Tuesday, July 2, 2013

By Popular Demand ....

By popular demand .....

Sorry, Folks.  It's been a while ;-)

When the blog (in its current iteration) was conceived, I promised myself I'd limit the 'whining,' that I'd report accurately on medical issues, but that I'd try to keep it relatively light.

But it's been rough going.

My inability to take notes, and study Spanish is really impeding my progress on _most_ fronts.  I'm gaining comprehension when others speak -- hugely important -- but not doing well at implementing what I'm being taught concerning cleaning up my spoken bad habits.

C'est la vie.  It is what it is, and that's the best I can hope for it to be.

But I'm tired.

Activities in which I've participated:

 - A trip to the Masaya Volcano, marred by clouds at the top;

 - A day trip to Grenada -- a beautiful, if touristy and expensive town, followed by a boat trip to "Las Isletas --" little islands (mostly privately owned) on Lake Nicaragua.  Pretty.  Not particularly exciting, but very pretty.  Several of Nicaragua's wealthiest families own islands with beautiful homes on them.  Nobody invited us in for a beer, though.  Which was surprising ;-)

It's also where Ruth, the really rather amazing Dutch intern, here, slammed my hand in the door of the van.  Which -- unimaginably -- barely hurt, and did no damage.  Which is nice.  I also got to playfully tease Ruth for a day and a half.  Which gave me something to do and kept lightening the mood of an over-worked intern.

 - A trip to an artisan town to see potters make ceramics and a stone carver hammer out iconic figurines

 - Pizza night.  Huge.  Great pie :-)  One of the students -- literally -- used to be a professional street busker/performer, and -- finding a bunch of juggling stuff at the barely-circus-themed-restaurant -- wowed everybody with his juggling talents

 - A documentary film about the over-fishing of certain species, globally.  Made me want sushi.  Which is a little bit awful, but there it is

 - A documentary about the complexities of renewable energy, followed by a discussion group.  We were unable to solve even the simplest of the world's problems, but enjoyed each other's company

 - A lecture on the history of Nicaragua from just before the Conquistadors through about 1900

 - A discussion of the Nicaraguan economy, the health care system, and the charge to reduce illiteracy and poverty rates

 - A five hour hike through a nearby neighborhood, and into the fruit farms, where we ate fresh pineapple, mangos, oranges, and "dragon fruit."

 - A 1hr horseback ride with the Chicago (DePaul) English professor, followed by a stroll through the neighboring town, and a seriously good and cheap (US$1.65) breakfast and cinnamon roll.  I saw Mike at about 6am.  He invited me.  I ditched class and joined him.  Mike's a very nice guy.

Apart from that, it's about 4hrs a day of class, about 3hrs a day of meals, about an hour or two of chatting with the other students, and about an hour of sitting around in my room, looking at the ceiling (an admittedly interesting ceiling).

Grammar class nearly makes me lose consciousness.  Conversation class helps me regain it.  Both are extremely well presented/conducted.  Today, I had no command of ANY language, in conversation class, but made up for it in grammar.  Which was indecipherably weird and inexplicable.

But I'm tired.  Might be fighting something.  Several people are sick, including one with a 103+* fever.

And my eyes remain exhausted.  Keep trying to take of the sunglasses at night, to see better, but the glare from the lights makes me put them back on.  This decreases my visual acuity, which -- in turn -- fatigues the stuffing out of me.  Can't seem to make the new pair work better than the old pair, or vise versa.

In other words ... answers (to the questions of how to reinvent myself, yet again) have _not_ been forthcoming.  

In summary, so far, the intense humidity is probably dramatically reducing the risk of sight-threatening complications, but it really doesn't take the pain/sensitivity issues down far enough, and does nothing to help the focusing, alignment, and other "refractive" issues -- each ... a heap ... on its own.

I miss my Boston Foundation for Sight prosthetic lens devices.  Which sucks.

I have a friend, here, who is a physician from Maine.  Bright lady.  Undergrad at MIT.  Not entirely sure where she did her med school.  In her 60's.  Traveling with her early-30's son, who also did undergrad at MIT, got his grad degrees from Berkeley, and will be teaching and doing post doc work at Michigan.  Computer guy.  Nice guy.  

Today, she (the physician) got the rest of my story.  Suggested a change in my nighttime med regimen (timing of when I take what) to see if my sleep can be improved.  Suggested that I "find out what blind people do for a living, and see if I can do what they do."

But blind is different.

And I'm not blind.  I'm visually impaired and still suffer from chronic eye pain.  It's just less.

And the conversations I've had with the blind, and with the agencies that serve the blind, have never borne fruit.  But I'd/I'll try again.  Maybe there's a different way to frame the questions.  Maybe I can lie about what works and what doesn't ;-)

Taken a Benadryl during the day a time or two to help with the itching from the dreaded Blood Brigade (mosquitos) and their insatiable appetite for ... me :-)  Helps, but exhausts me.

