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Every story has a villain. Someone who, because of his actions, avoids or hinders the protagonist from achieving his or her goals. However, we all know that the bad guys never win and always get what they deserve.
In my story, the villain was a "doctor" who put me through one of the worst moments of my life. And as I promised, I hope you are ready for my favorite gossip... because I waited too long to tell you.
As I told you in the first part of my last battle against cancer, after being in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for three days, I was admitted to middle therapy. And that meant that, despite going through two huge operations on June 15 and 16, I was evolving well and could spend more time with my loved ones.
Although I was still in a lot of pain and without the ringer nearby, the news of leaving ICU made me feel a lot of joy. However, my joyfulness faded quickly because when I arrived to middle therapy, ONCE AGAIN I felt that they "abandoned me to my luck".
On June 18, a stretcher-bearer and a nurse moved me in bed to my new room. The path was not very long, since middle therapy is situated in front of ICU, although it has a completely different vibe.
And before I tell you the drama of middle therapy, I must put you in context.
As I told you in the first part, I was in a lot of pain all the time. Sometimes the 1,000 knives that constantly stabbed the right side of my body felt like a million. Furthermore, the pain was very unpredictable. One moment it could be annoying but endurable and in a matter of seconds, it could become so intense, that all I had left was to twist in my bed until it calmed down.
I don't know in other hospitals, but in the ABC, they ask you to rate the intensity of your pain on a scale from 1 to 10 (and it is important that you know that since the beginning I said I would never say 10, because for me, 10 meant death). But to give you an idea, I was in a constant 8.5 out of 10 most of the time.
ROOM 258 OF MIDDLE THERAPY
The stretcher-bearer and the nurse left me in the room 258 of middle therapy, without telling me anything else and without leaving me the ringer close, but since I knew my family would be coming in soon, I tried not to get upset. Nevertheless, I failed in my attempt because 15 minutes passed and the pain level 7 I felt in that moment, began to increase.
My room had the door open and I heard two people outside (this room was also in front of a nurses' station). Even though I was feeling an intense pain, where it is almost impossible to speak and now imagine shouting, I gathered all the strength I could and asked for help, but they ignored me and that was the tipping point. I became furious and knew that I was going to discharge my anger against the first person I saw.
Before long a stretcher-bearer entered my room, I apologized in advance and said: "Sorry, I know it's not your fault but... It can't be that you leave me here, that you don't say anything to me, that you don't put the ringer nearby, that you don't listen to me! I am dying and you are not helping me! I shouldn't be telling you how to do your job!".
While I was saying this, another nurse and the villain of the story, a resident with straight black hair, entered my room. By the time I finished telling the stretcher-bearer this, I was already very agitated, veeery angry and crying. And in addition to that, the pain went up to the level 8.5 due to so much alteration.
At that moment, my mom and my aunt Priscilla entered the room, without having idea of what was happening. "It's okay, love. They are going to help you now", my mom told me because she thought I was uneasy about the pain, but she soon realized that the "doctor" was IGNORING ME and that she was only writing and writing in her notepad, as if she only cared about finishing a task.
The personality of my mom and mine are very similar. We are always very nice and kind to everyone. However, if someone treats us badly, we show them the other extreme of our character, no matter who he or she is.
So after my mom realized that the "doctor" was ignoring me, she approached her angrily and said: "Neither you nor I know how much she is hurting and I hope you never feel it, but she is talking to you and you are ignoring her!".
The "doctor" was now ignoring us both, she continued writing (with an ugly handwriting for sure) without looking up. My mom stood in front of her, she pointed her finger at her and said: "Youuuu, why are you ignoring her?!". Then, the pseudo-doctor finally opened her mouth: "DON'T COME ANY CLOSER! I AM GOING TO CALL SECURITY BECAUSE YOU CAN NOT SHOUT IN HERE! SECURITY! SECURITY!"... and she was the one who shouted the most.
I was crying, but when I heard that, the sobbing took off automatically and I answered the "doctor": "IF SOMEONE IS GOING TO GET OUT, IT WILL BE YOU! MY MOM STAYS!". This pseudo-doctor wanted to take advantage of my disability, but she did not know that even in that state, my character was still strong, that I was not going to let anyone take advantage of me and let alone allow her to kick out my mom.
