Tuesday, April 28, 2009


It's sort of hard to sum up the past three or so weeks of our lives.  Mainly they've been a blur of pain and doctors and tests all culminating in a surgery and most of all a good prognosis.  Long story short, we are free to move about the country. Or outside of it. I say we do both. So next week we'll go back to the jungle, hopefully dodging a pig pandemic along the way.

I could dwell here on April's both good and bad but I've decided there is no point, life moves on and sometimes things happen that make us take stock and so we take it and move forward because there's no sense in looking back.

We went to the movies last night, a movie I've been dying to see for the longest time.  I knew I'd enjoy it even if it wasn't well done because it was a movie about my people, and watching the portrayal of mental illness and homelessness up on a big bright screen brought tears to my eyes several times. On the way home from the movie we talked a bit about our own Mr. Ayers, the ones who aren't famous but who managed to move us in unspeakable ways. I had an experience similar to the one in the movie years ago, a man who has now since passed on but is still in my heart all the same. I cried again a tiny bit because I miss the fight, the ups and the downs and the struggle to help folks find what should be easy, a place to sleep that will keep them safe.  It was time to move on and yet it will always be in my heart, I still miss the lessons and the banter and the reality and the street but I figure that's okay, it's my way of honoring what I was lucky enough to be a part of for such a long, long time.

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Monday, April 27, 2009



Be Nine.  


More later but we just found out all will be well.

All is well.

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Thursday, April 23, 2009


Thirty nine is a rather caustic number, sort of edgy and rough.  The nine speaks of something ending and something hanging on and something unknown around the corner.  It's prophetic really, rather sums up how I feel about a lot of things right now.

Life is good.  We are here.  We are here and there and everywhere.

I am here.  Here and there and everywhere.

Happy Birthday to me.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

passing go

Another long day sitting in hospital pre-op and post-op rooms, J is hanging in but today was painful, really painful and seeing him like this and seeing us like this is making me tired.  Simply put, the last few weeks have been hell around the plus two.  And the hot doctor didn't even look so hot.  I'm not sure why that is but am thinking it has to do with me.

But grace is everywhere, isn't it.  

It's in the nurse who took me aside and shared some coffee, in the man who lended a hand to a stranger when I'd lost my way, in the pharmacy tech who pulled some strings, to my parents and friends here and the ones in the jungle who keep checking in and of course, all of you.  It's in motion, all of it and in times like this you almost sit back and take stock of all the goodness swirling all around you and how if it wasn't for that you don't know how things would work and yet because of it they keep on.  

The world is a small and friendly place and those kidney stones, well lets just say those fuckers are toast. I've got them in a jar and if I wasn't so annoyed with them I might name them, perhaps Cheech and Chong or George and Dick, comedy duos high and low.

And now we wait.  We need the green light. The one that can set us free. 

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Sunday, April 19, 2009

like a blister in the sun

Your comments and emails and general loveliness has been so wonderful. I truly thank you, the knowing that there is a place to say what I want and to have it heard means more than you know. But since you've asked, the truth is this all kind of sucks. Chances are everything is peachy but since we don't know we can't really make plans.  If everything is fine then....or well if you end up being sick then....but there isn't really a finish to the conversation because we simply have no idea.  

I'd like to say we are making the best of it but the truth is it's making us cranky.  Well that, and living at my parents house is a bit of a grind. Plus I'm feeling sullen, my birthday is coming up on Thursday and while it's just a birthday and it's really no big deal, I sort of can't help feeling like a teenager and a crone all at the same time.  I want cake. I don't want cake.  

I just want to go back to the jungle and whine about the heat and the bugs.

This week is filled with more doctors but this time it's addressing the original sin, er, issue of the kidneys so once again we'll spend a day or two at the hospital and surgery will ensue and in between we'll wait for the results of the biopsy. Have I mentioned the kidney doctor is a total fox?  Almost makes a girl wish it was her insides he was manhandling and I'm almost jealous I'll be sitting on the sidelines and not the focus of his attention. I said as much in mixed company and received mixed reviews but I'm sure here around this fire you'll give me more rope.  Plus I'm kidding. Duh. Mostly.

