An Overdue Explanation, part 2

The author snuggling with her cat, Chai Latte
More cat therapy with Chai Latte

Part 1 of this explanation is here.

To reduce the risk of amputation I had 5 weeks of daily radiotherapy starting in early November, so we had to move to Tenerife temporarily. We took a ground floor apartment near the hospital, leaving our son Julio, who is now 25, to look after the house, cat and garden. By the time we came home on December 10th, the tumour was very painful and I was very nauseous. Luckily Julio and my friends had already set up a bed for me in the living room because stairs were out of the question. Chai Latte, the cat was miffed with me at first – after all, I’d disappeared for five weeks.

My nausea slowly cleared up, and the first proper meal I ate was Christmas dinner. Julio sourced some stuffed, marinated pork loin and got it in the oven, then some friends came to deal with the veg. It was delicious. Even better, the eruption was over, which was the best possible present to the island.

On December 30th we went to Tenerife again for a high-contrast MRI scan. On the 3rd of January, we went to see the surgeon. Bad news: the radiotherapy hadn’t shrunk the tumour much. She had a plan to try to save my leg, and therefore it would be a long operation, but she had to warn me that there was a very real chance that I would wake up with only one leg. She would put me on the waiting list for surgery, and she hoped to do it on January 13th.

The Christmas break in Spain goes on to January 6th, when the Kings bring gifts to good children.

On the 5th we were told that I would “probably” have my operation on January 13th, assuming they could find me a bed. The hospital was filling up with COVID patients so they couldn’t promise. They would phone to let me know on the morning of January 12th.

That’s pretty tight, but at least with the eruption over we could go by plane which was a much shorter journey. The travel agent said, “Yes, OK, I’ll make you a provisional booking for the 3 pm flight.”

We phoned the apartments where we’d stayed before. They didn’t seem to think it odd either, but then they get a lot of people staying for hospital-related things.Yes, they would provisionally book our previous wheelchair-friendly apartment, “-But please let us know as soon as you can.”

On the morning of January 12th we tried to pack a suitcase to stay with Carlos in the apartment, and a smaller bag for me to take to the hospital, but it was impossible to concentrate. When we hadn’t heard by 11 am, I phoned them. Yes, they had theatre and staff ready, but they were trying to find me a bed. It was really difficult because of COVID. I phoned a taxi and explained the situation. He kindly agreed to keep the slot open for us.

They finally phoned to say I had my bed at 13:45. We had to leave 14:45. We confirmed taxi, flight and apartment, threw stuff into the suitcase in great haste and left.

We made the flight. We collected the apartment keys and dropped the suitcase off. I checked into the hospital at about 7:00. . Carlos wheeled me up to the ward where we asked about the rules for visitors. Sorry, no visits were allowed at all, because the COVID wave was so bad. This was a bit of a blow, but obviously, it couldn’t be helped. We kissed goodbye, I got into bed, had dinner, and tried to sleep.

Looking down on two legs in a hospital bed
Me with two legs, just before surgery. It’s not very clear but the top of the left leg is swollen and red from the tumour.

Part 3 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.

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