoned the pursuit of happiness. To the contrary, I’m actually quite optimistic that I will achieve a satisfactory level of joy and contentment on my own terms and in my own way. I know what I want and what I need to be happy, and I expect I will find it in due course.
This is one of my favorite photos of me and Jee Yeun. It was a private moment, not posed, and captured by a friend. As I recall we had spent the weekend in Songtan and we were returning home from my victory in a darts tourney. She was by my side all the way, proud of me, and we loved each other. Or so I like to believe. That’s what I miss, and that is what I hope to find again sometime. Minus the pretense of love. Just someone who will stay by my side, share in my life, and take care of me. I’ll give the same in return. It can and will happen. Someday, somewhere.
So, looking back over my journey this past year I can say I’ve had some adventures, some happy times, and yes, my share of sad days. But nothing worthwhile comes easy and I believe I’ve learned and grown and gained some wisdom that will serve me well in the future. Here’s a quick recap.
I moved into my overpriced but comfortable villa on this day in 2015. And then I proceeded to get drunk every fucking night for two plus months. I guess I was exploring the Leaving Las Vegas option, but really it was more about shutting down my brain so I could sleep at night. I still did my share of shouting at the ceiling though.
Instead of drinking myself into an early grave I wisely chose a more sensible course of action–diet and exercise. The diet was the low carb lifestyle, the exercise was in the form of walking. The former gave me a healthier body, the latter worked wonders on my tortured brain. Together, they resulted in a loss of over 60 pounds. I look better and feel better about myself. That was huge in overcoming my depression.
I did my share of travelling these past 12 months as well. Cambodia, Thailand, and three trips to the Philippines. In fact, I will be returning to the PI to ring in the new year in Puerto Galera, my first time in that locale. My current thinking is that I’ll begin and end 2017 somewhere in the Philippines. Of course, since when have my plans ever gone as planned? That’s why I will remain in my living one day at a time mode, until such time as I run out of days. Heh, that’s the plan at least.
I had two women profess their love for me this year (not at the same time of course!). Both ended in hurt and sadness and re-enforced my belief that love is a sucker’s bet. I feel bad for whatever part I played in bringing pain into those lives, but I will also cherish the memories and good times we shared.
I achieved my goal of becoming debt free.
I presided over the dismantling of my American life. I sold my house and everything in it. In some ways it felt like a funeral for a life I was forced to leave behind. But there is also a sense of freedom now in not being tied down to stuff and the old dreams that that stuff represented. I’m now unencumbered emotionally and materially. That’s a good feeling. Well, for the most part anyway.
I got promoted to the job I retired from six years ago. It’s an even bigger pain in the ass now than it was then, but I couldn’t say no to the money. I’d invested everything I had in a future with Jee Yeun that was not to be. And now I’m in full recovery mode, including financially.
And so as this year ends I’ve come full circle in my life. At some point next year I will re-retire and once again pursue the dream I abandoned six years ago when I chose Jee Yeun over the Philippines. Of course, I’m also six years older and there is no recovering from that.
Life goes on, and so do I. I’ve got a few more adventures in store yet I reckon. Stay tuned!
The only time I feel the pain Is in the sunshine or the rain And I don’t feel no hurt at all Unless you count when teardrops fall I tell the truth ‘cept when I lie It only hurts me when I cry
Long time, no post. Regular readers have likely observed over the years that I periodically have to take an unplanned hiatus from blogging while I engage in the mundane tasks of actually living my life. Not sure why, but sometimes I get in a place where I have to withdraw and re-calibrate. It’s no big deal really and I always find my way back here so that you may share in the boring and often pathetic details of my so-called life. And here I am!
During my absence, I reckon this was my big epiphany: My life is not all that I hoped that it would be. But it is better than I ever imagined it could be.
That’s good enough I suppose.
The other day someone asked me if I had a good memory. I honestly answered “I don’t remember”. Bada bing! Stick around, I’ll be here all week!
Well, I’m still sick. Going on six weeks now and I don’t recall ever being ill for such an elongated period of time. The coughing fits keep me awake at night and consequently I’m always exhausted. Which makes it hard to maintain focus and motivation. Most concerning has been a shortness of breath and lack of stamina. Which continues to impede my walking routine. Not to be overly dramatic about it, but I’ve taken to leaving my apartment door unlocked, just in case I need to be rescued at some point. Although truthfully not many folks would know where to find me should I call out in the night for help. Heh, living on the edge!