After that, the "doctor" approached me to shout at my bed (Not that we weren't aloud to shout?): "MARÍA JOSÉ! WHAT HAVE I JUST TOLD, EH?! WHAT HAVE I JUST TOLD YOU!"... And of course I don't remember what have you just told me, witch.
My mom repeatedly asked for her name, but the "doctor" never gave it to her. For this reason, she left the room and called my dad, who entered in a fury and said that the "doctor" X (we were given her name a bit later) was forbidden to touch my file, give me any pills or approach to my room.
The situation was solved soon. The head nurse helped to calm things down and I never saw "doctor" X again. The Director of the ICU, offered my parents an apology and told them that he was going to report her. And I think it's valid to mention that the pseudo-doctor never offered an apology.
But as I tell you, villains always get what they deserve. The witch was reported by the Director of the ICU, the Pink Ladies and me, through a beautiful and detailed complaint form (which I wrote several days later).
Anyway, ...F*CKIN DOCTOR X. And although I hope never to see her again, I would give her a simple recommendation: change profession. A month in the hospital allowed me to see who (doctors, stretcher-bearers or nurses) really have a vocation and feel love for what they do. If you want to be a DOCTOR, you should try to be sympathetic or have some empathy towards your patients. And more if they are in ICU or mid-therapy, because they are the ones who feel the worst. None is there for pleasure and the least they need is a "doctor" that makes them feel worse.
As I found a photo of "doctor" X, I'll leave it here:
Illustration by Ximena Cardós (@ximenacardos)
Obviously, after the altercation, I ended up very badly. The little I had advanced, I rewind. Due to the enormous anger of the afternoon, my liver did not stop hurting and for this reason, I spent one of the worst nights of my life.
I was trying to sleep when the pain triggered and became, in a few seconds, intolerable. The nurses called Etulain (my favorite anesthesiologist) and before he arrived, I asked my mom between tears and screams, to call Roberto (my psychologist) because I needed him to calm me down, to help me get rid of the anger I felt... I really needed to help myself.
It was late, but Roberto answered right away. "I feel a lot of resentment and a lot of hate, I am very angry... and I can't take it away", I told him. And as always, talking to Roberto made me feel better, but suddenly... AAAUCH! I had to drop the phone because the pain reached a 9.5 out of 10.
"Mom, I'm going to die! Well... not die, but it hurts too much and I can't take it any longer. I'm tired of this!". I was angry, frustrated and very sad, and although I knew that if I said this to my mom I would only make her feel bad, I told her anyway for some selfish reason. But Etulain arrived, he helped me ease the pain a little and I had MY SECOND TRIP:
>>My heart started beating very hard and very fast. ¡Pum, pum, pum, pum, pum! I got tachycardic and the wall of the room illuminated with a very white light. At that moment, I had to make a choice: to stay in the gray and painful reality or to merge with the wall (that was beginning to deform, get out in blocks and lengthen) and venture to where it took me. Obviously, to be part of the wall seemed the best option and when I blended with it, I felt how my essence moved at the speed of light. I went down some white stairs, heard the voices of Etulain and my mom, and I was able to "choose" again if I wanted to go back or continue. As I was happy with my moment of freedom, I turned my back on reality and went on my way until I arrived to China. Some elevators doors opened, I was greeted by a Chinese woman with a bow and suddenly, I found myself in a street of a market. Everything was white so I was surprised when a Chinese man with a moustache of the trip wanted to hug my mom, who was in the gray reality. And then I said to my mom: "A Chinese man wants to hug you, but I already told him no".
"Ah, yeah? Where are you?", she asked.
"In China", I replied.
"And you know how to speak Chinese?", she asked again.
"Yes, listen: guan-ching chiang chooong gua-chu-ming".
My mom says I told her I was speaking Mandarin Chinese, but I remember that I didn't speak to her in Chinese, I spoke to her in Japanese (although the truth is that I do not know how to speak Japanese either... and no, she didn't film me, haha).<<
Surely, the next day I still had morphine effects, because in the blue sky that could be seen through my room's window, I saw little fish.
"Look, there are some fish. Do you see them too?", I said to Xime (a cousin who is like another sister).
"Yes... yes it is true", she answered to play along.
"Right? They are like trouts".
AND THE NIGHT CAME AGAIN
Nights at the hospital have something of ugly and sad. And I, almost always, suffered the worst pains at night. As I confessed in the first part, there was one in which I wanted to give up... and this was that night.
