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A Year I Never Want To Do Again

Thursday, April 28th, 2016

Well, this was my not fun year June 2015-April 2016 I never want to do again! You don’t really want to read this. It’s for my own edification. As the saying goes…getting old is a bitch! I never thought this until this year.

Had been having back pain for several years. Had 2 bad falls in the last 3 years when the back really started hurting and couldn’t walk a block without stopping to rest my back. Began to have neuropathy in the lower legs, ankles and tops of my feet.  Bought a gel top bed which helped.

Las Vegas Spinal Center

Had an MRI and epidural injections at the Las Vegas Spinal Clinic June 2015  while visiting my son there. Spinal surgeon prescribed Gabapentin and Hydrocodone. Didn’t like either so I took Tramadol my primary had prescribed for me in the past.


A therapist did a session of deep work on my lower back muscles and hips which was painful but which helped. She gave me stretches and core strengthening exercises but then started traveling to Asia so didn’t do them regularly.

Bangkok Bumrungrad Hospital Spinal Clinic

Then in December 2015, on a hard bed in Thailand, I woke up with the most excruciating sciatica! Neuropathy became much worse.

Piled myself into a taxi to Bumrungrad Hospital in Bangkok and had another MRI. Got epidural injections the very next day.

The chief of the spinal clinic recommended surgery, specifically Oblique Lumbar Interbody Fusion (OLIF) and O-arm 2D/3D imaging. He prescribed Lyrica and said I should try to find someone in Oregon who could do OLIF.

Took massive doses of Lyrica and Tramadol which turned me into a zombie which doesn’t give quality of life any better than pain. But they took the edge off and I was desperate.

Physical Therapy

Therapist at Bumrungrad said said my pain was not commensurate with what the MRI showed. That the pain was probably my back but also related to muscles impinging on nerves. Which is what the physical therapist in Las Vegas said. So she did Target Point Release with needles into the muscles in my hip and lower right back.  I thought I was stepping on a live electric wire!

She said I was to do stretching and strengthening exercises…in other words do all the conservative things for a few months and then reevaluate for surgery…which my anesthesiologist son in Nevada was saying also.  She gave me sheets of paper with exercises. I was scared of Thai massage.

Attempt at getting appointment with Spinal Surgeon in Salem

Middle of January I called Dr York from Thailand hoping to get an appointment shortly after my arrival in Oregon Feb 1.

I wanted a second opinion on surgery… specifically Oblique Lumbar Interbody Fusion (OLIF) and O-arm 2D/3D imaging. And as the epidurals were wearing off to have her do another injection before my return to Oaxaca Mexico where I live most of the year even though my permanent address is in Salem where i have a home that is rented out.

My call to Dr. York was returned by email from her receptionist who said Dr York was actually in Thailand and wouldn’t return for another couple of weeks and she would have to talk to her before she could make an appointment for me.

I responded by email giving her a short history with a request that I get an opinion on the OLIF and request for another epidural. I was assuming the receptionist would show Dr.York my email with the history. Nothing was said about the Salem Spinal Clinic.

Salem Spinal Clinic

Arrival in Oregon Feb 1

Called Dr. York’s office for an appointment. It was then I was told that I had to go through the Salem Spinal Clinic and have my case reviewed by a nurse (a nurse would look at the MRI’s???) to get an appointment. This was the first I’d heard of the spinal clinic. I called the Clinic and said I would like an appointment with Dr York and I would hand deliver copies of the two MRI’s on cd’s and the radiologist’s narrative which I did the next day. I can’t remember the rest of the short conversation but that was about it.

Heard back a week later that I could now call Dr. York’s office and get an appointment!

Appointment with Dr. York

Called Dr. York’s office and couldn’t get an appointment for a month!!! Meanwhile I am in pain and paying for a hotel.

Was first seen by the medical assistant who took history. Then Dr. York interviewed me and looking at the MRI on the monitor she said she didn’t recommend surgery.  I was so addled by the meds I forgot to ask about the OLIF and she didn’t mention it so she evidently hadn’t seen the history I had sent by email to her receptionist.

