No se oye nada. De pronto es idea mía o de pronto sí es algo real. Creo que me estoy quedando sordo.
No me muevo de la cama. Por alguna razón estoy acostado sobre mi lado izquierdo. Jamás duermo de lado sino sobre mi abdomen, mi pecho, o como sea que quieran llamarle. El caso es que no duermo así, entonces es raro. Me quedo quieto, mirando la pared blanca frente a mi.
Mis ojos se abren bastante, por primera vez en el día. No veo nada más sino el muro blanco. No hay ni una mancha, no hay nada allí más que la inmensidad de la pintura blanca. Entonces siento el calor y me quito la sabana de encima. Es entonces que me duele y me doy cuenta de dos cosas: hay algo sobre mi cara y, en efecto, no puedo oír nada.
No me pongo de pie sino que me quedo en la cama, abriendo y cerrando los ojos. Mi mano derecha sube lentamente a mi cara. Me toco el mentón y voy deslizando los dedos por la piel en dirección a mi oído, donde siento la mayor molestia. Debajo del pelo que forma la patilla, siento que la piel está inflamada, muy inflamada. Recuerdo que el día anterior me dolía el oído pero era un dolor que iba y venía, ahora es permanente.
Está muy hinchado y me empieza a doler, como que todo mi cuerpo se da cuenta que estoy de verdad despierto y que el dolor tiene espacio para empezar a sentirse. Me recorre el cuerpo un escalofrío, que incluso me hace doler el pie y me hace sentir muy extraño.
Tomo impulso y me pongo de pie y camino, casi automáticamente, al baño. No es mi casa de siempre, solo me estoy quedando por un tiempo. Pero llego, prendo la luz y trato de mirarme pero es dificil verse los oídos. Me toco de nuevo y me echo agua, pensando que puede que el frío ayude. ¿O será mejor el calor?
No, lo mejor es salir. Media hora después estoy en la sala de espera de un hospital, el único del que sé la existencia en esta ciudad que no es la mía. Me llaman y me hacen esperar aún más en una pequeña sala donde otras personas se quejan o hacen cara de enfermedad. Parece que todos están malos del estómago o algo por el estilo. No es raro en una ciudad de clima cálido, a la que vienen muchos turistas y comen y se meten en cualquier lado sin observar los mínimos niveles de limpieza.
Mientras espero me miro los pies. Siento un poco de mareo o de pronto sea yo mismo que me hago sentir peor. Es raro pero así son las cosas en los hospitales. Son sitios horribles y terribles, llenos de quejidos de niños y caras largas de padres cuyas vacaciones han sido arruinadas pero nada pueden decir o sino sonaría muy cruel.
Tras varios minutos, o tal vez menos o tal vez más, me hace pasar una joven doctora. Se demora más escribiendo en el computador que revisándome como se debe. Prefiero pensar que sabe lo que hace. No hablamos casi, solo me hace unas preguntas básicas y le explico mi dolor y cómo me he sentido en los últimos días. Al parecer no nota nada especial en lo que le cuento porque parece no estar muy interesada. O tal vez sea su cara de "Sí, ya sé de que me habla".
Llena un papel, me dice que pague la consulta y en la farmacia de la esquina compro lo que me recomienda la doctora. Apenas llego al apartamento me tomo las pastillas con agua y me acuesto de nuevo. Siento hambre pero prefiero no comer nada. Me quedo mirando la pared, con mis pensamientos perdidos en la nada.
- "Maldita sea..." - pienso. "¡Que bonito comienzo del año!"
Por un momento olvido el dolor y me doy la vuelta. Mala decisión.
martes, 3 de enero de 2017
jueves, 27 de octubre de 2016
When she opened her eyes, she saw directly into the fire. The flames were in front of her, making her face feel warmer than she wanted to. As much as she wanted to move or get away, she just couldn’t move. Her body felt extremely heavy and her head felt really big, turning like crazy as she closed her eyes again and tried to convince herself she was not awake but sleeping, deep into one of her very crazy dreams. But she couldn’t do that either. It was all true. The flames danced in front of her and she could only look at them, feeling almost burned.
