Catching Mental Illness by Proxy

Excerpt from my journal

By Annette Rey

To say they drive me crazy is not an untruth. Every member in my family has qualified as crazy at one time or another, temporarily or long term. What is the culprit? Putting genes and environment aside (that is fodder for a separate article), is it brain-killing-foods full of chemicals promised to “make a brighter future through poison”? Or perhaps it’s the newest street drug to avoid a brighter future. “Shoot this in your veins, you won’t need veins afterwards.” What about legal alcohol? “Forget the liver, remap your brain and forget how to function or be happy. We keep our promises!”

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Healthcare Emergency on Vacation

Trouble in Paradise

When you depart for paradise, are your thoughts on dire negative possibilities? Probably not. Humans live in denial that every day their bodies are in the dying process. They occupy themselves with activities that distract themselves from cruel realities. So, when a traveler boards an airplane chances are he is thinking happy thoughts of his plans when he arrives at his destination.

A friend of mine, being in that frame of mind and not prepared for trouble, joined some friends out of country. While in Cozumel, she suffered a severe gallbladder attack. At a local six-bed clinic a sonogram was done. With two stones the size of golf balls, both blocking ducts, an open cholecystectomy (incision and removal of the gallbladder) had to be performed immediately – at the clinic – that is the “hospital”. The operating room was smaller than a one-car garage. Though the doctors seemed capable to handle a common procedure, this was a frightening experience for an American accustomed to advanced resources should events worsen.

While undergoing a rocky and dubious recovery from major invasive surgery, premature twins were born just across the hall from her bed. She said it seemed they never stopped crying. Two tourists died, reportedly from heart attacks. In a six-bed clinic, there is very little privacy.

Her husband caught the first flight available and reached Cozumel the next day.  As he watched his wife grow sicker, he questioned the doctors. They explained the gallbladder had been ten times its usual size. The ducts had been too damaged to tie off so they inserted a drain to channel the bile.

Her condition worsened. Her spouse arranged for her to be med-evac’d (medical evacuation by air) to the United States. Instead of flying all the way to her Missouri hometown in her critical condition, the plane landed in Dallas. As luck (fate, blessings?) would have it, her daughter lives in Dallas. She had already made arrangements for her mother’s care with a gastro-intestinal specialist at a local hospital. It takes time to make decisions, arrange a flight and flight time. She was now five days post-op and desperately ill.

In Dallas, a scan was done. It was discovered that the drain the doctors in Cozumel had inserted allowed for the bile to drain into her stomach which had caused her to be unable to eat, grow weaker and lose twenty-five pounds.

A non-invasive endoscopy was then performed. The American doctors removed the drain and inserted a six-inch stint which directed the bile into her colon where it belongs. This is elementary and life-saving. Upon awakening from this procedure, she was vastly improved, well enough to make a telephone call to me. Groggy, weak but elated to be alive – and now finally confident she would live – she wanted me to call her family members to update them. She will have a six-week recovery and at some point the stint will be removed.

Are you aware that a med-evac flight from a foreign country to the United States costs $25,000 plus? Have you researched med-evac insurance? It costs about $8 a day.

And what of health care changes in the United States? Under future restrictions, will a person receive the kind of immediate care she required and received? With new regulations, it appears we are moving at light speed to a system of bureaucratic delays and worse.

We should be cognizant that the unexpected can, and often does, occur. Before any endeavor, we should weigh the risks and take measures to lessen those risks.

Before you travel, research conditions at your destination, prepare for problems and take precautions. Better to have a negative outlook and a positive outcome than the reverse.

Are you making prudent decisions in all areas of your life?

You have only one life. Guard it well.