I did ask her about epidurals and she said she didn’t do those and I would have to be referred to a pain specialist! I asked her about Lyrica and she said she didn’t prescribe Lyrica but didn’t say whether she prescribed anything else. I didn’t pursue it.

Started to take myself off Lyrica and Tramadol which wasn’t fun.

Salem Pain Center

Waited another 2 weeks for evaluation at the Pain Center. At the evaluation the pain doctor said it would be another 2 weeks for an appointment for the epidurals.

I gave him an earful about waiting from Feb 1 until end of April to get pain relief and he tried to blame the insurance company. However the pain center got a pre-authorization from Regence the same day of the call by the pain center! I said it was Salem’s system that was the cause of the delay!  And the month wait for an appt with the spinal surgeon.

Then, gratefully, when I returned to the pain center the next day to give them copies of the MRI’s, a pain assistant worked me in for an appointment the following day to do epidural injections at the Surgery Center on River Road S. Bless their hearts because I had a flight to Mexico the next day that I had made weeks before.

I declined anesthesia as I had before. He did say later in the OR I had made a good case against such a long wait.

Salem Physical Therapy

Meanwhile, before leaving Salem for Mexico, saw another physical therapist who gave me pelvic tilt, hip adduction, strengthening gluteus med, and knee to chest. These really help.


Returned to Oaxaca couple weeks ago. Am now completely off Lyrica and Tramadol. The withdrawal was nasty but now I feel mentally and emotionally human again.

Comparing the onset of sciatica to now (without drugs) I’d estimate 50% relief and pain is tolerable…in comparison. Using a cane now for stability. Neuropathy still there. Will be working with a physical therapist here in Oaxaca. I realize I’m going to have to deal with a certain amount of pain the rest of my life.

The Future

In the future I will probably ask my primary for a referral to the OHSU Spinal Center (assuming they are any faster) before going through all that again. Or just go back to the Nevada Spinal Clinic during a visit to my son there.

My opinion

It appears to me that the Salem system is Byzantine and not in the interest of palliative care but in the interest of the medical community. The system is probably set up to make things easier for the surgeons to screen out frivolous requests for appointments and to screen out people looking for opiates so they can just use their time for surgeries which of course is where they make their money. Their own offices can’t do that? I have no idea if any of this is driven by the insurance companies.

I have nothing against Dr. York but her office could have done a better job of communicating. And giving me an appt sooner. Maybe I should have started crying! ;) I should know by now at my age that as a patient you have to make an impression on a doctor to get a response or they don’t take you seriously.

If I had known I was going to have to wait nearly 3 months for pain relief, I probably would have just gone on to the Nevada Pain Center and had the epidurals done there again. Or have it done again in Bangkok on another trip to see my 2 sons there. The out-of-pocket expense there is minimal compared to what the insurance has to pay in the U.S. It would have saved me a lot of time and money on hotels. And pain. And grief.

And don’t get me started on medical tourism. It would save the taxpayers billions if ins. companies would accept care in other countries.

Las Vegas

Thursday, June 4th, 2015

Really enjoying Greg in Las Vegas. Weather warm but perfect for me. We went to a concert with Robert Plant (of Led Zeppelin). Love his new album. But it was at a stand only venue and it nearly killed me. We left early. OMG, the strip is the best people watching in the world!

Greg’s best friends (both single like Greg) drove out from LA to spend the weekend with Greg and I. OMG, intense conversations! Wore me out! But I ate it all up. Mostly about male/female relationships, sex and politics. Ha!

Greg is throwing one of his bashs on Sunday. About 20 people for dinner. He cooks. Has a friend that is a sommelier helping him. He dropped off two cases of wine yesterday. Greg has become quite the wine connoisseur. (Had to look up that spelling) Angelo, the sommelier has a fusion restaurant that we went to last night. Foie Gras and escargot for appetizers and a wonderful tenderloin that Greg and I shared. Greg spends money on me like water. Makes me nervous but I don’t say anything. It’s his life. Am looking forward to talking with Angelo at the party. His ancestry is French, Italian and Mexican and he grew up in Mexico City and Guadalajara.

Had a pedicure yesterday by some lovely Vietnamese. Where did you live, I asked. Hue she said. You know Hue? She was surprised when I said yes. Then I had my hair dyed.