Suddenly, she felt her body being pulled away from the car, which had being turned upside down. It hurt as the asphalt of the road caressed her skin and clothes. But she couldn’t complain. She couldn’t say a word even if she wanted to because of how weak she felt. Also, she was very dizzy and couldn’t quite understand what was happening. However, she kept her eyes opened because she just couldn’t close them anymore. The heat of the flames seemed far now and all she felt was the smell of it all, which was awful.
Suddenly, the car exploded and several parts rained all over the place. One of them fell a bit too close to her face but she didn’t really mind at all. It was as if she was looking at a movie, at something she wasn’t really involved in. Her eyes were open the whole time and her brain worked so slowly she never really asked herself who had pulled her away from wreckage. She was just too shocked to think of anything. After a while, she felt very tired and decided to close her eyes for a moment. She fell asleep and only woke up many hours later in an ambulance.
It was for long though. The only thing she saw was a very big needle and some blurry guy holding it. Or maybe it was a woman… She had no idea but she did now that a sudden pain invaded her body and then she was immersed again in the world of slumber. She dreamt about an ice cream shop she had loved as a child. Her father used to take her there in secret, as her mother was not very keen on sweets. They would ask for the ice cream and eat it in under thirty minutes, almost as a challenge to themselves before they had to head home.
She woke up again many hours later, in a hospital bed. This time, the moment she opened her eyes, she felt the strongest headache she had ever felt. It seemed as if it was going to break her head into two parts. The pain was so awful that she screamed and in seconds two nurses came rushing in and injected what was probably a sedative on her IV. She calmed down but the headache was still there. She tried to tell them, tried to explain to them how much it hurt. But no words came out of her mouth. She couldn’t speak a word.
When she woke up again, it was a very bright day outside. The light rushed into her room and she felt kind of happy to see the light after so much time spent in her dreams. However, her mind was still working slow, as well as her body. She was thankful because the headache had disappeared and she could at least look at the window without feeling a huge pain in her head. She looked on for a long time, so long in fact that the rays of sunlight changed angles as she stared at the world outside of which she couldn’t see very much.
Outside, the sky was very blue and just a couple of thin clouds floated high above everything. Aside from that, she could only see some building, all made of bricks. She had no idea where she was or how but she was sure it was a safe place. Although, she did wanted to go back home as soon as possible. So much so, that she tried to get out of bed to have a better view of the window in order to know where in the city she was and if she could maybe walk home. She knew there was a hospital near her house, so maybe that was it.
But when she attempted to move her legs, they didn’t respond. She attributed it to how slow her mind was running, so she decided to take a deep breath and then try again. But again, nothing happened. She looked at her legs and slowly touched them as much as she could. Her arms were not very long and they felt extremely weak, but she reached down as she could in order to verify what was going on. In that precise moment, a nurse entered the room and saw her. She then rushed back out, yelling someone’s name.
The woman stopped trying to touch her legs and rested her body against the pillows. She felt exhausted and tried to think about what just happened: she couldn’t feel her legs. She couldn’t move them at all. Why wasn’t she reacting more violently to this revelation? Why didn’t she felt compelled to yell or cry or whatever? Her head felt like a balloon, filled with air that didn’t let her think of anything. She pulled her head back and closed her eyes, trying to get back to her last memory before the hospital. But that seemed to be almost impossible.
The door opened again and this time it was a man dressed in those mint green uniforms that people often used in hospitals. She looked at him quietly, as he checked the machines around him. A nurse was behind him, taking notes. He then checked his patient by looking at her eyes and then checking her ears and skin. He asked for her to pull out her tongue but she didn’t seem to hear or understand what he had said. He tried again but she didn’t do anything.
