Thursday, August 11, 2011

In Mexico w/o my health, my English, or my mommy...

      I am the type that likes to experience more pain, like hair pulling pain or pounding on my leg pain or some type of distraction from the illness, when the time comes, that I may be plagued with. I wish for my mom to run her fingers though my hair, scratching the skin of my scalp along the way, as I lay there pueking. To be sprawled across a hard tile bathroom floor next to an air vent blowing on my nose that smells like damp concrete coming from a basement, gives me more comfort than a bed would; that is as long as the sound of running water was soothing my ears. When I have a headache I need to be cold, with a clean bleached line dried sheet to give me the correct placement in my mind to work on my feelings of health, mind over matter. If acupuncture were to be offered, I confess, I would make a good candidate. The intensity of the needle pricks would send well invited chills throughout my body. Or perhaps an out of body experience in which I could float above my own self and go out of the window in search of a breezy hillside with long grassed fields of flowers and crickets and lady bugs and big stones with fresh moss that grew on the shady sides clinging to the stone with its sturdy hard cold surface, that is where I would find my peace. A big oak tree with branches that encompassed that same field would give me a place to nap, right in the nook of one of the largest branches, with its rough bark pushing in on my facial skin as I rest in its arms. Then I would feel better. Escaping through imagination is an important part of making the hike up the dreaded path of being sick.... escaping... going to my childhood porcelain bathtub and the dark blue checked tile with the angel wallpaper, or were they Greek goddesses, either way, they were my protection.
       I walked past the bucket that was sitting in the mid-morning sun and looked down to see the fish, maybe a dozen, about as long as a size-seven shoe. They were whole, as if just been caught, but I had not noticed anyone mentioning a fishing trip recently, and found out later to be purchased from a street vendor, with a rate of God only knows how long they have been dead. I briefly wondered why they were there, out in the courtyard, unprotected from the sun. Of course I did not take the time to ask, because it is the little things like that that I avoid due to the language barrier. It is hard to convey the exact word, combined with the perfect attitude, as to not provoke a defensive comeback as to why I may seem to be correcting their actions as to leaving fish sit in a bucket in the sun. I let it go and continued on my way through the courtyard to the hallway that led to the backyard where the shower room was located and did what I had to do within my own focus, like a good woman.
        The decision to take a long drive to a neighboring town was mentioned and it excited me for the opportunity to add to the photo collection of the Jalisco countryside that the roads wrapped through. Ricardo enjoys wearing shoes that are made of leather and weaved rope, resembling the look of a tightly pulled hammock. I do not bring insult to the continuation of the annual purchase, each white roped shoe replacing the worn leather and grey rope of the last, the exact pattern year after year, same buckle, same cut out sole with the tiny nails around the perimeter. I cannot say that I am embarrassed in any way to walk with him with these shoes, as quite honestly they make him look attractive in a thrifty comfortable exotic sort of fashion. Right next to the pile of shoes were the neatly stacked cowboy hats that had one sort of teetering on the top, obviously misplaced in the style from the others. My daughter snagged it up as she noticed my eyes on it while I attempted to swing the umbrella stroller with the baby into a side area and place the brake lock on. She put the hat on my head and said "that is so you mom." It fit perfect. Around the middle are beads of blue and tan with a light colored weaved straw material, something that struck my self indulging side and I needed it instantly. My son translated to the store owner of the price which is more than I would ever spend on myself while in Mexico, $150 pesos can feed our family for two days if not longer, but I just had that feeling, that voice, telling me, "do something for yourself for once foolish girl, you are no spring chicken, enjoy!" Ricardo did not seem to mind throwing the hat in with the shoe purchase, so that made it all the more ridiculously enjoyable to walk out of the store with it, down the long hacienda style walk of side by side stores, looking over at the town's central park through the arch-ways between pillars as I walked, pushing a stroller, with my shades and new hat. Now I was truly "in Mexico".
