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"Burma Days": My grand adventure in Myanmar

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The author offers her sincere apolgies for the length of this article -- it's really, really long.  But you gotta use LOTS of words to describe the wonders of Burma. There's just no other way to do it right.  And lots of photos too -- but I only picked out the ones that fit into this story.  I did leave the other 650 photos out!  Click here to see the photos.


November 10, 2008: I went to my orthopedist to get the first in a series of injections of SynVisc cartilage-replacement gel into my knees today. “These shots will really help you walk better by replacing the cartilage in your knees,” said the doctor And then he pulled out a hypodermic needle six inches long. Oh lord!

“Will it hurt?” I whined. “I can’t stand too much pain.” Yeah it hurt – but not all that bad. The new “Jello shots” didn’t make my knees feel any better -- but on the other hand, after a day or so they felt only slightly worse. I was hopeful.

November 17, 2008: I returned to the orthopedist for a second set of injections. They went well. No problem.

November 22, 2008: Last night I walked over to see some friends – just eight short blocks away. And when I woke up this morning, my right knee was totally painful and swollen up like a balloon. Holy crap! I’m supposed to leave for Burma in two weeks! And now I can’t even walk! This is a nightmare.

November 25, 2008: So much for Thanksgiving. The nightmare’s gotten worse. My doctor said that the injections had nothing to do with the inflammation. Yeah right. I sat in his office and cried so hard on November 24 that he didn’t even try to persuade me to let him give me the third set. “My life is over,” I cried. “I’m only 66 years old and I’ll never be able to walk again!”

But wait. It gets worse. My left knee swelled up to twice its size too and I started to get a burning pain in my knees that then spread down into my calves. “It feels like battery acid inside my muscles,” I wailed. And it did. Now it takes me ten minutes just to walk from the kitchen to the bedroom. How the freak am I supposed to get to the airport – let alone fly to Burma. Crap.

November 27, 2008: Thanksgiving wasn’t so bad. I hobbled around on crutches between the car and the hors’odeurves sidebar. You can always sit down while you eat. The turkey was excellent. And the pain couldn’t stop me from eating a slice of peach, blueberry and pumpkin pie each.

November 28, 2008: Double crap. Now both my ankles are swollen up like balloons. I look like I’ve got Elephant Man legs. I googled “SynVisc” and apparently I’m not the only one that this has happened to. There have been at least two class action suits against SynVisc. I’m screwed. But at least I got a good story out of it for my blog – even if it took me ten minutes to hobble over to the computer.

November 29, 2008: Both my ankles are swollen to twice their normal size and both calves are not only swollen and painful but are as hard as a rock. And there’s only nine days to go before I’m supposed to walk all over the Irrawaddy River basin. “They’ll have to take me around in a wheelchair,” I told my daughter Ashley. I cried a lot. She hugged me.

December 1, 2008: Only six days left. Screw this. I’m going to get acupunctured. Every single time I mess around with Big Pharma meds, I live to regret it.

“Hmmm,” said the acupuncturist, while pointing to my knees. “We could acupuncture you here, here and here but that would be too painful. We’ll needle you there, there and there instead.” And it actually worked. I now look like a crab as I hobble along but, hey – at least I can now do the little-old-lady shuffle.

December 7, 2008: “Bring me back a puppy from Burma,” Ashley called after me as I hobbled off toward the BART train to the airport, dragging my suitcase behind me. That’s just sad. My legs, not the puppy.

Last night we researched puppies online. “Here’s a Burmese Mountain Dog,” said Ashley. “Awww, isn’t it sweet?” It looked like a cross between an Australian sheep dog and a St. Bernard.

How about that I just bring you a T-shirt?” I replied. The ride to the airport was do-able and I gave myself three hours to get from the check-in counter to the gate. This is going to be a very interesting trip.

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Stillwater is a freelance writer who hates injustice and corruption in any form but especially injustice and corruption paid for by American taxpayers. She has recently published a book entitled, "Bring Your Own Flak Jacket: Helpful Tips For Touring (more...)
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