Then, he pulled out a very small bottle from his pocket, along with a syringe. He filled it with the liquid in the bottle and injected it directly into her arm. At first, she didn’t feel a thing. But then, it seemed as if whatever that liquid was, it worked as a way to shake people up in the most violent way possible. She suddenly felt pain and many thought rushed into her head. Everything seemed to be happening so fast. Sounds were loud, maybe too loud and the sunlight felt too bright. She covered her face and cried, trying to control what she was feeling.
After a while, the pain and awkward feelings went away and she knew exactly where she was and what had happened. She was finally aware of everything and not in some sort of trance. Whatever the doctor had put in her bloodstream, it eliminated all the effects from the other shot she had received. She was no longer a peaceful lamb that couldn’t even think for herself. She was her again, with every single memory and pain possible. But she couldn’t remember why she was there. As much as she tried to remember, it seemed hidden somehow.
The doctor asked her if she knew her name. The woman said it out loud, hearing her own voice for the first time in a while. Then, he asked if she could remember the reason why she was there. She indicated that she couldn’t and asked him to tell her because she was going mad trying to remember, trying to go back to at least a sound or an image or whatever that could help her remember. The doctor said she had been in a car crash, having been expelled out of the car by the force of the impact. That’s why she had some cuts all over.
When he said it, she looked at her arms and realized that was true: she had small cuts on her skin. And suddenly she remembered the flames and someone pulling her away from them. She told this to the doctor and he asked her if she knew who had done that. She replied that she couldn’t remember a face but that it had probably been her husband. But then the doctor looked at the ground and got closer. He explained his patient that it was not possible that her husband had done it because he had died instantly in the crash.
The news hit her hard. She started crying and was held by the doctor for a moment. When they separated, she looked at her legs and realized what had happened. She looked at the doctor and he nodded, words being useless at that point. She cried in silence and the doctor left with the nurse. It was a lot to take for her and she was going to need all the time in the world to adjust to the fact that, in a single second, her whole life had been turned upside down, almost destroying her in the process.
sábado, 9 de julio de 2016
Collecting ice from the rings was very dangerous but also one of the many things they had set up to do on the mission. The Juno V crew knew their responsibilities by heart and every one of them knew everything about their ship and their list of duties. They also knew how to fix the microwave if it broke or how to properly grow food in the small compartments where doctor Wood worked all day every day. Not that anyone thought he would leave or something, but rather he had told him how to do it.
He was a botanist, one of the best, and had accepted to be on the mission because he wanted to test many of his theories and what better way than in a mission to Jupiter and its moon. It was the perfect place to make tests and try to execute every single one of his theories in order to know if they were accurate. His results would prove essential for the advancement of botanical technology on Earth and in other space missions.
Wood had tomatoes, cucumbers, potatoes and apples growing on his small farm. Well, it wasn’t really a farm because of the dimensions of the laboratory and of the food but he enjoyed calling it that, it made it seem less advanced, more grounded. After a few months, he was able to feed the other five people of the ship with his vegetables and they enjoyed their salad thoroughly. It was much better than eating one of those dehydrated meals they had in stock. No one complained about sizes or portions because they understood the difficulty of the whole thing.
One of the astronauts that spend a lot of time with Wood was Brooke Stone. Ms. Stone was in charge of the telescope and everything related to the observation of the bodies they were studying such as Jupiter, Europa, Ganymede and Io. She love to spend her day taking pictures of them, trying to not only make them functional for work but also a bit artistic as she thought science lack a little bit of that sensitivity only real artists had.
When she was younger, Brooke wanted to be a painter or a sculptor. But her parents did not encourage that at all. They were very accomplished scientists and believed the only art that made any sense was music and even if Brooke wanted to be a musician, they would have thought it would’ve been a waste of her time and their money. So throughout her childhood, she was convinced to become a scientist like them.
She didn’t resent them or anything like that. If anything, she was pleased to be there, taking pictures of the chaotic weather of the gas giant, a very long distance away from her parents. They had a very tense relationship and she realized it worked best when they were separated instead of being in the same room. She loved her moments alone, which she used to draw, sometimes copying the picture she took.
