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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Thursday, June 4, 2015

I'm Cured! Um, I guess.

So where's Elliott? Did I die? Back in the hospital? Some other ghastly medical disaster? Believe me, after experiencing that business with the hole in my neck, I've learned that we don't know what we don't know as far as how weird the body can get.
Waiting in Line.
    However, the answers are nope, nope, and nope. Where I have been is standing in line. Yes, I have literally been standing in line since May 27th, the date of my last post. Not the same line, sometimes we changed lines, and there have been moments when instead of standing in a line, I've been waiting in large rooms filled to overflowing with people who, like me, are waiting to find out which line to stand in next. It requires a certain Zen outlook to remain positive. But I am! I am positive!  Why wouldn't I be? At the end of one of those lines was a doctor who looked at his computer and said "No need for chemo. You are cancer free." Yahooo! Yipppee! Hot Dang! Right?

    No. I don't know why. Maybe I've got that weird Baron Munchausen disease, where you don't want to give up being sick. But I don't think so. My genius local therapist, Valerie Rhoda, writes

"The specter of cancer & the recurrences put a damper on any relief & joy because you don't, can't, really trust that it is gone. As you said you were prepared for chemo & odd as it sounds you now have to adjust to no chemo. Chemo represents actively fighting the disease, doing nothing is scary, it's passive"

 I was really, really happy. It's just that I'm no wide eyed cancer virgin. I've been cured of this shit before. Twice. And the doctors always say some variation of "You're cured. But don't go too far."

    It took a a couple of days to realize how strongly the assumption of chemo in my future had taken hold. The biggest tip off was during my next turn in the giant waiting room. I found myself scanning the room for women who had come up with interesting ways to tie their headscarves, and had to keep reminding myself that my hair wasn't going to fall out. Because I'm not having chemo.


  See what I mean? I just can't quite get free of this. And if you write me and tell me I have to think positive I'll write you back and it will not be pretty. If my future depends on the quality of my thoughts, after all of this, then I. Am. Doomed.

    No, I think I just "have my walls up" as they say on the Bachelor. ( Don't watch the Bachelor? I'm shocked. But every single one of the promiscuous ninnies that line up to be hosed by whichever fatuous himbo is this season's Bachelor announces that she has  her walls up as a result of a previous heartbreak.That's usually about one minute before she takes off her underwear.) Leave me alone, I've been stuck at home for a long time

    So that's what Bruno and I have been doing. But we sure didn't do it alone.
  My friend Marti, fluent in Spanish and willing for reasons unknown to do anything for anyone lucky enough to be her friend, has been with us and we could not have made this transition from private care to the National Healthcare System without her.  Leaving at 6:30 in the morning to arrive at the National Health Hospital in Guad in time to wait for four hours before spending twenty minutes with my surgeon, which is just long enough to receive a stack of authorizations written on post-its and scraps of file folder for appointments and tests to be scheduled at the same time in different places with a variety of specialty departments. ( We had to travel up and down stairs and back and forth across the building, making individual appointments at, respectively, plastic surgery, rehabilitation, Xray, imaging, and oh yeah, oncology.) Thanks to Marti and her Spanish and unflappable patience, and Bruno and his ....thereness, I have somehow managed to enter the Mexican Medical system and come out on the other side.

     I have wanted, often, to somehow address the village that I live in and their participation in my recovery. I don't know how to do it.  It is so much the stuff of the Disney movies of my youth, and so unlike the world I left behind when I moved here, that I just don't know how to describe the way that I have been held aloft for this entire time. Groups of people have coalesced into teams. Sometimes corralled into teams by friend who were born with the get 'r done gene.
      Teams and individuals have kept me upright and fed, have groomed my dogs, and given me free passes for counseling, who have provided homemade gruel for the feeding tube when that was still going up my nose, who have kept me on a steady diet of bone broth which I believe to be responsible for the successful healing of my surgery. Fresh aloe vera and honey, cases of Ensure from Costco, handmade cards. Friends who have kept our refrigerator stocked and made sure that Bruno never went without lasagna. Friends who snuck around and collected anonymous envelopes of cash like it was hush money so there would be a little something to help.  It's magic, and impossible to adequately describe. I would have to write a song, like Lulu in "To Sir with Love"

Got out yesterday to my first Dancefit class with James since
the surgery. Christine wrote this
So looked who joined us for exercise this morning! She started at the back but by the end of the class she was on stage with James. So not surprising. Welcome back Elliott xxxxxx

   In minutes, there were so many comments and likes and words of support and encouragement, I felt like Kim Kardashian.

I want to be very clear about one thing. This isn't about people liking me, facebook thumbs or no. This is about the kind of people that live in this place and the the kind of place that it is. In other words, it's not me, it's you. 

 I wrote a story about community after my first Christmas in Mexico. As part of my project of getting all my stories under one roof, as it were, I've posted it here. It was a different community, but the magic is the same.


  1. When thinking about the thousands of kilometers logged into Guad for medical appointments and hospital stays: and the thousands more driven by friends for radiation and chemo sessions, it does seem like a mobilized army. Fighting what we affectionately call "The Pinche Cancer." It's beem two years now, but I'm amazed how things just seem to materialize. Like when Carlos Baeza, my good friend with the fabulous garage in Guad, called to tell me his brother-in-law was selling a Chevy, a company car in excellent condition. That was right when we needed a decent car, and with Mexican plates to boot. Things work out. Like the many friends who have devoted themselves to seeing this battle turn into a successful life's journey. You know who you are. And to the folks who ask me in Walmart, or the Super Lakes parking lot, "What can I do?" I know what you mean, I feel the same way. Just keep doing what you've been doing, and for that I am grateful.

  2. So glad you have made your return to the stage.. I knew it wouldn't be long! Keep on dancing!

  3. Dear Elote,

    Well, drat! I just wrote a brilliant comment and then realized I wasn't signed in so it all disappeared. That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

    So happy to hear your news delivered in your inimitable style. Maybe it's for the best that my pathetic attempt to respond in kind disappeared into cyberspace.

    Keep those cards and letters coming, dear friend. You are a source of light and laughter - even when your humor is of the darker variety. You amaze me!

    Light, laughter, and love backatcha girlfriend!!

    XOXOXO Janet