A Balloon In Cactus
By Maggie Van Ostrand
Mexicans are the best package-wrappers I’ve ever seen (except for my mother). They use homemade handles made out of hairy cord for easy carrying and they work great, no messing with fancy stuff. These folks could make big bucks at the Home Shopping Network. My mother used so much Scotch tape when she wrapped a package for mailing (“You can’t be too careful”), that, when you got it, you practically had to use a flamethrower to open it up.
Actually, I would’ve been better off going to a Mexican package wrapper for my annual physical last November, than to the doctor I ended up with. That way, if I’d been given the same diagnosis, I wouldn’t have been upset because a package-wrapper isn’t supposed to know about the human body, right? Well, here’s what happened.
I informed my children, who arranged for flights from California to be here for the impending surgery, despite their own feelings about it. (In fact, I could say that they had reservations in more ways than one.) I decorated the Christmas tree (my last, I thought), wondering who would be there to take it down after the holidays, since the survival rate for this surgical procedure is practically nil — like 2% live for 5 years after surgery, in a condition I’d hardly call living.
One of the last things I did, while setting my affairs in order, was to phone a good friend, an oncologist at the National Institute of Health at Bethesda, Washington, D.C. She seriously questioned the diagnosis, considering there were no symptoms other than a raised enzyme level (which could’ve been caused by what I had eaten the day before the physical), and strongly advised against having immediate surgery. She suggested instead that I FedEx all data to her for the head of oncology at NIH to look over.
Optimistically (hope blooms eternal, doesn’t it), I cancelled the surgery, told my kids not to come, and arranged for the recommended new tests. And it was not easy to find the specific equipment necessary to do those tests.
The results from both Washington and Guadalajara were that I am in excellent physical condition. There is nothing wrong at all, never was. I am suggesting that you be very careful whom you choose. It’s taken me, a professional comedy writer, four months to be able to find anything humorous in this incident. I finally said to myself, “To lighten up does not necessarily mean to become a blonde.”
I’m on my way back to the Mexican package guy to see if he can help me because, after this experience, I ain’t wrapped too tight, anymore.