The adventurous one, the guy who took a step forward to pick up the ice shards with a robot, was called Alexei Ibaraki. His mother was Japanese so he had these different features that made every single person turn around to look at him. Not only was he very daring but he was also very attractive and interesting. He was one of those guys that always has a story to tell or that has that ability of making anything they say into something extremely interesting, even if it really isn’t.
Alexei was also a model, besides an astronaut, and was used frequently in campaigns done in order to encourage children to study the sciences and getting interested into it. After being sent to Mars on a routine flight however, he became also the poster boy of several brands that wanted him as an imaged. His face was connected to beer, butter, insurances, banks, toothpaste and even condoms.
The truth was he enjoyed that work but he loved to be in space doing work that was more important than selling beer to people that were already going to buy it. As he operated the hand of the robot that collected the ice from Jupiter’s rings, he realized that’s what he wanted to be doing his whole life. He wanted his actions to be remembered instead of his face. Alexei was tired that people only looked at him for his beauty and not his brain and wit.
Carmen Nyongo, the medical chief of the ship, was very aware of the crew’s problems. She was not only a certified physician but also a psychologist that loved to spend at least thirty minutes which each of them every two days to check on their mental health. This was determined by the agency as something very important as they were going to be very far from home in a place where no one else had been before. They needed some support and Ms. Nyongo was an obvious choice.
She had worked for years in military hospitals were she proved to be simply the kindest person ever to come in contact with all the soldiers and astronauts that needed her help. She loved to listen, since she was a very young woman. She liked telling her friends what she thought of the world but she much rather listened to them and their dreams and what they had inside their heads.
Carmen thought people were extremely interesting and that’s why, after medical school, she got a masters degree in psychology. She thought it was essential to get to know about mental health in order to prevent and help people with their physical problems. She was not your average doctor but she had proven, once and again, that her methods made a lot of sense, to her and her patients.
The most frequent one, of course, was the captain. Her name was Katherine and she had been born in the Australian outback. Her parents still owned a big ranch there, where they had some of the best cattle in the country. With all the money they had won with that, they had built up a very good life for themselves and their two children. They rarely went to the ranch anymore, but it had been that place that made them who they were now.
They lived in beautiful homes and went to the best school. When Katherine said she wanted to be an astronaut, her family didn’t say a word for or against it. They just supported her with money for every single expense she had to make to turn her dream into a reality. So she studied abroad and came back only on the holidays. From then on, the relationship with her parents was kind of broken, not really deep.
They were not very sensitive people, any of them, but she would have loved more kisses and hugs in her life. She would have wanted to feel some kind of interest from them, but the only thing they did was giving her money and talking to her about it all the time. And when they weren’t they were busy. So when Katherine met Carmen, it was just a natural thing to become a very frequent patient of hers, even before the mission started. She just wanted to come to terms with the fact that she wanted recognition and she was never going to get it, not from her parents at least.
The last crewmember, the one who made everything work properly, was Alejandro Obregón. Different from his captain, Alejandro had a very difficult life and had to raise himself to the place he enjoyed today. He was the happy father of a very intelligent young daughter. He loved his wife, whom he had met in a fast food restaurant after training in the astronaut academy. She was studying in a nearby university and they hit it off right away.
They both had a very strong personality, the kind that made them being a little overdramatic but always effective in public. They didn’t mind being looked in the street as if they were crazy. They didn’t mind anything else than their love for each other. They also had in common that they supported a lot of good causes, maybe because they had received so little over their lives.
