What It’s Like to Live in a Medical Superpower
By Pedro Pablo Morejon
HAVANA TIMES – I spent my teenage years at a boarding school, like many kids from my generation did. It was common for there to be outbreaks of lice, conjunctivitis and scabies. I always associated the latter to poor personal hygiene, and I was a such a clean young man that I never thought such a nuisance would ever touch me.
I woke up one morning itchy and started scratching. A few days later, the outbreak had spread all over my skin, except for my face and the front of my torso. It was unbearable and I had no choice but to go and see a dermatologist. I didn’t think for one moment what it could be.
The doctor took one quick look and gave their diagnosis: scabies.
“Scabies?” I asked surprised and embarrassed all at the same time.
“Yes, exactly, scabies,” he concluded.
He prescribed Benzyl benzoate and Calamine. It was the ‘90s and medicines were in shortage, but I was able to get hold of them luckily and I didn’t have a single trace of that outbreak two weeks later.
Until a few days now, I’ve been feeling that itchiness which takes me back all those years, with the additional problem that medicines are even more scarce now. Everybody knows that there has been a scabies plague for a few years now that has been ravaging the Cuban people, like a silent demon that nobody even sees anymore because it’s become so normal.
I went to a friend who is a dermatologist, she checked me out and told me that it wasn’t scabies, that the itchiness was due to a fungus. She didn’t prescribe me anything because I need Ketoconazole or Tolnaftate, which can’t be found in any drugstore.
So, that’s what I’ve been doing recently, trying to ask friends without any result, and watching insomnia take over my hours every night when my short nails try to provide some relief to my skin.
Later, I manage to fall asleep, although it isn’t easy, and the next morning the itchiness gets a little better with my mind distracted doing everyday things, until night falls again and the torture begins all over.
All the while I feel stupid because I guess anywhere else in the world, a simple human being like me would have access to the cream.
Luckily, I managed to get an already used tube of Ketoconazole from a very good friend who is going to try and get me some more.
It seems my patient, stoic and assertive attitude has helped me a little. But the phrase: “God tightens the noose but doesn’t strangle you,” keeps coming to my mind and I can’t help but think that he’s really going at it, especially in this medical superpower without medicines.