I re-read my recent posts and think I'm making this time in our lives sound better than it is. I mean, I am and I'm not.  We are good and we are not.  I am happy and I am not. I am scared and I am not.  I am angry and I am not.  I am self-obsessed and I wish I was not.

But then I watch my child, bubbling over with joy after a day spent with her grandparents and I know that at least for her, life is rolling along just fine and that in some ways is exactly enough.  

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

rolling rolling rolling

We were easily the youngest people in the outpatient surgery room by a decade or more.  We got there early, surprised beyond belief we got in so soon. We expected it to take at least a week so when the call came in we jumped. Let's get this on.

The nurses love J.  While I am certainly aware of his loveability, I was a bit bemused to see how they flocked to him, somehow the story of the jungle had made the rounds and three or four different nurses came in to ask about our journey, the whys and hows and wheres.  The waiting took forever, three hours of IVs and tests and draws and then they wheeled him away for the procedure, the one where the doctor shot the straightest of everyone we've met so far, telling him it could very well be cancer but age and health play in our favor. The straightforwardness is refreshing even if I don't like the words. Another nurse was not so direct, she actually asked if J had to peepee which made me laugh uncontrollably, kind of like when Anderson Cooper made that joke about teabagging on CNN. 

After the procedure he was sick, a reaction to the medication that took awhile to subside.  The nurses came back and mothered him, two of them brought up faith and God and one even asked to pray for him, something that has been a rather common theme over the last week.  
You don't realize the faith in others till you are dealing with something like this and then it's all around you, it swirls all over you and you almost can't breathe but then you remember how entirely generous it is to be thought of by others, of how goodness is simply that. It's good and people's hearts are wide.

After four hours they decide we can leave, he's stabilized and it's time for us to go.  They bring us a wheelchair and I start to laugh. I sit in it and they tell me it's not for me and swat me on the head and I laugh again and load J in and spin a little wheelie. I can't help acting like this, it's like I refuse to take this seriously because if I do then it's more real and if I keep cracking jokes then it's like a field trip and not really our lives. I'm waiting for him to sign a form when the Jesus Nurse comes back and asks if we are looking forward to going back to the jungle. Yes, I say but if he's sick I guess we'll have to stay here for awhile and kick cancer's ass first. She looks at me and smiles you two have just been added to my prayer list and I smile back because I am thankful for so much kindness but I also want to know where was God a couple weeks ago, because that's when He really should've been on his game. I want to ask her but am afraid I'll sound insulting when I honestly don't mean to. So we leave the recovery room, J sitting in the chair and me pushing him and I lose a little control on a downslope but instead of trying to slow down I stood on the back of the chair and for awhile we glided, both of us in tandem hoping not to tip over.

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009



We wait.  We sit and we sit and we wait. We've seen more MDs in the past week than we have in the past year or more. We see pictures of J's insides and we hear the doctors chatter.  It might be cancer they say.  It's probably not cancer they say. Either way they keep saying it.  They keep saying that word and I can't help but wonder if they are sensitizing us to a new reality or just impressing us with their knowledge.  No matter because all the scans were inconclusive. Now we wait for a needle to define us, one inserted into his organs and I think of fortune cookies, you never know what you are going to get when you open one up but you can't help cracking them open with hope in your eyes only to find one that says You Will Take An Unexpected Trip or You Will Soon Be Prosperous or how about the one that says It's Not Fucking Cancer. 

On top of this our health insurance is running out soon and we learned today that no one else will touch J with a 10' pole now that he's having all of these medical issues.  He'll be uninsurable she says and I laughed and she apologized and yet I couldn't help it. I am entirely unsurprised I say and she commiserates.  I think back to a few weeks ago and how I was learning how to wash my clothes with a hose and cook on a propane stove.  Pigs and horses in the road. I think of sticky hot nights and mosquito netting.  Bats in the house. Hard and simple.  We were doing it and it wasn't always easy but we were doing what we said we would do.

