Vaccinated at last!! One jab to go…

Posted on September 15, 2021

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I can’t believe it’s September already?! I had a nudge earlier today from someone asking me for a blog update, so I’ve pulled my finger out.

Most of this year has been spent living under tighter restrictions in Chiang Mai and communicating predominantly online with those who are down the road, as well as those who are abroad. But it hasn’t been so bad, I’ve tried to get out for walks, and made use of my tiny balcony to paint and read, and the kitchen to cook and practise yoga in. I am always trying to remember to be grateful for what I have and not what I don’t have. It’s not foolproof but it does help.

Thailand did so well last year locking down early and preventing the virus from spreading, but you can’t keep people hostage in their homes. I know many people who have unravelled second year in and there’s a lot of bitterness. I am not sure how easy it will be for them to bounce back. That is a journey that they have to take solo. I am not about to dish out advice, I think everyone has to process at their own pace.

December saw the number of infections start to rise in Thailand and by January, Chiang Mai was back in the red zone. My travel plans to explore the national parks further south had to be cancelled. My friends joked I had created a Covid Tour because the route literally followed all the hot spot areas. So the tour has been postpone for now.

Things calmed down after February and school reopened and then in April another spike during Thai NY. It was bound to happen. The entire country was on the move, which meant more restrictions were bound to follow. I managed to get to Samui before NY for four days to see my Thai gf, and got back to Chiang Mai just before restrictions kicked in. The full trip to the islands was cut short again and my hope of diving scuppered again.

Lockdown kicked in once more.

When the yoga studios reopened in July I was so happy. Living alone is fine but not interacting with people whatsoever is more than a little taxing! I did find I was talking out loud to myself a lot more and to my toy Hippo. This is I realise is not normal, but I do like to wish him “good morning” when I wake up.

After being conditioned into being alone for long periods of time, I do find it exhausting seeing people. Or maybe that’s old age and grumpiness? Maybe a combination of both.

The biggest failure for Thailand has been not getting hold of vaccines and not getting them into the arms of both the local population and the foreign nationals living here. It should have started much, much earlier, but they dithered and now they are scrambling to play catch up with a view to opening the country in October – this is madness.

It’s not entirely their fault. I have watched with horror as rich nations have announced the throwing away of out-of-date vaccines they had stockpiled. And now there are calls for boosters without a thought for nations in Africa or Asia for their first set of vaccines. We live in a very cruel world.

Ironically as a cancer patient no one saw me as a priority to be vaccinated because I have refused chemotherapy in order to keep my immune system intact. So I am not considered vulnerable enough, even though on the inside I am rotting away slowly. Designer Cancer – I shouldn’t joke – but I do feel a bit like Dorian Gray. Someone somewhere will find a painting in an attic after I die.

Only 17 per cent of Thailand has been fully vaccinated and I only got my first jab two days ago. What a relief that has been. The call for foreigners over the age of 45, came out of the blue.

It was a surreal setting. Mostly single middle aged men or those in couples were with their Thai partners usually half their age and twice as pretty. It felt a bit like being at a terrible school disco. And I was shocked to see how badly out of shape so many people over 45 are. Health is something I wish more people would consider more seriously. I’m talking about obesity mainly.

The jab didn’t give me too many issues. My arm was very sore like someone had punched me, but the next day I practiced yoga regardless of the pain and have carried on as normal. Today I am back to my usual routine and by Oct 4 I will be doubled dosed. Big sigh!

Many of you have been asking me how my general health is. I really appreciate this concern and support from people near and far. I am managing the cancer with the Asha Tanna method to life. It’s a method that works for me. Daily exercise, as little stress as possible, clean living, clean eating and stimulating my mind through study, reading, painting and cooking. I have regular blood transfusions that I pay for every 8 weeks and this is my lifeline. I think most people take for granted how vital the stuff in our blood is. Our haemoglobin is effectively the life support to our cells and organs. Without it oxygen cannot travel around the body and repair and heal wear and tear and damage. If left like that, deterioration sets in, and then it’s downhill fast.

It’s very surreal to watch yourself deteriorate every 6 weeks, like clockwork, as the haemoglobin production slows down from the cancer cells and the ability to transport oxygen suffocates the body’s ability to function. No amount of rest helps and I can sleep for England.

It’s been well over a year having transfusions and I don’t even want to think about what kind of condition I would be in without these. They are definitely keeping me alive and enabling me to have some kind of quality existence for about 6 weeks at a time. It’s not ideal but it’s good enough and I am not bedridden.

I had my last transfusion two weeks ago and I feel Iike someone has put amphetamines in me. I am bouncing off the walls. The level of stamina I have is unbelievable. And it has been noticed by everyone.

I booked a four day trip to the mountains. Two days in a beautiful Japanese style resort and the last two glamping in the rural village further up the mountain.

The clean crisp air did wonders for my mental health as did the change of scenery. I can’t leave the province, so Mon Cham, which is one hour from my flat, was a perfect destination. I spent the days exploring and sliding around the muddy rural villages, practising yoga in the morning outside my tent on a hillside. Eating ridiculously spicy local food with my eyes watering the whole meal. And reading with a spectacular view of the peaks doused in thick clouds as the weather changed. I slept under a duvet wearing long socks and a jumper and woke up with a cold nose. It was wonderful to experience a change of temperature like that. You forget what cold feels like when everyday is 30 degrees.

I came back to Chiang Mai full of beans and I am now thinking of trying to squeeze in one more four-day stay in a different area in the opposite direction. This time it might be on an artificial lake but in a floating bungalow. I am off school for a month, so this is the best time for me to do something. Let’s see.

There’s not much more to update you with. I am in a good space right now and I really hope you all are too. Thank you for asking about me. X

My balcony, Chiang Mai, September 2021
Posted in: Thailand