Tuesday, November 18, 2014

First 18 days of November in Mae Sai

Please forgive my spelling and punctuation, I'm a plumber and not an English major. Just read and have fun.

Just in, as per LBN, clowns are no longer allowed in Vendargues, France. We have to cancel our trip, oh well.

Last one up makes the bed!

Then to the morning market. Fish for breakfast this morning.

Kids were in good spirits, too.

Flowers are everywhere here, even growing wild in the cracks.

After the morning market, a little work out.

Then a stop by the Buddhist Temple in case we are wrong. 

We took a look into the stone carver's area to see how they are doing. 

We finished caulking in the door jambs that we have been working on for almost a month. 

One more coat of enamel and we can hang the door.

We are going to clean up a little and take the rest of the day off.

Daeng said she would cook a steak and make a salad for dinner tonight. 

Life is good. 

Hey, a selfie in the mirror.

I'm kind of tired, anyway. Enough for one day. 

November 2nd, I'm a little pissed this morning. "Pissed" is plumber talk for being angry.  I got up early and called Anthem Blue Cross about my PPO Medicare Advantage plan for 2015.

I was told that my coverage outside of the USA for Emergency and Urgent  Care would stop on January 1, 2015.

That is wonderful, I worked all my life and now when I want to travel outside the USA I have no coverage.  That is correct, Medicare will not cover anyone outside the USA.

If you would like to read more about this: CLICK HERE.

I'll have to check around to see what is available 

November 3rd, I went to the Mae Sai morning market for coffee and Pa Thong Ko but Koo Too and his family are having a holiday. 

It started to rain so I came back home and made my own creation to have with coffee.

If you squint, you can see Abraham Lincoln or maybe Jerry Garcia. 

It rained hard but now the sun is trying to come out. This is the view from our bedroom window. 

By the way, we are now 15 hours ahead of California time.

Here is a Thai favorite. It is pure sugar, like cotton candy, wrapped in what I call a Thai tortilla.

Sweet is the main word here. Yes, for Daeng and the food!

November 4th, Now the good news, as most of my friends know Daeng told me if I lose 20 more pounds I can be on top. 

This morning I had achieved that goal. When I told Daeng she said I must have misunderstood as she said 30 pounds. 

I now have a new goal of 10 more pounds. With the recent loss of weight I am feeling better except for my back aches so maybe the bottom is better for me. Just saying! ‪#‎109KG240LB‬

November 5th, Well, it's time for some medical research. On Saturday I had a lot of pain in my left leg. It was identical to the problem with my right leg that I had in 2011. At that time, after extensive tests, MRI's and the works it was decided it was a pinched nerve at L4 and L5 in my back.

To shorten this post, injections into my back made the pain livable. 

For the last 4 days I stayed in bed most of the time. A lot of pain standing or sitting, pain level 3 to 8, with very little pain laying down on my back with feet up. In that 3 to 8 scale, childbirth would be, in my opinion, a 10.

This morning Daeng called the hospital 60 km south of us and told them of my problem. This is were the story gets good. 

They asked it I could come see the doctor an hour from then. We said no but could make it in about 1 1/2 hour. We hurriedly made the 60 km drive and arrived at 11:00 AM. Were picked up in the parking lot, checked in and meet with Dr. Songsak Khunsree who speaks perfect English. 

He listened to my story, looked at the MRI that was done in 2011. He explained that it was probably the same cause but now on my left leg. 

By the way, that is not my blood pressure, it's someone elses as we just staged the picture. Mine was a little high after rushing and driving the 60 km to the hospital. Mind was 143/83

He made an appointment to do a epidural steroid injection in my back on Monday, gave me a shot of diprospan, had me stop taking Celebrex and gave me Arocoxia. He also said I could do 7.5 mg of hydrocodone ever 6 hours, BUT ONLY AS NEEDED.

 I told him I would need to be careful of that. He then said, kiddingly: "or just lay on your side and smoke some opium. That will take you down faster." I think he is a very knowledgeable Doctor.

We paid today's costs of 1,232 THB, about $38.50 US and had a bowl of soup by the hospital. We were back on the road home by 1:00 PM. That is correct, all that in 2 hours. 

He also said the total epidural injection on Monday will be between 14,000 and 18,000 THB ($437 to $562 USD). That is less than my co-pay and co-insurance in the USA. 