Today I think of health insurance and health itself. Of life and it's lack of insurance. Of choices we've made and adventures we've proclaimed. Of taking things for granted. Of being humbled. Of waiting. 

And I wonder if this is all a ball of nothing or the very tip of Something but right now I can't find the waiter and I'll I've got on the table are dirty plates and cold food.

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Monday, April 13, 2009


The last full day of Neen's visit was near magical.  We had the opportunity to take a canoe inside the mouth of a cave, going in to the utter blackness and back out again.  It was dark and quiet (save for the yapping of two smallish people) and utterly peaceful (save for the yapping of two smallish people).
Once we were done we grabbed some cold beers we'd stashed in the car and then stopped for lunch before going out for a swim.  We also got minorly attacked by a monkey.  Bad monkey.

On our way we almost ran into a horse drawn wagon who'd stopped for a refill. 
I was almost brave enough to swim under the falls, but then again almost doesn't really count. Besides, those river rocks are slippery. It didn't help that our friend (and guide) said I could make the entire trip in flip flops and was he ever wrong about that. The water was amazing, the sound of the falls and the clear water swirling all around us.
This last one is just a postscript from when we were at the Cayes. There's just something about outdoor restaurants on the beach with swings, mismatched chairs and battered, paint chipped tables.  My kid's pretty cute too.

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Thursday, April 09, 2009


So here we are, 48 hours back with 9 of them spent at the medical center. The doctors there have been incredibly kind, somehow hearing the story of a crazy third world hospital experience compelled them to move quickly, we were referred and referred throughout the day and J's surgery has already been scheduled.  But no matter how fast things go it looks like we are here for a month and that's just if everything goes okay.

It feels stagnant, the thought of that, mostly because here we already feel like fish out of water. Our life in the jungle, no matter how imperfect was moving forward, hard work and good work and we were finding our groove.  Now I feel a bit aimless, reconnecting but disconnected.  Out of sorts. There's a subtle hum here, a fast paced sort of energy whether on the freeway or in a store, things are so bright and shiny and loud.  I went to the grocery store yesterday and when I walked in I sort of gasped, things are so perfect inside and there are so many choices.  I wandered the produce section and bumped into the guy stocking the pears.  Everything looks so perfect here I said and he smiles, probably thinking I've lost my mind.  But even being gone so briefly forces me to realize all we take for granted, that most of the world has no reflection here, that in other places you buy what's available and the choices are small.  We just don't realize how much we have no matter how many times we tell ourselves how lucky we are.  But I wonder if it's really lucky at all.

So we'll be aimless and we'll struggle with that, we aren't really wanting to be here and it feels like a setback, the groceries I bought cost more than an entire week in the jungle, our budget is narrow and these unnecessary expenses makes us pause.  And that's not the only thing, I have long had a couple of somatic complaints, both of which disappeared when we moved and barely two days here they are back en force, something I can't quite figure out.

So mostly I'm whining, it's hard to see the trees no matter what people say.  


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Tuesday, April 07, 2009

day 49: backtracking

We've been walking around in a daze for two days, coming off the whirlwind of hospitals and airline reservations and packing. We don't want to go. We wander around the house bumping into each other alternating saying i don't want to go back with are you having any pain? We are both terrified he'll get another stone attack before we get on the plane or worse, while on the plane itself. The pain comes so fiercely, it's all he can do not to pass out. I am begging the gods and goddesses and the moon and the earth for it to lie dormant until we get to the states.

Medical issues aside I am a bit scared. Scared it's not been long enough for me to forget my foolish ways. Scared I'll hop right back on the laptop, a virtual junkie. Scared I'll find the shower and the laundry too comforting, the sheets too cool and crisp. The adjusting has taken some time and now we are throwing ourselves backwards and I wonder if we are strong enough to resist the sanitary charms.

