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Nov. 4th, 2016

cat under stars

Dental implant and LASEK, part 7: this is getting annoying

I had a shot of whiskey in my evening coffee, so I'm feeling a bit whiny tonight.

Two weeks ago after playing around all weekend (and not resting) I got what could have been a cold.  In this case it seems to be a seasonal allergy, my body's response to dry indoor heat and falling leaves.  I called the eye doctor's office to see whether there were any medications I should avoid and the answer was no, nothing contraindicted by my eyes.  At three months I'm beginning to feel like they're just another part of my body now, something that, outside of the hat and sunglasses, don't take any special precautions.

The trouble is they're still nearsighted.  Sitting at coffee tonight--mind you, spiked coffee--the light bulb in the fixture above me was so clear I could almost read the print on the bulb, had I wanted to fry my retinas staring at it long enough.  Fully focused, no doublt images, approximately two meters from my face.  Across the room, however, came and went focus-wise.  Looking out the window into the garden and the after sunset colors were simply gorgeous but the lines between the green leaves and dark blue sky were not at all clear,  High contrasts items are even worse--the white pillow on the burgundy couch a mere three meters away produced a ghost image, but only if I focused on it.  Starker contrasts don't require such focus;  the hospital signs are still in doubles.

Nights--the satanic starfish are now less guy-on-fire and more like Air Jordan logos with tiny little jazz hands.   That's an improvement, right?  The moon the other night, though...I seriously wish it had been possible to photograph what I was seeing.  It was an orange crescent moon, just a sliver, but with my distorted visionn it looked as though it was leaping out of bed, a main image with two ghost images suggested someone getting up.  I wished I could see the unduplicated moon, but I also wish I couldd have photographed the leaping illusion.  Too bad.

Last appointment my right eye was 20/15 andd my left 20/25.  Neither doctor nor optometrist was concerned, but I know my own eye history.  As a child I had lazy eye and to this day my brain rarely uses both eyes, creating minimal depth perception.  My left eye may be slacking off.  I put a paper patch inside one pair of my sunglasses and wear those to and from the cafeteria, where I don't have to worry about tripping over anything on the pavement.  It is disorienting but it gave me nice sore temple-muscles on the left side so I may be on the right track there.  We shall see.

I remind myself that it's only been three months and that this can take uo to a year, but I'm also hoping to go home for good this winter which would make touching up a real problem.  I just hope I won't need touching up.

The implant gets looked at once a month like the eyes.  The new crown settled in and is easily forgotten, but the allergies had me worried.  Can I be sure those are allergies, and not a complication of the implant? 99% sure, but the sinuses are awfully close to all that.  Every little grumble on that side of my mouth makes me worry, and sinus pressure does push around the teeth on either side of the hole.The initial infection I mistook for unseasonable allergies, so I worry.

Oct. 21st, 2016

cat under stars

I need to update my LASEK thing

For now, though, I'll attempt to illustrate the "satanic starfish".  Here is from the vision simulator:

though the arms have a curving way about them.  Imagine this stick figure with the light effects from above, and you understand what I see any time there is a bright point of light against a dark background.  This is only with *points* of light--signs and the like get common ghosties.

Giving speaking tests, pure headache with glasses, is easy while giving them.  I can read name tags clearly, see the kid's face clearly, and read my paperwork with reasonable clarity.  Afterwards, though, my eyes are dry and tired.  Part of giving a speaking test is giving a facial expression that projects friendly listening--eyes open, body language open--and that'a harder than it sounds. 

Sep. 21st, 2016

death note

Dental implant and LASEK, part 6: roll with the changes

Because of the holiday I was able to take my bicycle out last Wednesday, on to the river trail that is fairly recently built and, as I would discover, had the previous holes in it filled (holes being gaps where they were installing drains).  It felt great, great enough to put in just over 11km total.  Damn I had a pent-up need for the road.

Alas, any need for speed remains pent up.  Riding like that requires fine focus at a distance which just isn't there yet, at least not around the dusk hours.  I had to keep my speed at about 11 kmh in order to see pebbles and the like in time to avoid them, really frustrating since I prefer to ride about 18-20 kmh on the river trail, 15 or 16 on roads, and those speeds were just a very bad idea.  Even slow I misjudged a turn and ended up on a knee and an elbow, barely scraped but still humiliating.

