Today, 14 July 2012, in the News

Even though I am so tired I can hardly see the words, I want to say something, and the only way is to write.  I have to do it.

Things have been getting worse with us.  Some of you may not remember that several years ago Guido was very, very sick. He also went to several doctors and in addition spent a week at the (so called famous) Mayo Clinic, and another week at the Johns Hopkins Hospital – considered the best two health institutions in the country.  After having found stones in his gallbladder they thought that was the cause of his problems so they operated. Nothing changed. Later, in one of our numerous trips to the emergency room of the hospital, they thought he had appendicitis, so one more surgery to go.  Again, nothing changed, even though they said at the time everything would be solved and he’d be dancing.  If you are wondering who “they” are, they are of course … doctors!

After four years, the best they could come up with was that he had autonomic neuropathy, something that can be lots of things and which doctors love because it covers almost everything. (If anyone is interested, the best site to learn about this is   He was also told that he would not get better, but that his symptoms would come and go.

He was slightly better, but then I let them convince me to have my poor thyroid removed.  Our lives have changed drastically.  Many already know of my concerns with the doctors I have seen.  From allopathy to holistic medicine to alternative practitioners to “endocriminilogists” – nothing helped. I am now even worse than before and don’t know what to do.  One of my doctors had told me it is not the thyroid, but “chronic fatigue syndrome.”  I cringe when I hear the word “syndrome” – it means they have no idea what the patient has and use this to cover everything… I keep asking – how is it possible that before surgery I was totally and absolutely healthy, and right after I got sick?  A common answer that gets them off the hook is that the surgery and the anesthesia may have triggered something in my body!  And they keep testing me for everything under the sun – Celiac, Lyme, apnea, metals, parasites, mono, bacteria, heart (in addition to others I can’t remember now.) You must have guessed that everything has been negative.

One of my writer friends sent me a message that says a lot: “”Don’t give up, Martha. I believe I have had hypothyroid disease my whole life. I recently found out that the area where I was born, raised and still live (Pittsburgh) has the highest incidence of thyroid disease and cancer in the whole United States! Doctors are starting to take a closer look at this. Your thyroid controls 80% of your bodily functions…when it is out of wack….you are really sick!! They only found mine when they did the testing as an in patient over the course of six days….one blood test every 60 days because the insurance will only pay for that…is not an accurate diagnosis. Keep on them….all of them….:)”   And to think we don’t have that problem, as our insurance covers most of our tests and whenever we need them.  Guess we are lucky!  But some of the doctors we are seeing do not participate in any insurance, so we have to pay – a lot.  Still, we don’t travel, we don’t go out. We don’t need new clothes either. We are saving all to give to the sons of b… sorry,  of Hippocrates.

A few weeks ago, Guido started feeling sick again. It started with back problems, but it was obvious his other symptoms were back, with a vengeance!  This time I didn’t rush to call the ambulance and take him to a hospital, as I know from past experience that it will not help. They may even discover a mole or something that needs surgery 😉  It is difficult to get things done, as many friends are on vacation or busy, but as I said, we are survivors (don’t forget Guido survived the War  -World War II, in case you wonder which one) when their apartment in Milano was attacked by the Germans… The scars are still visible on the walls.

What really made me literally sick was what happened the day before yesterday.  He called his surveyor because he needs to have the boat surveyed for the insurance.  He’s known this guy for many years, as he has surveyed all our boats, as they came and went.  This time, Fred said he may not be able to do it, as he himself is not well. Then Guido told me he’d call Martin Bird and Associates (Yacht Sales of Annapolis MD,) the brokers he knows. I thought he was going to do it to find another surveyor, but he told me it was to sell the boat.  Those who know him also know he can’t live without a boat, even though this year he has not gone there.  When  Rosana and Rafael were here some days ago he was going to take them out.  He could not.   It literally broke my heart, as I know what this means.  I simply changed the subject.  I do hope he’ll reconsider… Even though he can’t sail, I know he feels like the character in Borges’s story “The South” – “At the cost of numerous small privations, Dahlmann had managed to save the empty shell of a ranch in the South which had belonged to the Flores family; he continually recalled the image of the balsamic eucalyptus trees and the great rose-colored house which had once been crimson. His duties, perhaps even indolence, kept him in the city. Summer after summer he contented himself with the abstract idea of possession and with the certitude that his ranch was waiting for him on a precise site in the middle of the plain.”  It is “ranch” here, but it could well be “boat”.

