April 19, 2010

Happy Birthday Mark

Shoe Cart in Pattaya/Jomtien Beach Thailand

Tomorrow is Mark's 6th Birthday after Prognosis of 3 Months or Less to Live

After the frightening discovery of cancer and metastasis in 2005, I was afraid Mark wouldn't live until his birthday in April of 2005. Not only did he live until that birthday, but he'll celebrate his 6th birthday after diagnosis, tomorrow.

How thankful we are that Mark has survived. It could easily have been otherwise. Yesterday dear friends lost their young adult daughter who had lymphoma. She died not because of lymphoma but rather to decreased immunity due to treatments for the lymphoma and then getting a bacterial infection. How sad this is.

While Mark wasn't lucky enough to have health insurance for the first two years of treatment, we were lucky to be able to pay cash at Bumrumgrad Hospital. We lived a 50 cent Taxi ride from the hospital. The hospital kept a close watch on his WBCs and RBCs and would let me take injections home to give him to stimulate WBCs or RBCs as needed. Mark and I kept a close watch on his temperature and other signs of infection. In Thailand we could buy antibiotics at the pharmacy without a prescription. When we were on a trip, we could start antibiotics ourselves. So many things have kept Mark alive: grace of God, prayers, lots of support from so many people, his love of reading, fighting spirit and luck. Love of reading really helped as he could take his mind off his situation. This helped keep the stress down. We think we know what helped keep Mark alive, but in the end no one really knows why one person lives and another does not. We know it wasn't from avoiding sugar as Mark loved sugar and ate things with sugar. We know it wasn't from herbal medicine or special seaweed preparations. He had to choose between herbal medicine and his oncologist and radiologist. He chose the doctors, which for him turned out to be a good decision. There were times when it felt like Mark could slip away from us, but somehow he survived.

More on the Culture and Life in Pattaya/Jomtien Beach, Thailand

In Jomtien Beach, a vegetable and meats cart comes by nearly each morning. Small portions of meat hang in plastic bags to keep flies out and there is a wide variety of vegetables. When I was in Thailand recently, I bought things from this cart to have made into soup or other dishes in the guest house where I stayed.The guest house manager "Da Da" was eager to cook me delicious things with lots of vegetables and pork, chicken, and/or shrimp but not beef. Many people here do not eat beef for religious reasons.
Sometimes a cart comes down the street with a wide variety of clothing for women. There are carts down the beach road and main roads that have all kinds of food for sale. Vendors are on the streets selling all kinds of articles made by hand. There are people selling women's underwear on the street. One of my favorite carts is the shoe cart which has racks of all kinds of fancy women's shoes on a cart powered by a motorcycle. See picture above. Click on any picture to enlarge it.

April 14, 2010

Mark is still in Thailand and Using Easy Cheap Transportation to Get Around in Pattaya/Jomtien Beach Thailand

In many ways life in Jomtien Beach Thailand is less expensive and easier. I thought I might do a few blogs on how life is different there and perhaps give you a little insight into why Mark stays there so much.

In the pictures above you see the popular truck with bench seats transportation. It is called a Songtao and sometimes Songtail by Forang (foreigners) . For 10 baht (100 baht = approximately $3) you can travel lots of places in the city and for 20 baht you can travel to more distant areas. You simply flag one of these vehicles down and climb on. If the vehicle is full or if you just want to, you can stand on a back platform and hang on. Many people who live in Pattaya/Jomtien Beach do not own a car thus avoiding all the costs and other problems that go along with operating a car. This can make life a little less stressful. Maybe less stress will help Mark stay in remission. When he comes home, he'll go to the VA hospital in Houston and the doctor will try to find the answer to the question of remission or not.