Health Clinic in Nargana, San Blas, Panama
Thursday 22 May - Sunday 1 June
Thursday we wake to a sunny day, with no wind it seems even more hot & humid. After Steve's afternoon treatment we walk around the village to stretch our legs. Friday morning Steve goes in at 7 AM, it is a busy day at the clinic but Steve sees the doctor to tell him he is not seeing / feeling any improvement. The Lab guy is back, so they send him over to get blood work and a urine sample and tell him to come back at 1 to see the doctor when they get the results. We both go back in at 1, and first see the nurse who has been giving him his IV injections, he calls Steve over to remove the IV then we go into see the doctors and the nurse. His urinary infection is really bad, normal is 0 to 3 and his level is 35. After reviewing his old lab work with more attention they change his antibiotics. Another pill and another IV twice a day, this one for the next 10 days. “Shakes” as Steve likes to call him, puts in another IV connection to start him on the new medication. The doctor tells us Steve will do another urine test the following Wednesday to see if there is any improvement, if there is Steve will continue with the treatment, if not we will go to Panama City so he can see a specialist.
Saturday morning we both go in, Steve gets his treatment and we bring gifts for the 3 staff who have been helping us to show our appreciation. Another busy day at the clinic, they have a prison here on this island and today they bring 9 young male prisoners over to see the doctors. After Steve's treatment we go get some fruit & veggies and bread from the local stores. Back to the boat, since we will be here longer then we originally thought, we decide to move the boat from the east side between the islands and the mainland to the north west side. Looking for a better breeze and less bugs. We get re-anchored and the water is clearer, have a better breeze and less bugs, but without the “big” island(s) blocking the waves, it is a little rolly. A good trade off in my opinion. After Steve's 4 PM treatment we talk to Bill & JoAnne again updating them on the situation. They have been in contact with 2 other boats they knew and who have been in the area for a while so were getting advise on how to get to Panama City, where to stay, and doctor recommendations if needed.
Sunday morning while Steve goes into the clinic, I do some laundry. First time to hand wash sheets and pillow cases and they turned out very clean. We have plenty of extra sets, but then I would just have a big pile of dirty laundry in the way so I figured this way was the best. So hand washing sheets it was. Sunday afternoon Steve is the only one at the clinic getting his dose of medication, they are really giving him good treatment. The village is quiet, except for the ball courts and fields where the kids are out playing.
The next week goes by SLOWLY. Daily 7 AM & 4 PM, later moved to 5 PM, visits to the clinic and not much to do in between or afterward. Steve had the IV stint in his left hand to begin with, with the second location one afternoon the fluid started going into his arm instead of the vein. They took the IV stint out of his very swollen hand and arm, so swollen he could not even make a fist. Massaging it and keeping it elevated over night to try to absorb the fluid. The following morning they have to put in a new IV, his left hand / arm is still too swollen so they have to use his right hand. Steve is not happy about that since it would limit his mobility even more, so they place it up above the wrist. This winds up being a good location as it frees both his hands. He still can not get it wet, and has to be careful not to hit it against anything. There are a few tienda's / “stores” that we visit every few days to see if they have gotten in any good fruits or veggies. It is very hit or miss, mostly miss on what is available. The water surrounding these islands is not swim-able, the NW side is clearer and has less trash floating around BUT according to the 2013 census in the doctors office Nargana has 850 people (age 1 month to 70+) living on it & Corazon 500. There are only outhouses, all located right over the water so swimming is out of the question for us.
The highlight of the week came on Monday when Bill & JoAnne take the 4 mile dinghy ride over from Green Island where they are now anchored. They had met back up with another boat Joanna, who they knew well from Grenada. We also knew them but not as well, they have been here in the San Blas for 2 years. They were all coming over to Nargana to get some fruits & veggies and wine. It was so wonderful to visit with them all. The ladies from Joanna, Kathy & Maria know the area well and were confirming the info passed on thru Bill & JoAnne on getting to Panama City if needed. This is a get in get out island for most, so after their shopping and a stop for a beer we said goodbye as they went back to Green Island. The other boats that have come & gone in the anchorage seem to either be picking up / dropping off visitors or waiting for owners to return, as we have not seen any other cruisers on the island when we were there.
On Wednesday Steve got another urine & blood test & both results are showing very good progress. The urine bacteria count that was at 35 is now down to 10, still have to get below 3. We make the decision to stay here for 4 more days and continue with the treatments he is receiving, and not go to Panama City at this time. Between JoAnne & Bill gathering information and us checking web sites we have all the info we need to go to Panama City if and when we should need it.
By Saturday 5/31 all the other boats are gone, we are the only boat left anchored out.
Sunday, hard to believe it is the first of June. We managed to do a few minor boat chores during our time here but we are SO ready to get away from this island. Steve gets his last two IV injections, still has a few more days of pills, and will need to come back on Wednesday (via dinghy) for another urine & blood test.
ALL of Steve's care and medicine has been at NO COST !!! We had heard when you fly into Panama, you get a form so your 1st month has free medical care. We did not fly in and did not have the form, but they treated us for free just the same.
Monday we will leave and go to Green Island to spend the day swimming in the water.