In addition, my brother is very sick, in intensive care for 17 days, 12 of them in an induced coma. He’s been out of it for two days now, but he is still in intensive care, and they have to continue his dialysis no matter what.  The only thing I can do is call every day.  There is no way I could travel to Buenos Aires in this condition. I am hoping for the best. He is two years younger, which means he is only 75…

As they say, “when it rains it pours,” and we are finding out it is true.  I know I owe reviews, replying to messages, calling people, but I can’t bring myself to do it. I am a dreadful beta reader too, and I hope my friends understand all this.  I am reading or daydreaming or vegetating most of the time, despairing about what to do. Even the idea of cooking makes me stressed out, as I can’t go to the grocery store and Guido can’t drive me much.

Valeria will be here for some time soon, and that will also help a lot, but we know very well we can’t rely on our daughters, as they have their life and work, and that is more than enough for them.  People don’t realize that having a job here (well, some anyway) means lots of work and little time for vacation or leisure.  Yes – we know we have to move closer to them and we will, but in the meantime we have to get over this awful state of affairs in our lives.  How?  I still don’t know, but I hope I find the answer very soon!!!!

Guess I made up for everything I owed and everything that needed to be said.  Now you know why I can’t answer emails or write more.  Facebook is a great alternative, as it doesn’t take up much time. Ordering food through the Internet is not that great, though.  Some gourmet stores are quite good, although the shipping costs can make it all very expensive, but we have no alternative.  Still, every time they deliver here, be it from Safeway or Peapod (Giant) there are several items “out of stock”… Fortunately, neither Guido nor I are hungry.  We manage to survive, and this time the refrigerator is half empty – true!  And we have reconciled ourselves to the lack of friends.  As some family members keep telling me, friends are only there when you feel well and have parties for them. Then, when you are sick, they have a tendency to disappear. 😦  How very true… And it helps to know we are not the only ones to experience it!


About martisima

After over 50 years of teaching literature to undergraduate and graduate students, I feel I have earned my retirement (it happened when I was 72, five years ago). I do miss the classroom, however, but not the meetings and all other requirements of the profession. I love teaching, and wish I could still do it. But now I read for pleasure, and watch films, and listen to all kinds of music (no TV, though). I love to travel, and hope I can resume doing it soon. I need to get over my health issues caused by thyroid surgery three years ago!
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4 Responses to Today, 14 July 2012, in the News

  1. Mona Risk says:

    Dear Martha, I read your blog and want to cry and hold your hand.
    If Guiddo can’t use his boat, maybe it’s better to sell it. We gave ours to my son because we didn’t have time to use it. But I understand what you say. The boat is his life. It’s like us living without books.
    Praying for you.

    • martisima says:

      Yes, dear Mona. You do understand. For him it is boat and music – his two great loves (besides me, of course – or should I say maybe? ;))

      Thanks for your very kind words and also for the “pinkfuzzyslipperwriters” – they did make me smile!

  2. richard Preto-Rodas says:

    I concur with Mona: Guido sin barco! To say nothing of all the dreary symptoms. And now your brother in B. A. At least there is financial support, unlike the case with my mother, now in week five of 24/7 attendants out of (my) pocket. Tomorrow I review ALF: she seems less resistant to the idea than she has been. Ah yes, stepmother nature…

    Coraje Richard

  3. martisima says:

    Gracias, querido Richard, but there is hardly any financial support. I only mentioned the lab tests, which are about the only thing partially covered…The rest comes out of out pockets, but as I say, we don’t do much else!

    ALF is in the future for us too. What else? But never here, in this area, though. Closer to our daughters, where they can visit us…

    Stepmother nature is not behaving, it seems 😉

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