November 6th, Goodmorning, I get so excited when we run out of peanut butter because I have a excuse to eat it right out of the jar.

I am feeling better today, the shot he gave me in the arm must have done something.

Laundry business is good when it rains for a few days as folks bring their laundry here. 

This is Hlong with her granddaughter strapped on while she works. That's how child care works here in Thailand. 

I asked Daeng if she wanted to work on making one. She, without any hesitation, said: "NO!".

During a break in the rain Daeng went to the Ban Pa Mueat morning market and got some tasty stuff, fried chicken, sticky rice, pumpkin custard, China pears along with banana and coconut desert. 

We added coffee and some loving conversation for breakfast. 

I only eat a little of the sticky rice and sweets as I'm working on the 10 more pounds.

Daeng changed the color of the bedding. 

I wonder how this color will excite and motivate us?

It's a full moon, although you can't see it because it is raining, so it is officially the holiday of Loi Krathong. 

Loi Krathong is sometimes spelled Loy Krathong. 

Because it is raining, my legs hurt from my back problem and being old, I'm staying in this year. 

Daeng was out, came home and put on some dry clothes and went back out. 

Here you can read a nice story about a past Loi Krathong. CLICK HERE!

Also, to hear the English version of the Loi Krathong Song just CLICK HERE

November 7th, Although the doctor said: "Don't lift anything heavy." we wanted to hang the door and be finished with this project. 

Daeng helped me and we carefully hung the door. It was a little tricky because, for some reason, the door warped a little. 

When we got it to swing correctly it looks good. 

This project is complete.

For dinner we went close to the Burma border and had some crocodile. 

No, it doesn't taste like chicken. It tastes like squid as it is chewy. 

We looked at some shoes, watched some young monks clean up and went back home.

On the way home we stopped and watched the holiday parade. 

When we got home we went on our roof and launch 2 hot air balloon. 

They are also called paper sky lantern or spirit balloons. 

When you let them go you are supposed to make a wish. 

Funny thing, mine went toward the USA and Daeng's went toward Burma. 

It was fun to launch them.

If you would more information on the Lantern Festival in Chiang Mai CLICK HERE.

November 8th, This is Me's son, YoYo. 

He is 7 months old. Yep, YoYo is his name, Me's Yoyo.

Daeng asks: "Do you like flowers?"

This is a picture of the Queen Mother's Garden not far from our home. 

It is breath taking!

November 9th, Well, I got very angry today. I took back a small can of varnish that I bought at Home Mart a few days ago here in Mae Sai. 

I took it back because it was so old the bottom of the varnish in the can was hard. I worked for 20 minutes with a bamboo stir stick and it would not mix up in the can. 

Well, when I took it back I was told that they could not take it back because it was opened. 

After spending considerable time explaining we had to open it to know it was bad. I even re-opened it and used a pencil in the can to show them. They also said maybe we were using the wrong thinner and Daeng tried to explain it was bad in the can and we could not get it out to use thinner. It was one of those cans with a small twist off caps.

In any case, after talking about it I got anger and tried to explain that they has sold us something that was no good and needed to give us our money back.

The lady I know reached into her pocket and gave us the 150 THB. For some reason that made me more angry as it was not her place, the company sold it to us and the company should give back the money. 

I again tried to explain that this was a small item but if the company will not give a refund on a small item that is no good, what would they do on larger items like a bathtub, water tank, roofing, water pumps, tools, etc. 

I told them to keep the varnish and left the lady's money on the counter. My mistake was becoming so angry for getting cheated out of $4.65 USD. Sometimes we just need to let shit go. 

I will not buy anything else from Home Mart, unless I can't get it anyplace else. I'm just that way, old and mind set.  Here is their website: CLICK HERE

Now good news, medical update: Feeling 40% better, back pain down and no pain killers in 24 hour. 

I have also been reminded why I don't like hydrocodone. It really upsets my stomach.

Weight is down to 108 kilograms (238 pounds). 

The epidural tomorrow and 8 more pounds and I should be good to be on top!

As above I felt pretty good but didn't want to do a lot so did some laundry. 

Daeng says it turns her on when I do laundry. 

Then I painted the piping we repaired a while ago. 

Taking it easy the rest of the day. 

Epidural shot in back tomorrow. Let's hope that helps more.

