An omnibus round-up for lousy photos of logistical considerations and personal memories in Phitsanulok, Thailand. Please watch the “Healing Ramble, introduction” video for context on this series.
Finding Rest & Calm
On my visits to Phitsanulok (aside from a few transitions and late night arrivals), i stayed at Hip Inn and Coffee because they have typewriters and cappuccinos and all manner of quirky decor (Vespas, VWs)…
It’s not in the “thick of town”, a little outside but still walkable in a pinch to market and hospital. Nearby was a larger hotel so could get a tuk-tuk or taxi when needed.
Plus this dog lives at Hip Inn and good for a pet after a tough day.
Here’s my no-longer-secret -but-otherwise-public review of Hip Inn at: 39/5 Sanambin Rd, Tambon Nai Mueang, Amphoe Mueang Phitsanulok, Chang Wat Phitsanulok 65000, Thailand
What follows comes from my erstwhile “Healing Journal” – written/compiled on a foggy meandering journey to various countries (Pacifica, Phitsanulok, Cochin, Pokhara, Dikwella/Galle…) visiting all manner of hospitals, clinics and exploring various healing modalities and techniques.
Shared here more-or-less unedited for posterity (whatever that is) and to shed light to those struggling who might come across this riff. Please watch the “Healing Ramble, introduction” video for context on this series.
Importantly, this is not meant to be a travelogue or creative writing exercise, just laying out my experience as it came to me. I may include some links to other projects or creations that came out of this, maybe… I’m not there yet.
This entry, from Phitsanulok, Thailand over 4 extended visits in 2016-18. It’s now June 2021, i live in Japan, am stable if far from “normal”. No comments, sympathy requested or accepted. Carry on.
On my healing journey, i was introduced to Kamalasom Traditional Thai massage ศูนย์ส่งเสริมสุขภาพแผนไทย กมลาศรม (สาธารณสุขจังหวัดพิษณุโลก) clinic in Phitsanulok, Thailand after the magical Mrs. Athaya made arrangements. Since Oct. 2016, so far i have spent 4 extended treatment sessions at this facility.
This is NOT TO BE confused with ubiquitous “tourist massage” or the abundant s3xy massages, this is traditional “royal court massage and i’ll tell ya, its not gentle, relaxing or delicate – but Oh so great!
I’ll explain how the routine goes: Usually,… first starts with a blood pressure and pulse rate check (keep in mind all this happens in Thai so i just play along with smiles and they are all so nice to me), and brief consult (again, in limited common language).
Then, after changing from street clothes to sorta pyjamas/shorts, i receive 1-1/2 hours of Thai “Royal Court” massage in which all my muscles, joints, ligaments etc are stretched and bent to the very outer limits with elbows, knees, feet as well as hands involved.
It’s almost always the same lady tending to me, so after probably 30 sessions, she knows me well.
The treatment takes place in a rather hectic, non-private room on mats on a slightly raised dais. Sometimes there is a curtain, usually not. All the practitioners are talking and joking and everyone teases me as i am the only foreign patient and know like 12 words of Thai.
They do enjoy that i am game for anything and realize i need and appreciate their help. Sometimes other patients are even getting phone calls while receiving treatment(!) while others wince and groan in pain.
Anyhow, then i am beat down with various hot cloth pouches containing herbal poultice of some kind. These are frequently refreshed to be maximum hot (in a sorta slow cooker steamer type device), and are especially applied to pressure points and afflicted areas.
Then onto a herbal steam sauna – a small infrared sauna with the addition of an open top rice cooker steaming herbal mixture. Keep in mind, the outside temperature is already hot and humid and this :30 session is very heavy duty – even for a guy like me who loves hot hot heat. Intense!
Finally, hot tea and sometimes a little snack.
Sometimes i walk back to my guesthouse – cutting through various markets, past the train station and what not, or other times i get a tuk-tuk along the way or wait out front for a cheap-ish taxi.
As for payment… i pay when i check in and do the blood pressure check, then, while i am in-treatment, they bring my change and receipt and place by the dais. It is very reasonably priced for a high-quality professional service.
I have a stack of the green carbonless copies. The bills are stapled to the receipt which is kind of a pain but whatever, i love the inky stamps!
I also buy a gift on my last day for the staff – usually a big fruit basket or other food as they all seem to basically “pot luck” for lunch each day. Someone is always perched having a bite. It’s a professional, but decidedly casual, environment.
Most importantly, the treatments loosen me up, flush out lactic acid or whatever to leg my limbs moving and feeling more limber and balanced.
Extra most important, they are all very sweet and kind me and know that i appreciate them.
Reminder: The treatments are rather intense and much more so than the “tourist” massage widely available (no, not that kind of massage :)). When i arrived after having a “tourist massage” in Chiang Mai, i was covered in bruises and they laughed about this, a lot!
Everyone was so kind to me and i am so grateful.