Dusk is a nice time, since UV is not an issue and lights aren't doing their special effects just yet.  The special effects' novelty has worn off and now they're mostly annoying.  Starbursts are increasingly rare, showing up mostly when I look directly at a bright light source.  Even then they're usually hazy rather than spiky, circled by a rainbow, much like before the surgery.  Not every light source does this, though, which is a shame really.  Not only is it pretty, it's less annoying than what I do get.  I call them Satanic starfish.  Most headlights and tailights do this, a five-pointed star with one point down, not symmetrical.  Looking at the Christmas lights I keep in my apartment, the ones at my feet do this but the ones close up are starbursts. This suggests to me that the starfish are a function of wrong focus rather than double images but I just don't know.

Ghosts remain a problem.  I'm getting them as I type now, though with a small black font on a white screen.  If I magnify the screen...there...they seem to go away and I catch my typos.  Looking for them though they are there even at this size, just easier to ignore. Contrast makes them worse, low contrast and they're very nearly gone.

I mentioned faces last time, but I no longer notice them.  Has focus improved, or has my brain simply started working around that?  It's significant that eyesight is as much brain as eyes.

A checkup on Saturday, and sadly I won't have time for one more bike ride.  That would give me a sense of how much distance vision I have as well as improving it.  A ton of train time last weekend gave me hours to work on my distance vision and I felt it helped.  Just now, after a long day at work, my evening paper taken by an open window (around sunset and not in direct light, but cloudy meaning I had no real sense of UV exposure), my eyes are dry and just not up to playing around.

A link to explain ghosting and starbursts. http://www.visionsimulations.com/simulations/

Got a second opinion on the other molar that needs capped and yes, it needs recapped dammit. The implant isn't causing any troubles directly, but there's a pressure under my nose on that side from time to time that suggests my maxillary bone has not forgiven me yet.  I worry that the dentist did not get all the infection out, but other than that pressure spot there is nothing to indicate anything wrong at all. I did get an itch up in my nose, at lunch time today as well as just now when I poked at the pressure spot.  Deliberating inhaling a little bit of water fixed that at lunch time so it may in fact be a thing in my nose and not at all related to the implant, I just don't know.  At least in the mirror everything looks in order, and the second opinion dentist did not see anything worth commenting on.

Sep. 10th, 2016

cat under stars

Dental implant and LASEK, part 5: pushing my limits

The 29th I note I was able to take a nap at work.  Clearly I was not looking forward to that Friday's dental work. Clearly too the flaw in the air mattress was costing me sleep.  Got a new one.  I have a memory foam mattress but it's hard on my ankles, which are a perpetual problem especially given my substantial weight.

The dental implant was a special level of Hell.  The doctor was satisfied with my grafted bone so decided to go ahead.  I was taken to their surgery floor and prepped, given a muscle relaxant and mild sedative in a pair of shots, and then painted with the same antiseptic the eye surgeon used, the one that smells suspiciously like mercurochrome.  I'm layered in drop cloths, talked to to make sure I'm properly sedated, and told to open wide.

When the tooth was extracted the previous month and the bone rot scraped out, I damn near passed out, not from the pain but from the horror of having the inside of my face scraped.  This was no better, and despite the drugs was worse.  I remember what I'd swear was a power drill shoving the screw into my bone--merdifuly it went fast.  Cruelly it was one of four.    The next two were also drills and whizzed apparently until the bone dug in and stymied them.  After that was what I'd swear was a hand-held socket wrench--mind you, I'm under drop cloths and not seeing any of this--that the dentist torqued until my neck muscles hurt from trying to hold my head still.  On the bright side there was less blood squirting than during the extraction/scraping.  Yeah, and I like horror movies, but it's quite different when it's your facial bones.  Stitched up and given directions about what to do and not do, though I didn't have to bite on gauze for two hours this time.  I took a cab home and sat in my recliner, dreading the moment when the drugs would wear off and the pain would hit past where buffered iboprofen could handle it.  Kindly they sent me home with take-out porridge, a nice soft dinner and a signal that I could eat hot food as soon as I felt up to it. Of coursee, when you're swallowing blood food is not what's on your mind; I dabbed the blood and phlegm off my tongue with paper towels because I didn't want to swallow it.  I toughed through it Saturday.  Sunday at noon I didn't care about side effects and took some PMS pills I keep around to stop the pain.  I also got some smooth ice cream, finding the cold to be comforting.  The nerve through the roof of my mouth was pissed off and would not let up until that Thursday.  There was a sensation of trouble between the two molars behind, but that went away when the stitches were removed.  The doctor also pointed to another molar, one giving me no perceptible trouble at all, as needing re-crowned ASAP and possibly a root canal, look at this x-ray.  I can't read x-rays well enough to know if he's being truthful or gold-digging me, so I plan to get a second opinion from a doctor in Gangnam, who will have no incentive to invent cavities he won't get to fill.