I did go back to the international clinic and Soonchunhwang hospital yesterday. It was my fourth visit regarding the cough from hell. This time I got to see my regular physician, the hilarious Dr. Yoo. He didn’t seem to be all that concerned and reassured me that the coughing was natural and needed to excrete the phlegm that is stubbornly clinging to my lungs. He reviewed what the sexy Dr. Kim had previously prescribed and concurred with her course of action. He prescribed a slew of new medications to take over the next ten days and professed his belief that I would be healthy in the new year. One of the pills is supposed to help me make it through the night, and at least last night I did have an uninterrupted sleep. Of course, I was drunk when I went to bed so I can’t attest to the impact of the new medicine. We shall see, but I do feel good enough today to actually sit down and write a boring blog post, so that’s kinda being back to normal.
Well, enough of my drivel. Let’s look at pictures!
Last night was the dart league banquet. Took home the banner for winning the regular season…
….and the plaque for winning the end of season playoffs…
I also took home the “Top Gun” award for B Division. Honestly though I didn’t meet my own performance expectations. Ah well, I have now retired from darts. Or at least I’m done with darts for the remainder of my time in Korea…
We’ve got our office all decorated up for the holidays There’s a contest for best office. The Eighth Army Commanding General will be the judge next week. We expect to win. That’s me supervising the effort…
The good news is I slept through the night without a coughing jag for the first time in a month or so last night. That’s huge, trust me.
This was my bedroom floor on Friday night. It looked about the same on Saturday night. Tissues for the snot, the towel for phlegm.
I got up Sunday morning and did up some steak and eggs…
And a pot roast for dinner…
Then I walked the Han River. 24,000 steps, which is significant because it was the first time since November 21st that I broke 10,000.
The weekend wasn’t all good. Sometimes you just have to let go of someone you care about. That’s never easy for me, but I’ve learned the hard way that love is just not enough. No matter what, you have to take responsibility and be accountable for your actions. The consequences for not doing so are much worse than a broken heart.
I saw this on my walk and took it as a sign…
What else? Well, Shenanigans now has Miller Lite beer on draft.
I had one to celebrate. But beer is not on my menu. And when I do drink beer (primarily darts night) it’s San Miguel Light. I’ve got one foot in the Philippines already, might as well drink the local brew, right?
And since I was having the beer, I figured pulled pork quesadilla’s were in order. Damn the carbs, full speed ahead!
Speaking of which, I climbed on the scale of after my hike yesterday. I figured my lack of activity and undisciplined diet was gonna cost me a few pounds in the wrong direction. To my surprise, I actually lost over a pound–down to 206.9, a new low! I think the coughing fits turned out to be good exercise. I know they caused me to break out in a sweat and made my heart pound. Quite the cardio workout, although I do not recommend it.
I’ve been doing some trolling on Facebook.
I do enjoy making liberal heads explode…
Very happy with this selection as Secretary of Defense…
Bring it on biatch…
And then there was this…
Anyway, I’m marching forward and trying not to look back at what I’m leaving behind.
Oh what’s love got to do, got to do with it What’s love but a second hand emotion What’s love got to do, got to do with it Who needs a heart When a heart can be broken?
Four weeks in and still coughing like a motherfucker. But only in the wee dark hours of the morning. Back to the lovely Dr. Kim, Sun Hee for a follow-up. I was surprised her skirt was even shorter this week than last, and she was surprised the antibiotics hadn’t solved my issues. She listened to my heavy breathing and declared that my lungs sound clear. She prescribed some cough medicine and something to open up my bronchial passages and invited me back to see her again in five days. Hopefully I’ll get a better offer before then.
Here’s hoping the fix is in!
Meanwhile, my dart game has been as sick as I am…
First time I’ve ever been skunked in singles league play…
The dart news isn’t all bad though…
My Monday night team, What the Bulls?, took the semi-finals match 14-3 and will face off Monday night against Dillinger’s for the B Division Championship.
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. At least at the DHRM building…
The staff wanted a Christmas tree (or in government parlance, a Holiday tree) and apparently my Bah Humbug! response did not translate…
…sometimes you just gotta roll with the flow, right?