So guess I’m ready to take on Oaxaca again.

End Of Insanity

Thursday, June 4th, 2015
Darn, saw where the teachers, on strike, closed the airport in Oaxaca. But I suppose nothing lasts very long. I fly in next wednesday. Things should quiet down a bit after the elections Sunday. Now, of course, with ... [Continue reading this entry]

Nearing The End of Insanity

Sunday, May 24th, 2015
I have been renting the house out in Salem Oregon ever since I retired in 2002. After traveling for 5 years I settled as an expat in Oaxaca in 2006. I return to Salem about once a year for regular ... [Continue reading this entry]

Spirit Prayer

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015
It was an amazing experience. I was in my familiar Governor's Cup coffee shop in Salem Oregon talking with my friend when I told her I didn’t know what to do with all the Indian rocks my father inadvertently dug ... [Continue reading this entry]

March Sun at the Oregon Farm

Friday, March 13th, 2015
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Mexicans and Americans

Saturday, January 24th, 2015
A boat was docked in a tiny Mexican fishing village. A tourist complimented the local fishermen on the quality of their fish and... asked how long it took to catch them. "Not very long" they answered in unison. "Why didn't you stay out ... [Continue reading this entry]

OMG…70 Hours From BKK To PDX

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014
The flight back to the States from Thailand included a transit through Tokyo, Japan. But it snowed in Tokyo and the Narita airport closed. Waited in Bangkok airport 12 hours for an alternate flight to Hanada airport. With her ... [Continue reading this entry]

Meanwhile In Merca

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014
Josh Cooks For Greg's Friends I get an email from Josh saying that he and Greg and Polly had a great time on Manhattan Beach California with Greg's friend Jeff, an ... [Continue reading this entry]

Oregon Thailand Hong Kong 2013-14

Saturday, November 23rd, 2013
Need new crowns on implants I got last spring while in Bangkok. Need to see my son Josh and his lovely Significant Other, Polly, in Hong Kong. And spend some time down south in Krabi Thailand with my son Doug ... [Continue reading this entry]

Oregon Coast

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013
Before flying out to Las Vegas from Salem/Portland to see my eldest son, I drove a couple hours to the coast to visit my cousin, Cindy and her husband Jim who live near Waldport. They were kind enough to ... [Continue reading this entry]

Salem, Oregon

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013
Won't bore anyone with the sordid details of bureaucratic busy work while holed up at Howard Johnson's Motel since March 19, 2013. However I did meet up with the few remaining old friends I have here...very fun! Tomorrow I'll drive over to ... [Continue reading this entry]


Thursday, May 16th, 2013
Find more about Weather in Oaxaca, MX Find more about Weather  ... <a href=[Continue reading this entry]

Around The World Again 2012-13

Thursday, November 8th, 2012
Well, Facebook has cut into my blogging time. But since I am living in Mexico I love to keep up with my couchsurfers and friends I have made traveling besides friends left behind in the U.S. People say they prefer ... [Continue reading this entry]

An American Mother in Mexico

Saturday, April 14th, 2012
I often encounter locals in Mexico who are quite shocked to hear that I have three in the U.S. one in Hong Kong and one in Thailand part of the year. To make it worse my husband is in ... [Continue reading this entry]

Another winter in the States I won’t do again!

Friday, December 30th, 2011
Why have I spent the last three visits in the States during the winter, I ask myself. Well, spending time with at least two of my off-spring during Christmas has a lot to do with it. But perhaps ... [Continue reading this entry]

Occupy Wall Street Transforming Consciousness

Monday, October 17th, 2011
Meltdown: The Men Who Crashed The World This is a 4 part documentary of the worldwide financial crisis and the inside story ... [Continue reading this entry]

Reflections on July 4

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011
JULY 4th Have you ever wondered what happened to the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence? Five signers were captured by the British as traitors, and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. ... [Continue reading this entry]

Self Censuring

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010
I moved to Oaxaca City in 2006 to find 70,000 of the state's teachers striking in the Centro. They had been striking every year for more than 20 years to gain a minimum of educational standards for a state ... [Continue reading this entry]