My anxiety levels were crazy after the drills in my face, and I'd take another PMS pill later that week.  Just before my dental appointment today I got the runs, one of my body's more dramatic ways of telling my brain to back down. I told the dentist I had nightmares (I don't, just anxiety) to get him to delay the drill.

I really must learn to read dental x-rays.

Yesterday I got the dental stitches out and my face feels so much better.  My eyes are well though I'm still quite nearsighted.  In low contrast situations I can see the building across the parking lot clearly, though it looks further away than I know it is.  Faces in the hallway, though, are too ghosty to make out.  Faces in desks aren't bad inside of three meters. The starbursts on close-up lights are small to the point of pretty, but far headlights are still too starry.

I was able to go biking for the first time since the LASEK tonight (September 10th).  I kept to familiar roads and went out around dinnertime under nice low contrast cloudy skies.  I considered crossing a traffic lane at one point, looked in my rearview mirror and the image seemed clear, and no car in the road.  It's a good thing I trust my hearing, however, because there was a car coming up fat behind me.   So, no biking in traffic for me, though biking on trails even at night is reasonably safe as long as I don't go too fast.

Tired eyes, and it's time for bed.
cat under stars

Dental implant and LASEK, part 4: back to work

The 19th and I'm back to work.  Air conditioning is very uncomfortable and the sunlight through the windows even on a cloudy day is uncomfortable.  Part of that is anxiety--without window glass, am I getting too much UV? Again with the notion that one screw up will leave me blind.  That's part of why I'm writing this, to reassure the next persion that they'll be fine.

Work is tiring but I get through it.  Since when is teaching not tiring?

August 20th posted a celebrity pinup on my feed.  I'm able to use a computer to work and have a little fun, though I don't tell the students that I can't get a clear focus of their faces.  Still nearsighted, though low contrast is easier to see than high contrast.  Faces, sadly, are high contrast.

Taking walks improves my visual focus especially at distance, but with improved focus comes the realization that my eyes are seeing second images, "ghosts".  The ghost of my cat on day two was almost as big as my cat himself.  Now they're just a line next to the image, though if I close one eye it's two ghosts in the left eye, three in the right.  I wonder if the goggle incident on the first day has anything to do with this.  I bring it to my doctor's attention and he's not worried at all.  I ask if I can get temporary glasses to make work easier and he says no, the eye muscles need to do their thing.  Damn.

23rd I realize that the steroid eye drops right before bed are interfering with sleep, and vow to take them a little bit earlier.  I woke up rubbing my right eye thinking I had a piece of cat fur in it, and scared myself.  A lot of eye drops to rinse it out, and night goggles again without consulting the doctor.  Nn harm in it.  The cat fur in eye sensation would last for two more days, and I didn't get proper rest until that weekend.  Dental checkup that weekend and progress was good, bone graft taking well and ahead of schedule.  I schedule the implant post for a Friday afternoon so I'd have the whole weekend to recover.  I'd have preferred it for the long holiday this month he he said naaaah, you won't need any recovery time at all.  My dentist lies.

The 26th I get an ocular migraine, though being a Friday before lunch I wasn't overly concerned--this has happened before. Eye appointment the following day so I'll ask him just in case.  At the appointment I try to explain the thing to him using this video, but my tablet froze.  What I did manage to explain did not worry him at all.  Tests show ocular pressure is lower than before surgery, which is weird but very good.

