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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Un día para recordar

Blue skies, great food, pulsating music, and surrounded by wonderful people with hemophilia. A day to remember in Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico—the shining star of the Caribbean. Remember those commercials from the 1980s? Puerto Rico is proud of its status as a Commonwealth of the United States of America; its inhabitants have been US citizens since 1917. How many of use reading this realize that Puerto Ricans are American?

This was part of my quest this week. To return to an island and people I love, to see how hemophilia care has evolved since 1998, when I first visited, and to see how hemophilia care differs from that of the States, especially in light of the Affordable Care Act.

Zoraida and I arrived Thursday afternoon and spent the evening with Osvaldo, a young man with hemophilia, and his girlfriend. We all had dinner together and listened to him share his story of having hemophilia, an inhibitor and limited access to product. Charming and intelligent, Osvaldo has suffered but also persevered: he is college educated and owns his own company!

On Friday we met with the HTC staff at the Centro Medical to get an update on hemophilia treatment. There are an estimated 250 persons with hemophilia on the island… but no one really knows. Like the States, there isn’t yet a national database. The facilities are good and the staff very inquisitive and kind.

On Saturday, Zoraida and I, along with Johnny and Tammy Marquez, the husband and wife team who head up the Association Puertoriqueña de Hemofilia (APH), traveled about the island to meet a few hemophilia families. We traveled two hours to Salinas to meet one family and another half hour to meet one more in Santa Isabel. Wonderful families; fascinating insights on PR hemophilia care!


We ended our day today by attending the annual meeting of the APH. It was packed, and we had a full agenda with a speaker on dental care, chiropractic care and later an open forum which became quite lively with a debate over whether hemophilia care in Centro Medico was up to standards. The day ended with a great motivational speaker, lots of hugs, and good feelings all around. People with hemophilia have community, muy fuerte.


So what did I make out of all this? You’ll just have to wait… until August when we publish a full report in our article on Puerto Rico in PEN. Sign up now to receive it. And in the meantime, visit http://blog.kelleycom.com/2011/01/la-vida-hemofilia-visit-to-puerto-rico.html to read about our visit last year.




Good Book I Just Read
A Dog's Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron
Maudlin, unabashedly sentimental, charming, simplistic, sugary sweet… I was at first wondering where this book was going, but then got sucked in by the sentiments, and was in a puddle of tears by the end. This book describes a dog’s life (lives, actually) as told through a dog’s eyes. The main character lives through four lives, reincarnated after each demise as a puppy, aware that he is reincarnated and wondering in each life: what is going on? What am I supposed to be and be doing? When does this end? It makes the reader wonder too, as the book is a bit disjointed at first and it may take a bit to figure out Cameron’s style. If you are a dog lover like me, you will enjoy much of the free association by the dog, especially whenever a cat appears; very clever and funny. The dog is feral in his first life, trying to survive and eventually is euthanized; reincarnated, he comes back as a lab, and his real story begins in earnest when he becomes bonded to a boy. No spoilers here, but the dog becomes smarter and more self-aware, and as a reader you share the dog’s unswerving loyalty to humans and his unending desire to serve and please, despite humans’ baffling behavior. By the end of the book you yearn for your own current dog to hug, or recall your childhood dog with such strong emotions, I can only think of Toy Story 3 as something in comparison. To fairly critique (as a professional editor) you must disregard or overlook the inconsistencies: the dog understands peeing, vomiting, crying but doesn’t have a word for his own natural instinct to mate? The dog refers to chopper, car, truck, cage, various power tools, collar, leash, swing… but when his boy’s mother removes her ring and throws it into the pond he doesn’t know what that little round thing is called? The dog conveniently doesn’t know names of things whenever it’s a Kodak moment. But just keep reading and don’t be critical and you will enjoy it. I hate being manipulated by purple prose but this was overall a wonderful book, because I have loved all my dogs and currently inherited a puppy I’ve only been complaining about. No more. I’ll love him with all my heart too. Three/five stars.

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