November 10th, A lot of folks have been asking what the other side of our bedroom looks like as most of the postings we do are of the bed side. Go figure. 

Here are what the both sides looks like.

Also, the doctor giving me the Epidural today said not to eat or drink anything after 8 AM. How come I'm hungry at 9 AM when I ate a lot this morning?

I guess it's the old "Want what you can't have thinking."

It's okay as we leave for the hospital in Chiang Rai in 2 hours. 

I'll try to make it one hour at a time.

November 11th, Yesterday’s medical adventure had some emotional challenges. I got up early and had breakfast at our morning market as I was told nothing to eat or drink after 8:00 AM. Epidural was scheduled for 2:00 PM with a doctor’s consultation at 1:00 PM.

We left our home at 11:30 AM and had an uneventful 61 km trip to Kasemrad Sriburin Hospital to meet with Dr. Songsak Khunsree. When we arrived about 20 minutes early we checked in. One of the doctor’s assistance gave me hospital clothes to put on and said the epidural would be done at 2:00 PM. 

I ask about meeting with the doctor as arranged at 1:00 PM and he said the doctor would talk with me in the operating room. That was a change to me and I told him that was not what was arranged; the doctor told me he wanted to talk with me first. He said okay.

At around 1:40 PM I was called into talk with the doctor. I explained that I was feeling better with a pain level down from 4-8 to around 3-6. I also explained I did get some side effects like hiccups, upset stomach from the hydrocodone and I having anxiety as I have been reading about the side effects of losing bladder and bowel control with this type of treatment. 

As soon as I mentioned having anxiety he became defensive and said we would not do the shot today. That I should just go home and let him know how I felt in the future. I realized that he misunderstood me and he must have felt I was questioning his expertise. By the way, Thai people NEVER question doctors. 

I spent a lot of time explaining I felt very comfortable with him it is just the whole procedure that is bothering me. After some length he agreed to do the epidural shot but side he was only going to give me 40mg of the medicine as I’m old. He said he give young men 60 to 80 mg. 

We again talked about my body may be 72 but both my brains are still 18. I am also a hard worker, even at 72 years old and do more work than most 18 year old men. He did not agree and said he would do the 40 mg and see how that works.

 I did ask if the shot would hurt and he said: “Yes, a lot!” We agreed and shook hands. 

I was given the hospital clothes and was shown a restroom to change. Daeng noted to me that it was not very clean with mops and stuff stored in it also. I again stated to have anxiety. Did I make the correct choose? I changed and put everything into a plastic bag and gave to Daeng. 

They put me in a wheelchair and we went upstairs to a pre-op room. Daeng could not go in with me but she asked if I would be okay and would wait close by. The folks there put me on a gurney and told me to relax and watch some TV. 

As I looked around I still had anxiety as the place was not very clean with bugs in the ceiling lights and marks on the walls. 

After about 15 minutes they wheeled me into the operating room. I feel much better as it was a high tech operating room. It was immaculately clean with all high tech lighting and equipment. 

The doctor came in and pulled down his mask so I could see it was him. He asked if I was feeling more relaxed and told me it was great to see my blood pressure at 122/77. 

He then turned me over and everyone laughed at my tattoos. The tattoos are another story. 

He cleaned my back and showed me on the ultrasound screen what my spinal column looked like and where they were going to put the shot. He again asked me if I was ready. I said: “Let’s do this.” He said: “Okay.”

I lay on the table face down trying to breath deep and wait for the pain. After two or three minutes he said: “Okay, there is going to be some pain from the needle.” I replied: “Okay.” Well, I did feel a little sting but I kept waiting for the pain. 

In a about a minute he started asking me if I was having any pain in my legs. I told him no but was getting some pain in my right butt check. He said good and keep asking me about other parts of my legs. I did get a little pain in my right leg and left butt went numb. He keep saying good. He then said: “Good, we are done.”

They cleaned me up a little and rolled me over. He asked what my legs and butt felt like. I told him both butt cheeks were numb. He said: “That is great! It will work well.” He also told me I need to stay in recovery for about an hour and then I could leave. He said come back and see me in two weeks. 

