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Patients |  Profile

I’ve had a cold for a couple of days. Air enters and leaves with difficulty through my nose, which feels swollen like a ball. The tissue box goes with me throughout the house. I do not like to be sick. When I was a girl, a flu, a cold, was the best plan in winter, staying in bed with the blankets up to your pear, the hot water bottle on your feet or the brick heated on the wood stove and wrapped in old newspapers …sometimes the grandmother would wrap him so hot that the first layers of paper began to scorch and the smell slowly rose from the bottom of the bed. Two days without school, of books and television and burning: the most delicious homemade syrup in the world (put a little sugar in a saucepan, make a caramel, add water, a loquat leaf and a little fresh oregano; warm and drink ); and if there was a cold, rub the chest with a little lizard fat that we brought from the field. In the afternoon a visit from the schoolmate who lived closest and brought her homework and recess gossip. Long-term illnesses were the most coveted, mumps for example, which had the extra mystery that if you were male it could be fatal. But forty days in bed was worth the risk of not having children in the future. Another one that ranked very well was appendix surgery or tonsil surgery. I think I already told it here once: the sweet dream of anesthesia, waking up and seeing in the little bottle of formaldehyde two balls of furious red floating like Chinese lanterns, the gift books, the ice cream at will. And the fractures, walking from here to there with your arm in a cast and having the graders write their names as the cast became dirty and the tips frayed. I never had one, but I would have liked to. In general, the bankrupts were always the boys, I suppose because their games were more risky than those of the girls.

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There were also real illnesses, which were not those of the elderly or those of children. My mother was a nurse before she was a teacher. In addition to her work at the town sanatorium, she gave injections at home, she took care of patients who were in her homes. At one time she took care of a boy who had cancer. I think his name was Ricardo. Sometimes I accompanied her, when it was just giving her an injection and chatting for a while. He was very thin and wore glasses. He was studying at college when he got sick and had to return to the town and his parents’ house. His teenage room had become a hospital room, with an orthopedic bed that was raised and lowered, supporting the boy’s increasingly fragile and paler skeleton. The tubes entered his arms thinner than mine, since he was ten years old at the time. Sometimes it would get dark and the smell of the food that the boy’s mother was preparing would mix with the smell of medicines. He wasn’t hungry, he hardly ate. Sometimes they invited us to eat but my mother always said no and we went out into the street, already dark, me holding her hand. We always left sad because his patient was slowly fading away. Before going to sleep, she would ask God to heal him, although my mother said it was no longer possible. That she would heal him and go back to school and become a lawyer and marry the girlfriend who had apparently already left him.

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