Sorry to everybody reading my blog articles and hasn’t heard from me in awhile. This piece of writing was the most difficult one to elaborate. It was like refreshing unhealing wounds, but I overcame and tough it up.
It was the month of July 2006, everything seemed to go normal like any other time of year, I was still eating pureed food and thick liquids, trying to learn and improve my English skills, and playing with my computer. The first week of the month passed by, the second began without novelty, except my sister hadn’t visit me for over a week now, and she never do that since I was in Healdsburg. So I started to get worry, but as it was only over a week, I thought, she might have more important things to take care of; as long as they’re okay, I’m okay. I left time to continue its course and days go on, but the second week of July reached to its end without a word from my sister or any member of my family. My worries started to grow more and more, but I swallow and kept it to myself. The third week of the month was on, no news yet, I asked to myself what could be wrong, if someone be ill, or anything, only God knew. It was the 22nd already, the month was starting to fade away, the following day was going to be my birthday, a big day for me, because I actually could taste and have a slice of cake, which a very dear and lovely nurse to me, everybody and each one of them occupied a special place in my heart, she offered to bring me a cake, so I knew I was going to have one. I was hoping that my family wouldn’t miss my birthday, and they didn’t. In fact, each one of them show up, my sister, her husband, their sons and daughter, and one of my brothers, the youngest of the family. I was in the activities room playing with my computer as usual listening to music. Suddenly, they step into the room, but as soon as I saw them I knew something was terribly wrong, because some of them were wearing dark glasses. My heart started beating faster and faster, and they hadn’t tell me anything yet, but my sister as she were approaching me, asked her daughter to shut off the music. She grabbed my shoulder, my hands were sweating, she bend down and gave me the hardest news one and every person in the world could get. She said, our mother passed away two weeks ago, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, my heart broke and I felt that now definitely the little, mediocre life I had left. Finish right there in that very moment. They took me out to get air and because I was crying out loud like a sick baby, everybody tries to calm him down, but he can’t because he’s hurting, hurting badly. My sister sobbing told me little brother, I wouldn’t tell you, don’t cry, because that it is impossible thing to do, cry my dear brother cry, unburden yourself. After while, she spoke again and said, our mother used to say, you were her favorite son, her spoiled child. She love you so much boy, she loved everybody, but you were the special son. Her last words were address to you, she said that, please for the love of God, do not stop fighting for your life. She said, she’ll be witnessing and cheering all your accomplishments, please dear little brother don’t give up, keep going, do it for her. You know what? My sister kept talking, she told me two things my mother said before leaving. She never loss faith about you going back to our village again, and she always said that she would interchange her life for yours. Oh my beloved God! I couldn’t stop sobbing, feeling so rip apart from my insides, and my poor insignificant life turned empty.
They brought me back inside after while, it was my birthday after all, what a sorrowful day. I spent the night, days thinking what I did wrong? I know, I wasn’t a “White Dove”, but I was not an evil person. So, I kept wondering to myself, why? one and once again, no answer. I really thought many times after that to give up, to just drop the towel and leave myself die, but my biggest hold was, it is, and will be, my beloved family. I cannot stand to see them suffer for me, my heart is not that hard, I’m a chicken for God’s sake! If I let myself die and stop giving pity, it wouldn’t be such a bad idea, I’m almost there anyways, I’m a useless person. However, death wouldn’t get to me instantly as I wanted to, only God knows how long I would last lay down there in bed waiting to stop breathing, one day, one month, one year? Whereas, my sister, the rest of my family would be here suffering, watching me, witnessing how day by day death gets closer and closer, how I’m getting weaker and weaker, and they wouldn’t be able to help me, because it was what I want, my decision. And so, my mind, my feelings were all bundle up against each other. Finally after so much thought, I said, mother I’m going to do it for you. I’m not going to cry any