Should you have a notion to visit, here is a vague map:
…and the sign out front:
Next up, more about “regular” and logistical life in Phitsanulok >>>
As it goes, a photo from 2013 popped into rotation today: me as usual with beard, specs and art in the background so… I snapped another quick similar pose and noted that despite the hard miles of these last seven years – all the hospitals, all the treatments, all the medication, all the stopping medications, all the loss (name it), so many dear ones passing, at least four concussion level falls & crashes (Vancouver, Adelaide, Pacifica, Chiang Mai), so much being gone gone gone lost (not wanting to be found), finding myself in harms way intentionally and otherwise, some terrible decisions, some great decisions, looking anywhere for home, not wanting to be home, forgetting about home – so many > too many places – and then somehow found – with all of “that”, I don’t look all that worse for wear.
The Buddha is quoted as saying, “to gain anything, first you must lose everything” I did and then found out that Buddha never said that – (dang *experts*). Regardless, some of what I lost, I picked back up, other parts I left behind.
Seven years which felt like 17, and i’m only scratched & dented gently & mostly on the inside. It’s good for poetry if nothing else.
70 more to go. Still. At least.
PS Noting that there was a lot of damage and a lot less smiling in “the between years”. Might share at some point, but just came here to say thanks for all your kind words and support. Almost convinced I’m worth it 🙂
Just over a week ago, i returned from Jamaica for the 3rd time. This trip’s purpose wasn’t the fun-loving, adventuring, goodtimes i usually seek but rather to heal up and gain some vigour and physical and mental power to continue my healing journey.
In just over 6 months since i was diagnosed, my life’s routine changed significantly. And, as a social and tribal/community-minded person, the self/syndrome-sparked isolation was required as i tried to learn about “what just happened to me” … along with a litany of medial appointments, combined to really remove me from a sense of control, flow and calm.
I was accompanied on this Jamaican trip by 2 trusted co-conspiritors plus knew i was going to a familiar place where people genuinely care for me and want to see me at my former full-power mode of near invincibility and tireless creativity.
Then, 36 hours before leaving, i took a quick Vespa ride to pick up a couple little gifts and ended up in VGH Emergency Room after wiping out and crashing up my face, arm, leg the Vespa etc. Somehow the hospital felt familiar though i’d never visited before – i suppose so many hospital visits in the past few months makes the beige chaos of a hospital common to me.
Also that day, my phone was cut off so i wandered out of the hospital confused and aching. Finally made the stoopid decision to ride the Vespa home (both the machine and the rider were in no condition to do so).
Anyhow, there we were in Jamaica – my pals out swimming and exploring while i was convalescing with icepacks and my assigned program of pills. I don’t enjoy this process.
After a week of waking up late in the day, grumpy, frustrated and blue, really blue, i tried to rally and get out in the world. I tried to roll with my pals (both foreign and domestic) but was just kidding myself. My “energy envelope” lacked the capacity for anything but chilling – otherwise the symptoms of weak, weary, confused, achey, grumpy, depressed all creep in.
I dislike all of this. But I tried to meditate my way out of it, distract myself with filling my handmade notebooks with schemes and plans, sipping a bit more rum and other potions, teas and trying to eat something. Also, my meds were running out and required a trip to a clinic, a Dr visit and pills delivered by a resourceful cabbie called Pablo. All this was to much.
The meds running out made me confused and grumpy but occasionally, i could feel my “real Dave brain” wanting to talk with strangers, build community, create conversations, find musicians. I could feel the ideas, just not how to execute them. That part simply turned to mush.
During all this healing and mental transition, i realized more time was needed in Jamaica to ensure i go home feeling better than before. Not perfect, just a little bit better. I rode to the airport with passport and ticket but hugged beloveds goodbye and returned to the cabin to try to find my equilibrium.
With the help of a Rasta called Chubby and my personal assistant/housekeeper Patsy, i started on a regimen of fresh fruit, banana/coconut porridge, fish tea/soup and a powerful tea made from herbs including (colloquial names): Strongback, Guinea Hen, Sarsaparilla, Nuni, moringa, ram goat regular, irish moss and more. It was magic. I spent my days meditating and sharing stories in Chubby’s Rasta hut (African inspired stick hexagon with a hardwood fire going most all the time).
I knew re-entry could be tough in my fragile mental state so i steeled myself for the adjustments but, upon return was hit with a major dose of hassle between paperwork and medical appointments, and some potentially distressing health news about my Dad, I’m doing all i can to stay out of the blues.
Therapists, meditation, listening records and trying to make my life as simple as possible despite all these projects i dream and yearn to do (i have books to write yo!). I am trying to be social and trying to take care of me – and doing a kinda C+ job at either.
For reference and the record – and mostly for my own reminder – what follows are four wee videos which track my mental and physical healing in Jamaica.
From getting up out of my bed trying to feel some inspiration, to regrouping in a hammock discussing herbs and soccer, to a rapid recap of progress in Chubby’s Rasta hut, and a message to future-self reminding me to remember how to live.
Here’s the first with the other three to follow right behind. I’ve shared and i’m tired and a little bit scared.