Bunkered In Las Vegas

Friday, October 29th, 2010
Looks like another week holed up with my son, Greg, and my favorite sweet golden laborador, in Las Vegas. If Las Vegas is invaded I am quite certain I will survive. :) I am cooking for the freezer as is ... [Continue reading this entry]

Freedom Country

Monday, October 25th, 2010
From Klamath Falls I cross the California border...past the WWII Japanese Internment camp at Newell near Tule Lake...euphemistically called the Tule Lake War Relocation Center...and head south toward Reno Nevada. I have a blown-up photo of my father herding sheep ... [Continue reading this entry]

McDonald’s Waitress Makes My Day

Thursday, October 21st, 2010
No wonder there are so many "old people" at McDonalds! A $1.00 coffee is only 69 cents for seniors! The waitress looks up and says, you aren't a senior are you? I say yes, 66. She ... [Continue reading this entry]

A Conversation While Using McDonald’s WiFi In Klamath Falls

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010
I'm back at McDonalds...pretty good latte here...cheaper than Starbucks. I'm sitting in my car using their free WiFi when a bent-over older (old sounds unkind) fellow appears at my open car window which is apparently an invitation for conversation.
Watcha ... [Continue reading this entry]

Gone Huntin’ In Klamath Falls

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010
After 7 weeks in Salem Oregon taking care of a lot of unfinished business and spending time with my son Doug, who will be returning soon to Thailand to join his Thai wife, I am finally on my way back ... [Continue reading this entry]

Why Are Americans Loud

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010
A bit of information about the formation of the individual and national consciousness of people in the U.S. Sorry for length, but this is mostly for people who are not "United Staters." :)) We all know that the US was settled by ... [Continue reading this entry]

Mexico Rethinks Drug Strategy

Saturday, August 14th, 2010
As death toll rises, Mexico rethinks drug war strategy By TIM JOHNSON McClatchy Newspapers MEXICO CITY | The drug war in Mexico is at a crossroads. As the death toll climbs above 28,000, President Felipe Calderon confronts growing pressure to try a different strategy ... [Continue reading this entry]

Out Of A Job? Sign UP Here!

Friday, July 9th, 2010
The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Arturo Rodriguez
[Continue reading this entry]

Surreal Senility Or Sneaky Sane?

Sunday, June 13th, 2010
3brashinappropriate.jpg This cartoon originally appeared on  Check out more of the New Yorker cartoonist's work at ("How I Do and Don't want to be Helen Thomas.") and on her [Continue reading this entry]

What A Good Friend Will Do

Sunday, May 30th, 2010
My extraordinary friend Lyn Horine put flowers on my parents' graves for Memorial Day because I wasn't there! And she didn't even know them! may27-10-hunt-600-x-450.jpg

Back Home in Oaxaca

Saturday, May 29th, 2010
Whew!  What a ride! A week in Vegas, a month in Salem Oregon, a week in Hong Kong, 5 months in Thailand (4 in Bangkok and a month on Koh Samui) a week in Hong Kong again, 2 weeks in ... [Continue reading this entry]

Last Day In Vegas

Friday, May 28th, 2010
Yesterday got my glasses replaced that son Greg's new yellow labrador puppy ate. Puppy? At 16 weeks he's huge...but oh so loving! And he's so cute when he carries his own leish in his mouth when we go for walks. ... [Continue reading this entry]

Video Skype Mishap

Monday, May 24th, 2010
You can just imagine the look on my son Josh's face in Hong Kong today as my chair collapsed out from under me in Las Vegas as I disappeared from view in his skype video frame! He he. Fell on ... [Continue reading this entry]

1964 LBJ Daisy TV AD

Monday, May 24th, 2010
Embedding is disabled but remember this LBJ election TV ad when Johnson ran against Barry Goldwater in 1964?  It ran only once and then was banned.