I don't remember at what moment or why, but out of nothing, the intensity of my pain reached 9.8 out of 10. Paola (my sister) asked the nurses for my rescue medication and as they were getting it, I told her almost the same that I had said to my mom the night before, despite knowing that it would only make her feel bad... but I didn't know what else to do.
"I've had ENOUGH! I can not take it any longer. If tomorrow I am still hurting, I'll stop fighting and I'll let myself die. I swear it, Pao. And I do not care. I'm tired of not getting better and that it hurts so much! Why does it has to hurt like thiiis?", I said crying.
Paola, my best nurse and who always looked after me and comforted me, there she was once more, trying to make her older sister feel a little better. She passed me the photograph of my uncle Lalo I had in the bureau, I hugged him and asked him to take care of me, to help me beg the Universe to take away the pain and I wanted to be him and my grandmother, the ones who came for me. And then, I fell asleep.
That night I stayed two tenths away from death. That night I felt so much pain that I can't even describe it. That night I wanted to stop fighting. That night I stepped on the bottom. But also, thanks to that night, I am more certain than ever that I have to live.
I HAD A MIRACLE!
I am sure to have experienced in my own flesh a miracle. And I say miracle because I do not find another word that describes it better. As you just read, I fell asleep while suffering a pain lever 9.8 out of 10... and I woke up with a pain level 1.5.
WOW! I couldn't explain it, it was like not feeling anything and at the beginning of the day, I couldn't believe it, I felt liberated. It was as if the Universe had had mercy on me and had saved me days of suffering, yet I was a little scared it was too good to be true. But the day proceeded and the most my pain went up was to a tolerable and welcomed 3.
I was able to get up to the bathroom and I agreed to try to walk, which I did, although all my body trembled when I came back. In the same way, I tried to eat a little more than I had eaten in several days and for the first time in a long time, I felt that I would improve.
After my miracle, everything started to get better, better and better. My spirit went up and my desire to continue fighting was renewed. Now I knew that I was capable of everything, that it wouldn't be long until I got out of it and I felt a new inner strength.
WATER IN THE LUNG
In addition to the pain, I also had to fight against various complications. Although they were not ideal, they weren't strange either due to the two enormous operations that I just had.
Paco Vélez, another one of the best surgeons in Mexico, one day came to tell me that I had water in my right lung and that probably, I would have to have a puncture (let doctors pinch my lung with a big needle) to have all the water removed, but he was still deciding with Chan if it was necessary or not.
The problem with having water in the lung wasn't the pleural effusion itself, because if it didn't give any problems it could be left and wait for my body to absorb it alone. However, I had had episodes of weird fevers and tachycardia, and doctors did not know wether the pleural effusion was the cause or not.
"And if it is not done, how can it be removed?", I asked him.
"By walking and doing the TRIFLO exercises that you don't want to do", he answered.
"I promise that if you don't do it to me... I will do my exercises and walk more. Please, tell this to Chan", I said trying to persuade him into not doing the puncture.
Paco left my room to talk to Chan and told me that he was going to be back soon. In that inter, I felt like when we are going to go to the beach, that we want to be skinny one night before and we think that with a small dinner, we can achieve it. So I asked for the TRIFLO (a device that helps you to take deep breaths), I did 15 repetitions instead of the 10 I had to do and I intended to go for a walk, when Paco came back and announced that Chan had decided that, for the time being, they would not puncture my lung and will give me the chance to keep my word.
... And I felt as if I was going to faint. Yes, like an old lady of a Mexican Telenovela. The news made me feel relieved for two reasons: 1) I was afraid of the idea of one more intervention and 2) Things were going well for me at last.
In addition, to help reduce the size of the pleural effusion, I was sent two therapies. Physical therapy, in which I had to walk three times a day and another that, although I don't remember its name, massaged me in the back.
Eduardo Etulain and me.
Paco Vélez and me.
However, even though I was getting better, I was still in a lot of pain and that made my mood fall. But one day, Alfredo (my boyfriend), trying to cheer me up, told me: "I know you are hurting, but YOU DON'T HAVE CANCER ANYMORE! And that makes me very happy. There's a quote, that I don't know how cheesy I will sound, but it says that 'it can not rain forever' or something like that. The pain is going to pass and soon you will be very well. You are not sick anymore, you just have to recover. Remember this and continue working hard". And since then, the quote he said to me has made a lot of sense. It is true that it can not rain forever, because neither good nor bad lasts forever... and that makes life much more interesting.