The next day I had a neck cramp and insomnia and complained of over-sensitive hearing.
cat under stars

Dental implant and LASEK, part 3: Day 5 +

I taped the sleep goggles on and slept well finally.  There was (and to some extent, is) the fear that one mistake at this point in healing could leave me with a blind eye or two, and that's terrifying.  Knowing the goggles could not slip off in the night removed that worry, so sleep finally came.

The next day I amused  myself with podcasts and audio books.  My close up vision--like, tip of my nose close--was shockingly clear, and I saw things in my apartment that I literally had never noticed before.  By day 5 I could hold my tablet a few inches from my face and read it, so vision was slowly gaining distance.

Nearsighted eyes correct simply.  Farsighted eyes like mine have to be deliberately overcorrected because they heal, regressing back to farsighted.  What I was experiencing was perfectly normal, and the memory of my doctor's face directly after my surgery assured me that I would not be stuck profoundly nearsighted forever.

Day six, a checkup and a removal of the bandage contacts.  That felt so good!  I looked forward to a proper shower and rinsing my hair.  I'm lucky that, especially on vacation, my hair looks decent without shampooing if I rinse it frequently.

Dominant eye is dominant, and at one point I could close it when it got too tired and resume reading with the non-dominant eye.  I'm reminded that my brain can shut out an eye if it wants to, as it did in my childhood, and make a conscious effort to use both.  I'm able to walk to and from the coffee shop, about a block from home, provided I walk carefully and stick with familiar routes. I can't actually see the sidewalk under my feet yet. Sharp headaches occur in my temples, but closing my eyes makes them go away so it's clearly just eye muscles getting a workout.   Neat trick though--if I want to see something that's just a little too far away, I take out my phone camera and point it at the thing.  The camera screen is close enough to see, though this makes fellow coffeehouse denizens nervous.

15th August I'm able to see my feet and the sidewalk under them.  A pimple threatens to form under one eye but that's possibly just from the bandage tape I use at night.  Still, I'm aware that eye surgery and dental surgery came rather close together.  No symptoms of the teeth noted, but my mind was not on that.

The 17th I note that I stank--was this my sense of smell coming back?  A friend on my feed thinks so. The steroid eye drops may be improving my sinuses, especially after the maxillary infection.  The dentist seems to think the eye drops can't effect anything but the eyes but that makes no sense to me at all.  No menstrual periods since the surgery, and occasional hot flashes though I know I get them under stress. Acid reflux is surprisingly quiet--is this too from lack of inflammation, or simply my vacation dietary habits?  I'll have to ask my ent when I see him.
cat under stars

Dental implant and LASEK, part 2: the next few days

I had the good sense to schedule the LASIK on my week off.  LASIK with an eye recovers within a day for a nearsighted person, but leaaves you with a vulnerable eye flap.  Because my purpose with this was to make sports easier, I went with 'EK.  This has a longer recovery time.

My feed tells me I was still on antibiotics from the dentist, a fact I would have brought to the surgeon's attention, but nothing apparently came of it.

Puffiness around the eyes, terrible light sensitivity as well as sensitivity to wind--even the slightest breeze around my face was terrible.  I could read and post only by casting my computer screen onto my large screen television and sitting close to it. Even then I had to keep the screen on the dimmest setting possible and only read for a few minutes at a time.  I did lots of napping the first day.

Here is my uncorrected post:

"I must keepthis nrief, and I can't read my feed just now.
I am super light sensitive, a syptom that mabe shouldn't show up 'tl tomorrow. Maybe that means I'll recover faster?
Light hurts, a puff of air on my eyeball is torture, but otherwwise I'm doing very well. Not tired, though I know I must rest. Slightly nearsighted I think, but that's because eyes ike mine 'bounce back' and will bounce to a slight farsighted, by design.
Seriously wish I could read all my messages just now, but the white of the screen is just too much. Tomorrow if I'm lucky, in a couple days otherwise."

The next day my spirits were lifted if not my vision.

"Bacon and eggs, giant iced vanilla latte (homemade), a couple hours' nap, weather outside is grey and breezy. Wanna play! Okay, where's the dimmer? It's too damned bright out there, way too bright.
Brought to you by ctrl +, making this window cover about a third of the screen."

And the bandage contacts were as annoying as any contacts.  It helps to note that I'd made a mistake with the eye drop insttuctions, and was using the plasma drops instead of artificial tears when my eyes felt dry.
"</span>New rule: don't look down. Do not look down. For some reason that makes my eyeball think the contact lens is trying to fold. Not good.
(After Lasik they give you a 'bandage' contact lens to make airflow bearable. Do you know how long it's been since I've worn contacts?)"

