Tuesday, December 11, 2012


Fine-tuning the Davebot™

When you're travelling long term, there comes a time when you have to accept that leaving your country behind doesn't also mean you're off the hook from dealing with the basic maintenance requirements of your fragile bone sack, just because you can't get medical care for free out here. For me, that time was two and a bit years, when I took a break from restless night buses and immigration stress and finally got round to dealing with basic health obligations I'd been putting off months or years after their recommended deadlines.


Because I always lose these things,
here's my prescription for future reference

I'd been due a biennial eye test since January 2012, and had been aware of a gradual decline in my prescription for a while, but it took a monkey bending the frame out of shape in Lopburi and my girlfriend standing on them in Vietnam for me to finally decide it might be a good idea to have glasses I could accurately judge distances with and that meant I could do my work without getting a headache.

Probably due to the language barrier, this was by far the briefest and least in-depth eye test I've had in my life. Not only did the assistant not do the uncomfortable/erotic bit where she shines a light into my eye, but I didn't even have to read the numbers and letters aloud to prove I could read them, she just wanted a yes or no. What if I was just lying to impress her, at the cost of my own eyesight? Don't underestimate my capacity for self-destruction in the name of love!

We eventually ended up finding lenses I was happy with - I wasn't 100% confident they were better than my old ones, but they were clearer than my even older spare glasses at least. Just like back home, these had to be ordered specially as not many people in Thailand have the bizarre combo of a long-sighted left eye and short-sighted right eye (or is it the other way round?) You'd think that would balance me out and I wouldn't even need glasses, but it doesn't work like that.


Anyone else remember this great book?

I can't blame my dental laziness on travelling, as the last time I had my mouth prodded and scraped was over four years ago in 2008, and even that visit was mostly due to guilt about not having been since 2003. That's despite all the hypocritical copy I write for dental clinics stressing the importance of visiting every six months. I never take my advice about insurance either, which partly explains why I took so long to get anything seen to.

Just like last time, the dentist didn't find anything wrong, he just put my mind at ease and spent most of the time chipping away plaque from the back of the bottom row where a childhood extraction caused crowding, which makes it difficult to get the brush down there. Aren't I a prime example of the species? I hope extraterrestrial abductors are taking note.


Pain in the ass?

Those aliens might want to keep their probes packed actually, as I'm really not a prime candidate for that sort of business. You didn't ask, you don't need to know and you probably really don't want to know any of this, so if you read on past this sentence you only have yourself to blame, but things haven't been swell down there since I made a particularly hefty visit to the toilet on 1 January 2010. Happy new year!

For a while I just assumed I had piles, only briefly veering into colon cancer hypochondria territory during particularly sleepless nights, but after I started travelling and things settled into a predictable routine of a couple of weeks of mild discomfort when sitting followed by a week or two of agony and blood every time I had a call of nature, online self-diagnosis led me to conclude I probably have an anal fissure(s). Though I did recently mistake a stress attack for malaria, so I wouldn't put complete faith in my self-diagnosis.

I decided to take this month off serious travelling as the time to affect change and break this cycle of irritation (in both senses), buying a tube of xylocaine gel to numb the itching and give the nerves a chance to rebuild without succumbing to the temptation to scratch. Sorry, this is really unpleasant. Why am I telling you this? I exercised more self-restraint by laying off the spicy food (sometimes - it's Asia) and the coffee (sometimes - I'm only human).

Whether this means my future blogs will seem less stuck-up and irritable remains to be seen, though I'm pretty sure I was a grumpy bastard before I became an anal fissure of men. Why else was I spending that new year alone?


It took getting physically sick to change my attitude to the validity of stress as a medical complaint. Previously, I'd always viewed such conditions with scepticism, somewhere between new age 'energy' nonsense and a lazy excuse for not wanting to go to work. But sod it, if I'm going to pamper myself with a physical I might as well look out for my mental health as well and see if it means I lose fewer nights to fevers.

Based on prior experience, that basically meant avoiding night buses and getting away from city traffic, so I spent a few weeks hopping between Thaislands and giving myself plenty of time to work, read, eat, learn Thai and spend time with my patient girlfriend, who's helped me out a lot in all of this. To the point that I almost forgive her for accidentally breaking my already damaged glasses that I'd already planned to replace anyway. I'm a very generous boyfriend, she doesn't know how lucky she is.


  1. I don't like the bit about poo much.

    1. At least I gave ample warning this time. I thought I'd take a leaf out of Richard Herring's book and go for unnecessary scatological honesty. It's just a shame I don't have any fascinating sexually transmitted diseases to brag about.

    2. Yeah, my TV career has stalled slightly.