        When we got back to the house of my in-laws I was hungry of course and was told to go eat. Yes there is never a polite invitation as "would you like to?" It always comes in more of a "for what you are not eating right now?! Co-mmmaaaaaeee (Come) that instruction is really never a difficult request to respond immediately to for me, because I love food. The meals are based on the time schedule of morning, pile it in as much as will fit, it has to last till mid-day, upon which is the big meal of the day, again that you binge like it is that last food for miles. Sometimes if you are lucky there is a snack towards eight or nine in the evening. If it is taquitos, you have just lucked out, especially if you get tons of guero chiles cooked on the grill, my favorite. The variety of snacks from the camote sweet potato topped with lechera or the sugar rolled churro, or the pica salsa verde Oaxaquenos can find a friend to your tongue's mood. Usually it is some type of pan, or danish of the Mexican style, sugar spared, top with swirls of cajeta or meil, then wash that down with some milk, or leche, or some tea of one of the various plants' leaves from the backyard boiled in water on the stove, and there you go, ready for bed.
      His sister tells me to pick up a bowl on the way over to the stove that she was mandating, serving spoon in hand. She was sitting in the kitchen early that morning cutting up vegetables at the table, around 7 a.m., with her hair up and sleeping clothes still on by herself. I walked in half asleep to try much luck at tipping the giant drinking water bottle that nestled in the metal bracket sling that permitted the water to be poured out without having to pick the heavy container up off of the ground. Sometimes it was difficult to tip it just enough to only fill a cup full, for it required control of the heaviness of the weight plus the correct momentum on the tilt. I choked down two Advil that I was desperate for. I woke up with a broken neck apparently some wild dream I must of had knocked me into my 40's and my muscles and spine did not agree, because I could not move my head. I spilled a bunch of water in the process of tipping the jug to get my small amount needed accomplished, with a smile, a simple "hi" (I gave up on trying to be the American gone espanol switch over and have recently accepted that things come out of my mouth for a reason, justified with the fact that I am busting my butt to get my online teacher degree, works for me.)
     It is hot. The kitchen has sweat shop written all over it, but I am hungry. I proceed to the stove and looking down on the huge metal serving spoon that his sister was heading toward my bowl in hand is a fish head, eyes and all, among some type of red colored broth and I seemed to be making out, what is that, a whole shrimp with his stabby looking head and black wet nub eyes.... I made a face and said oh no, no, no gracias no...los ojos, oh no no... los ojos meaning the eyes on that spoon are a little too much for me to consume, even politely. So she retreats back to her own place at the table and hands me the spoon to fend for myself. I try to dig through the broth to find at least a side of a dismembered body of one of the fish, thinking that I could try scraping the skin off and getting a bit of meat from, at least so that I can act as though I am enjoying myself at the table with everyone. I even threw in a few shrimp. The stew was actually made with chiles and had my luck at some floating around so I snatched a few of those. The pot next to it had the cooked cubed vegetables from the morning, and in the pan was rice with slices of chile. I put a heaping spoonful of each onto my broth and mixed it around with my spoon once I was at the table seated with everyone. It would have been real swell to have one of those cool mist dispensing machines it was so hot, but no.
      I was hungry and the dish was a little too much work. It felt as though I were trying to eat with chopsticks, the same "come-on" and want feelings that I want to throw them down and grab for a fork moment that hits. I could not really find a way to escape the frustration though, so I continued to pick all of the little fish ribs from the mix of vegetables and rice that seemed to find their way out of the fishes' bodies and into the broth. I peeled the shrimp legs and skin and snapped the heads off and ate one one of those, and even picked some of the meat from one of the body halves of fish that I had spooned out onto a plate beside my bowl, to my disappointment the meat was so tightly infused with the skin of the fish that it would not peel off, so I just ate it. I glanced around the table and everyone else was chomping down the whole shrimp, including my husband who reminded me of a raccoon funny enough, eating that shrimp in that way, head and all... I justified the whole thing as that it must have many good health qualities for our bodies.
       Then the burning started. I did not pick on anyone that day enough to deserve that beating. We were packing the car with our luggage and plastic bags of shoes and wet towels and dirty clothes and pillows and whatever else comforts four children on a two week trip to grandma's house. It was our planned night of driving back all night, while the kids were sleeping in the back of the van, for the 6-9 hour trip from Jalisco to Cuernavaca. I informed Ricardo that I was not feeling too well.
