Wednesday, August 8, 2012

New city, new blog

Because we all know you don't get any more Irish than me...

Maria's first surgery

Just spoke with Maria today. She was in quite a bit of pain, but I'm sure that is normal. She had her first surgery today and has a followup visit tomorrow.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Last Day

Maria is amazing. Despite the shitty conditions she lives in, despite the shitty life she has had (started working at 8 years old picking coffee; had her first kid at 14 years old; 4 children; 1 dead foetus and the resulting abortion, hysterectomy and partner leaving her; and a lifetime of being invisible), she is still able to appreciate the beauty of a full moon, flowers, the ripples the raindrops make when they hit the ground…AMAZING.

Went about my day as usual, except for some goodbyes (I’ll be saying goodbye to people before I leave tomorrow in the morning). I want to come back very much, mainly to see Maria, Fredy and the guys at Transitions I’ve become friends with. The usual constraints exist: time and money :(
I am not sure whether I should continue blogging after I leave Antigua. I have enjoyed expressing my thoughts very much and have gotten wonderful support and feedback from some of you. Guatemalong won’t be a very good name though…maybe I should start a new blog called BostonG. Hardy har har.

Largest Pinata I have ever seen for Nosaria's 20th bday

Fredy, Maria and me
Shared a teary farewell with Maria this morning. Caught my connecting flight by 2 minutes, my bag didn't make it though. The tight connection time really highlighted my handicap. Whereas before I could run up and down escalators and move quickly across walkways and terminals, I now shuffle up and down stairs. 

Article about my accident in Climbing Magazine

I was downloading files off my phone when I came across the article written in Climbing Magazine about my accident. The reporter tried to contact me while I was in the hospital (I guess they aren’t particularly considerate about bloody timing) and I returned her call, leaving a message saying that I had nothing to say and was focusing all my energy on my recovery. They went ahead and wrote/published the article, which was poor form, I think, given that they didn’t get my first-hand report. They also made it sound like my only injury was a temporarily gimpy left leg. Bravo Climbing Magazine for your journalistic excellence.
Re-reading this article triggered mixed emotions. The first one was mild outrage that they went ahead and wrote the article and tried to contact me while I still had tubes down my neck. Ticked off that they downplayed my injuries. There was sadness of course, but less than I expected. And a desire to fully explain my accident, recuperation and rehab, injuries and my life now to the climbing community via the forum on I’m not sure why…because it won’t be cathartic. I’ve never felt that talking about personal issues, divulging private information etc is cleansing in anyway. That is not to say I am not a fan of psychotherapy…but I think therapy is useful for untangling the strands in one’s mind and therefore understand oneself better. Will keep you posted on whether I choose to write on SuperTopo or not.  

Monday, July 30, 2012


I just found out that I am going to be an Aunt! Auntie My sister-in-law is three months pregnant so it is still early days. Hope the rest of the pregnancy goes smoothly. I suddenly feel really old. Not old as in I feel decrepit, but I feel like I'm entering a definite stage of life where people get married, people start having kids. When I was young I would imagine my siblings getting married and I remember thinking how distant in the future those events were.

Trying not to worry about the mountain of stuff I need to do upon my return to the States, and take in my last few days here. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Surgery date set

Waited with Maria at Club de Leones again this morning, this time for a relatively short 4 hours. As anticipated, her health stats are fine so we went ahead and scheduled the surgery for 8 Aug, 8am (I told Maria this was an easy time/date to remember 8/8 8am, but she doesn’t do dates very well so she didn’t get it). As I’ve mentioned Maria can be quite exasperating at times, unintentionally. She was worried that she had high blood pressure, that she would be too nervous and shaky for the surgery because she is afraid and because she would be stressed out after having to attend to so many people staying at the house the week before…and then the 8th might not be good because she would be tired and nervous from the week before etc etc. Maria is very childlike, both physically and personality-wise. Most of the time it is refreshing, but during times like this I just want to sit her down and say, “Look, just do the goddamn surgery asap”. It has been tricky balancing being stern enough about getting the surgery and all the preparations for it done, for Maria’s sake and because I’m paying and want to make sure my money is going to its intended purpose, and also being forgiving enough and tolerant of things like her fears and nerves; they are her eyes after all. I think I am not very tolerant/patient with people who scare easily and/or get scared over things not worth being scared about. Because my pain threshold has always been high, and made higher by my accident and recovery, I’ve never been very sympathetic to people’s physical pain or fear of pain. But I’ve had to be very patient with Maria because she isn’t educated enough to understand a lot of things, and because of my limited Spanish. Maria’s eyes were very sensitive to the sun after the consultation on Tuesday and she was freaking out fearing she was going blind. But because I couldn’t say in Spanish “your eyes are very sensitive to sunlight because the doctor dilated your pupils; you aren’t going blind”, I had to just reassure her that the situation was temporary, she wasn’t going blind, and she would be fine in half and hour or so.
Maria is going to need three surgeries in total, spaced about a month apart. The first surgery will be on her left eye where there is on big carnosidad obscuring her iris/pupil. The second surgery will be on one of the carnosidades in her right eye; the third surgery on the second carnosidades in her right eye. Obviously, this increases her medical costs, but I’ll cover that.
The doctor said only 3 days are required for her recovery, but Maria is paranoid and wants to take off 15 days! This means she will miss 45 days of work for her three surgeries. She hasn’t been paid for any vacation days since she has worked for Acxa so I don’t blame her for wanting to take this extra time off, especially since I know Acxa will work her to the bone when she returns to work and won’t make any exceptions for something as trivial as, oh, I don’t know, eye-surgery?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Tired and exasperated

I love Maria like one loves a 2-year old child. She can be so exasperating at times...she's a bit of a hypochondriac and I'm trying to reassure her that she isn't diabetic (she walks 2-3 miles a day, eats well, and is thin).

Went with Maria to get blood work done this morning. Again, a lot of waiting. I cannot wait to get back to the US and have people meet me ON TIME again.

Update: Yet again, the slug known as Acxa, has stalled our surgery plans. I had missed all my classes so that I could get all these appointments for Maria attended to, and to have the first surgery before I depart next Wed. The doctor had said that if Maria’s tests turn out okay (which they are – I collected the lab results this morning) she could have the surgery done next Monday. Acxa has refused to let Maria take the day off on Monday on the grounds that there are a bunch of new arrivals to the house. Bull-fucking-shit. Acxa could easily hire a replacement for the day (there is a nice friend of Maria’s who takes over for her when Maria is absent), or if she is indeed more than just a vegetable, she could lift her finger and do something for once. She is a vegetable (I picture a giant gourd :))– she doesn’t use her brain or body at all. She sleeps till 10a, goes to “therapia” (i.e. massage) after breakfast, returns for a late lunch, naps in the afternoon, watches TV the rest of the time until 1 am or so, then goes to bed. Repeat.
After discussing things with Maria, we think it is best for me not to confront Acxa about this and just let the surgery take place a week later. I have assurances from Maria that she will do the surgery – my fear is that Acxa will keep coming up with reasons to not let Maria take the day off for her surgery. I will be calling Maria regularly after the operation (the tentative date is 8 Aug).