The Path Isn’t Always Full of Thorns

Dayneris Leon

Instituto de Neurología y Neurocirugía

HAVANA TIMES — I need to let everyone who’s reading this know about my recent experience with the Cuban health care system. We usually discuss what’s poorly done and we don’t always publicly acknowledge the selfless work carried out by our health care workers.

This past September 22, after suffering for a week with dengue fever, my husband began to demonstrate neurological abnormalities in his arms and legs. We therefore called our family physician, Dr. Evaristo, who works at the nearby Heroes of Moncada Polyclinic.

By the second day, he had brilliantly diagnosed the ailment as presenting symptoms of the Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a serious disorder that occurs when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks parts of the nervous system. This leads to nerve inflammation and results in muscle weakness.

Faced with this situation, the doctor had my husband moved to the Institute of Neurology and Neurosurgery, where he sought the professional help and intensive care that he found in the physician who was on duty at the facility. This specialist confirmed the diagnosis and admitted my husband into the intensive care unit, where they immediately began applying an intraglobin treatment.

My husband, who is 51 and had a good health history, at that point had a disease that was threatening his life.

Unfortunately, over the next few days his condition worsened to the point where it was necessary to use a venous catheter and a ventilator machine coupling, in addition to their finally having to perform a tracheotomy.

Every day new complications appeared, such as lower limb paralysis, loss of muscle strength in his arms, bilateral facial paralysis, double vision, cranial nerve seizures and muscular seizures involving his breathing and swallowing. In short, his lie was fading away…day by day, hour by hour.

Nevertheless the workers in the intensive care unit at the Neurology and Neurosurgery Hospital didn’t give up. All of them assisted my husband in his fight for his life, minute after minute, every day, facing each complication as they appeared. Each day the doctors and nursing supervisors would face a new complication and defeat it.

I don’t think my husband would have managed to live without the timely diagnosis by my family doctor or without the professionalism, discipline, dedication, humanity and love of all the workers in the intensive care unit, in the laboratory and in the physiotherapy section. I would even include those hospital workers who didn’t interact with him directly but who nevertheless showed concern and interest in his case.

In addition, I can’t but mention the atmosphere of unity and collectivism that permeates this institution, as well as its cleanliness, organization, and security and safety (thanks to the head of security and his group of guards who ensure that everyone complies with the hospital’s regulations and allow it to remain in such good condition).

All this makes me realize that we can indeed succeed, that we have brilliant professionals in each of their functions and who, in an anonymous manner, work day after day to save the lives of their patients and to improve the quality of their lives. This is why I gave this message its title. People need to know that those gray days I experienced with my family gave way to the rainbow that has now come to us.

I feel eternal gratitude for all of those workers and I would like to express all my thanks to them because my husband is recovering satisfactorily and he’s now able to be with our children, enjoying health and love.

3 thoughts on “The Path Isn’t Always Full of Thorns

  • Where are you Moses?

  • Thank you so much for this article, Dayneris. Much of the stuff I’ve seen in HT is critical of the healthcare system. It’s good to know that the system works as it ought in many cases, for the people.

    In the US we have five times the population of Cuba without healthcare insurance.

  • Coming from Canada where we, in the past, have prided ourselves with our medical services, have always been amazed at the quality of care you get in Cuba. You are far beyond anything we have here. I need eye surgery and have to wait seven months just to see a specialist and I have no idea how long it will take for an appointment for surgery. I called another specialist who could get me in within three weeks. When I said I’d get my doctor to recommend me, they said if the doctor recommended me (so the system would pay for it) then I couldn’t get in for a year. If I was willing to pay the $4000 out of my own pocket, then I could get in sooner.

    You have outdone the western world in education and medical services. Your country is almost crime free and your gardens are almost chemical free. Be proud Cuba.

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