Alejandro would always go to marathons supporting any type of disease, would march in the pride parade and would protests in front of police stations or administrative building. He was all about causes and its effects on people’s lives. He really believed everything could be better for everyone. And that’s why he had become an astronaut: he thought that a future where everyone was equal had to involve that final frontier and he was going to be one of those who brought it closer to every other person on Earth.
miércoles, 6 de julio de 2016
Había ventiladores en todas las habitaciones del hospital y en cada pasillo e intersección de los mismos. En parte era por el calor pero también, según decía, era para disipar los olores que pudiera haber en el ambiente. El sitio donde había más aparatos funcionando era el ala norte, donde estaba la unidad de quemados. Era un lugar que todos los trabajadores del hospital evitaban a menos que tuvieran algo que hacer allí. Los deprimía tener que ver las caras y escuchar las voces de aquellos perjudicados por el fuego.
Pero había gente a la que eso no le importaba. A Juan, por ejemplo, le gustaba pasarse sus ratos libres leyéndoles a los enfermos. Eran gente callada, ya que hablar requería a veces mucho esfuerzo. Incluso quienes estaban curando por completo y todavía estaban allí, preferían quedarse a ser pasados a otra habitación o a salir del hospital. Al menos allí se sentían como seres humanos y todo era por el trabajo que hacían Juan y algunos médicos.
Les había leído algunas de las obras de Shakespeare y también cuento infantiles y libros de ciencia. Incluso a veces traía su libreta electrónica y les leía noticias o cualquier cosa que quisieran. Ellos no tenían permiso para tener ningún aparato electrónico mientras estuvieran en el hospital, así que a muchos les venía bien cuando Juan tenía algún rato libre y les venía a leer, sin hacer preguntas incomodas ni revisiones trabajosas. Eso lo dejaban para otros momentos.
Juan lo hacía porque le gustaba pero también porque, desde que había presenciado él mismo un incendio, había quedado algo traumatizado con el evento y juró ayudar a cualquier persona que sufriera de algo tan horrible. Algunos en el pabellón eran niños, otros adultos e incuso había un par de reclusos. Estaban amarrados a la cama con esposas y siempre hacían bromas bastante oscuras, que el resto de los pacientes trataban de ignorar.
Uno de ellos, Reinaldo, se había quemado el cincuenta por ciento del cuerpo al tratar de prenderle fuego a la bodega de su primo, al que le había empezado a ir muy bien importando revista de baja circulación y especializadas. Tuvo la idea de quemarlo todo para que su primo no pudiera recuperarse jamás y dejara de echarle en cara su éxito.
Pero no calculó bien y se asustó en un momento, en el que se echó algo de gasolina encima y ni cuenta se dio. Cuando prendió el fuego y empezó a reírse como un maniático, ni se había dado cuenta que su pierna ya ardía. Pasados unos segundo empezó a gritar del dolor y se echó al suelo a rodar. Los bomberos que acudieron a apagar el incendio lo ayudaron y fue durante su recuperación que se supo, por videos de vigilancia, que él había sido el culpable.
Ahora se la pasaba haciendo chistes horribles y asustando a los niños. Desafortunadamente, a pesar de pedirlo mil y una veces, los directivos del hospital no había aprobado pasar a los niños a otra habitación solo para ellos. No tenía sentido alguno que compartieran espacio con asesinos y con gente mayor que manejaba todo lo sucedido de una manera muy diferente.
Los niños, por ejemplo, casi nunca lloraban ni se quejaban de una manera explicita. Solo cuando estaban siendo revisados de cerca por los doctores era que confesaban su dolor y su tristeza. Era porque les daba pena decir como se sentían y también algo de miedo porque estaban solos, sin sus padres como apoyo todos los días. Lo peor era que un par de ellos habían sido abandonados por sus padres, que jamás se habían molestado en volver a para saber que pasaba con sus hijos.
Juan trataba de distraerlos, dándoles libros para colorear y haciéndoles jugar para que olvidaran donde estaban y porqué estaban allí. Él sabía que, al final del día, esas distracciones se desvanecían y la realidad se asentaba de nuevo en las cabezas de los niños. Pero trataba que su día a día fuera más llevadero para poder superar sus dificultades. Los niños eran mucho más fáciles de comprender que los adultos, eran muchos más tranquilos, honestos y, en cierta medida, serios. No había que hacer gran esfuerzo por convencerlos.
