Nepal Trip Email Correspondence: 2001

Below you'll find the periodic emails I sent out to a short distribution list of family and friends while I was overseas. Happy reading!

Sunday, September 30

Namaste from Kathmandu

It's been an 'interesting' trip so far. I have a recent history of occasional kidney stones, which my doctor is still trying to sort out. Well, about 1.5 hours before my plane landed in Kathmandu, I started getting right side pain. By the time I got to my hotel I couldn't stand. Four Tylenol with Codeine didn't put a dent in the pain, and about 1:30 this morning my Nepali friend Ang Babu and I finally went to a local public hospital for a painkiller shot (sterilized needle, I wasn't so delirious that I forgot to check!), which enabled me to sleep for 2 hours or so (after I threw up, of course).

Fortunately, my Canadian friend (married a Nepali and lives here in Kathmandu) Caroline's husband's brother is a doctor, and knows doctors. This morning, one of the foremost eurologists in Nepal, trained in the United States, came in on his day off and examined me (xray, ultrasound, blood work, the whole deal). I have an impassable centimeter-diameter stone in my right ureter, and a half-centimeter stone in my left kidney. Tuesday morning I'm getting temporary stents put in both ureters. And I'll probably have to get the right-side stone ultrasound-shattered. I'm on strong painkillers right now, fortunately, so am functional. After the stents are installed, the doctor assures me that trekking, etc will be no problem.

My wife Lil is freaking out a bit but is assured that I'm in safe hands. Ang Babu, Caroline, etc have been great. We're scheduled to fly up to Lukla on Friday morning to begin our trek, and I'll probably get the stents removed before I leave Nepal though they can remain in for up to 6 months if necessary.

Good news; Kathmandu is the cleanest I've ever seen it, and the political situation seems to be stable at the moment. Hope all is well with all of you; I'll try to write more after Tuesday's surgery.


Wednesday, October 3

Namaste and update

Thanks to all of you for your kind words these past few days. At last I have some good news to report on my condition. Yesterday I underwent two long sessions of lithotripsy (basically high intensity sound waves pinpointed on the large right side stone location). Although they didn't completely pulverize the apparently very very hard stone, they broke it into several smaller pieces (still too large to pass into the bladder). This morning at 6AM I went under general anesthetic and the doctor dilated the ureter and extracted the fragments, then put stents in both ureters so that any remaining fragments, as well as the 5 mm stone in my left kidney, could pass with no obstruction.

I am, according to him, now cleared to trek with no restrictions. The stents can remain in up to 6 months; I can either have them removed before I leave, or once I return home (I may choose this option to ensure a smooth series of flights home). I was understandably groggy this morning but just had a huge lunch (I haven't eaten much in three days, and it's great to have an appetite again!) and feel 100% back to normal.

In more important news, I read in today's Kathmandu Post that the Taliban is willing to consider handing over Osama bid Labin, not to the United States, but to a third country (presumably Pakistan) for prosecution. This is very encouraging progress and I remain hopeful that a resolution can be discovered that prevents further violence.

Bill, I am still at Sidhartha Garden Hotel, but now in room 304. Hope we can see each other at some point during the trip. I am still planning to fly to Lukla on Friday, unless my wife decides to fly over and spend a week or two here with me. We will figure this out tonight after she talks to my doctor.

Peace and warm wishes to you all,


Thursday, October 4

On the mend and outta here

Namaste, folks, and thanks again for all the wonderful emails the past few days. Well, after having some amazing hallucinations yesterday morning during general anesthetic and stone removal/stent insertion, I've been pain-free for nearly 36 hours. I'm happily eating double-portion vegetarian meals, making up for 3 days of virtually no calorie intake and in preparation for almost three weeks of nothing but daal bhaat (rice and lentils). Yes, tomorrow morning at 7AM I'm flying up to Lukla to begin my Everest region trek, with my three wacky Nepali friends Ang Babu, Bijaya and Ram in tow. My wonderful doctor B.K. Hamal survived a 45 minute telephone interrogation from my spouse last night ;-) so I have the green light to go (just no jogging, he says!). I'll be incommunicado until the 22nd or 23rd. I hope to return to civilization to find peace still reigning in the world. Best wishes to you all the next few weeks.


Friday, October 5

Still here....;-)

Namaste to all. The monsoon season seems to be hanging around a bit later than normal this year; we've had rain, thunder and lightning every night (which this Midwest-born boy sure misses and enjoys!) and the past few days. This morning, Royal Nepal Airlines tried to fly our 20-seat plane from Kathmandu to Lukla two times (at 7AM and 10AM) and was turned back both times within minutes of the destination due to heavy clouds. Strangely, all the other airlines reportedly succeeded in landing, but I don't mind our pilots' conservative approach. And two of the three Nepalis I'm traveling with have never been in an airplane before, so they're having a blast with this; we flew right over their home village each time! Certainly getting our money's worth out of RNA.

