Thailand – Epilogue

I’ve been back in England now for a little over two weeks, and if there’s anything that’s come clear to me since my return, it’s that I’ve suffered more of an ordeal than I give myself credit for. It’s easy when staying at hospital to lose a little focus on reality: you may feel acutely aware of what’s been happening to you, but after living for several weeks in the alternate reality the medical world provides (filled with drugs, uniform surroundings, strict routines, food brought to your bedside, and zero interaction from the outside world), it can be a shock to enter the outside world again and realise just how cut off from normality you’ve been.

Since being home I’ve found myself to be in a bit of a no-mans land. My memories of being in hospital, and also to some extent those of Thailand itself, are fading, and at times it feels like the whole thing was a dream. At the same time it doesn’t quite feel real to be back at home so early either. I have moments where I feel that I shouldn’t be here, that I have unfinished business, and that my whole perspective of events has been completely skewed by recent happenings.

It’s only been in the last few days that I’ve gained any clarity in my thoughts. I still feel constantly tired, mixed with moments of complete restlessness, and find myself unable to focus on anything for any particular length of time. And up to now I’ve found it impossible to allow myself any thoughts about future plans, further travelling, or anything at all to do with what lies ahead. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that the only thoughts that need to cross my mind for now are those of rest and recuperation. Anything else will have to wait.

The nearest thing to a certainty that I have right now, is that my journeys will continue, and will probably do so as soon as I feel fully recovered. I have no idea where I’ll go to next. It may be back to Thailand, to finish what I started, it may be to mainland Europe for a couple of months, or it may be somewhere completely different. Regardless of where it may be, I know with some certainty that it will happen soon enough. I’ve spent far too long (months, years even) planning and looking forward to extended travelling time. I refuse to let three weeks free roaming in Thailand and a subsequent month lying in hospital be my only noteworthy achievements.

So that marks the end of my blog writing, for the time being of course. I could continue and summarise my adventures so far, and wrap up my thoughts with a neat little ending. But I don’t think the time is right for such closure.

To be continued…

Homeward bound

I have been more than a little delayed in writing these words. Not just because of my recent troubles, but through fear of tainting these records of fun and adventure with news of further upset and misfortune. My last entry finished with hopes of a quick recovery and a return to my travels, but it would seem that things were not meant to be so straight-forward.

It was two days after my departure from Thai International Hospital, Ko Samui, that my problems began again. I had spent two tense and unnerving nights at a nearby hotel, where life away from the routine of hospital had sent me hurling back to earth again, making me suddenly realise for the first time just what I’d been through. I tried to get back into the swing of things: finishing my reading material, sitting outside in the sun, the daily chore of washing my clothes in the sink, and wandering the local shopping centre when I felt up to moving around. Other than that, I stayed in my room and rested as much as possible, but my mind was restless and it wasn’t easy. I lacked the concentration or enthusiasm to read. There was only one TV station broadcasting in English, and it consisted of two hours worth of programmes looped constantly, 24 hours a day. I watched a televised Quake Arena tournament numerous times, heard repeatedly about a new mobile phone in Korea that can play mp3′s, and watched the same Snooker game from a 1997 tournament four times. To make things even more exciting, I was awoken late on the first night by the sound of dripping, and switched the light on to discover that the aircon had been leaking for hours and was flooding the room.

Needless to say, I was fed up. But it was on the third morning that I began to feel brighter, and ready to move on and continue my adventure. I returned to see the Dr for a scheduled check-up, and apart from a little stomach pain which we both felt was just some mild digestive discomfort, I was clear to go.

So it was with less than a skip in my stride that I returned later on – the stomach-ache had intensified all day until the late afternoon, when pain and panic took over the urge to rest and relax. The Dr readmitted me, more blood tests were taken, more needles put in my pincushion arms, more lying down in bed wondering what the hell was going on… I was taken back to the ward, to room number 6, which I had only left two days prior.

I won’t elaborate on the days since then, as I feel no benefit from doing so, but after a lot more drugs, tests, X-rays, CT scans and a second operation I am now more or less fully recovered, and awaiting confirmation of a flight home in the next day or two. Backpacking solo after acute appendicitis is possible, when taking it easy, but travelling after three weeks in hospital and two bouts of surgery is a little beyond what I feel capable of doing right now. It’s time to rest and recuperate in my own home for a month or two, and then decide what to do from there.

And of course that leaves me with mixed feelings. I regret ending my journey so relatively soon – six months across Asia turned into less than 60 days, and I feel there’s so much more I could have experienced. But I will be more than happy to put the last few weeks behind me. The nausea, the discomfort, the tension, the medication, the tubes placed in unmentionable places, the restlessness, the nurses asking every day “Last night you go how many time pee-pee, poo-poo?” and the strain of dealing with everything so far from home shall not be missed.

I know there’s a lot for me to take onboard and learn from this experience. I know that it could have been a lot worse. And I know that as retarded as it sounds, I’m lucky – to have been treated so well, to have recovered, and to have not been in a situation that could have been far, far worse. But I won’t be able to reflect on this journey until I’m home, for all I can think about right now is home itself. I’ll have realised, recognised, and learned a lot from my time here, once I’ve had the time and space to process everything. However, that can wait. There’ll be a final blog entry when I’m back in England, but for now all I’m thinking about is home cooked roast dinners, PS3 game sessions, Peep Show DVD boxsets, finishing my collection of James Bond novels and watching the cold, dark rain splatter on my window. Such things are probably anathema to you all right now. But for me, at this moment, such things hold far more appeal than any bustling city, midnight jungle adventure, or tropical beach.