HAVANA -- Fidel Castro has gained weight and is getting better, but grumbled about having to cut his hair and trim his beard for official photos in a personal report on his condition published yesterday in state media.
The 80-year-old leader wrote frankly about just how sick he has been, undergoing several emergency surgeries, the first of which did not go well.
"It wasn't just one operation, but various. Initially it wasn't successful and that had a bearing on my prolonged recuperation," wrote Castro, who has not been seen in public for nearly 10 months.
He gave no indication of how long it will take to get back to full health or whether he will resume the presidential duties he handed to his 75-year-old brother Raul last July 31.
In fact, he seemed in no hurry, comfortable with the role of elder statesmen and behind-the-scenes columnist who pens dense essays on global issues.
"For now, I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing, reflecting and writing about questions that I judge of certain importance and transcendence," Castro wrote in the statement carried on the front pages of Cuba's official newspapers and read on state radio and television.
He has written 11 such essays in recent weeks, most of them blasting US-backed plans to use food crops to produce biofuels. Even yesterday's report, titled "For the Deaf Who Don't Want to Hear," began with an analysis about world grain production before delving into his health more than halfway through.
Castro complained about the "films and photos that require me to constantly cut my hair, beard and mustache and get spruced up every day," evidently referring to the preparation required for some of the official images released occasionally since his illness.