Billy and I are
self-reliant people. We are comfortable with interdependence too, but
dependence? It’s unfamiliar territory for both of us.
In those early days
accident I was pretty discombobulated. Billy reminded me to take my meds,
reliably had food on the table for me to eat, arranged appointments for the
surgeon and therapist along with coordinating with our driver to escort us to
Guatemala's capital. Transport to and from the city was about 4 hours. The days
on which I had double meetings of chamber therapy and seeing my surgeon could
easily add another 4 or 5 hours to the trip, depending on if we could get those
appointments to line up.
Patient care was a
priority to these health professionals, and as much as possible consultations
were arranged for my convenience.
suffered a lot of trauma; Necrosis at knuckle
Plates spinning in
We paid cash for all
services, so going to the ATM was an every-other-day occurrence for a few weeks.
Our visas had to be
renewed right in the middle of all of this medical activity so that task fell to
Billy. Not only did he have to plan his trip to the next town with arranged
lodging, money in hand, meals and coordinated transport, he had to be sure I had
easy-to-heat-and-eat food here in Antigua as well as I had no use of my right
Catching the first bus
at 7 a.m., four buses later he arrived in
Panajachel, dropped off the passports,
spent the night and in the morning he took the same four buses back home to
Antigua. The next week the same routine was repeated.
While he was gone, Billy
made sure that I had food already prepared for the microwave or the stove.
Our maid, Maria, cleaned the kitchen, went shopping, put out the trash, changed the
sheets and cut up copious amounts of fruit for us since I could no longer use a
Making friends with
All of this continuous
activity was out of our routine and far more hectic than we preferred. The focus
was on cooperation, efficiency and comfort because a big chunk of how we
normally live our lives was now in the realm of uncertainty. Wrapped, splinted,
and swollen, my dominant right hand was temporarily not functional. My normal
contributions to our household were interrupted, and I had to reorient the way I
did everything; sleeping, taking a shower, eating, dressing myself, typing…
The beginning days
following the accident were exhausting and they sped by quickly.
Running around naked
Years ago I was the kind
of girl who used to put lipstick on just to check the mailbox. These days I
still blow dry my hair to get that silky sheen you see on television
commercials, but now, due to my current circumstances, I’ve developed a new
appearance. My left hand hasn’t held the mascara brush well, and my fuzzy hair
looks like it got caught in the fluff cycle of our Maytag. My “hairdo” is a
cross between a Brillo pad and a poodle.
I feel like I’m running
around naked. I keep telling myself that beauty comes from the heart.
removed, after skin graft. Still swollen from fracture
Famous in the village
It didn’t take long.
Most everyone now knows
me by sight. I am “the lady with the hurt finger.” When my maid had to leave
early from her daughter’s school party to come to her daily job at our place –
she was “the woman who worked for the lady with the hurt finger.” Her son, who
took a keen interest in seeing Billy’s initial gruesome photos of my mishap,
gained status when he added to the conversation that my finger was “really
When Billy renewed our
passports in a neighboring town a couple of hours away, our friends there knew
what happened when I disembarked from the bus, and Billy became known as the
“husband of the lady with the hurt finger.”
In the beginning, people
everywhere would give my gauzed-up hand side glances and shake their heads. As
the days passed and I would go to the bakery or to the tortilla shop, I seemed
to receive extra friendly service. Strangers on the street or even in the
sophisticated city of
Antigua were overtly friendly to me, saying good morning,
afternoon or directly asking me what happened. The bandages and splint on my
hand were obvious and these kind and gentle people could relate.
The men in the fruit
truck who delivered sweet pineapples and papayas to our house, Carlos, who
brings heavy, 20 liter galafons of drinking water to us twice weekly,
waiters at restaurants and shop owners all wanted to know all about what
happened. And, the more drama I could put in the storytelling, the better. They
shared with me their injuries and scars and wished me well.
all ages are authentic, kind, engaging
Beyond thank you
Billy rose to the
occasion so many times – changing my bandages daily and whipping me into shape –
having me soak my hand in warm water baths 3 times a day, instructing me on how
to exercise my finger, wrapping my hand or skin-donor site in plastic so I could
shower, cutting up bananas for my cereal…
Messages poured in from
our Readers all over the world. I was placed on prayer lists, people dedicated
songs or dances, our home stay was extended by the owners and I was given many
notes of concern and well wishes.
Is saying “thank you” an
even exchange for how I feel about all this effort people have gone through to
make my life comfortable? To help me adjust to the trauma? To let me know I’m
At some point, gratitude
goes deeper and it becomes a realization; a perspective from which to live.
Those nights in the
beginning when my fingertip was the lifeless color of a dark bruise and was cold
and hard to the touch, I wrestled with a part of me who wanted to sink and give
in to a dark scenario.
Somehow I knew that I
had a choice at those points in time. People and circumstances were coming
together to form a soothing and unmistakable safety net. The least I could do
was not give up.
A sincere and heartfelt
Thank You to all of you. You made my experience softer, easier to navigate. I am
grateful for your connection and participation in my life.
And Honey? Happy
Anniversary. We'll celebrate somewhere special when you no longer need to cut my
meat up at the table. This time, I'm buying.
Want to know how much this whole ordeal cost? We have prices for all services
received, medications purchased, and cost of transport ready to share with you