Friday, July 10, 2015

Back in Agony

Well, the second half of the journey didn't go as planned.
Sunset at Batu Feringghi Beach

Thursday morning, I woke up, reviewed the suggestions here and possibilities I'd considered and decided to circumnavigate the island by heading south into the hills. I packed up my stuff into my backpack, lifted it up onto my back while twisting... and **RRIIIPPPPP***

I didn't actually hear it, and it didn't immediately cause me pain, but by time I'd checked out and got on the motorbike, I knew I'd just aggravated the herniated disk in my back. I got to the end of small street the guesthouse was on and the pain became unbearable. I had to stop the bike, drop the backpack and lie down on the concrete. I was writhing in pain. I tried sitting up, still no relief. Standing was excruciating too. All I could do was lean on the bike's seat, supporting my weight with my arms.

I've been dealing with this disk issue for two years, and this was the worst it had ever felt.

After a couple minutes, I realized I was completely helpless. I couldn't move. I tried calling out "TOLONG!" (Malay for HELP!) to people nearby. They just looked at me funny. I gestured people over with my hands, still they didn't come. Hmmm... I was disappointed by the locals. Finally, a couple western tourists came walking by and I asked them if they wouldn't mind walking over to the clinic that I'd seen half a block away and telling them I needed help. A few minutes later, the clinic van shows up and I stumble in.

Turns out it was a government clinic and they didn't have any injectable pain killers, the only thing that was going to help me at the point. They gave me some pain killers and allowed me to lie down on my side, the only position I could take that wasn't excruciating. After an hour or two, I was able to get back on the motorbike, a taxi took my luggage and I made it to a private clinic where I got shot up with motrin and cortisone.

I wasn't going anywhere, so I thought If I was going to convalesce, I'd do it someplace nice. I checked into a 4 star hotel prepared to do nothing by lie on my back for 4 days.

After the motrin wore off, again I was in agonizing pain. I like traveling alone; it gives me the freedom to do whatever I want when I want. The downside was now. I didn't think I'd be able to get on that place in 4 days. I couldn't sit up for 30 seconds much less the 3 and a half hours of flight time from Penang to KL to Yangon. What was I going to do? Another epidural? Medical evacuation? I was alone, desperate, in agony and stuck in a small town (Batu Feringghi) in a country where I didn't know anyone. I could barely get to the bathroom much less to a hospital or wherever else.

Via FB, I posted my plight and got some good advice. Jimbo even went as far as researching accupuncture clinics in Penang and suggesting I have the hotel staff call them and see if they'd do a housecall.

The next day, after a night in which I couldn't sleep for more than a few minutes at a time, I made my way back to local clinic. This time, they gave me a double dose of motrin and more cortisone. FOr a while, I felt better! Today, it's still very, very painful, but now I got Tramadol and some hope. After another day of doing nothing but reading and watching Malaysian hotel TV (which sucks), I'll be hitting that clinic on my way to the airport for a final injection which hopefully will keep me from screaming in pain while stuck in my narrow airplane seat.

Back in Yangon, it's time I start making arrangements for the discectomy surgery (in Bangkok) that will end this condition I've suffered with so long.

So, that was Penang.

At least I was able to make the weekly ukulele video before the pain began.


  1. how terrible for you. You should really try to quit smoking before you go for surgery. I know you don't want to hear that, but it really compromises your chance of good results. Fingers crossed that you will find some relief from your pain.

  2. Back surgery has advanced a lot. Your uncle Keith recently had back surgery.
    He went home the next day. You'll be riding cycles again very soon without pain.
    Get well
    Uncle Gil

  3. I feel badly for you. My Chiropractor has helped me, greatly. Hopefully, you'll get some help. I prayed and will continue to pray. Blessings, Lynn


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