       We continued to pack the van, at a pace that said that we were in no hurry, just half of our determination was being dealt out in the organizing and cramming of the bags, for we figured we could just throw it into the house when we were back at our condo throughout the following day without any type of pressure. I felt bad and told Ricardo that something is really wrong with me, my stomach is on fire. He asked me to point where the pain was located on my stomach and I showed him in between the nook of the ribs, the actual stomach cavity. His mom decided to make an oatmeal shake for me. Ricardo blamed it on my coffee habit and my daily over-indulgent consumption of hot chiles, which is a personal weakness. Everyone was sitting around talking and laughing, knowing that this was our last few hours. I went to the kitchen to drink down the potion of cure. I immediately felt something and ran to the bathroom and pueked. I told Ricardo "vomito" and asked him to keep watch on the babies while I would try to get over it for thirty minutes and rest on the bed.
          There was a mood of the final count down to the fact that the van was packed and the anticipation of our trip that touched all that were there to visit us, which was roughly fifteen or sixteen more people adding to our already fourteen in the house. There was Spanish conversation and shouts flying through the air giving me uncomfortable hot feelings and irritations, and kids chasing each other around, screaming and giggling too close to the other side of the closed door in the room in which I was really trying to mentally go to my childhood happy place so as to talk myself into being full of health. Their loud voices were in my respected air space and no one seemed to understand that I was trying to do something important, something that required intense concentration, rest for the trip and talk myself out of being sick. I ran to the bathroom again, this time it was worse.
        I grabbed a bucket on my way back to the bedroom this time, probably the same damn bucket those fish were in that mid-morning, You know, you would think that I would have learned my lesson by now. The week before, my father in law's 8o year old brother, brought in enough meat for a small army and it was stewed as chunks in some type of Mexican red sauce. It pleased me greatly to have an endless amount of meat on my plate after eating different variations of beans and vegetable meals for days, so I devoured a bunch as did everyone else. But when I noticed that the same pot was on the stove the next morning, at a rapid boil, and then still sitting in the same spot that afternoon for dinner, and then the next day, without being refrigerated once, I felt like I may have been singled out in my own quiet determination of talking myself into whatever reality that everyone else was in that said that this was ok. I have been on my death bed more than once on these visits. My stomach cannot handle the same things as what everyone is used to. You would think I would learn.
I do not want to sound arrogant towards different lifestyles. I am explaining from my point of view as I went through my day. A point of view that is from a woman that grew up in the outskirts of Pittsburgh with enough Aqua-net to coax my hair into a huge mane in the 80's, in a house that plopping down on the shag rug in from the the HBO that was on TV to enjoy a movie while eating a heaping bowl of Captain Crunch in the middle of the afternoon, without having to ask for permission from anyone, just because that is what I felt like doing... is how I formed my views on living. A bottle of Pepsi in the fridge, or a huge bag of Doritos on the counter was not considered a treat that needed to be monitored, it was just an available part of the array of common kitchen items.
         Food poison has had its way with me in Mexico. There is a restaurant, plastic chairs and tables in a concrete block garage on the corner, that serves al pastor, a block from our place within walking distance. We had the best basic pig out a few years ago, equipped with three different salsas, endless supply of warm tortillas, 'Boing' in a glass bottle (my favorite flavor guayaba, of course), and a plate of fresh crisp radish. I was the only one... The only one to have instant issues from the food out of the whole family that ate from the same heaping dish of meat that sat in the middle of the table. The question that bothered us, was why not all of us? The Dr. Simi hired physician at the local pharmacy explained to us that some people are more susceptible than others, especially since I have spent my entire life accustomed to a certain vacuum-packed sterile food, my stomach was now lazy to the necessary strength that it needed to handle most foods here in Mexico. My husband on the other hand is blessed with this type of stomach and so are my children, even though American, started out eating here young enough to only be affected before the age of two years. Great, an explanation.