more, because I know you’re in a better place, over there in heaven closer to God, were you’ll be eternally happy. Right here in the world you suffered way too much, sorry mommi, I may had cause you the greatest pain watching me there confine to a hospital bed, all helpless depending on everybody to take care of me, forgive me dear mother, forgive me. I will stop with my stupid thoughts and confront my reality, this cruel tragedy. I will always miss you mom, but you’ll be always alive here in my heart, when this sore little heart stop beating, then we both will die. From that moment on, my way to see my surroundings, life in general, changed dramatically. My feelings, my heart turned hard, very difficult to get hurt, to cry, “No” it’s not that I don’t feel any more, it’s just different, very different. It’s like if my whole insides were taken out and replaced, something weird, beyond my understanding……
It was March, I believe, so many things happened between the Spring and Summer. They started trying to feed me real food by mouth, because I was a pain in the neck and keep bugging them every day to do it. It took me a great deal of annoying people in charge to listen to me. I remembered every time a speech therapy came to work with me, as soon as I started coughing a little bit, they went out of my room and told the nurses, “no, he can’t swallow” I just poured a couple drops of liquid and he started coughing. and end of the story. It was so discouraging to heard, I thought, the delicious taste of food would never entered into my big mouth again. I told them a couple times, “why you guys don’t believe I can swallow; I swear I can do it, every time I get a shower I drink lots of water from the faucet while I’ve been spray with the hose”. What!!? they replied in disbelief. Francisco, that is very dangerous, you can chock and the water can go straight to your lungs, you have to stop doing that. It was a mistake telling them that, the next time I had a shower they put a small rag on my mouth, so it could keep the water out of my mouth. “That’s what you get for telling”, I scolded myself.
I was feeling so downhearted and uncertain, whether I kept pushing them to try to feed me, I cried during my loneliness where nobody could witness my tears. Until one day a truly miracle happened, I said “Truly” because nobody believed me, no one, not even my family; they think I pull it off myself, this is true, believe dear reader. The feeding tube sprouted out, “Yes!”, it came out all by itself, and the weird thing was, nobody could put it back in, which I was hoping for. The problem for them, it was Sunday night, so there were not a doctor or someone who had the knowledge to stick it in again. The nurses working that night tried for hours without succeeding, so they called the doctor and she told them to leave it for the next day. I was so happy, although, I knew they might try again in the morning, and my stomach was so sore. Monday morning arrived, the doctor came in to see me and take a look at the issue. Then she went back out and didn’t come back. I thought they were going to send me out to the hospital in Santa Rosa to have the tube re-inserted, but they didn’t. Soon, a nurse came in and approach me with a face of happiness and smiling. She said, “well since we couldn’t put back in the feeding tube, we are going to re-evaluated you and try to feed you by mouth. If this doesn’t work and you can’t swallow correctly; then we may send you out to have the feeding tube re-inserted again”. I was so over joy, I couldn’t stop giggling, but I also was a little bit concern. What if I start coughing?, I know I can do it, but if that happens again, the speech therapy could decide against it once again, I would end all disappointed.
The speech therapy came over and reevaluated me again, I was very nervous, happy but nervous! She tried for while, a couple nurses and a respiratory therapist were there in case something goes wrong. Fortunately, nothing bad happened, I did cough a little bit but not enough to scare them away. I succeed, I could start eating real food again after a long time being fed through my stomach, even though the food had to be pureed. When it was time for my first meal, I was so excited, a nurse came in to feed me in the activities room. She was carrying a tray with food, a glass of thick water, oh yes I forgot to say that I had to start drinking thick liquids too, and a can of powder to thickener anything else I’d like to drink. I hated pureed food big time since the very first day I tasted it, I don’t know if it was me because of the long time real food hadn’t enter in my mouth, or because it was can food bought it from store. See, the place I was, it was a hospital for patients like I previously were, but since I upgraded, they had to feed me.