They rolled me into a recovery room and hooked me up to some machines. After a few minutes I looked over and my blood pressure was 114/52. I thought to myself that is pretty relaxed. Then the machine started making all kinds of noise as my heart rate dropped below 50 beats per minute. A nurse came running in and I told her that was very normal for me as sometimes my heart rate will go all the way down to 40. Yes, when it does that folks get scared for me. She turned off the alarm. 

Then, I reached down and found my whole mid-section of my body was numb, yes even my penis. Well, my blood pressure moved right up to 165/88. I really started to worry as incontinence and erectile dysfunction is one of the outside worries of this type of treatment. 

Good news, the doctor came back in to talk with me about medication. He told me to start Celebrex again at the 200 mg level and if I was in pain go to 400 mg, 200 mg in the morning and 200 mg in the evening. He also asked if I wanted some other pain pills. I ask what they were and he told me hydrocodone. I told him I had some but didn't like to take them. He said: “Good!” 

I asked about the numbness and he laughed. He told me not to worry, that would go away in about an hour. He smile and said he would see me in two weeks.

About 45 minutes later they got me up, put me in a wheelchair and took me downstairs to dress. My butt was still numb so when I sat down it felt like I was floating. It was a very strange feeling. 

They took me to a different dressing room that was very clean and was for just changing clothes. The clean changing room made me feel much better, also. Daeng helped me get dressed and we went to the cashier. 

We waited just a few minutes and they had the bill ready. The total was 13,834 THB. I gave the lady my Chase Sapphire Card and when she returned the slip to sign it was in United States Dollars of $437.82. I told her I did not want to pay in US Dollars; I wanted to pay in Thai Baht as that credit card does not have a foreign transaction fee. 

Well, I am very proud of myself. Daeng was proud of me, also. By the way, this is a bank trick to get you to pay a fee for using a credit card. The bank here gives you a lower exchange rate of about 3% for using the card. 

I walked away and went to pee. 

Sub-note: I did not realize it but I could not pee as I had no feeling in that area. 

When I came back, I asked if they would change it. She tried to tell me that she didn't think so. I told her, don't worry, we'll walk outside to the Bangkok Bank ATM and be back in a few minutes. 

We withdrew the money from our account at a rate of $426.32 USD and went back in and paid her. She smiled and was happy. We were okay. Sometimes it’s not the money, it’s the principle. 

Nice part, that price is a little lower than the doctor quoted me, that’s a good thing!

Well, I was hungry. It is now after 4:00 PM and I haven't eaten since before 8:00 AM. We stopped at a noodle shop on the way and had some great noodle and wonton soup. 

By the time we got home I could feel everything again. I ask Daeng if she wanted to try out things and she said, without hesitation: “NO!”

Coconut ice cream! Enough said.

Our neighbors sell used bicycles.  

Daeng wanted to try one out. 

This is the one I would like to learn to ride. 

Daeng advised me not to try as I'm really old. 

I just laughed.

Oh, I forgot. Gasoline is about $1 US dollar a US gallon lower now in Thailand.

I know it was the present US Government that did it so I want to thank President Obama for getting the gas prices lower here in Thailand.

Enough said!

I got a good massage, leaving my lower back alone. 

I went for a motorbike ride along the river that separates Thailand and Burma. 

It is funny here on the border because Thai folks go to Burma to buy stuff and Burmese folks come here to buy stuff.

I motorbiked up the river road as far as the army guards would allow. 

There are still a lot of interesting sights here.

This is the farthest you can go north in Thailand.

November 12th, Daeng and I are thinking about a little visit tomorrow to see our AKHA Friend, Meechu. 

After that we'll make the drive up the mountain to Mae Salong to see Mr. HO. 

Daeng is not crazy about the drive as it is up through the windy roads in the mountains.

Here is a video of Mr. HO's Guest House: CLICK HERE

Daeng made me breakfast. 

This is food language that's she is happy! 

I love her!

Our Akha friend, Meechu, asked if we could bring her some "Lako" next visit. 

It is a fruit that is expensive and hard to find. 

Daeng, using her homing skills found some in the morning market.

November 13th, We went to the morning market and gave our friends some printed pictures. 

They loved them.

Daeng also bought cookies and things for the kids where we are visiting. 

Back to the house to get ready for our trip up into the mountains.

We made it through the 10 km check point with a salute and a smile. 

We are stopping for some chicken and Som-Tom Papaya salad.

Here is the barbeque man. We thinks his chicken is the best in Thailand. 