It makes sense when I see how my mom treats meat, as though it were equally naughty to her private underclothes, out on the counter. She swipes it underhanded to a place of concealment without a sound. Into the fridge, a bit annoying, for I am usually, as in 99% of the time, the chef, when we are at the house of my father. My mother will helicopter over me in the kitchen while I cook, to be sure if meat is involved in the mix, it is in the refrigerator, piece by piece, as I cook it. Her peeve is thawing meat in the sink. My daily morning routine of taking the meat out for dinner to thaw in the double sink is forever being interrupted, for at the needed time, the frozen meat that was not given time to thaw, foils the attempt of an organized, prompt mealtime. The food is finished and immediately she plastic wraps and refrigerates anything not finished from the pan even before she will sit down to eat. She is fanatical about meat. So then makes sense to me when I discover the possibility of my stomach having the personality of a pampered princess child.
       I sit on the edge of the bed, at this time Ricardo has cancelled the trip home, obvious to the fact that I was not going to be the ideal companion with a man who was on a mission to make it to the destination that much quicker than the last attempt, in less time than it should take, with few stops as possible, as most men do. I am pressing my face to the blue painted concrete block wall of the bedroom in between throwing the bucket up to my face to rid more of those damn vegetables that I could still picture her cutting at the table that morning with my broken neck, half asleep. It was now dark out, maybe 9 p.m. The guests were carrying on, talking and laughing in the next room, right on the other side of the wall that I was making out with. It was something about the smell of that cold concrete and paint that was aiding me, dramatic as it may have appeared for me to be so passionate to a wall, instead of being normal and holding onto a pillow or blanket. His sister and mom and even his brother made their twenty-one trips in to advise Ricardo on what to do with his sickly wife. I would anticipate them walking out after each conclusion that there would be no conversation from either of us, me with the wall, holding the bucket, and him with his usual, eyes glued to the TV that I insisted he put on mute. I could not handle that novela and the unfamiliarity of being in my condition with the Spanish language encircling my mind, it was just too much of an opposite of my childhood home and mom that I longed for at that moment. The very second that they would turn for the door, giving up, and walking out concluding each time that they made their point of caring about my illness, I would let it go into the bucket again, delirious with the sharp burning explosive pains that were happening in my stomach, but aware enough to be embarrassed at people watching me hurl.
         I had a stab in my lower stomach and then I gave in to the idea that his mom was insisting of going to the doctor. My son was sick (with food poisoning) years before with diarrhea and a high fever when he was just a baby. We were visiting, so we went to several doctors, all giving us different conclusions, but nothing working. At two in the morning one night, I said "Ricardo, if I was in the USA right now, I would be taking him to the emergency room. It is not normal for a baby to have diarrhea and a fever for so many days, or rather weeks." We had even seen a woman who gave him a belly massage with some magic oil potion for three days in a row, nothing was working. We bundled him up and went to the doctor's office at 2a.m., after I assured him I would not drop the subject, and his mom came with us. I was told to not talk (American money dollar signs would be sniffed out) so they did all of the talking while I sat with a stupid worried mom look on my face. The office of the doctor was built with his home behind the door in the hallway, as many private practices (and family owned stores) are in Mexico, so the doctor looked half asleep, which I am sure he was literally. He gave the baby a couple injections, which is custom to treatment, and charged us 800 pesos. The comparison is that the doctor that we usually go to around the corner from my house is a 25 peso fee for consultation. When I was pregnant, and had a sonogram at the doctor's office in the city, it was 200 pesos. I remembered this, therefore for me to decide on the doctor at this point, knowing that we only had $300 dollars to get us through another month, is what you might say desperate for relief. I was not nauseated and did not have diarrhea, but was with severe burning eruptions of hot lava. It scared me because of the past experience of being hospitalized some time ago in Mexico. It scared me more than the actual pain. The memory of the past that changed my opinion of the free spirit life of living in Mexico, the exotic experience, the reality of medical customs and the near death, good-bye world moment.