About a month went by, I was taken to the shower room to take a bath, when I returned back to my bedroom. The aides in charged of my care leave me alone sitting on a wheelchair, two hours after a nurse step into the room to check if everything was doing okay, “Oh My God!”, she exclaimed, are you feeling okay? Do you have any shortness of breath or something? No! I node, then the nurse said, “Pancho, your tracher came out from your neck. Let me tell you, “I don’t know if I’m right or wrong, so don’t get too excited; you might not need the tracher to help you breath any more, we will let the doctor know about it and see what she says, and how she wants to proceed”. I started laughing and squealing very happy. I looked up to the sky or ceiling to be exact, and thank God for his mercy towards me. They notified the doctor, I assumed, because the next day she came up to me with two other nurses to try to remove the tracher. She said, “I heard you might not need this any more, I’m going to take it off for while and see how you do without it; if you can be able to breathe in your own, I will take it off for good, but if you start losing oxygen and feeling bad, I will put it back on”. Woohoo! My heart was happy. They removed it and kept checking on me every hour, every two hours, every day, until they were sure I didn’t need the tube in my neck for real.
Time continued its course without further novelty for some months; everything was doing good, I had no feeding tube and no tracher any more, Sweet!, the only thing happening since then, was I couldn’t stay in that hospital any longer, which it was a bitter sweet taste, because I loved that place, well better said, I loved the people work in there; who can love to be in a hospital? So, I was trill to get out of there, but to think that I had to leave my people was very sad. They started looking for some place else for me, not a hospital but now had to be a nursing home. It was going to take long to find a good convenient one, because they were going to try to get me close to my family, in the same town of Sonoma, if possible. I was so looking forward to it, I know I was going to be able to go just to a simple nursing home, not much difference than a hospital, but for a person who had spend a few years on hospitals, it is a big deal…….
got transfer to Healdsburg District Hospital, everybody so nice and kind to me, they gave me a great treatment and made me feel like I was part of this life still.
Since the very first day, they changed the collar from my neck, it was so dirty and nasty seemed like it was never been change before, so it was taking care almost right away. The next day I got a nice shower, very carefully, they made sure to protect my (tracher) from getting wet, which in Berkley never happened; they did shower me sometimes but without taking the necessary measures. Anyways, because in Healdsburg I was being taking care so good and efficient; my UTI was disappearing very quickly, in fact, in about two weeks the infection was totally gone from my body. I was so content, of course, my family shared that happiness with me, moreover, they did not have to wear clothing protection any more. In addition, the people were nice to them and the place was much more closer too, so they could visit me more often.
There all the personnel were phenomenal. In between them were a Latin nurse assistance, he was a great soul young man, who cares profoundly for the well-being of moribund people like me. He became my guardian Angel during my instance over the hospital. The man tried many different ways to improve my miserable life, which I will never forget. For example, he started by finding the way to communicate myself with the people around me, well just with the people who spoke Spanish. He designed a little wand that had attached a lazer light, then the wand with the lazer were place very secured on a baseball cap, I would wear it whenever necessary. Thus, every time my family members or friends dropped by to pay me a visit, I would had the baseball cap on, a board with the alphabet post it on the wall right in front of me, and the head of the bed raised up so I could pointed with the light of the lazer to each of the letters I meant to form a word. The person, whoever were visiting take notes on a piece of paper and whether I just wanted to say hello, or something else, they could write down.
From those moment on, my entire life started shifting over, now thanks to that C.N.A. I could let everyone knows what I wanted, needed, if something hurt, and if I was hungry or whatever my necessary was. Everything seemed to be improving as time went by, even my sister started to drive and got her driver’s license to come in visit me more often, so my brother-in-law didn’t have to missed work for bringing her and my mother anymore.
Soon, the staff from the hospital began to get me out of bed and sit me in a big wheelchair called, (robot chair) it was huge tall chair. I was very happy because to be able to sit down on a wheelchair, to me was like proving all the doctors’ diagnostics wrong. The robot chair could be unfold and make it like a bed, and once I was place on it, they initiate elevating it little by little until I was sitting up straight or until my body could tolerate it. I started sitting up 30 minutes, then 45 or an hour, and finally 1;30 min. to 2 hours, I kept using the robot chair for about six months. Then, the staff from the hospital thought my body was strong enough to sit down on a regular wheelchair, so I did start using a regular one.
