The Worms Crawl In, the Worms Crawl Out
Worms, big fat juicy ones, eensie weensy squeency ones, wriggled and squirmed into my left leg. Each one wrapped itself around a muscle strand and “Zappo!” Turned my muscles from pelvis to knee into tightly strung barbed wire. That’s what it felt like.
It didn’t happen overnight. A year and a half ago, I fell and broke my wrist. A nerve disorder (identified by initials) set in. Through physical therapy I dealt with it. At the same time, my hip began hurting. But, hey, who’s paying attention? The major pain was in my arm. I ignored my leg until I couldn’t. Once I could no longer “cowboy up” I traced the origin and realized it was the exact same pain (with initials) as my arm. It happens. By this time I had trouble walking.
What brought this to a head right now? A friend asked, “Now that you’re alone, and even the snowbirds have flown back to the north-country, what will you do in an emergency, like another scorpion sting?” She planted that thought and my mind, which has a mind of its own, said to my body, “Let’s find out.”
Tuesday I hobbled my awkward bundle of laundry five blocks to my neighborhood lavanderia. By the time I had arrived, I couldn’t take another step. I sat in the plaza to rest. Rudy, an acquaintance who sells raw opals, greeted me, “Como esta?”
“Mal,” I replied. My face told the truth so my mouth might as well follow.
He asked what was wrong. I told him. “You need a massage,” he stated. “I’ll arrange it. Be here tomorrow about this same time.”
Almost in tears, I made it back to the plaza the next morning. A pulmania drove up. “Get in,” Rudy said. “This is Carlos.” He introduced the driver. “We are going to see Nana. She is the best.”
Carlos drove us to Pueblo Nuevo, a section of town I’d not seen. On a dead-end street near a canal sat a pretty blue house with a small building off to the side, built in the shape of a parallelogram, Nana’s massage parlor. Nana motioned for me to come. Immediately I recognized her, “Medicine Woman,” and gave myself into her hands. She is ancient, beautiful, austere, strong and wiry. I knew she’d find every knot in my body. She did. She beat me up good. Extracting barbed-wire worms takes digging. I could hear them screaming, “Tighten that wire! Tighten that wire!”
With Rudy translating, Nana told me, “Go home. Rest; come back Friday.” The young men delivered me to my doorstep and helped me inside.
I slept. Overnight I changed from workaholic to sloth; I curled my tail around my tree branch and slept. All day, all night, slept. On Friday, Carlos drove me for a repeat performance. My pain level had gone from a ten to a seven. Still hurt like crazy. At the end of the second session, Nana gave me a hug and the same instructions, come back Monday. Again, I slept. My pain level dialed down to five. Still, I couldn’t walk without my walking stick. I’ll pick up a colorfully painted cane later, once I can get out and don’t need it. Monday, Wednesday, each session I am better.
I’m allowed light activity in the morning; rest in the afternoon. I feel like a Princess. My outlook has improved. I no longer want to crawl into a cave and let the “worms” have me. I’ll be up and about in no time.
Rudy stopped by to make sure I’m okay, to see if I needed anything. He will bring me fresh fruit and vegetables in the morning. He is about my daughter’s age; Carlos perhaps ten years younger. I’m sure they will be glad when this abuela is up and about. They seem to have taken responsibility for me, small-town like.
This is a week of holidays. Cinco de Mayo on Monday and energy on the street ramped up. More importantly, Mexican Mother’s Day is Saturday, the tenth. Mothers and Grandmothers are revered in Mexico. Looking out my back door, I don’t see cards and flowers. I see the whole town shut down while families gather to honor mothers. Since I seem to be an adopted grandmother, I get the splash-over.
A couple lessons from my week: I never know where I’ll find a medicine woman/man. When my closest friends are thousands of miles away, help just might come from strangers, and like the worms in the silly childhood song, “they scramble my heart”.
HDN: Looking out my back door
May 8, 2014