The Brighter Side

On several occasions lately I have talked to people about our lives here in Thailand and I hear comments like “you’re living my dream” or “it doesn’t sound that rough” or comments indicating a sort of envy. I’ll just go ahead and say it, this is awesome! You may have been reading about it and you know not every day is a dream and we still have many difficulties, but by and large - Awesome. I have a tendency to temper my enthusiasm, talk about the negatives in life that get me down, and ramblingly dabble in philosophy and morality. Today is not that day - today I want you to see the Brighter side of what making some sacrifices has gotten me here in Thailand.

An Typical, Uncomplicated Day

A good day for me starts with getting up earlyish (6:00 or 6:30) getting in a yoga session and jump rope or a run. Once done, I will sit down and have my daily breakfast (non-Thai style) of muesli, yoghurt, and a banana with a nice steaming cup of instant coffee. Once completed it’s a quick shower and I’m off to start my work day somewhere between 8:30 and 8:35.

I arrive at work in jeans and a T-shirt, leave my shoes at entrance and slip into my flip flops. I walk around, grab a quick look at everyone and say hello, and then I kick my flip flops off and head into the office. Once in the office, I pour myself another cup of coffee (usually actual brewed grounds) and sit down to dole out the day’s medications. Each patient has a stack of jars with times labeled on them and I setup the medications for about 16 people in around 30 minutes (I have most people’s medications memorized by now).

At around 9:00 or 9:15 we all sit down for a short meditation that is led by either the nurse Krisida, nurse assistant P. Bon, or another staff member who is not me. We sit cross-legged on a small cushion. I’ll be honest, it still takes most of my core strength and mental attention to keep good posture and not let one of my legs go so numb that I cannot stand when we are done. And many days I am visibly sweating at the end of meditation.

                                                 Floating Lanterns for Sale at the Fireball Festival

                                                 Floating Lanterns for Sale at the Fireball Festival

Once meditation is completed, patients may take a nap, go relax in the salah (outdoor covered patio), or have art or music therapy. I will help some into bed or take them where they would like to go in a wheelchair. After, I make wound care kits, make sure the wound cart is stocked, and help take care of any miscellaneous tasks. 

At 10:30 P. Bon will typically start cooking lunch. I will reposition any patients who need it, change pampers for anyone in need, and then wash my hands and see if P. Bon would like help. If not, I hang out and read or study Thai, do some physical therapy some days (if a patient seems up for it), and in general be available.

11:30: I start getting patients out of bed, check pampers again, and help setup for lunch. There is one patient whom I usually feed from 12-12:30, and then we have lunch from about 12:45 to 1:15. 1:15 tends to be another bit of a break time, I am told to take a nap at least once a week, often I do physical therapy or else reading, Thai studying, or anything else that may pop up.

At 2:00 we do at least 15 minutes of exercise for all patients, then I will work with the bed bound until we begin hygiene care at 2:30. Hygiene care is the heavy part of the day, 2-3 of us will fully bathe 4 or more patients, change their linens, change a wound dressing for 1 patient, and get them ready for the evening. Once we are finished (usually between 3:45 and 4:15) my clothes are completely drenched with sweat and I walk my 2-minute commute home to shower.

My evenings are absolutely glorious. After my evening shower, I try and play guitar for at least 30 minutes. I also read, occasionally go for a bike ride with Susan, or walk around and chat (making the smallest small talk known to mankind) with community members. At 6:00 we cook and eat our regular dinner of rice and stir-fried vegetables. After dinner we read, listen to a podcast, play a game, and/or watch a movie once or twice a week. Basically, try and stay busy until bed time, and try to stay up until 10:00. 

     Take a close look at those people carriers - I will Pass!!!

     Take a close look at those people carriers - I will Pass!!!

So you see, we have a lot of free time. Like, a lot, a lot of free time. Which is perfect for me because I do not get bored! I am reading more than ever (currently in the middle of 3 books), writing and processing my thoughts (possibly more than is healthy), and having a ton of time to talk about all of this with Susan. I have just been thinking about what a gift this is. I feel like I have started to actually know myself in the last 2-3 years, but it’s nice to stop, reflect, and understand how I can use that knowledge to form, shape, or reshape my present and future. 

Like I said, it is awesome! Oh, and after that little bout with Dengue Fever I have lost 20 pounds since my arrival! Awesome.

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