Me Estoy Sacando el Pelo
A tale of a secret haircutter
I do not know when this first started happening. When I was little, I sported long trenzitas, mi pelo casta??o coke bottle glasses and front teeth that pointed in slightly different directions. Over time, the coke bottle glasses went the way of low gas prices, the front teeth were straightened with braces and the trenzitas became longish, shoulder length hair.
Published on LatinoLA: August 2, 2011
One time, mi Mamacita tried to give me a home permanent and, despite the stench and the time that passed like an hormiga my hair remained stick thin. It looks like the corn hilitos that come off after you pull off the husk. Only not cornsilk blonde. Just straight--------------------------------------------like that.
Mi problema es este: When there is trouble, in the Congress, in the world, in my family, I cut my own hair. I hear: "We are going to war in Iraq!" Instead of jumping with glee like my ex-best friend (who got voted off the island shortly thereafter), who repeated "shock and awe" so many times I told her to leave my office, I came home and cut off a couple of inches. Front and back. By myself.
Then, the scissors re-emerged when Saddam Hussein was found in his pozucho. ?íSAS! My newly grown out hair got the axe again. Osama bin Ladin killed. In the midst of the relief and the news reports, those darn scissors re-appeared. While the world slept, Osama sleeping with the fishies, my hair got shorter. My sisters look at me and don't say, "Oh, great, what a peinado fabuloso." They say, "Got troubles again, eh?" DO I HAVE TROUBLES!
Last night, I showered the hospital stuff from myself and thought, "I need a haircut". We had been through a lot last week. So, my hair is shorter still.
Last week. our Mami got really super malisima. She is La Jefa now that my Dad is gone. We have all been trying to adjust, all six of us sisters, brother and in-laws. Mi Papi's absence is too fresh, too shocking, too much of a void in a place where he would break into song spontaneously and tell all the nurses their ojitos were beautiful and "where are you from?" Mi Papi was a charmer. But we do not even have his headstone yet. How could our Mama be sick, dying?
Fortunately, la familia in the house drove her to a local hospital. One where she would not have to wait hours in the E.R. waiting room because all the gunshot victims and trauma patients went in first. Brilliant! Her problem was identified, she was given a room (semi-private), but the doctor assigned to her was missing in action all day last Sunday. I had him paged and read him the riot act, and, yes, I yelled muchisimo. It was 9:10 at night. And he claimed to be working his way down the hospital floors. He was on the fourth floor. Thank God my Mami was on the third.
Their air conditioning was not working, so they had a big old fan aimed at my Mami. Her eyelids were swelling even as we watched her. We had to take turns, because about one and a half people fit on her side of the room at one time. The doctor finally showed his carota and made my sisters promise that I would never call him again. They promised. Yeah, but I might drop a dime on him to the Board of Medical Quality Assurance, the state licensing agency for doctors.
I figure it this way: What if the person in that hospital bed is unconscious, viejito, ni??ito, or cannot speak for him or herself and gets this payaso for a doctor? What harm will someone with that medical power do? Or will he sneak home if he thinks no one is watching.?
No, Doctor--hay te watcho.
So, one of my sisters grabbed the bull by the horns on Monday and had my Mom transferred to another hospital, where my Mom's doctors have privileges and I have never seen a more smooth, speedy and efficient transfer in my whole life. Come to think of it: I have never seen a hospital transfer. Punto. There, they saved mi Mami's life. She is home, making demands, Gracias a Dios.
Not that I am a novice with hospitals. LESSON HERE: MI GENTE: My husband, four years ago, awakened me with his very loud and obviously painful attempts to breathe. I asked if he needed 911 and all he could say was, "No time." I DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS FOR ANYONE. But I threw on clothes, forget the bra, and got him into the car. I drove like a loca, rolling through stop signs, running lights, hand on the horn, foot on gas and the brake, eyes on the lookout. We got him into E.R.
By the time I went back inside, they told me my husband had an "aortic dissection." That's what killed John Ritter. His aorta was tearing apart and blood was going places it was never meant to go. We were given a choice: Immediate, emergency surgery or death. We chose Life.
A kind, young doctor saw me standing there, watching my husband, whose face went concrete grey twice. I was thinking, "He is dying here in front of me." The doctor asked if we had family or friends in the area. Family, yes, some friends. "Tell them to come, you cannot be here by yourself, like this." I went outside with my husband's cell phone as well as mine. Identical. One in each hand. I could not remember how to use them.
I went back inside, picked up the emergency room wall phone, the one the nurses always shoo you from, and I made one call. To our nephew. "Call your Mami, tu Tio esta malo. Tell everyone to come." Everyone came. Even the people with whom I worked then, who were my closest friends. By then, my husband was being prepped for the surgery. We all walked, a sorrowful band of people brought together by this special man. Each person had a quiet momentito when the nurses stopped. I was the last. I kissed him, told him I loved him, and that I would be there when he woke up.
I was there when he opened his eyes, for the first time, twenty one days later. My husband had fought shingles, pneumonia, diabetes, dialysis, full kidney failure, was being fed through a gastric tube. And he opened his eyes. I and others (a constant rotation of family and friends) had sat as we waited. When they took away the iPod from me, a mean enfermero, who claimed I could not play music quietly, I sang to my husband. Any song or part of a song I could remember. I would make up golf stories and tell him how great he was playing. One day, my sisters told me he had moved his hands a tiny bit, as if he was holding a club. He had moved his left knee, as if he was hitting the ball. I knew he was there. Somewhere, deep inside, he was there.
My point is this, mi gente: Do what you think is right for your patient. Talk to the doctors, if you do not understand, have them repeat it until you do. Take a friend so they can remember what was said. Make notes of questions you have. [i]Los doctores no son Dioses.
One pulmonologist offered to "Take him off antibiotics, so he can die a natural death." WHAT!? I immediately found my husband's surgeon and told him what this man had said. The pulmonologist had said, also, that he had a meeting and could not talk to me. I told him I did not care about his meeting and he would talk to me for as long as I needed. And after I was done, I told him to never speak to me again. Ever. Yes, those elevator rides with that man as the only other person were awkward for him. I did not care.
If you belong to an insurance company know that you are allowed to go outside their company for a second opinion. If you can, do it. An ethical doctor will not be offended. An unethical or inept one will fear another doctor will detect his or her mistakes or shortcuts.
Today, I saw Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords step onto the floor of Congress to cast her vote. You know, she is the one who was shot in the face by some maniaco in Tucson.
Miracles happen. I live with one. I think I'll let my hair grow out again.
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