Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Latest report from latest prison visit

My aunt Gisela visited my uncle Tony this past weekend. She reports that his health has not improved in the slightest. In fact, Tony told her that, for the latest trip to the doctor, he was transported in a truck with no ventilation whatsoever and was crammed in with common criminals. Upon arrival, Tony was soaking in sweat and dehydrated, only to be told that his doctor is sick and could not see him. Suffice it to say that his condition remains the same. In fact, Gisela reports that diarrhea continues to be a problem.

Miriam Leiva was kind enough to post an entry in the Cuba Encuentro blog with very precise details about Tony's health. Dated 28 March, 2007, the entry lists the following illnesses. These were identified during a medical exam conducted between 22 February - 1 March, 2007.

  • First-degree prostate adenoma
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Anal ulcers
  • Obstruction in coronary blood vessel
  • 6mm kidney stone
  • Alternating periods of diarrhea and constipation

The doctor performed a colonoscopy, but advised against a biopsy because the colon walls are too fragile. As noted earlier, his father (my grandfather) died of colon cancer.

The treatment recommended was one daily table of cefacene (cefazolin). My limited research suggests that this particular drug is to be administered intramuscularly or intravenously, but later generations of the same drug class can be administered orally, so there might have been a slight discrepancy in either the diagnosis or the translation thereof.

Regarding diet, the doctor suggested yogurt, but this particular food item seems to be scarce in the Cuban penal system and none has been issued to date. My earliest comments on Tony's diet provide a better sense of the fare that seems to be available (never mind that banana puree may not be the best food to feed someone with diarrhea).

A proctologist's visit was also promised, but, alas, the proctologist has not materialized. If I can indulge in a moment of political commentary (and, of course, I can because I live in a free and open society), I find it ironic that, of all nations, Cuba cannot muster enough doctors to provide its inmates with adequate care. They seem to be available in plenty for Hugo Chávez, Michael Moore, and American health tourists. Is this allocation (i.e., rationing) of health resources any different from what we experience regularly in the States? In Cuba, the best care is always available to either the top bidder or the most sycophantic foreign dignitary or gullible filmmaker. Does it not remind you of the systematic discrimination against blacks in South Africa just a few short decades ago?

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