Wednesday, June 23, 2010

In the Hospital

Marta is tired of hospitals. She, like most of her fellow citizens, has had bad luck with the public health service. One of the pillars of the Revolution in which she was born, it seems to her more and more like a building completely worm eaten to a miraculous static, one pillar short of destruction.

A few weeks ago she was caring for a relative in Calixto García hospital. Among other vicissitudes, the blood serum her patient needed was bought on the black market, most of the medicines were “resolved” and the treatment had to be supervised by her own relatives. By sheer effort they managed to remind the nurse of the exact time of each treatment, the name of each pill and they themselves undertook the measures needed to avoid bedsores.

As there was rarely water, they brought buckets; as there was no way to heat the water for a bath, they bought a heater; as it was too hot in the room they asked to borrow a fan. They brought everything: the soap, blankets, food, a chair for the visitors, cream, alcohol, vitamins and cotton.

The only problem that remained unresolved was the obstruction in the bathroom; but the fact that the toilet always had stinking reddish-green water and the tap on the sink wouldn’t stop running, could be considered minor in view of all the layers of grime everywhere, the destruction of the windows and the wires hanging from the false ceiling.

Marta told me she ended her stay exhausted; all she asks of heaven is that she dies of a heart attack in her own house, without having to enjoy the comforts of the Cuban public health system.

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