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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Real Dominican Republic Part 2

A couple things come to mind as I reflect on my brief trip to Puerto Plata. Before the daily hardships of the Dominican’s I met, whatever my worries or troubles are, they seem to melt to complete insignificance beside what I witnessed. Since this blog is titled “Living! With MS,” let me begin there. I am lucky to have some very decent health insurance through my employer, even though I only work at that job half time. I have a team of great doctors and the medication (Copaxone) that I take to slow the progression of my disease, at my fingertips. A visit to my neurologist costs $20.00. Monthly, I also only spend $20.00 for my medication. If I am hit with a large bill, I can make payments. I am not even sure who has health insurance in Puerta Plata. I also know for a fact that in order to receive treatment in the Dominican Republic, you must have complete payment in hand at the time of treatment. So yeah, while many folks might say I am unlucky to have MS, I say I am very fortunate to have affordable access to the care I need, whenever I need that care. When I was in Puerta Plata, I also met my boyfriend’s best friend. When we were introduced, my boyfriend mentioned that his friend had helped him to survive several years ago during a dark time. Not only did his friend help him secure employment, he also found him a ride across the country to get to the new job. The thing that actually stuck out to me the most is when my boyfriend mentioned that his friend and his friend’s parents took him in and fed him when he had nothing to eat. Nothing to eat! Imagine that. I honestly can’t. I realized that in my entire life, even when I was very poor, I have never had to miss a meal or go hungry. I have never been without water or electricity and these things that I have taken as a matter of course, are not a matter of course at all for so many people in the Dominican Republic. I suppose that here is where we could start the pity party but honestly, I suspect that the people I met in Puerta Plata would not even understand why I thought there was cause for a pity party at all. When I visited, I was fed and given a place to sleep although it was apparent there was really nothing to spare. They also threw me a giant birthday party and all I had to do was buy groceries. An enormous amount of food was cooked from scratch, and my boyfriend, an amazing man with nothing to spare, bought me a cake. Most amazingly of all, at the end of the night, they offered to pray for me. Pray for me? I already have everything I need but this was not the sort of kindness one says no to, so I asked them to pray for my health, and then they did. I closed my eyes and allowed their love and kindness to wash over me and honestly, there were tears in my eyes. I am blessed.

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