Margarita is in pain. I don’t think it has anything to do with her recent surgery. She complains of stomach ache, head ache, and sore throat. She’s downed all the American-style pills and potions I have to no avail. She’s ingested medicines prescribed for family and friends with similar symptoms and still no relief. (You can buy almost anything over-the-counter without written prescriptions here.) She’s prayed, I’ve prayed, the Baptists and Pentecostals have prayed.
This morning, she and María went to the National Clinic which is about two blocks from the house. A short video of the clinic may be viewed at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mIvOUtewaJE
I took Luís and Adriana for a walk to where we buy bananas and across the highway to our public market to buy some liver. On the way home we passed the clinic and saw Margarita and María by the fence still waiting to be seen. She anticipated a consultation around 1:00 p.m.
Much of the clinic is outdoors. Personnel sit at tables under four-poster tin roofs taking vitals and dispensing what medicines and injections are available on that day. There are benches and chairs for patients and their families. There are vendors in the street selling snacks, drinks, and typical meals. A long wait is a given.
Children play, climb trees and fences, whine and cry. Old people just sit and smile at their bench mates. I look at them and wonder why they go on. Then I wonder what I would or will do if or when I’m in their condition. Then I look at my stoic wife’s smile, my daughter beside her, and my two little ones with whole lifetimes to go. It’s all worth it.
Luís and Adriana bought plastic bags of jícama for him and mango for her. The fruit is covered with hot sauce, lemon and salt. I can’t get close to it, but they’re happy. They’re playing on the patio with Duke. He’s on his chain to keep him from what’s left of my tomato plants and the potted evergreen tree. Between his rebellious digging and chewing when we leave or ignore him, he’s done more damage than justifies his freedom. We’re all waiting for mom to come home and tell us what’s what. In the past, she’s either told to come back on another day or come with a prescription for more Tylenol and cough syrup. I don’t know if she tells them that these things haven’t worked. I wish my Spanish were better.
So again, let me say to those of you who have lost sleep or hair over changes in your medical service and increasing costs: Shut up and be happy you can go to an ER or to your doctor and be treated or told you’re going to die in six months. It’s a lot better than prolonged suffering from who knows what.
Every day it becomes more obvious why people will risk their lives trying to get to the United States. Blessings on you and yours.
Epilogue: Margarita came home with acetominophen, an anti-histamine, and two ampules of Fluvirin, an anti-virus, analgesic, decongestant, and anti-alergy injectable with syringe. Nothing changes.