       The reminding feeling of my stomach hurting took me to a previous moment, that similar burning feeling that went on for days, and me brushing it off as too much chile or indigestion of some type. The pain woke me up one night around four in the morning. When my eyes first opened, I had to focus on where I was. The few weeks during our transitions, it is hard for me tell immediately where I am at when I wake. As I conversed with myself I realized in a calm acceptance that something was majorly wrong with my body, perhaps my appendix? I rolled off of the mattress onto the floor where Ricardo was sleeping and whispered to him that I was not ok. We held each other for awhile. The baby was asleep and moments like this were rare, a treasure. I had only been back in Mexico a few days. We arrived in Guadalajara that Wednesday and spent the rest of the week with his family. It was now Monday. After a 7 hour drive over the weekend, we were in now in our condo in Cuernavaca. The previous Monday we flew from Pennsylvania to San Diego, spent the day with my sister, and then taxi-vanned our way over to Tijuana to take a flight into Guadalajara where we met Ricardo who had been visiting his parents for the week. This gave us the opportunity to show off our new baby daughter who was now 7 weeks, his mother's name of Socorro as the baby's middle name, a special introduction. The kids and I were in the United States since Christmas day and it was now the beginning of April, the baby's birth occurring in February, two weeks past the given due date. We were so happy to be in each others' arms finally. When we are apart, our nightly phone calls lack in showing expression for our emotions and after spending the last month of our pregnancy and birth of our daughter apart, we needed to be close. The baby was asleep. We had sex and then he made some tea for me. It was some ancient Indian potion, is what I call it, for bad nerves that he bought to calm himself while we were gone as he was depressed and alone, waiting for our return. It was made of tree bark and it tasted bitter and sour and gross. He felt that my stomach issues were only wrecked nerves due to all of the travel, but the special tea did not stop my stomach burning. We decided to try to find an early morning doctor somewhere.
       It was 6a.m. on a Monday. Doctors offices opened at eight or nine, so we loaded all the 4 kids into the van and drove over to his sisters house about ten minutes away. The pain was increasing, but not to the point of being unbearable, just an annoying painful burning in my stomach and lower right side, but I was still able to smile. I knew it was an appendix and I do not know why I knew, it was just a voice in my head. My sister in law called her doctor friend of the family, while everyone ate breakfast, and then we all piled back in the van to go to see the doctor. His office was about 20 minutes of a drive away, and although I knew him from holidays and get togethers, I never visited his office, so I was not real sure where we were going. All that I knew is that my pain was increasing. I had tears in my eyes when we arrived at his office thirty minutes later. Ricardo had a panic look in his eye. The doctor said it was my appendix and typed up a prescription diagnosis for us to take onward to the hospital. It was serious.
       My husband drove as though he was in a dune-buggy over the speed bumps and curves and narrow spaces that the van barely fit through during morning traffic. Everyone was in a hurry, and Mexico traffic is more like an audience in a boxing arena. I let out little squeaks and squeals at every jar of the car hitting the curves and bumps. We slammed into the front row of the hospital and raced in to the ER. They calmly told us to take a number and have a seat. The number that we had to wait for was #11.
        Ricardo stood by me on the seat with my face buried into his stomach, his shirt, quietly crying. My kids hovered around his sister across from us. Almost every seat in the huge room was occupied, watching us. I nursed our baby in the van on the way there, as to be sure that she got her last fill of milk and she would be ok for at least an hour or two. My husband has a bit of a temper, and a definite issue with protection over his family. It was all just too much for him to be told to wait until he burst opened the examination room door and rambled quick face slaps of Spanish jibber to the surprised doctors that were tending to a couple different patients. The nurse quickly pushed him out, but they took me in to the other room, gave me a nightgown, and told me to undress into it. They pushed around on my stomach and told me to rest on a cot in among a dozen of already occupied cots in a relatively small room. All of the other people seemed to be old, older than me, by at least 15 years. The doctors and nurses all young, at least 15 years younger than I. Ricardo sat and held my hand while I stared at the ceiling trying to concentrate on not totally freaking out. I was not offered any type of pain medication and the pain was intense. Tears streamed down from the corners of my eyes into my hair. Ricardo told me I love you, and I figured I must look like bad, was that his last words, because he never used to tell me that. I felt it pop inside of my lower abdomen; the pop of my appendix bursting it infection through my body. I felt it and I let out a scream, followed by my hands gripping my face as to keep in the rest of the pain that I felt like letting out in this very public room. The doctor did not even look up from his desk. Ricardo yelled over, and he sluggishly came over with the xray results. He rambled a bunch of things to Ricardo and left. What was wrong, did you tell him, help me Ricardo.... he said you have gas.