Not sure why I waited for dark, except that I would later replace my ordinary sunglasses with wraparounds.  From the same day:
"</span>Waiting impatiently for the sun to go down so I can get more bottled water, and just get out a bit. Not near enough stamina to go to coffee but I figure I can handle the corner store."

That night my sleeping goggles came off in my sleep and I got a slight but perceptible pressure on my eyeball--right eye I think.  This resulted in what I described as glitter and fluorescent lights in my vision.  The bars of white light when I squint have persisted even to this day (September 10th) and bear a passing resemblance to an ocular migraine, something I do get on rare occasions when I've let myself get run down. While an alarming symptom, they don't seem to indicate anything. I also described my eyes as feeling smokey--dry, in hindsight.

Light sources, like the Christmas lights I decorate my home with, looked like spiders.  This has improved though it's still how I'd describe city lights at night.  The first night light sources were dialog balloons, so spiders were an improvement.  A day or two later they would become spider webs, absolutely clearly rendered spider webs emanating from any nearby light source.

The 11th, I realize the plasma drops aren't moisturizing well enough but by vision is too nearsighted to read my instructions, or to operate my scanner software.  I photograph my instructions and post it to friends, magnify it, and discover the mistake.  Ahhhh that feels better.

I remember, though apparently never posted, that I fell asleep under the air conditioner in one of the previous days.  I was not directly under it, keep a lightweight canopy over my bed, but woke up with eyes so dry they felt like I'd had chili pepper eye drops in them.  I have naturally dry eyes, but this went way beyond that.</span>
cat under stars

Dental implant and LASEK, part 1. Surgery day

Put here in public so that anyone thinking about laser eye surgery knows roughly what to expect.

Be aware that mine was nearly a worst-case scenario.  I'm a middle-aged woman, not quite menopausal but well into presbyopia. I'm farsighted, despite having been nearsighted as a child and glasses-free in my thirties. I have natural blue, some would say blue-green eyes, and some websites (but not my surgeon) say that this eye color can complicate laser surgery.

I had planned this for some months and shopped around, opting for the long commute to Gangnam Dream Eye Center.  The folks there speak fluent English, listened to what I want instead of trying to upsell me, and offer a lifetime guarantee against imperfect correction.  The price, while high by local standards, is low by American standards and would pay for itself in four pair of progressive lenses.

The surgery was schedule for August 8th.  Around about July 11th I got bad news from my dentist:  A tooth that had been root-canaled twice was reinfected, beginning to rot the maxillary bone, and had to be extracted and replaced by an implant.  I consulted with my dentist and eye surgeon, would the surgeries so close together be a problem?  Both said not, though my stomach doctor was dubious.  I decided to go ahead

The tooth extraction and bone graft, while extremely unpleasant, was uncomplicated, and my social feed notes that the stitches came out without difficulty on the 18th.  I had been visibly sick in the days leading up to the extraction, but afterwards I played around on Quora and complained about food bugging the stitches, so I was feeling better.  No hot food because of the bone graft, and that was expected to be the case until October.

August 8th, a long commute to Gangnam.  I went alone, since a friend who'd gotten the surgery earlier had said I'd be functional enough afterwards to get to the train home.  I asked the doctor's office whether it would be better to get a local hotel room for a few days and the answer was an emphatic no.  I got there, picked up my eye driops from the pharmacy, got a few last-minute tests, and it was surgery time.  A phlebotomist, one of the few staffers who was not English fluent, drew a small amount of blood for my plasma eye drops. I got to keep my clothes on but a gown over that, face painted with antiseptic and warned strictly to keep my hands out of the way,  My left eye got a tiny bit of antiseptic in it  (the lid has never closed cleanly) but this seemed not to bother anyone but me.  Despite no sedatives of any sort I was calm throughout the surgery.  The doctor and assistants have a calming way of speaking and walking you through the thing.  After the lasers had done their work, the doctor invited me to look at him.  His face was clearly in focus, something that would be a great comfort later on.  I was escorted to recovery and the most wondeful foam pillow (I've since bought one) with instructions to rest a bit.

