Wednesday, December 21, 2016

When A Lump Is Just A Lump

            When A Lump Is Just A Lump
            For the first time since I moved from Mazatlan to my casita in Etzatlan, nine months ago, I boarded the bus for the trip back across the mountains to the sea.

            Carlos, my friend with the pulmonia, met me at the bus station with a hug and kiss. We exchanged excited chatter about our lives, our children, our plans, while Carlos drove me to the resort where I would stay for the next few days. I forgot to pay him. He forgot to ask me. But he would come get me both Monday and Tuesday, so no problema.

            The following day I walked up the street to my old neighborhood and knocked on Ted’s door. He was in the back courtyard, but Vern heard me knocking and invited me through. For the next two hours, eight of us, former friends and neighbors, sat in the courtyard and caught up on news, gossip and scandal. There was little of the latter.  

            I walked further up my old street and spent another hour with Dorothy and Don, then met them later in the evening for dinner, a three hour affair. Part of the magic of Mexico is the transformation when nobody is in a rush.

            A strange thing happened to me when I returned to my room. While preparing for bed I noticed an anomaly with my hips. Now, you must understand that in my casita, I have two small mirrors in my bathroom, head height. Consequently, I never see my body.

A full mirror is a deadly thing. My right hip looked normal, a smooth curved line from waist to knee. My left hip had a huge protrusion, jutting to the side, the size and shape of Mt. St. Helens.

            I didn’t panic. We all have to go sometime. Looked like a tumor to me, that saddlebag on my hip atop the barely visible surgery scar from my complete hip replacement two years ago. Might be harmless. Might be the “Big C”. Don’t worry; Be happy. Yeah, right.

            After a restless night in which I had added “see doctor” to my list, Carlos picked me up.

            The government of Mexico seems to have this crazy idea that all people should have access to medical care. So, in exchange for subsidized medical training, doctors serve a number of hours for low pay in clinics. The price for a consultation is thirty pesos, approximately a dollar and a half at today’s rate. It’s not perfect, but this system has saved a lot of lives.

I’ve experienced excellent care from these clinics and had in mind to see one of these doctors who would either assure me the swollen area on my hip, which I swear was larger by the minute, “is normal” or send me for tests.

            Carlos had a different idea. “Let’s go to Dr. Epifanio. He asked about you two weeks ago.” Dr. Epifanio treated me prior to my hip surgery. “Yes!” I agreed. I like Dr. Epifanio.

            I have no shame. I lifted my dress to show my hips. Dr. Epifanio is a kind man. He listened to my tale of woe, assured me I had no tumor, no inflammation. With a twinkle in his eyes, he made two fists. In one he wadded a tablet of note paper. “These are your hips. This one is your own bones. The hand with the paper is your prosthetic hip.”

            “Oh.” I guess the prosthetics must be “one size fits all”.

He is a kind man. He didn’t roll on the floor with laughter. I would not have faulted him. I thanked him and gave him a huge hug even though his consultation cost more than thirty pesos.

            Tomorrow Carlos will take me to Dr. Landazuri to see if my eyes, which to me seem to view my world through waxed paper, are ready for the dreaded cataract surgery. Surprisingly, I’m not nearly as afraid of eye surgery today as I was yesterday.

Sondra Ashton
HDN: Looking out my back door

December 22, 2016

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