Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Another Satisfied (Foreign) Customer of Cuba's Health Care System

Here's a follow-up on Diane Paul, the 520 lb. Canadian who went to Cuba in October for knee replacement surgery because local doctors refused to operate on her unless she lost half her body weight. We advised her at the time to forget about the operation and get on the "Cuban diet" which was certain to succeed where all other diets had failed. On the "Cuban diet" you don't need to rely on your own willpower to resist food, which is the chief obstacle to losing weight in countries where food is actually available. In Cuba, the State supplements your willpower with its willpower. It not only tells you what to eat, when and how much, but requires everybody else to follow the same regimen whether they need to lose weight or not. No need to fear being tempted with goodies in your own house, or your neighbor's house, or, indeed, anywhere that ordinary Cubans may frequent in the course of the day; and all the exercise that you could possibly need will expended in a year-round, decades-old "Easter egg hunt" which, of course, encompasses all foods, not just eggs. In fact, the quest for food will pretty much consume your life to such an extent that the actual consumption of food will be the briefest episode in that quest. Of course, for the "Cuban Diet" to work Diane would actually have to consent to eating as Cubans do. Even healthy individuals like Anita Snow have found that a bit of a challenge. The New York Times reporter, who went on the "Cuban Diet" as a lark, had a penchant for green leafy stuff and was content if she could get her daily requirement of chlorophyl. We suspect that Mrs. Paul has other cravings which may be more challenging to satisfy in Cuba. That is, though she may look like a cow, we doubt that she eats like one. Still, since the Cuban regime — well, actually the Cuban people — are picking up the tab for her operation in exchange for the publicity, the least she could do in Cuba is eat as the Cubans do. But no, she went to Cuba so she could be ambulatory and 520 lbs.

Diane Paul didn't get new knees in Cuba, which didn't surprise us either. She's lucky she wasn't the recipient of the world's first knee transplant surgery. Real knees can be had readily enough in Cuba, though perhaps a little worn from all that kneeling; but titanium knees are rather hard to come by. As we noted when Mrs. Paul first announced her quest for new knees in Cuba, she should ask to see them before they were implanted. Improvisation is the great resourse of Cuban medicine. A patient with bone cancer recently had a section of his legbone replaced with a broomstick. The operation was successful. New bone actually grew over the broomstick. No doubt the news of this revolutionary achievement would not have been made public if the operation had failed. Maybe it failed many times before this success. Still, we warned Mrs. Paul to be wary or she could end up with wooden clogs for knees.

Well, she seems to have taken our advice. There was no double-knee replacement in Cuba. The Cuban doctors determined that their Canadian and American colleagues were wrong. Mrs. Paul did not need to have her knees replaced, after all. As reported in a publicity release, they "instead treated her legs with massage therapy, drained water from her knees and realigned her leg, including surgery to attach small bolts to her knees." Perhaps the Cuban doctors should have attached big bolts to her jaw. Those bolts would have made the other bolts unnecessary. I am going to take it for granted that my reader can detect for himself the insanity of attaching bolts, even small ones, to knees that have essentially turned to jelly, which is why they needed to be replaced in the first place.

There is a strange twist to this story (well, another one, anyway). Mrs. Paul's husband Vern, who accompanied her to Cuba for "moral support," was so impressed by "the high quality of care" which his wife was afforded that he decided to have surgery, too. Mr. Paul underwent an elective blepharoplasty. No, it's not what you are thinking, although a man with a 520-pound wife should seriously consider having surgery to enable him to bring the mountain to Mohammed or at least get under it. But no — a blepharoplasty is a cosmetic surgery to remove the bags from under one's eyes.

The Pauls are reportedly satisfied with the treatment they were accorded in Cuba. "Everything is wonderful. My God, it is absolutely amazing the outstanding care that I am receiving. The only pain that I have now is a slight pain in my kneecap, but my doctors tell me that they will go away soon. I felt good enough that I went out to see Old Havana yesterday," Diane enthused. Her husband is equally pleased. "Our treatment has gone beautifully, absolutely beautifully," Vern said.

And so, without the knee-replacement surgery that she desperately needed but with a younger looking spouse (which she didn't need), Diane Paul returns to Canada to sing the praises of Cuban medicine in her new position as spokeswoman for Winnipeg-based Choice Medical Services, which "helps Canadian and U.S. patients to access Cuban healthcare." For anybody who might be interested, their toll-free number is: 866-672-8284 [their press release requested the plug].

Cuban Shorts
Anita Snow the Hunger Artist, or The New York Times' "Snow Job"


Vana said...

So the 520 pound woman gets a younger looking husband..lol.. while she walks around with bolts in her knees, and pain they promise will soon go away, watch out Diane...

Steve ("Klotz" As In "Blood") said...

.....and with this post RCBA ushers in the seasonal return of Manny Youngman, funniest Cuban-American blogger on teh internets.

Manuel A.Tellechea said...


Thank you, Steve. I could be funny all the time if I were you, but Cuba does not present many opportunities for humor in these times.

The Cuban-American bloggers in the Babalunian galaxy are also very funny, but not intentionally so.