After a rest and some intructions I headed out to get a train home.  I have a slight astigmatism, deliberately left uncorrected, so I had to adjust to seeing the world at a tilt, but my focus was good if a bit nearsighted.  I kept my sunglasses dutifully on until nightfall, and after that on because it was more comfortable that way.  I got home,  put everything within reach of my recliner, and enjoyed looking around at my home in the dark.  I put on the protective goggles and went to bed.

Jun. 21st, 2015


July calendar is early

VNV Nation.  The b/w photo is from http://www.benwolf.de/1874057/vnv-nation though it's mostly blind luck that I know that--it is so widely spread that a search of it will give you a ton of results before you ever get to Ben Wolf.  The link is worth a look, however, since the photo session involved vintage clothing.  The suits those men are wearing aren't recreations of 1930's menswear--they're actual 30's suits.  It's one of the passions of Ronan Harris, the singer of the duo and easily the more outspoken of the two.

And yet it's Mark Jackson's autograph on the back of my ticket.  He's fantastically tall and clearly an introvert, content to hang back and listen to Ronan chat with fans.  Did I mention he chats with fans?  A friend of mine took me to a show and knew where the duo were likely to be hanging out afterwards, shooting the breeze on a nearby sidewalk.  It's funny, because if you just listen to the music style you could mistake it for cold steel techno...well, some of it.  Some of it is surreal, some of it is classical-with-synthesizers, and some of it is even harder to describe.  But the music screams machines.  The lyrics, with delightful exceptions, are tough-man's virtues, which is part of why Ronan is the muse for my angel roleplaying character.  But to see them onstage, there's nothing cold or tough about it.  It feels like a bunch of people in black and chrome clothes all decided to hug for a couple hours, you walk away feeling that loved.  I'm at a loss to explain why.

Posting early because I didn't want to procrastinate as badly as last time, though I'll probably wait a week before I actually print it.  You, whoever might be reading this, decide when or if to print it.


Jan. 16th, 2015


Notes today, pictures tomorrow

...because part of Skippy's toolbox includes going to bed early, or at least putting my feet up on the recliner.

So I've got the itch to travel today, and badly.  Seoul was a serious possibility until I realized all the Friday night trains from Seoul to anything near here were sold out.  I had no desire to sleep over, especially since there really aren't any places to rent for the night near that station.  I know, I've checked.  So I take the bicycle out to coffee, just down the hill to the City Hall area.  I pack my brace but don't put it on, since the calf muscle needs the exercise and the ankle will tolerate it.  I have a fresh waffle (a possibly significant detail later) which I rarely do, and a coffee and I'm still ready to go out and about.  I figure the little train from the old Pohang Station would be nice, even though the coastline track to Busan is no more.  Apparently the Donghae-Nambu was Korea's answer to the Coast Starlight until they expanded the line and the coast route just would not accept a second track.  The tourist sites say it is now the hottest hiking trail in the area...

But hey, sitting on a train looking out the window is a nice, Skippy-kind way to pass an hour.  So I bike and walk back to my apartment to put the bicycle away and Skippy finally wakes out of its pain-free slumber and gives me just a twinge.  Okay, I decide, I'll put the brace on when I get to the train.  There's a temple on the train route and temples are always cool, peaceful if long walks, so I head that way.  Turns out that if I wanted it in the next hour I'd have to make a connection, no big deal.  I remembered the long train from Kumamoto to Osaka and thought it would be nice to compare Japanese podunk trains to Korean ones.  Simple pavement platforms in the middle of nowhere, the main difference being that the stairs between the tracks went below ground in Gyeongju and above ground in...was I in Arao?  I did get a picture of the platform, and if one fine day I ever get around to tagging my couple thousand photos they'll make a nice comparison.

So I get off the train at Gyeongju, shlep the stairs and hop on the connection.  It's a ten minute train to Bu******sa Temple (can't quite remember its name right now, blaming the muscle relaxants) but FML there was the happiest little kid on the seat across from me and he wanted to tell the whole damned world about it.  He sounded about four years old.  This is my day of zen, so I whispered curse words to the train window and was glad to get off at my stop.