The WiFi issue makes it nearly impossible for me to stay current with people.  I have to do my online stuff at a single sitting -- nearly impossible for me -- and it has to be near the office -- quiet only when the other students are NOT around -- early morning or late in the evening ... when ... I'm exhausted, and can't make my eyes work.

Which has been a real problem.  Which is why I'm pretty unresponsive, right now.  But I'll catch up the best I can, as soon as I can.  I'm trying to respond to e-mails in text files, and then just paste and send the responses.  But I'm still behind.  Which is to be expected, given all the circumstances.

And it's been VERY difficult to really connect with the other students.  I'm overcompensating.  I've done it before.  I'm trying to work on it.

I'm still not sure what story to tell, or how much of it to share.  Bit by bit, people get increasingly more uncomfortable, which ... feels none to good to me.  And I still haven't shared the real drama with anybody but the doctor, who -- like the pair in Benque Viejo del Carmen -- seemed pretty horrified.

I'm also always wearing a hat/brimmed bandana and sunglasses, which seems a bit off-putting to people, and makes me a bit less approachable.  Which is fine, most of the time, but ... inherently a bit limiting, socially.

But one couple (Carbondale, Colorado) asked me to watch their daughter for a few hours while they went back to their home-stay.  Which was quite flattering.  Remember: the KIDS here ... are pretty amazing.  Lucy's no exception, and needed no direct supervision.

But it doesn't speak well for all the other adults who were present at the time if I was the "responsible adult" in the room ;-)

I'm exercising a very brief bit every morning, but wake up really groggy.  I meet Jose, the night watchman, at about 5:30am.  He makes coffee.  We try to communicate.  It's really kind of nice :-)  The 11 La Mariposa dogs -- all once strays -- like that I'm the only game in town at that hour.

But they have fleas.  Loads of fleas.  And so might I, now.  Which isn't particularly cool.

On my way to the kitchen, I trip over the same step just about every day.  It's gone on a lot longer than I expected, and seems stubbornly resistent to simple solutions.  I may have to get serious and simply demolish the step.  Quite sure that Paulette wouldn't be thrilled, but I view it as an existential threat ;-)

I have a friend whose marriage is disintegrating.  She's been diagnosed with -- among other things -- Fibromyalgia, and is horribly fatigued all the time.  Her husband responds by distancing himself from her and taking on innumerable house renovating/repair/upgrade projects, adding a level of difficulty to her already difficult situation.  

He's a caregiver by profession, so ... there's another measure of cognitive difficulty in her accepting his apparent inability to be present and helpful for her.

Which is all pretty sad, and I find myself utterly unable to give her any meaningful advice, so I don't try to.

Sam, the dog, finally swam out to fetch a tennis ball.  I got a digital movie of that.  Which was not sad :-)

The painting of Sammy is on its way to DJ.  Everybody won, in that one.  Which is nice !

So ... frustrated though I am ... it's still a cool place to be ... I'm still trying hard to improve my Spanish, and should be able to over the course of the next month, if I don't succumb to the frustration and go play tourist for a while, before my end-of-July flight to Orange County, California.

Today was a trip to the village of Masaya.  I'm tired.  I opted out.  

Tried to make a business call (had to buy a a local SIM card for my phone, but couldn't get the call to go through) on an issue where the deadline was FAR too tight to get the papers to my mail box/fowarder, in Miami, get them to open and scan the letter, and get the PDF file to me.

Which is frustrating.

Looks like my buddy, Mike, finished his _latest_ 100 mile foot race in under 24hrs.  Which is ridiculously amazing and nearly incomprehensible to me.  But it's Mike, it's what he does, and he seems inconceivably good at it.  Which is nice :-)

Donald left Costa Rica, after endless days and weeks of rain, apparently.  He's going to the States for a while, and then back to SE Asia in the fall.  Invited me to join him.

Which I would ... because we'd do thing differently ... but I'm not sure this current model is sustainable, and I have things that simply must be taken care of back in the ol' US of A before I take any further trips.

Which is a bit daunting, but is also why they call "Have-to's" ... have-to's.  Because they have to be done, whether or not they're fun.

I'm probably going to nap.  I haven't done that, here, but -- in the spirit of the above -- think I may have to.

Which is the word of the day ... down here ... in the ever-so-tropical, but low-responsibility, nether-regions of ... The Gulag.


  1. Renet ? I'll try that one out, in the morning. The teachers, here, are used to made-up words, in Spanish, so I can't go too far wrong :-)

    I just heard (last few days) that cousin Donald had a heart attack, and had surgery in 'response' TO that heart attack.

    If you're reading this, Donald ... I love you, and wish you a full and complete recovery.

    Donald, you see, just isn't that old.

    Ciao for now ... from the "Leaving, Sunday, for Granada, and staying in that area until the 28th -- when I get a room in Managua, and leave on the following morning" branch of ... The Gulag.