An Overdue Explanation, Part 1

I promised an explanation for my long hiatus.

All last spring and summer I had this annoying pulled muscle at the top of my left thigh that would get better, then worse, then better, then worse. On September 4th it was diagnosed as a sarcoma, and already big. The Spanish health service escalated me to the University Hospital on Tenerife in under a week and started putting me in million-dollar scanning machines.

In some ways, September and October were the worst part. I was worried that such a big tumour had metastasised everywhere, in which case I might not even see Christmas. Meanwhile, the volcano erupted. We live on the lucky side of La Palma; we were in absolutely no danger from lava and we had to sweep up ash only intermittently, depending on the wind direction. It was horrible to watch friends lose their houses in slow motion, of course, but the only direct effect on us was that every time the wind blew east, the airport closed. It didn’t happen often, but I couldn’t afford to miss a single medical appointment. That meant that every trip to Tenerife had to be done on the ferry to Los Cristianos followed by a bus to Santa Cruz. The ferry staff were lovely, but it was a slow, painful journey every time. Over those two months, I went from walking unaided, to a crutch, to two crutches, to a wheelchair for anything more than a few steps. Carlos was fantastic. He came to every appointment, heaving me into and out of wheelchairs and on and off buses. As I gradually did less and less around the house, he did more. He retired in June 2020, which as he says was very good timing as he never had to juggle me and work.

By late October we got the great news: no metastasis, thank God. Just a very large tumour. Unfortunately, there was a real risk that the only way to get rid of it all would be to amputate my leg at the hip.

Part 2 tomorrow.

Posted by sheila

Sheila came to La Palma with a six month contract and has stayed 24 years so far. She used to work as a software engineer at the observatory, but now she's a writer and Starlight guide.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.