Mondulkiri, Cambodia, part II: Self-Evacuation—in a Void, Asteroid…

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Continued from previous…

Now here I am in the remotest outback of Cambodia, but not THAT remote, and so entranced by the landscape, and my linguistic tribulations, that I’d forgotten that simple requirement of quality medical care. Now my kidney-stone drama of the previous year is back, first in Mandalay, Burma, a month and a half ago, then at the border in Mae Sot, Thailand, about a month ago—and now…

Part of my undefined gut problems of the past week, I finally realized there was a kidney-stone, ANOTHER one, large enough to cause some pain exiting the kidney, and block some urine flow, before finally passing. But that’s not all. There must have been two. And the second one won’t pass, stuck at the taps, just like the one that caused me so much anguish last year in Tucson and LA. But this ain’t LA…

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High and dry in Mondulkiri

This is Saen Monorom, Mondulkiri, Kampuchea, and I better do something, and I better do it fast. No, I don’t have the luxury of time that I had last year, when it took six weeks, four visits to the ER, as many catheters, and what-else-have-you until the monster mineral deposit finally gave up the fight and spit itself out of my little thingie in a fit of fatigue, after I’d had a catheter in me some nine or ten days straight, fun fun fun…

And now it’s happening again, like some weird episode of ‘Twin Peaks’ or something, my own body haunting me, and my karmic past invading in a series of cyclical acts of retribution, my chemical nature reminding me that ultimately it is boss, and I am but the servant, looking for a path to fulfillment…

Now it’s not uncommon for kidney-stones to come in pairs, but this is getting ridiculous! Three separate incidents over six weeks, each blocking my urine flow until finally coming out within a few hours—but not this one. So when I finally realize that this is a problem that won’t go away immediately, I decide to make the rounds of the town’s clinics and hospitals to see what my options are—not good…

“Take these—and drink lots of water.”

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Freight in the hotel parking lot

It’s Paracetamol, a standard pain reliever, and some other drug I don’t know. “And what if it doesn’t pass. Do you have a catheter to drain my bladder if I need it?” He nods, but I suspect he didn’t understand a word I said. So I give him a buck and change for some anonymous chemicals, and go to the next place—no English. I go to another…

“Can you please write it down?” Oh boy, so I pay him five bucks for some other different anonymous drug and go to the next—the hospital, no English. So I go to another clinic. There are three kids eating snacks out front, so immediately run inside, put on their doctor’s hats and act official. They don’t know jack. This is getting scary…

Now my Khmer lingo is coming along well, but I’m still a long ways from fluency, and so are these doctors, with English, most of whom work from a dictionary: and those are the good ones. And even they seem to have little grasp of the basics of my problem. I tell them I can’t urinate because a kidney stone has dropped into my bladder and is blocking my urethra, and not a single one has asked how long since I last voided my bladder, much less offered a catheter…

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Blast from the past

They all go straight for the medicine chest, with some dubious solutions, alternated with ibuprofen and paracetamol, etc. I try to insure that catheters are available if needed, but I’m not feeling very confident. This is not good, unless I were writing an SNL script, the ‘doctors’ putting on their doctor hats to act professional with me. I’m really not feeling confident that there will be a catheter waiting for me tomorrow, if and when I need it. I really hate to skip out on two paid nights of hotel, but…

So I hire a driver to take me back to Phnom Penh—immediately—for a hundred clams USD. This trip is over, for all intents and purposes. At first I fully planned to go to a hospital in Phnom Penh, but more and more it seems like I should just go back to Bangkok, IF possible. The fact that I manage to actually take a piddly piss at midnight confirms that possibility. In Bangkok I know right where to go. But first I have to find a Phnom Penh hotel at midnight, and they’re bolted up tight already, where I stayed B4….

So I slide in next door, on a wink and a handshake, book a flight online, and when I check out in the morning, they won’t take my money! I guess they don’t know I didn’t pay (or they’re exceptionally kind)! And I don’t have time to debate the subject. Oh well, I guess that’s cosmic synchronicity, since I canceled two days of paid lodging in Mondulkiri. I catch a tuk-tuk to the airport and manage to switch to an earlier flight for a small charge, very good since I’m pissless this morning, might need a catheter soon…

To be continued…

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