There was not anyone who spoke English or even attempted to. Ricardo was not allowed to stay with me, but was told that they would know in a couple hours when the tests came back from the lab from the blood and urine (that I had to give in the cot in a bed pan with the blankets pulled over, no privacy curtain) He left me there to tend to the kids and to take them to his sister's house to eat, stopping to purchase a bottle and formula for the baby. As time went by I got worse. The sharp intense pain spread over my entire body from my entire abdomen into my chest and settling into my collarbone area for some reason. I tried to catch the eye of every nurse and doctor that walked by me as they tended to the other patients. I would say I'm not ok, please help me. No one did. Some of the nurses would come over, and then listen to my whispers of broken Spanish trying to explain that I was not a mamilia, that yo tengo seis bebes y dolor es no problemo but this was muy mal... maybe they did not understand that. Staring at the bag hung above me of IV water, I asked the nurse what it was, her answer being agua. I deviously planned to hijack the tube from by arm and suck down the water for the thirst that I was experiencing was that fierce. I asked for a cloth with water, ice chips, something... I just got guilty polite smiles with a head shaking no for an answer. I was dying and I knew it.
       The last time Ricardo was there was at noon, which was following the pop of the infected appendix. It was now 7 pm. Ricardo came in. By this time my appearance had gone from a woman in pain earlier when he was there, to a very delirious person on her death bed. I said get me out of here I am going to die Ricardo, they do not care. Even the other patients, the old guy in the corner, brought it to the doctors attention that I was not ok. They were busy or something.
      We planned the escape. Ok we can go back to the doctor friend, get some pain pills and then go to another hospital. Or we can go to the other hospital... either way I wanted some pain pills. This pain was worse than childbirth with 5 all natural childbirths and one c-section notched in my belt I felt like a professional in the opinion of pain scale rate. A person knows when they are at the edge between life and death. Sounds funny to say now that it is in the past, true as it was. It is sort of an acceptance that it is over. When there is extreme pain, it is an anticipated relief... death.
       Ricardo called his sister to tell her to get a hold of the doctor friend, that we were on our way to get a prescription for pain meds. We told her of the plan that was relayed to us of my treatment and that was to spend the night on that cot, and they were talking of a transfer at noon to another hospital to receive some tests. I would be dead by then in a Spanish speaking world. His sister called the doctor friend. He was angry. The doctor made a call to the hospital personally telling them that I was the wife of the very dear family friend. Three older senior doctors were at my side within moments that spoke English. The said we are going to give you surgery. I said what time, and they said right now. I was so happy, I said thank you. Imagine that. It took someone to call so that I would be here right now to write about it with my children sleeping on the floor in front of me. Almost blows my mind.
       I was wheeled through the maze of halls to the elevator to the operating area. The boof that was pushing me bumped into a corner, Ricardo yelled at him, baboso. He is this fatherly figure to people on the street, reprimanding them as if they were a small child, even if they are a foot taller than he is. He amazed me with his stance that he took. He was to stay behind at the swinging private doors. The hallway was cluttered with miscellaneous surgical items, with doors open to dark room in which operations on people that I did not know were being taken place. I could see the naked legs and the bright light shining on the body with the surgical tools and white sheets and doctors all standing around with masks. I wondered if it was morally right for me to be catching sight of that personal moment. Then I wondered if my own naked body would be a vision for whoever walked by. At that point the wonder and the care to do anything about it was only surface entertainment for my mind that focused on the possibility of the end of the pain or of my own breathing, one or the other, either of which would have been better than the moment.
       A boy doctor with blonde hair and glasses came over to me ans spoke perfect English. He wore a white doctor coat and pants and carried a chart in his arm. He said to me "We are going to perform surgery now. We will open your stomach and see what is making the pain happen for you. You will be sleeping after for some time. Can you sign these papers for our permission?" I was delirious enough to say to him "You look like my son," a comforting moment for me, truly. A nurse preparing the operating table was talking to the doctor and she was asking about me, in Spanish. I have learned that reading facial expressions goes a long way after years of living surrounded by people that you do not understand. I heard her ask why I was so relaxed. That made me feel brave. They pulled the wheelchair over to the table. I stepped up on the step stool in my bare feet, sat down on the operating table and bumped my head on the light overhead, bend my neck around so that I could lay down and place my arms in the brackets that made me into a Jesus. They put a mask on my mouth and the English boy doctor said you will fall asleep now. The medication went into my body like dye in a jug of water, so smooth and delightful, I had to share. Pulling the mask from my face, I told those Spanish medicals surrounding my operating table in my best English, "it doesn't hurt anymore..." and I fell asleep.
