Faith Put to the Test by Dengue

Erasmo Calzadilla

Havana Fumigator from the anti-dengue campaign. Photo: Caridad

HAVANA TIMES — My dear father is a true revolutionary soldier, one who describes himself as an “unconditional supporter.” He’ll put his shoulder to any Olympian task and attempt to execute it without question…though later he might grumble.

That was how he was educated and how I imagine he’ll be until the day his soul takes leave of his body. I’d go so far as to say he belongs to that Abrahamic generation that will never hesitate when given any “divine” mandate.

And a divine command was given to him — for the umpteenth time — with the start of weekly fumigations of our building against dengue-carrying mosquitos.

In every block or apartment building, there are always some “undisciplined” people who refuse to open their doors to this vector-control campaign. Their reasons? – they’re diverse.

Sometimes it will be because the fumigators arrive unannounced or at an inappropriate time. Other times it might be because there’s someone sick in the home or the resident might have something urgent to do.

Then too, the occupant may just not want to be bothered. But my father has never prevented them from spraying, no matter what the circumstance.

One day, from out of nowhere, the Ghostbusters-looking crew appeared at dinner time and with a few drinks under their belts. Almost no resident opened their door, yet my father stepped forward and let them in.

On another occasion someone in the family was struggling with bronchitis, but — all the same — with fever and coughing, they had to go out into the hall while the smoke filled our house. Wow, just think how it would be if everybody was like my father – dengue wouldn’t last longer than a cake.

The test

As one of those ironies of life, or perhaps out of revenge, our building became infested with mosquitos. So who do you think paid the price? My family of course. Everybody ended up getting infected at the same time. My mother got it so bad that she had to be admitted into the hospital.

We tried everything to keep my grandmother from being admitted for fear that she would suffer complications and never return, just like what happened to my grandfather. We were therefore leery of all hospitals, but when we got to the ward for dengue patients at the Covadonga Hospital, it was a big surprise.

The floors and bathrooms gleamed. Similarly, the sheets were clean and the service was excellent. The food was even acceptable and they served meat every day. But what impressed us the most was the quality of the nurses.

The problem is that this profession requires a lot dedication and experience, but for some time now, what’s most common is that you’ll run into the typical nurse/reggaeton fan.

These nurse/reggaetoners are generally super young boys who dress like people on their way to a disco. They work in the health care field because they have no other choice (and they let you know it).

They are orphans of any knowledge or skill, and they pass their time engaging in erotic games or screwing around with the peers. And all of these youthful shenanigans are in an environment that requires — more than anything — peace and quiet.

Well, there was none of that at Covadonga. The nurses there were excellent (they were young, admittedly, but also friendly, attentive and skilled in their profession). A Mother Superior-type supervised the work of the unit and kept an eye on everything so that store-product re-sellers didn’t invade the ward. As a result, the services were of high quality.

Thanks to them the story ended happily. My family was back to health after a week, and my father — with the patience of Job — came out of that test with his faith renewed.

PS: Several people and even doctors have told me that my hospital experience at Covadonga was an exception.

4 thoughts on “Faith Put to the Test by Dengue

  • hey, i work at the Covadonga. It really depends on which sala you get admitted to. Some of them, like Jesus Menendez, are very nicely renovated. Others were renovated, but less extensively. All of them have plenty of natural light and ventilation, which I think makes the hospital environment completely different than the boxes we put patients into in the USA.

  • Durng the building of the Panama Canal the Yellow Fever was so bad they TOO had to find a way to stem the mosquitos. They spread oil , which makes a covering on top of the water , which stops the mosquito from developing. I proposed , in regards to malaria , all people use their old vegetable oil and spilled in all open water sources. A concerted effort by the people , with the government explaining WHY they want everyone to do it , would go a long way.
    Sanitation In Panama. This is an online book written by Dr. William Crawfor Gorgas the man who completely eradicated yellow fever during the building of the Panama Canal. Spilling oil in the water.
    Seriously , meat IS where the iron , which feeds infection , comes from , and why bloodletting / iron reduction therapy was used , man eating meat as a herbivore.

    “Availability of iron for bacterial multiplication plays a critical role in infection. This has major implications for clinical disease”

  • If eating too much meat causes dengue fever, the Cuba ought to be free of the disease.

    But seriously, fumigation is a last ditch effort to stem the disease. Mosquitoes bread in open pools of still water. Havana, with its crumbling water system, crumbling buildings and over crowded housing is the ideal place for dengue to spread. Much more needs to be done to protect the population and stop this disease.

  • “they served meat every day”

    It seems the author does not understand , eating meat is what is CAUSING an infection like Dengue. Meat eating causes , high iron levels , and these high iron levels cause diseases such as Herpes or cancer.
    “Elevated iron stores may put women at risk for persistent HPV infection”
    “Iron overload is a risk factor for cancer in general and liver cancer in particular”

    Iron in disease is WHY iron binding antibiotics such as Ciprofloxacin , are used.
    “Ciprofloxacin: a novel therapeutic agent for iron overload”

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