During my instance in Healdsburg H. the motivation to learn English and be able to know and understand what other people were saying started to grow inside my head. I started to think how am I was going to learn that language and inquiring about the best and quickest ways to achieve that goal. I got a lot of choices, but unfortunately, all of them were way beyond my research. Some people sent me to school, others told me to buy a course in DVD to study from home, which seemed more logical to me, and others actually brought a couple of tapes from home, but I had no where to play them, end of the story. “Yes,” I could ask my family to bring me something where to play them, but it didn’t actually seem appealing enough to do that. The idea continued wandering into my head. I was determined to learn the idiom, but now one thing was cristal clear, I had to come up with my own strategy. I spent days and nights “thinking what am I going to do,” how am I going to do it? If I don’t even know a word. Well, hardly non of them, just a few ones. I asked my lord Jesus Christ for help. He did help me; he always does when I need him, which is all the time and every second of my life. He is there by my side willing to guide me to follow the right direction. After thinking and rethinking I got an idea. I thought the most easy and affordable way for me to try to learn something, “A Spanish/English Dictionary,” that’s right, a simple dictionary taught me the little English I know now, or I should say, that’s how I learned. I asked my family to get me one, and they did bring a very thick fat one called, “Larousse” it had words written in English first, then next to each of them the definition in Spanish. then, half of the book had the words written in Spanish and the definition in English. I used to read it every day at any time of day. Although, I couldn’t flip through the pages myself, I pushed the call bottom for the nurse’s assistant to come in and do it for me; I kept doing the same thing for a long while.
The nurses and all the staff were amazed about my determination and all the effort I was putting on it. One day I was doing my daily routine. The aide got me off the bed and put me on the wheelchair, then, he placed my dictionary on a bedside table in front of me so I could read it and left. I was just starting my studies when the social service step into the room with a nurse that spoke Spanish to translate her. She said, she was fascinating with my eagerness to learn English, so she wanted to help. She said, “but I don’t know how, do you have any ideas about how I can help you?” I felt very good about myself; however, I didn’t know what to reply to her. She stated, “okay if there is anything you can think of let me know, just tell the nurse to ask me to come in and see you, alright.” Then, she left to continue her duties, and I carried on with my reading. I really didn’t have any idea of how she could help me out. “She wouldn’t get me any course to study on the TV,” I thought to myself. “Oh, I know exactly what I going to request her, a book or magazines that are written both English and Spanish like my dictionary,” yes! I will. Whereas, it was already late afternoon, she was gone by that time, so I had to wait until the next day to see her. The following morning when the aide went to get me out of bed. I asked him to tell her to come in for a few minutes. When she showed up I spit out my petition, ; “absolutely,” she replied, “I can get that for you.” In addition, she asked the man who was translating us to tell me if I wanted; she would come in on her free times and read for me. “It seemed like a good idea; although, I wouldn’t understand, but it might help,” so I gladly accepted her offer.
She did get for me the stuff I asked for, and come over almost every day during the week to read some stories and poems. The word or words I couldn’t understand as she was reading, which at the beginning were most of them, I quickly looked them up on the dictionary. I kept on going with that for about a year, I still kept going, but not as much as before. I started to understand some words of what they were trying to tell me, as well as to spell and type it. I bet sometimes they might wished I would’ve never learned, hehehehe! but I did,. I meant, I was doing it.
When I started trying to jot down my first English words, my goodness! nobody could understand them right away, even I had a hard time reading the sentences myself. It was very confusing, there were words that didn’t belong to the sentence or to the right place, if I meant to write “which” I put “witch”, or “bitch” instead of “beach”, it was horrible, worthy though! I always made them burst into laughter, sometimes I thought they were going to pee in their pants! And that way my new idiom with sloppy, awkward, misspell, and misplaced words begun. I never felt embarrassed or ashamed of myself because of my terrible English. They took awhile to understand what I was trying to say, but somehow they figured it out. If it was too difficult and unreadable to phrased, than they called someone who spoke Spanish, a CNA or somebody else to figured it out. Thus, I kept studying and learning little by little, every single day I was with the dictionary in front of me. The nurses and CNAs asked me at times, “aren’t you get tired with that or maybe bored?” I always node and said no, but the voice inside of me wanted to replied, “Yes I am!” I was starting to picked up the language more and more. I was beginning to be more clear, specific and thorough with what I wanted to say. You may ask yourself “if that is true, how come I still can’t understand your writing very well?” Well, my true is, I have never been good on spelling and using the correct grammar. I am so clumsy when spelling correctly.