El resto del pabellón de quemados era difícil, por decir lo menos. Eran amas de casa quemadas por sus maridos o por accidente. Eran hombres que habían tenido accidentes en sus trabajos y ahora no podían esperar para volver a su hogar y empezar a trabajar de nuevo. Eran personas que estaban apuradas, que querían salir de allí lo más pronto posible y no escuchaban recomendaciones pues creían que su edad les daba mayor autonomía en lo que no entendían.
Había una mujer incluso que había sido quemada por su esposo una vez. Él le había acercado la mano a la llama de la cocina porque había quemado su cena. La quemadura, menos mal, no era grave. Pero Juan la atendió y la volvió a ver un mes después, con algo parecido por en la cara. Ya a la tercera vez fue que vino en ambulancia y supo que toda la casita donde vivía se había quemado.
Y aún así, a la mujer le urgía correr hacia su marido, quería saber como estaba y si su casa estaba funcionando bien sin ella. No escuchaba a los doctores ni a nadie que le dijera cosas diferentes de lo que quería oír. Juan pensaba que era casi seguro que volviera de nuevo si era dada de alta y tal vez incluso directamente al sótano del hospital.
Cuando no lo soportaba más, se iba a los jardines del hospital y se echaba en el pasto. Se le subían algunos insectos y el sol lo golpeaba en la cara con fuerza, pero prefería eso a tener que soportar más tantas cosas. Era difícil tener que manejar tantas personalidades, sobre todo de aquellos que se rehusaban a entender lo que les pasaba y querían seguir haciendo con su vida exactamente lo mismo que antes.
Incluso los niños lo cansaban después de un rato. Cuando ya había mucha confianza, algunos empezaban a hablarle como si fuera su padre o algo parecido y eso no le gustaba nada. Tenía que cortarlos con palabras duras y se sentía fatal al hacerlo pero un hospital no era un centro de rehabilitación para el alma sino para el cuerpo. No se las podía pasar de psicólogo por todos lados, tratando de salvar a la gente de si misma. Ya tenía su vida para tener que manejar las de los demás.
Cuando alguien, otro miembro del personal, lo encontraba en el jardín, sabían que el día había sido difícil. La mayoría no le decía nada pues cada doctor en el mundo tiene su manera de distanciarse de lo que ve todos los días. Incluso los que tienen consultorios y atienden gente por cosas rutinarias, deben hacer algo para sacar de su mente tantas cosas malas y difíciles de procesar. Algunos fuman, otros comen, otros hacen ejercicio, o gritan o algo hacen para sacar de su cuerpo todo eso que consumen al ser especialistas de la salud.
Pero Juan siempre volvía al pabellón de quemados. Era lo suyo, no importaba lo que pasara y trataba siempre de hacer el mejor trabajo posible. Cuando tenía un par de días libres, los pasaba haciendo cosas mus distintas, divirtiéndose y tratando de no olvidar que todavía era un hombre joven y que la vida era muy corta para tener que envejecer mucho más rápido por culpa de las responsabilidades y demás obligaciones.
Cocinaba, tenía relaciones sexuales, subía a montañas rusas, hacia senderismo, tomaba fotos,… En fin, tenía más de una afición para equilibrar su mente y no perderse a si mismo en su trabajo. Esos poquísimos días libres en lo que podía ser él mismo o, al menos, otra versión de Juan, eran muy divertidos y siempre los aprovechaba al máximo.
Pero cuando volvía al hospital lo hacía con ganas renovadas pues creía que podía hacer alguna diferencia y no se cansaba de intentarlo. De pronto la mujer no volvería más si le hablaba con franqueza, de pronto el pirómano se calmaría con sus palabras y tal vez los niños no resentirían al mundo por lo que les había pasado. Juan se esforzaba todos los días por dejar una marca, la que fuera. Esa era su meta.