The verdict is in. My cervical spine is severely damaged and my spinal cord at risk and I will have to have surgery sooner rather than later. In the meantime, I have been told to live quietly and carefully and take exquisite care of myself. I wonder what that means, and what life will be like without action and adventure and exploration and the flurry of activity that I am accustomed to.
For today, it was deciding not to go to exercise class, but to spend time with Eric drinking coffee and reading 'El Comercio' at Boncaffe next door. I like it that the owner and employees at the coffee shop know me and ask how I am and ask about Maya and wonder where I am when I am gone. Every time I enter the shop they greet me with 'Buenas Dias' and 'Como le va?', they know what I drink and know that I never eat anything with my coffee. Whenever another customer comes in while we are there, they greet us too and we are expected to greet them. I never leave the shop without 'Hasta luego', and I am rude if I do not say goodbye as well.
My appointment with the neurosurgeon was at noon. I had to wait for a time until he was finished with the patients who were scheduled. Eric was happy to work on his computer during the wait. Hernan walked over with us to Radiology in the main hospital and I got copies of the XRays and MRI from Tuesday. He walked over to the Payment office, where my credit card did not work (not infrequently my credit cards are refused for no apparent reason). Eric and I dug through our pockets and managed to put together the $107.90 for the cervical MRI and then Hernan searched for the MRI technicians and waited for the results. It was all bad news, but I loved how calm and cool Hernan was, how he described nonchalantly what had to be done, that he was very comfortable with the procedure, that there was only a 3% complication rate. I asked what his complication rate was and he smiled when he said 0%. When I asked how it was so low, he smiled again and told me he was very careful and used a microscope and took his time. He suggested that I take the time to think about what I want to do, but in the meantime to be careful about how I move and not engage in any risky behaviours.
The good news was that after the surgery I could be active again. He is a military physician and when his patients recover (which is within a few days) they are often parachuting out of airplanes!
I cannot imagine living a quiet life. Eric and I walked over to Megamaxi (which is still a treat for me, I am not sure why I enjoy shopping for food in new places, I absolutely hate grocery shopping at home) to stock up. We went to pick up Maya at school. She had a dance performance at the 'Casa de la Cultura' and was to be there early to prepare.
There was a demonstration in front of the 'Ministerio de la Salud', so our street was blocked at both ends. At first there were only traffic police directing cars away from the event, but as Maya and I walked out to the street, a squadron of riot police with shields and helmets were marching toward us. The crowd began to break up, perhaps because no one wanted to confront the police. There were many children and most of the protestors wore traditional attire, so perhaps the protest was about the medical care of indigenous people. I will check the newspaper for details tomorrow.
Protest Ministerio de Salud
Maya's audience was the Chinese ambassador and assistant and their wives, and a group of women who were part of a 'corporacion' of 'friends of the People's Republic of China'. The ballerinas were part of the 'cultural' presentation, along with a guitarist and pianist. We were asked to arrive at 5 PM for a warmup and practice, but the event started after 6, and for more than 100 minutes, various members of the organization gave speeches about the women and their website and their logo. I am not sure exactly what the group does. The Chinese ambassador talked for a very long time about the close relationship between China and Ecuador (the Chinese have many economic concerns in Ecuador), but appeared to be warning the Ecuadorians that if they wanted money, they would have to borrow it and pay it back. He described China as a 'developing' country and Ecuador as a 'third world country', and pointed out that both China and Ecuador have an average yearly income of $3000, and that China did not have money they could simply give away. Perhaps it felt like an odd speech to me because I had no idea what the purpose of this group of women was.
The speeches were excruciatingly long, and it was a relief to see the lovely ballerinas dance and brighten up the room. They all performed beautifully.
Today was my third day of quiet and minimal exertion and it was more interesting and purposeful than I expected.