About 1.5 years later, my mother had decided to go back to Mexico to see her grandsons and the rest of the family. I didn’t like the idea to see her go, but I thought it would be so selfish on myself to tried to keep her with me, so as much as I was going to miss her, I endured myself and gave her a smile. It was the middle of November when my lovely mother departed to our country. My sister and brother-in-law with kids took her. It was so hard to see her leave. My little heart was broken, but I used to comfort myself by thinking that she would be coming back. Time went by, my sister and her family came back a couple months later, but my mama remained in Mexico. My sister used to tell me they will bring her again to see me, and to be happy for her, because she was happy enjoying her grandsons. Hearing these words gave tranquillity to my soul, heart and peace to my life.
One day the social service in company by a nurse came over to talk to me. They mentioned that they would get a computer for me to communicate better. I kind of took that as a joked to be honest. First of all, I’d never knew how to use a computer before, I actually didn’t know what that artefacts were for, or if they even exist. Seriously, I was so close mind. Second, I couldn’t move my hands, still can’t, so how am I supposed to type anything. Anyways, that is what I was thinking during our conversation. They explained me, tried to, all about it. How would I reached the keyboard and pressed the letters to type. They said, I would wear a baseball cap that would have attached a wand and/or something called “stylish or stylized” I don’t know, but I’m close, hahahaha! This wand would allow me to type via using my own head instead of my hands, just like pointing the letters of the alphabet with the laser light, only now I had to poke the letters.. They seemed very enthusiastic about that, and wanted to check in with me whether I would like to try it, so the social service could get the computer. Of course, I replied, I was enthusiastic, but not as much as they were, I still think that wasn’t possible. A few months later, I started out to think that they forgot all about it, but I was wrong, they didn’t. The day, the unexpected day arrived. They took me to a small room where they had activities with other patients. And “tatatatan” there was a beautiful black laptop waiting for me to turn it on. I was in shock, I couldn’t believe that they actually did it and got the computer for me. A black baseball cap with SF logo and the stylish attached. I was so excited and eager to tried it. They put the hat on me, so I could try it right away, but only there was a little problem. I didn’t know how to turn it on and get it running, but they did that for me. I began tossing and swinging my head back and forth towards the keyboard of the laptop; however, the computer seemed to me like it was alive, every single shot I threw to the keys was a failure. The nurses and social service were all around me waiting to see what I could do, but they had to go back to pass medicine, and as I wasn’t accomplish anything, they left me alone after awhile. I kept trying to manage using my new toy. I had “wordpad” open so I was trying to type some sentences, but it was too hard for me to do it. At the end of the day my poor neck was so sore from moving it so much, but I didn’t care. I was happy with my computer, so I was definitely not to give up that easy. Thus, as soon as I got off the bed the next day, I asked the CNA to set it up for me and to leave me alone, and once he left I continued my homework. I kept doing the same thing over and over again, and I was getting better and better little by little. When I had trouble with something related to the computer, which was very often, when I first started using it, a CNA or nurse always came to my rescued. This way I learned a bit from one person, a bit from another one and so on. I got very good at it, well, I know all the basic stuff to get it running. The laptop became my best friend. I used to spend the whole day in front of it, since they got me off the bed until I laid down again. I did, still do, everything on my computer. I learned how to get on the internet, how to make an e-mail account and to send e-mail messages, to get in social media, to watch movies and a lot more of things. I ended up with a screaming next, but who cares, I was having actually fun. I used to got up and go to listen to music all day long……