Normal In Las Vegas

Sunday, May 23rd, 2010
Had an outside lunch with son Greg, his Punjabi surgeon friend, Jody, and his wife Heather, and Greg Smith who was a classmate of Greg's in high school. Playing with Val, Greg's 16 month old yellow lab who is constantly underfoot.  ... [Continue reading this entry]

Me In Las Vegas

Thursday, May 20th, 2010
After a week in Hong Kong,  just in time to avoid the worst of the burning of Bangkok just up the road from Sukhumvit 20 where I was staying, I flew to Portland Oregon with a transfer in San Francisco ... [Continue reading this entry]

A Month in the States on the Way to Asia

Sunday, October 18th, 2009
 This mainly for fam and friends... Flew into Las Vegas from Oaxaca the end of September to spend a few days with my oldest son, Greg.  Always a big treat.  My old U.S. Samsung flip phone was on it's last legs ... [Continue reading this entry]

Response To The Wingnuts

Sunday, September 13th, 2009 had an article this morning on the NY Times best seller list that puts the far right-wing into a broader perspective. begins:
"For the past nine months, ... [Continue reading this entry]

Numbers To Consider

Tuesday, August 4th, 2009
While you are pointing fingers at our health care, consider this: 1/3 of all prescriptions by a doctor ever get filled...which means that 2/3 of all people who get prescriptions never even go to the pharmacy Of the 1/3 of people who get ... [Continue reading this entry]

Wingnut Radio

Friday, July 17th, 2009
How any reasonable person who reads can believe this stuff is beyond me.

Alternative 4th of July by X

Saturday, July 4th, 2009

What Mexico Needs From Obama

Monday, April 13th, 2009
The LA Times has an opinion piece this morning entitled "What Mexico Really Needs From Obama" written by John M. Ackerman who is a professor at the Institute for Legal Research at the National Autonomous University of Mexico and ... [Continue reading this entry]

U.S. Arms Flow Into Mexico

Friday, April 3rd, 2009

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Attorney General Eric Holder visit Mexico Thursday to meet with their counterparts.

The Christian Science Monitor has this story blaming gun shows and subsequent smuggling into Mexico for the proliferation of guns in Mexico...which ... [Continue reading this entry]

“Gang-Rape of the American Dream”

Monday, March 23rd, 2009
Best article yet on the financial crisis.  Tells it like it all came great detail.  I can see it all now.

The Big Takeover

The global economic crisis isn't about money - it's about power. How Wall Street insiders ... [Continue reading this entry]

Critical Thinking Takes A Blow

Wednesday, March 11th, 2009
Greenwald, in, describes how the Obama administration has passed the loyalty test when it allowed Charles W. Freeman Jr. to  step away Tuesday from an appointment to chair the National Intelligence Council -- which oversees the production of ... [Continue reading this entry]


Thursday, February 26th, 2009
A man sleeps every night on a wrought iron bench in the park across the street from my apartment in Oaxaca Mexico.  At 6 o'clock,  he wakes and prepares for the day. He is dressed in slacks and a sweater ... [Continue reading this entry]

Sheep Camp Bread To NY Times?

Thursday, February 19th, 2009
I'll bet anything this recipe came from an Irish sheep camp much like my father's. The recipe's originator, Jim Lahey of the Sullivan Street Bakery in New York ought to give you a hint. The easiest bread recipe ever
By ... [Continue reading this entry]

The End Of Wall Street As We Know It

Thursday, February 19th, 2009
"On Thursday, Sept. 18, 2008, the astonished leadership of the U.S. Congress was told in a private session by the chairman of the Federal Reserve that the American economy was in grave danger of a complete meltdown within a matter ... [Continue reading this entry]

A Gift of Love

Friday, December 26th, 2008
My unexpected Christmas "Mass" occurred last night in Las Vegas of all places: Out of the dregs of post WWII Liverpool bubbled brilliant words and revolutionary music...channeling truth and prophecy even they were probably not completely aware of. Helped along ... [Continue reading this entry]

Waiting for Alaska Flight 624

Wednesday, December 24th, 2008
Had a heck of a time getting out on the plane in the worst storm in the NW in 40 years! After a two hour trip from Salem to the Portland airport over icy washboard Highway 99 because the ... [Continue reading this entry]

I Picked The Worst Day Ever To Travel

Friday, December 19th, 2008
It was supposed to be a simple trip from Oaxaca to Portland Oregon on December 17th to get stuff for my apartment in Oaxaca.  In the first place the plane was an hour late out of Oaxaca.  So I missed ... [Continue reading this entry]