And yes, it tastes just like chicken. 

Nice trip to Ban AYO. 

Meechu liked the pictures we brought and told us to say "Hello" to Sonia Del Castillo. 

We ate some special things we had brought with us and talked a little.

We told her we would see her again in March.

It is time to go the rest of the way up the mountain to Mae Salong.

We made it to Mr. Ho's Shinsane Guesthouse & Bungalow in Mae Salong. 

The sun is shining and the temperature is about 74° F.

For a video on YouTube.com of Mr. Ho's Guest House CLICK HERE.

After we put out bags in our bungalow we went for a walk through the little village and had some snacks.

We laughed as the price of gasoline is a little higher up here in the mountains. 

The colors of the different gasolines is pretty and interesting. 

November 14th, I woke up this morning with the sound of a lot of motorbikes and loud chanting. I got a little scared. 

It started raining, the chanting stopped and I felt better.

We got up and toured the morning market. 

Daeng speaks Akha so everyone liked her. 

I spoke pig, making noise like a pig, so everyone laughed at me. 

We also worked on Daeng's English with alphabet Pa Thong Ko.

From the arrangement of the food, you can tell Daeng is happy. It's food language.

We asked a Chinese lady about the chanting. She quietly said: "Yes, the Muslims are taking over the world."

We now have a new Facebook friend, Shally Hu. 

We met her in this Mae Salong market, also.

We had eggs and fried rice for breakfast. 

It's time to go home and sleep in our own bed. 

While Daeng was getting money out of her purse she pulled out a picture she is carrying of Brad Williams

I ask her about it and she said: "I love him as he is the only man I know that is shorter than me."

Our bill was 420 THB ($12.96 USD) for room and 2 meals.

If you want to save money Mr. Ho has 50 THB ($1.50 USD) rooms. There are pretty plain with shared baths. A lot of backpackers use them. 

Time to drive down the mountain.

These pictures are from the trip down the hill.

This chicken is big enough to eat you.

The flowers are just beautiful. 

We slept in our own sweet bed. 

November 15th, How wonderful it is to go on a holiday and lose a kilogram (2 lbs.)

Hey Daeng, only 6 more pounds to be on top.

Nice to be back in our home area.

This is how the working lady does child care here in Thailand.

Then we did a little touch up on roof seal of the third floor stairway roof, the Thai way.

I would stand on one stool and Daeng would move the other one.  

Next time, I think I'll duct tape the stools to my feet and than I can walk myself. Just saying. 

Well, the birds are gone from the nest over one outside light and there is bird poop everywhere. 

I had to be the bad guy and remove the old nest. 

Thai/Akha folks think it is a good sign to have birds living with you. 

It maybe the bird in the coal mine kind of thinking. If the bird is alive, you will be okay.

Daeng was okay with the removal and helped me remove the nest, fix the light and clean up.

Big party tonight.

They are keeping the Myanmar ( Burma ) Border crossing open at night for the week. Usually it closes at 6:00 PM.

Mae Sai closed off two lanes of the main drag for almost a kilometer and set up sidewalk areas for shops and rides of all kinds. 

We looked around and eat but there are just too many people.

It was nice to see the kids in a dress up contest. They are cute. Super star here tonight, also.

We came home early so I think that makes us official old, at least me.

November 16th, Coffee and Pa Thong Ko in the Mae Sai morning market.

I always chuckle when I see "coffee to go" in plastic bags.

We are at the dentist at 9:00 AM on this Sunday morning. It's time for our 6 month check ups.

Great news, both of us are cavity free and the check ups are free.

November 17th, We love pineapple. 

This one is very sweet and was 25 THB, about 75 cents US. 

You can tell by the food language that Daeng is happy.

Here is some super star fruit, as well.

November 18, we picked up our motorbike registrations for both motorbikes.

It's nice here as the motorbike shop registers and insured them for us. 

Cost for the year, with insurance is 436 THB each.

Then for lunch we had a bowl of soup by the river.

After the soup we sat and ate custards for dessert. I bet you can't eat only one.

Soup 50 THB a bowl and custards are 2 for 10 THB.

A THB is about 3 cents US.

We are going to start a week long road trip to Chiang Mai tomorrow.  We'll post that trip on the blog by itself. 

Chiang Mai is always fun. 

Big HUGS to you all.