Yep, little pavement platforms are much the same everywhere.  We passed two that had been abandoned, just weed-struck bricks next to the track, their little shelters gone.  I pity the folks who work at Lear--how do they get out of town??  But this B--- Temple station had a station, and it was an old station much like any other.  The sweetest guy was behind the counter and he tried to explain to me that there simply were no return trains between 4pm (I'd arrived around 3:10) and 9pm that night (the temple, as it turns out, closes at 5).  I was flying on happy travel juices, hadn't had anything but water after that breakfast, so I asked for directions to the bus terminal and didn't worry about it.  The temple proved too far to walk so I backtracked to the bus stop where three idling but empty taxis stood.  The sweetheart at the train station seemed to think there were no taxis worth mentioning in town so I was glad to see these.  It took me a minute to figure out they were in their office and to wave one out that way.  He said the trip to the temple was 5 bucks and that suited me fine, though in hindsight it might have been a touch high.  No matter--this handful of guys has that dinky little town wrapped around their little fingers.  He gets me to the temple and I worry about getting back, make sure to get his business card.

The temple itself wasn't much of anything, sadly.  Most of it was recreation--necessary in a country where temples and palaces are made of wood--and it looked like a dozen palaces I'd seen.  Skippy was smarting so wandering up the hill to the main grounds was not going to happen.  The gardenish area contained some of the few authentic relics, and this being a Shilla era temple those were ancient and worn.  I loved them better than the buildings, of course, but that's me.  Got a lovely sunset shot.

Stepped into the souvenir shop and it smelled heavely of incense, but I own more incense, candles, and vapor fluid than I can possibly use so I passed on that.  I eyed a counter full of amethyst jewelry.  In the middle was a necklace with four opals, so of course my eye was drawn to them.  Either manufactured or a good quality Australian, since these sweethearts had fire.  I leaned in to get a better look and I swear the salesperson was embarrassed that they were not amethysts, because in half a second she'd folded and latched those four opals into an amethyst butterfly.  It was everything I could do not to scream.  It was magical.  Alas, it was also 110 bucks.  Couldn't justify that price for myself especially since I wear pins and rings and very rarely necklaces.  Even the idea of going back--there's a lovely tourist village down the block that reminds me of Yeoju--the only person I know who loves purple butterflies would probably go batshit trying to maneuver those tiny little latches.  Still, everything I could do not to scream in joy.  I settled for a CD of meditation music, sort of New Age as performed by a Korean Classical Orchestra.  It just finished playing now.

Obviously photographing that was out of the question.

One other photo that got away:  the main bus stop by the train station as well as one on the highway to Gyeongju, someone had put two old comfy chairs next to the bus shelter bench.  Hard to believe but there they were, and it had just rained the day before.

So a train back from B- Temple wasn't going to happen, and I get out of the temple at 5 on the nose.  Two taxis were waiting--did someone call them?  I stepped over to one and made the phone hand sign.  He put his passenger window down and I saw a little kid fast asleep in his front seat, and either a massive pile of clothes or two more kids zonked out in the back.  Apparently this guy was camping out in the temple parking lot playing dispatch for the other cab drivers!  I negotiated a taxi to Gyeongju, the next major town and 10 minutes by rail, where I knew there was both a train station and a bus station.  Had him drop me at the train station and the first one out was at 7.  I looked around for a sit-down place for dinner, no luck, so I walked towards where they directed me to the bus station.  I never quite found the station I was familiar with, since it was the only stop I'd ever made in that town before.  Instead after passing it two or three times I found a bus stop with a convenience-type store that sold tickets.  I had to ask about four locals to even get that.  At this point I'd already taken my one anti-inflammatory (mental note to always pack more than one of those!) and as soon as I got on the bus I took a muscle relaxant as well.  I did mention that I biked around for a whole kilometer this morning with no brace on, right?  I mean, 1km was chicken feed back in Daejeon but I hadn't torqued up my ankle at that point either.  I probably walked a solid km and a half trying to find the damned bus stop.  But I found it, got one of the last seats on there, and got back to Pohang. Went up to the food court in the mall (right next to the bus station) and had dinner, then posted to FB from an after dinner coffee.  Hot bath and typing this, and maybe I can get through the night without a Charley horse.

I wonder if I'll be able to walk at all tomorrow?  If I do, it will be a combination of good drugs, good shoes, a cane and quite a bit of luck.

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