The combination of being sick and the meds to fight being sick along with my nighttime coughing fits depriving me of sleep has left me feeling exhausted and lethargic. In addition to lacking the energy to blog, I’ve pretty much not walked for well over a week. To avoid depression I’ve also refrained from stepping onto the scale. I hope to get back into my routine soon. Maybe even tomorrow if these new meds allow for a night of uninterrupted slumber. We’ll see.
I’ll close with a passage from Stephen King which I rather like (I like it so much that I’ve committed it to memory and have likely posted it here before. It’s worth repeating.
“The most important things are the hardest to say. They are the things you get ashamed of, because words diminish them — words shrink things that seemed limitless when they were in your head to no more than living size when they’re brought out. But it’s more than that, isn’t it? The most important things lie too close to wherever your secret heart is buried, like landmarks to a treasure your enemies would love to steal away. And you may make revelations that cost you dearly only to have people look at you in a funny way, not understanding what you’ve said at all, or why you thought it was so important that you almost cried while you were saying it. That’s the worst, I think. When the secret stays locked within not for want of a teller but for want of an understanding ear.”
Sunday sucked. An emotionally exhausting day full of drama and sorrow. And that’s before I succumbed to another bout with hacking coughs.
And yet another fit of the coughs this evening, this one starting after work when I popped into Shenanigans for some liquid refreshment. How bad was it? One drink and out bad. And if you know me, that says a lot.
Today was the last day of my prescription medicine which the doc thought ought to clear up the source of the cough. Apparently not.
I guess I will just have to wait and see what happens next.
Had to take the day off work today because I have a cough. I’ve actually had the cough for over a week now. It wouldn’t be a problem except that I have coughing fits during the night. Hacking coughs that are almost painful and result in mucous saturated tissues piled on the floor next the bed. Last night’s commenced at 0100 and lasted until I apparently passed into a fitful state of sleep sometime after 0230. Then I woke up again at 0400 to a case of diarrhea that had me in and out of bed until the alarm rang at six. I just couldn’t answer the bell.
I didn’t leave the house today although I had intended to see if I could get in to see the hilarious Dr. Yu. I mean, it is just a cough right? I have a tickle in the throat, but the cough seems to originate from deep in my chest. When I lay on my back I can hear myself wheeze. I didn’t experience any coughing fits today except when I laid down for a nap. So apparently being horizontal exacerbates whatever the fuck is wrong with me. Ah well, this too shall pass. Or I will.
My new best friend. On my second bottle. 12 bucks at the PX. I suppose it is better than nothing.
Whether it is related to the cough condition or not I don’t know, but I have also been extremely lethargic of late. Totally unmotivated, lacking in energy, and just feeling plain ass tired. As a consequence my step count has dropped significantly and my willpower to avoid eating unhealthy is diminished. Not a good combination! Hopefully I will rediscover my motivation soon.
In other news, we had our last match of the regular dart league season last night. Sadly, we did not accomplish our goal of going undefeated, losing to Sin Bin 14-13. It came down to the last leg of the night, I had a the winning dart in my hand, but failed to execute. Sorry Bridget. Well, we still finished first for the season so there’s that.
What the Bulls?
I didn’t do shit on Sunday. On Saturday I ventured down to Songtan to participate in the dart tourney. Mostly I just needed to get out of town and change my perspective.
Tom along with Mike and his wife Eve also made the trip.
And it proved to be a pretty successful evening at darts for the Seoul contingent.
After darts we hit the street for some street food, which is the generally the best place to find it.
I went with my old standby chicken-on-a-stick.
The night being younger than I am, I was enticed by the other members of our cadre to join them at a local Filipino oriented nightclub which was conveniently located in the basement of my hotel.
The band was good and I was drunk. A combination that resulted in me dancing. Such as it were.
Friday was a holiday and once again my lazy ass didn’t do shit. I barely got 10,000 steps in. That may have been due in part to the fact that I stayed out way too late on Thursday night, arriving home in the wee hours of Friday morning in a state of intoxication.
Work is work. And I’m doing my best to avoid letting the stress get to me. Hopefully it gets better soon.
A rare photo capturing government in action. You saw it here first!
While I’m still a big fan of Korea, I’m growing increasingly aware that my time here is winding down. Well, things change. Including my mind. So, we’ll see what happens. Maybe I’ll like Pyeongtaek. And it would certainly be more affordable for a pensioner than Seoul…
But in the meantime I’ll continue to follow the yellow brick road and see where it takes me.
Assuming I get off my lazy ass and start walking again.