RNA is trying again once more tomorrow; weather in Kathmandu was lovely today so maybe we'll have success. Otherwise we'll just get a refund and take a bus to trek in Langtang or the Annapurna Sanctuary instead; there'd just be no more time to do a proper trek in the Everest region considering the slow altitude acclimatization pace we must do to maintain proper health. As it stands we no longer have time to go over 18,000' Cho La pass, something that my wife will surely be disappointed to hear ;-)

Best wishes to you all. I continue to feel very strong, and very grateful, and thank you all for your wonderful supportive emails.

Suberatri (have a good evening!),


Thursday, October 11

I'm back.....and home soon

Howdy, y'all. Wrapped up five days of great trekking yesterday afternoon, highlighted by attendance at a puja at famous Tengboche Monastery, and stunning morning views of Everest and Abu Dablam. None of us was looking forward to the subsequent 4-6 days' worth of up-and-down trekking to Jire, so we decided to grab a morning flight out of Lukla back to Kathmandu (as it turns out, ours may have been the only flight into or out of that airport today, due to the seemingly obligatory heavy clouds and fog). Although American Airlines' computers indicated no free seats on Royal Nepal Airlines flights out of Kathmandu until the 25th, a stroll to their, and Cathay Pacific's, offices earlier today secured me flights next Tuesday the 16th (Lil, same numbers and times, just different day, see you around 9PM next Tuesday at San Francisco Airport!). Tomorrow morning I'm taking a bus to my friends' village, Namdu, and I'll be back in Kathmandu Saturday night. Sunday morning we'll make an overnight trip to Pokhara, due back Monday afternoon. Talk to you all, within three time zones for a change, in less than a week! Hope all is well with you all; I'm saddened by the news of the bombing of Afghanistan and protests in Pakistan (which I first heard about on the radio in Namche) but hope for minimal loss of innocent civilian life.



Saturday, October 13

Burp, etc

In the midst of a trip filled with wonderous impermanence, it seems that there is at least one thing that I can always count on; each time I trek in Nepal, I get nailed by at least one bout of giardia ;-) Unfortunately,'symptoms' began to appear the morning I was due to embark on an 8+ hour bus ride to my friends' village. Fortunately, I survived the bus'unsoiled' and a 2 gram dose of Tienezol (sp?), not available in the US but readily obtained from any of the many pharmacies scattered around Kathmandu, seems to'firmed up' things. I'm buying medicine spares just in case giardia again rears its ugly head after I return to the US, of course.

The trip to Namdu was a lot of fun, albeit short (just one night). My friends have wonderful families who opened their homes and their hearts to me, and (with the assistance of multilingual Nepali/Tamang/English Ang Babu) we had many animated conversations. One highlight was when, after one of the women asked me if I was from Israel because of my scruffy two-week-old beard, I told her I was going to shave it off before returning home because my wife prefered me clean-shaven, and 'she's the boss'. The women all cheered, and the men all looked around uncomfortably. Heh heh heh...(yes, I said this intentionally, Nepal remains a very patriarchal, and caste-defined, society)

The bus ride to Namdu was perhaps the most bizarre/terrifying/exciting experience I've ever had. Roller coasters are wimpy in comparison. I never knew it was possible to squeeze so many human beings in, and on top of (yes, I rode on top, believe me it was much more comfortable!) a bus. It's two weeks before the Dashain festival, so everybody's headed home. Fortunately, that meant that today's bus ride back to Kathmandu had plenty of seats

My friends have never been to Pokhara, Nepal's second-largest (I believe) city, on a beautiful lake and with, on clear days, a marvelous view of the Annapurna range and sacred mountain Machupuchare. So tomorrow morning we're jumping on another bus to spend the afternoon and evening there, in gratitude for their wonderful care of me my first week there. I'll be back in Kathmandu Monday night, and (knock on keyboard) fly out for Hong Kong Tuesday morning.



Tuesday, October 16

Not-even-nearly-halfway home

Hello from Hong Kong, at the free Internet access station. I've got an eight-hour layover here and am headed to (I think) the only restaurant in this entire airport that serves a vegetarian entree (noodles with vegetables....these folks sure like their beef, pork and seafood!). Had a touching goodbye with my dear Nepali friends at the airport this morning; many prayer scarfs and tears were exchanged and I even got to meet the 5 year old boy, Furba, that I'm sponsoring through boarding school. Lil and I are, considering my after-9PM arrival and the inevitable customs and baggage claim delays, spending Tuesday night at a hotel near San Francisco Airport. Back in Sacramento sometime Wednesday? That's the plan, but considering how wonderfully unpredictable this trip has been, who knows...;-)

Namaste and fond regards to you all. Thanks again for all the emails and well wishes!


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This page was created on October 22, 2001. It was last updated on August 10, 2009.

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