27 April 2018

A tale of teeth and more teeth

It's been a strange few weeks since I last wrote and I've had little time to even think about blogging or reading yours.

Image result for tooth extraction
courtesy of medhalt.com
First there was my tooth. Or rather lack of it. I'd been on a hospital waiting list since last June to have an upper molar removed. My dentist was not keen to do it as the root went through a sinus cavity, so had referred me to the local hospital. However, as with all things non-emergency these days, I'd been waiting all this time to have it removed. The day finally came in mid March. It was not an easy extraction and the tooth crumbled as it was being pulled, so the young doctor (not actually sure he shouldn't still have been at secondary school by the look of him) had a job digging it out. They have to warn you about the worst case scenario and I was not a little disconcerted that I might get "communication" which is apparently when a hole appears between the nose and mouth and your cup of tea or coffee comes down your nose as you drink it!  I was almost out of the door at that point before I signed on the dotted line, but slightly reassured that it only happens in 1% of cases. Hoping to be among the other 99%, I was to avoid nose blowing or sneezing for a good two weeks. It's amazing, when told this, how you suddenly have a strong urge to sneeze every five minutes. That urge was constant for at least the first three weeks.

The first week was excruciating. I had to gargle with salt water washes four times daily and eat mushy baby food. After a week, I could gradually go on to harder food and stop the mouth washes.   However, after a week, my mouth was still very painful and I could feel sharp lumps on the ridge of my gum which I thought might be ulcers. I suffered for a second week before approaching the hospital again to ask if they could possibly have a look. I was a bit nervous to appear a right wimp, but I couldn't go back to my usual dentist as he had in the meantime retired since I last saw him in June, so technically I no longer had a dentist. It turns out I'd got something called "dry socket". It's where a blood clot, that should have formed immediately after the extraction to fill the hole, comes away leaving the bones and nerves exposed. They were surprised I'd held on so long. It usually happens to smokers or women on the pill. I'm not guilty of either, so goodness knows why it happened to me. They dressed the wound and said I was about two weeks behind in the healing process. The sharp lump I could feel was bone poking through the gum where the jaw had fractured with the force of the extraction. Not to worry, I was told it would heal in a few months and go back to normal eventually. After five weeks of mushy food, I am gradually returning to adult food again and pain-wise where I should have been three weeks ago. The human body is certainly a wonderful thing.

Meanwhile Kay and her boyfriend were sending me daily photos and updates about their holiday and keeping me happy that they were safe and well. It almost felt like I was on holiday with them. They had spent a few weeks in Thailand, a week in Cambodia and two weeks in Vietnam. In Vietnam they had started down in the south in Ho Chi Minh City. As they were flying out of Hanoi back to London, they needed to gradually work their way north to Hanoi. About four days before the end of their holiday they were about 80 miles from Hanoi staying on Monkey Island. The clue is in the name. The place has a colony of monkeys that tourists come far and wide to see. Tourist boats call in, tourists jump off, photograph monkeys and leave by boat. The monkeys must get sick of it unless of course they get thrown bananas. There is one hotel on the island and Kay and boyfriend booked in for three nights. On their first day, they went off in search of monkeys. Clambering over a rocky promontory complete with fallen trees and ditches, they came down onto another beach and saw some monkeys playing in the trees. Kay was filming them from a good distance. One monkey was on the beach playing with an old discarded shirt, wrapping it round its head and having a whale of a time. Kay still kept her distance, taking the occasional photo. Just as they were about to leave, a second monkey came out of the forest behind the beach and started attacking the first monkey. They wrestled for the shirt and the fight got very nasty indeed. As Kay and friend were walking away back to the promontory, the two monkeys abandoned their fight with one another and decided it was better to join up and fight the humans instead. Kay said it was difficult to gain a distance because the terrain was rough and not easy for them to hurry whereas the monkeys were able to bound over obstacles and gain on them.  The next thing was that one leapt onto Kay's back and sunk its teeth into her upper arm. Kay managed to get down to the sea edge and bathe her arm in salt water. Once over the promontory again,  a nearby cafe just happened to have some iodine under the counter (funny that!)
and she was able to bathe the wound in iodine. However unable to get definitive confirmation whether the monkeys were rabid, the pair had to cut short their idyllic stay on the island and head for Hanoi earlier than planned to get rabies boosters. Thank God for travel insurance as those shots cost over 200 US$.  

Kay came home for all of five days last week, as planned, to dump thin hot-weather clothes, grab some cold-weather  trekking clothes and head off to South America, where the next three-month leg of her adventure continues.  As an anxious mum, I'd factored all sorts of disasters into her trip - theft, murder, shark attack, falling off a cliff whilst trying to get a good photo and maybe a car accident, but getting bitten by a rabid monkey was well off my radar. I sincerely hope that's the last of the disasters.

09 April 2018

My Imaginary journey

Kay's almost at the end of the first leg of her travels. I can't believe there's only another eight days before she's home again . When she set off on 7 March, it seemed a long way away, but, thanks to Whatsapp, Internet and Skype,  she has kept in touch almost on a daily basis. She knows what a worrier I am. As a widow and an only child with no other close family such as cousins, she's my one and only in the world now, so I think I can be allowed to worry when she's on the other side of the world. I've been able to follow her flights on Flight Radar and literally take-off and land with her. I've been able to look up on the internet the hotels or hostels she has stayed in, or google the towns to see what they look like. She tells me what she has done that day or what she is planning for the next. It's been nice to hear from her regularly, as I feel I am experiencing the holiday through her.

She spent almost three weeks in Thailand, playing with elephants,
learning how to cook Thai style, visiting zillions of temples, luxuriating on a paradise island and "slumming" it in backpacker hostels. "Slumming" is the wrong word as I would have happily stayed in any of the ones she stayed at - they're not the same basic places we called hostels in the 1970s or 1980s. A couple even had their own pool. She moved on to Cambodia for about ten days visiting more temples and the Killing Fields (or the Cambodian equivalent of Auschwitz). The latter obviously had a great effect on her, because we had a 45-minute skype conversation about it the following day. 

She's now in Vietnam. Having experienced the crazy bike world of Ho Chi Minh City (it's always going to be Saigon to me) or exploring the VietCong tunnels.  She's now in a coastal resort in a quaint little town (a sort of Vietnamese Lyme Regis) where there are hundreds of tailors who will whip up a suit or a dress or even a handbag overnight to your specification and choice of cloth or leather. Kay is in seventh heaven and has bought several dresses and bags. How on earth she is going to cram them into an already bursting rucksack remains to be seen, unless she jettisons a lot of toiletries overboard first. 

Eight more days in Vietnam and then she is on her way home. I can't wait to see her. Although, if I blink, she will be gone again. She's home for a few days and then she's off on the next leg of her travels. I'd better start researching that on the internet for my next imaginary journey.