Friends here have enveloped us, one is house and dog sitting, another is ensuring M can get registered for kindergarten, a process I was supposed to start next week. Two others are taking us on the long journey to the airport, in order to fly home we've had to surrender our car, a process that ensures that we won't be in legal trouble upon return. We take his ultrasound pictures and doctor papers, I show it to the customs person hoping it will mean they will give us a break and surprisingly enough it does, the man studies the papers and looks at us we understand your situation and can work with you he says and I smile in gratitude, on the verge of tears all day.

Friends invited us for dinner, cooking is the last thing you need to worry about they said and so we sat under a palapa eating a delicious meal as the sun set still in disbelief that we have to go. In less than two months we've had our fair share of struggles, I imagine our village friends must think of us as calamitous gringos, one thing after another seems to be getting in our way and causing others to lend a hand. There's been nothing routine about it, for the past six weeks we've been really living, awake and alive and each day both bright and exhausting as we figure our way. We've figured it and now hit some bumps and wonder how long we'll be derailed while knowing the only thing that truly matters is that J is okay. But we can't believe we are walking backwards after such a short while.

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Sunday, April 05, 2009

day 47: from good to bad to worse

Remember those kidney stones?  Well they reared their ugly head last night, J was in so much pain I actually thought he might die. We went to the "emergency room" at 11pm only to find there were no doctors on duty.  In fact, there were only two women on duty for the whole hospital.  So they medicate him (I could elaborate here but it was actually too scary to recount) and then we go home only for the medication to wear off.  We come back in the morning and things proceeded to get worse.  I don't think I've been this scared in a long time.

Long story short is the stones are one issue but there might be something worse underneath, something that caught us terribly by surprise and has us rather scared.  We've been advised by the doctor here that we need to go to the states and see a specialist and we need to go soon so after much debate and heartache and tears we are flying home in a couple days so we can make sure (we have to make sure we will make sure it will be fine it will be it must) that J is okay and to also deal with those nasty stones, something relegated to the side for the moment yet painful as hell.

So after 47 days we are unexpectedly going back but are leaving our house and our puppy and our car in good hands and will return as soon as we make sure J is okay.  Coming back home is the phrase I used and was surprised at it's ease. This has been an adventure from the beginning, as much as we want to understand why this is happening we can only feel thankful for friends ready to assist in the states and our new community here and for health insurance, that nasty bugger that everyone complains about until you really need it and then you realize how utterly grateful you are that it exists. 

Because last night scared me and it scared me bad.  

PS. If you are sending supplies for M's preschool but haven't yet shipped them please hold off till we know our return date.  If you've already shipped a package I've asked a friend here to intervene and hope she can pick them up in my absence.  I apologize for this, am not sure what else I can do. 

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Thursday, April 02, 2009

day 44: hot damn

Neen has been here since Saturday, and in that time I've learned more than I want to know about occult blood, spinsters and shrimps. She's a curious girl, that Neen. And she's learning all about child puke, since M caught the flu just as soon as we got to the beach.

Needless to say we are having a fantastic time. No seriously, we are.

We went to the Cayes and swam in the Caribbean and ate way too much food. We've drank beers and climbed pyramids and watched monkeys and talked. She even witnessed a neighbor dye my hair jungle style, over a railing using river water with dogs and cats and kids climbing all over us. And the hair turned out pretty good. It's been good having a friend here, a woman to talk with, to commiserate with, to see some of the ridiculous things I am struggling to figure out and to offer suggestions of her own that are pretty damn good. She's leaving all too soon but it's been so good to have her here. But before she'll go I'm taking her to visit my mystic friends and on a canoe trip through a cave. Gotta send her off clapping, right?

In other news, it's really fucking hot. It wasn't really hot until this past week, but now I know what people here fear and what everyone complains about during the dry season, this endless blistering heat that grinds on and on for months. The beach helped us escape it for a few days but now we are back in the jungle and it's hot from the moment we wake up till long after we've fallen asleep. I'm too sissy for heat. And for bugs. In fact, I whine all about that at my BlogHer post today. If there are two things I'm not woman enough for, it's heat and bugs. And yet those two things are on full display here, this chosen place of mine.

There's a lesson here, one I haven't yet figured out.

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