And I also had THE BEST HEALING SQUAD. My family, boyfriend and close friends visited me daily, they fed me with gossips and recharged me with energy and good vibes. Without a doubt, they were one of the many reasons to keep fighting.
One of the techniques that I developed to ignore the pain during my sleepless nights was to make plans for my immediate and long-term future. What was the first thing I would do when I left the hospital? What did I wanted to achieve once I recovered? What kind of life did I wanted for the rest of my days?
And the truth is that I almost always planned the same things:
1) The name of the puppy that I had obtained with the "C" CARD* and who, after many attempts, would be called PANCHO as a way to always remember the doctors that had saved my life: PA from PACO (for Paco Moreno and Paco Vélez), CH from CHAN, O from EduardO (Etulain) and A from LucíA. (As you can see, I had many free time, but I liked the name. Haha).
2) The event I would do to celebrate my victory over cancer.
3) The decoration of the nonexistent apartment in which I will live once I get married (...feel no pressure, Alf).
[Now, let's make a parenthesis in the story to tell you what is THE "C" CARD*:
One of the benefits of cancer is the "C" CARD and although I hope that there were fewer affiliates, I will explain some of its advantages. The "C" CARD is a card that is given to you automatically after your doctors says: "You have cancer". That's it, without further questions or formalities to do, you are entitled to all its benefits and, if you want, you can make unlimited use of it until you recover completely and finish your contract.
Because I am not abusive, I had only used it to get massages on my feet or my back when it hurt. But as I knew I had little time left with it, I decided to use it for something important and that's how I got the beautiful white Pomeranian I had wanted for years.
With the "C" CARD my parents finally agreed to let me have it and Fer Moreno (another of my most beloved cousins), several weeks after I was discharged definitively, CAME TO MY HOUSE WITH PANCHO AS A SURPRISE and she made me an extremely happy first-mother. Below I leave you a photo of Pancho for you to share my love for him].
Pancho López almost two months old.
As I said, it can not rain forever, and although I had to endure a couple more storms, I WAS "DISCHARGED" ONE WEEK AND TWO DAYS AFTER THE SECOND SURGERY.
This was quite and achievement, since many people who have liver operations stay for weeks or even months in the hospital, and the total recovery takes about 6 months (depending on the person, of course). But I, after having done so badly, was evolving so extraordinarily that doctors felt it was prudent to continue my recovery at home.
On June 24 I was "discharged" and for a moment I had mixed feelings. On one hand, I felt the most fortunate person in the world and on the other, I was a little afraid. Why? Because it had been very difficult for me to accept that at the age of 24 years I had cancer and although recovering my health was what I craved the most and for what I had fought with so much force, the truth is that total healing surprised me and I feared that it was just a dream. But I had A SECOND CHANCE AT LIFE and by no means I was going to waste it.
After assimilating the news that I was ready to return to life healthier than ever and free of cancer, I felt a happiness so great that I can not express it with words. I had never been so happy in my life, my heart was about to explode with joy and I experienced for the first time how it feels to CRY OF HAPPINESS.
Finally, after having endured the greatest pains and defended my life with nails and teeth, I was able to greet the magnificent life that was waiting for me outside the hospital.
However, no one imagined that I was halfway in the path to total healing and that I still had to go through a couple more storms.
Even though on Sunday, my first day back home, I had felt 95% good, the next day I began to feel bad, bad and worse. I had a fever that became so high that both Chan and Paco Moreno decided that it was best for me to go to the hospital in emergency.
And I must confess that in the way I was very worried. Besides that my body ached and I felt as if I had a broken rib, I didn't understand the reason for the sudden change in my health and I was terrified of the idea of having to go through another operation because I thought I could not stand it.
Paco Moreno (the best infectologist of Mexico) received me in the emergency room and my mom entered with me. They put me on a painful catheter, I had a CT scan, they took different blood samples and unfortunately, the results were not looking good.
For some strange reason, the drain was plugged and that had caused me a very dangerous infection. For this reason, only two days after leaving, I re-entered the ABC de Observatorio hospital and without knowing it, I was at risk of death for the second time.
Here I will stop the story for now, but I promise that I won't take long writing the third part of my last battle against cancer. Do not miss it! And as always, thank you very much for your continuos support.
Ps. Feel free to share and contact me anytime via social media as @goodbyefrantz :)