       My nose was itchy. Where was I? My hand ran across my stomach, there were two huge bulges of wound bandages. What would the reason be for two? I could swear the guy across from me was laughing at me, to the point where i was offended and annoyed. Was the fact that I was out of it so funny that you would laugh at me helpless caught in this bed? I realized I was seeing things due to the drugs of the operation. The nurse wheeled me out to Ricardo waiting. I was still alive, yeah!
       The doctor told us of the two hour very complicated surgery that they had to wash out my whole insides; such a nice thought. I was stuck in that hospital for 5 days. Nurses are not to help you. They are there only to change your bandages, IVs, and all of those types of things. If I needed to go to the bathroom, that was Ricardo's responsibility. If he was not there, I waited until he was. The bathroom was a good 10 minute walk, of course at a slow post operation pace, hunched over grabbing on for dear life. My bed was a plastic mat about 2-3 inches thick. There was no air condition, and the plastic made it worse. The bed did not raise up. So I lay flat on my back, looking up. There was no TV. There was no food or water for me for 4 days. My head hurt so bad. I could hear screams in other rooms echoing down the halls. The lady next to me endured surgery 3 times that month. They just kept taking organs out until they figured out what was wrong with her. I wished the best for her. She had a 10 month old baby waiting for her at home. Her mom fed me jello on the sly one day... spoon fed me... a stranger.
        I finally showered with Ricardo's help in the shower room. It was ironic for me. I made jokes before I left Pennsylvania that Ricardo was not going to see my body in the light because of my 10 pound baby stretching out my skin and the fat just hung there like a deflated parachute... and here he was showering me, washing me hair, helping me move in every way shape and form for an entire 5 day stay. My boobs were leaking everywhere, my gowns were wet, but I never really noticed for the pain was still there, but this time it was from the surgery. I had a scar from my bikini line to my belly-button, and a hole in the side with a tube sticking out of me, leaking out any remaining pus from the infection, how gross. The tube was pulled out the last hour of my stay, by a boy that was an aide of some type. He was so busy flirting with the nurse in the room that he just yanked it out... about threw me through the ceiling. The whole thing cost a total of $149 dollars. What a bargain.
       So much for comfort zones when you are not ok in another country. Everything that you are accustomed to, the things that lull you into the state of mind to overcome the pain... all gone. You are dealing with raw. And there is no turning back.
Yes, this memory plays on me now when anything feels bad. Four months after that experience my two year old had sharp pains in his stomach and when the doctor said appendix I almost lost it. My husband pulled up to that same hospital and I screamed no no not here. We went across the street to a children's hospital that was supposedly more expensive, but I insisted because of my memory. It turned out to be just clogged bowels, but it was the threat of the abuse and not the actual abuse so to speak that freaked me out. That is my baby. Changed a lot about my need for residency in Mexico and the reality of fighting for Ricardo's paper in the USA became that much more of a determined goal at that very moment.
Memories play tricks on a mind, especially when sick. So back to Jalisco and the whole fish in the bucket food poison, which that is all it turned out to be. We went to the doctor and she performed a sonogram and said that everything was horribly "inflamado" and of course it was my fault, (as a woman in a country that has not found women's lib- how dare I cause such a dramatic episode) for eating way too much chile, for now I seem to have colitis....
       This doctor was wrong and even though the injection of pain medication that I received on the spot really did wonders, we made the long trip home the next day, living on pain meds, and worth the 300 pesos. I started to get the chills and sweats and hyper sensitive skin and achy muscle thing and I slept almost non stop... I knew that I did not have colitis, especially when I googled it. I had food poison. We went to the doctor here, that knows us, as we are there every other week, and he confirmed it to my unbelieving husband that it was indeed from the food. HA is all I had to say. It wasn't my chile or my terrible coffee habit, or the pepsi that I crave sometimes... it was in fact the fish.
He is still in denial.

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