The downside of living on a 21 km2 island is: there’s no cardiologist.
As a matter of fact, there are hardly any specialists on the island. That’s why a good percentage of Statia’s population is always off-island. For many medical problems you can go to St. Maarten. For more complicated issues it’s Colombia, sometimes Guadeloupe. Sounds nice, huh? Free trip to some other hot place in the Caribbean.
But not so funny after the first week, when you have your family, friends, pets etc. at home. And even less funny after two to three months sitting in your hotel room waiting for the hospital to give you a call. Because that’s how long it often takes in Colombia. Talk about efficiency. Luckily for me I didn’t have to go there.
Once a month a cardiologist from Aruba comes to Statia. For me that meant waiting 2 more weeks. Or I could fly to St. Maarten to see a cardiologist in 2 weeks minus 3 days. Because before that day, no cardiologist was available on St. Maarten either; on St. Maarten there are cardiologists from the Netherlands that fly in for some weeks, but there is not always one there. I realized my type of “urgent” was not the urgent type of urgent.
I agreed with dr. B. that I would take it easy for now, write down exactly what I felt when, and that I would report back to him in 5 days time. In the meantime my heartbeat wasn’t doing anything like normal. Especially in rest, after some activity or before going to sleep, it would beat like crazy. I thought I could have a heart attack any minute. That thought, of course, only makes things worse. What if I just drop dead? What about Makeda? She’s only 8 years old. There’s still so much to do! There’s still so many dreams to live! I prayed to God to please give me some more time. I always thought I’d become 100 years old 😀
Dr. B. told me to call him back on Monday. I called from 9:00 to 4:30 without getting through to him. Great. I wanted to tell him I really wished to see the cardiologist on the 21st on St. Maarten, instead of waiting for the Aruban cardiologist that came on the 24th. One day with scary beats seemed like a week to me. Tuesday morning I went straight to the hospital after dropping Makeda at school. I could see dr. B. right away. The day before he really didn’t have time to call me back.
He agreed that it would be better for me to see the cardiologist in St. Maarten the same week. The good news: the Dutch cardiologist arrived on St. Maarten already. The bad news: St. Maarten hospital ran out of electrodes. REALLY???
Medical record and letter were printed out, box with electrodes was packed, nurse came in to tell me my flight was at 11:30. What?! Left a message with my boyfriend’s boss, called my superhero friends to take care of Makeda after school, called the teacher and asked her to explain Makeda in a gentle way that I had to go to St. Maarten today, kickstarted my scooter, drove home with the box of electrodes between my knees, packed a bag (Dr. B. couldn’t tell me if I was coming back today), drove with a box of electrodes between my knees and a backpack to the SVK office to pick up my ticket and arrived at the airport at 11:15 for the 11:30 flight. Again, only on Statia!