Well, I can tell you that her talent doesn’t come from her formal education. She dropped out of that as soon as she could, so she didn’t have many people telling her what she couldn’t do or say, and trying to squeeze her onto some shape she couldn’t fit in, which she wouldn’t have done anyway — but her going her own way saved everyone a lot of hassle. But she was a voracious reader, and a discerning one. And she was always happily juiced up. She would have been outrageous if she weren’t so good natured. That’s what gets her through the tough ones like this. She’s a lot like her mother, come to think of it. As one of my sons said, “I’m not sure I could even be a fraction of that upbeat, but that’s her and I’m me.”

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Monday, April 27, 2015

Dr Hector and Dr Santiago watch as I take a sip of water to make sure that it
doesn't come out anywhere it's not supposed to. The feeding tube is coming out of my nose,
and there's a drain coming out from the bandages on my neck.

Ah, let me write you all a little something right now, when I'm afraid.

    I read somewhere that injuries swell as a way of providing a cushion around the hurt area, to protect it. I think about that often, because there sometimes seems to be a swelling between me and my feelings. My good ones don't feel exalted, and my bad ones don't feel like they're going to crush my bones.

    About a week ago, Bruno had to go to Guadalajara. I had a day nurse here, and honestly, although I am recovering from surgery, I'm not quite in the "I've fallen and can't get up " category. I can't think of any scenarios where I couldn't have managed if I had been left on my own, which has never had a snowball's chance of happening. I move around pretty well, and although It's against surgeons orders to talk, I can, if necessary, and I have kind, competent neighbors. Bruno had planned to be home by the time the nurse left, but he wasn't, and I shooed her away, certain of my safety. After she left, past her shift's end, grumbling and scowling, I enjoyed my solitude for a few minutes.  And then, I called him. There was no answer, quite right, he was on the highway. But then I started hitting the redial, stabbing the redial, calling, texting, relentless.

       And I started imagining what I would do if he had been kidnapped by narcos. Taken away by immigration. I started envisioning rolling cars, flames. The whole time though, it was as though someone else was doing it...that's what I mean about the swelling between me and the emotions that were driving that crazy scene.Even while I was imagining these horrific scenarios, there was a part of me that was considering what my next step would be, who would I call, where were the necessary papers hidden, as though a tragedy involving my husband was just one more link in a heavy, unhappy chain of events, one foot in front of the other.

    This whole episode lasted about ten minutes, and then the front door banged open and he was home, appalled that I had been left alone. He had bought a new phone, and didn't know how to answer it. Idjit.
   And unless he reads this, he'll never know that it happened.

My feeding tube is out. I was waiting to celebrate that moment from the day I woke up after surgery, certain that I was going to die of thirst in a hospital.  I am no longer chained to the IV pole from which my sustenance dripped, three times a day, three hours each time. But I'm still on a liquid diet.

 With the tube feeding gone, so went the nurses, all 5 of the Lupitas with their various personality quirks,the multicolors of streaks in their hair, their stethoscopes and thermometers and blood pressure machines. I couldn't wait to be free of all that, to be alone.

But it's not working out exactly like I thought it would. The days stretch long. I miss them.
In fact, nothing has felt like I thought it was going to. Each baby step forward that I couldn't wait to celebrate as an accomplishment on the way to good health seems to move the football a little farther back.
     I thought;
      When I get out of that hospital bed.When I'm able to walk around. When I can pee on my own. When I'm home.
      All of these, I thought, would make me feel more like the Elliott I was before all this started, but you know what? I'm never going to be her again . I'm going to have new scars and and possibly new disablilities--if my first efforts at trying to get my liquid diet in me are any indication, you will not want to take me out for barbeque. Or even oatmeal. I haven't been allowed to talk yet, so we don't know what that's going to be like, but it won't be the same, and talking is my ...thing.

     At the end of the day, with the swelling around my emotions to "protect them from further injury ( that's my guess,) it all comes down to the same story. At what point would you quit? As my friend Joelle described it, it's like labor...once you're in, you can't exactly back up to the starting line and rethink the plan. So onward we go, come what may.

   My plan, with the support of my husband and family, has been to fight this bitch until one of us yells uncle, and I don't plan on it being me. I don't feel my highs very strongly, or my lows very deeply, and that perhaps is how we are designed to respond in situations like this. I'm in a new phase now. I feed myself ( with the help of about a million caring friends) and Nurse Bruno is in charge of meds and bandages. If you're interested, the meds have to be dissolved in water and then shot into the back of my mouth with a syringe. I've done it with my dogs,  Millie and Pumpkin, no big deal.
     And once again we will figure it out. And continue to move forward. But tonight I'm afraid that this will all be over, and I won't be me.
    But I will be somebody, and I will be here.
First stop after the appointment? Starbucks! The tubes are out.
While this may have been my first clue that a period of adjustment
would be required, the symbolism is real. And encouraging!



  1. None of us are the same person after we have gone through trauma..some part of us are better and some not as obvious but we all have grown in our souls. Our soul will be more ready to help another, to smile brighter and to extend a hand to those in need more quickly. No, we are not the same but better...you will heal and know this..my thoughts are with you and Bruno...

  2. Oh, Peggy, comforting words! I have to say, I wrote this last night, and woke up this morning with the burden on my brain lifted completely. I guess I'll keep writing! Thank you for being there....what a good friend you are, when you think how few are the times we've actually been in the same room!

  3. Everything you encounter in life, the good and the bad, changes you. Over time, you learn that YOU decide how much and in what direction it changes you. Your mind, soul and body will heal. As the healing goes along you will direct it's path. Will you be you, of course, you will be a wiser you in more ways than you can possibly imagine now. Much love and many, many healing thoughts sent your way.

  4. Joan Caton CromwellMay 3, 2015 at 8:14 AM

    They say that being ill is a humbling experience and perhaps it is. But it is also such a shocking experience to your body and to your mind. What you described sounds like PTSD which would be normal after what you've been through. The memories of the battle are so present it is hard to get back to "the old Elliott." not to worry because everyone love Elliott whether it be the old version or the new version.

  5. Ladies and Gentlemen, allow me to introduce Joan, dear friend, fellow combatant in the trenches of serious illness, and all around wise owl. Love you, sister.