My neighbor Mauricio and I go back a long time. I moved to Kingwood a little before he did. He was walking to the mailbox and heard salsa music blasting. As I remember I was either cleaning my car or my bike when this guy walked up to me in the driveway and asked me where I was from soon after he introduced himself as being Mauricio from Colombia.
I told him hey we are "compatriotas" or fellow countrymen; I am from Panama. You see, Panama was once a province of Colombia until they said the United States could not build a canal through the isthmus. The United States soon after ensured Panama would gain its independence and built the Panama Canal anyway.
We were close friends ever since. For years we celebrated some of the best New Years Eve parties and every other type of gatherings. Latinos know how to party hard. And it usually gets hot when most people are getting ready to go to bed.
I hadn't seen Mauricio in a few weeks even though we live two houses from each other. I am either a hermit blogging at home, at Starbucks, or doing my radio show. He is always at work both at home or in Florida or on vacation. I had to throw a dig at Mauricio about that as he and his wife Dalila go on great vacations. He passed by in late October and said we needed to go out and get some Cuban food. So we did the week after.
One of Mauricio's favorite Cuban restaurants
A few days later Mauricio came by and said that he was having a big birthday party. He was going to reach a particular decade. He wanted Linda and me to attend the fiesta. A lot of his family would be in town. Just before the party, Linda got sick, and we decided we better stay home. I sent Dalila a text to let her know we were not going to make it.
[12/9/17 5:54 PM] Me: Hola Dalila. Linda se enfermò con un dolor en el pecho esta tarde y qiere que la medicina tome efecto al dormir. Es el Lupus. Pensábamos que por las ocho estaría bien pero aún no. Traeremos el regalo de mi hermano mañana. Feliz cumpleaños a Mauricio.
Ironically, I was sitting down in Starbucks today blogging when a new friend from Spain showed up. We had some small talk and somehow got into how sterile these neighborhoods were not just in Kingwood but all over the country. Folks are so busy that they live next to each other and don't know each other or rarely find time to interact.
I believe that is when I got the following from Mauricio.
[1/27/18 12:39 PM] Mauricio Fainboim: Hello my friend I hope you and your lovely wife are ok. Wanted to share with you that I had a benign brain tumor removed last week. Take care.
Before anyone thinks it, Mauricio permitted me to write this. I told him I was impressed with his resilience and how he handled this ordeal.
Mauricio announced at his party about the tumor. According to Dalila, he did it matter-of-factly even as she was dying inside. She said at no time did Mauricio display any real fear or concern. He said he was not scared of them going into his skull, but he may have been worried if it were prostate surgery. You've got to ask him about that one.
I saw the photo before I saw the message. My heart went straight up to my throat until I read the text. I immediately texted back to let Mauricio know I would be at his place when I left Starbucks.
Mauricio had his tumor removed last Wednesday. It was during the days of the freeze in Houston so above, and beyond dealing with a serious surgery, he had to deal with navigating icy roads in Houston the night before the surgery.
Well, I just got back from seeing my brother from another mother. We had a good chat about his ordeal.
Mauricio & Egberto
Mauricio said he remained positive throughout the entire ordeal. Unbeknownst to most, he had a small number of very shortlived events that he now knows were mini-seizures. Soon after we went out for our Cuban dinner, his doctor gave him a CAT scan that discovered the benign tumor.
He said he took the diagnosis in stride. The surgery was an exhausting but uneventful 3+ hours. They got all the tumor out without damaging any part of his brain.
Mauricio spent one night in the ICU but was up and using the bathroom a few hours after the surgery. Dalila said she was scared to go into the ICU as she expected to see tubes all over. Instead, he was sitting up and anxious to leave.
The doctors released Mauricio the day after the surgery with instruction not to drive for two weeks but with no other restrictions. He has already begun putting those hours he is used to, working from home.
I am sure Mauricio's attitude had much to do with the success of his recovery. He is virtually pain-free. Absent his scar, he's back.
Mauricio's ordeal should be more than just a story. It should be a warning. Listen to your body and don't take neurological episodes of any type lightly. Importantly, maintain a positive attitude as best you can. Remember to stay in touch with your family and friends if even a text here and there. Many times people are going through ordeals they won't just call and tell you about but would if you just stayed in touch.
Also published on Medium.