HAVANA TIMES — No one likes to get sick, let alone die. True, things are relative, and there are probably quite a number of people who long to be sick or die. For the most part, however, people don’t get too many kicks out of being in hospitals or funeral parlors.
If, by any chance, one happens to live in Venezuela, things become slightly more complicated. What I mean is that here one tries, through any means possible, never to get sick, never to have accidents, never to go through anything that could land one in a hospital or clinic.
As for me, I don’t even want to think about it (I am not a legal resident yet and cannot even dream of securing medical insurance).
Some days ago, a friend of mine had to undergo an operation for appendicitis. These operations are always emergency procedures. She was “insured”, but had to wait in the Emergency Ward at the clinic for over eight hours for her insurance company to approve two medical examinations that are essential to the operation (but which, according to the fine print, were not included in her policy).
Since everything turned out to be a “mistake” of the insurance company, my friend was finally able to get her operation – the day after being diagnosed with acute appendicitis. Luckily, she didn’t develop any complications during the more than 12 hours she had to wait.
Some weeks ago, a fire marshal wasn’t as lucky as my friend. After suffering an accident, he had to wait at a clinic for over an hour to receive medical attention. The insurance company never provided the hospital with the blessed case code so that he could get this attention and no doctor dared violate the regulations to save his life. When he finally was taken to the hospital, he was dead.
The chances of survival after one has had the misfortune of getting sick or being in an accident are reduced even more when you have to travel around the city in an ambulance or something along those lines. Traffic constantly conspires to delay your arrival at any of the city’s medical institutions.
And since this whole business of going to heaven is nothing more than a metaphor, at least for these bodies of ours, that don’t evaporate into nothingness easily, the pain over someone’s death is accentuated when relatives must bury their loved ones.
I won’t scare you with the sums of money one has to pay (having insurance or not) when one must institutionalize a relative at a clinic or hospital.
Then comes the worst part, the part when one has to put together 10 thousand Bolivares (maybe more, because prices are constantly on the rise) to secure the cheapest funeral services out there (Venezuelan minimum wage is at 2,500 Bolivares a month, approximately). A flower-wreath doesn’t go for less than 600 Bolivares.
If I’m already feeling overwhelmed from writing about this, and you from reading, just imagine what those who have to take on these “formalities” must feel.
Personally, I prefer cremations, which go for about 4 thousand (depending on the place). This way, one doesn’t have to look for a grave (the cheapest of which cost over 3 thousand Bolivares). I won’t mention where the moderate and high prices are at.
What about being born? Perhaps that’s a topic best left for another post. I’ll limit myself to saying the caesarian business is so profitable these days that few are the women who can (and want) to have a baby the old-fashioned way these days.
Venezuela is a beautiful country, full of kind and marvelous people, as is the case nearly everywhere in our continent – provided you don’t get sick, or die.