Sunday, December 16, 2012

Faith Put to the Test by Dengue

Faith Put to the Test by Dengue
December 15, 2012
Erasmo Calzadilla

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

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

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.

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