Panama 2017: A Hard Life

Gloria’s daughter-in-law Fani, who is expecting a baby in two months, has been having early contractions and the baby seems to be dropping. This is worrisome here, as a two-month preemie delivery would be very dangerous. Fani has been to the clinic, and they told her to stay off her feet and rest as much as possible. Her employer, Super 99, has switched her work assignments so that she can work sitting down rather than walking the grocery aisles and stocking shelves as she usually does.

Gabriel, the baby’s father, is on assignment in Colon, the most dangerous city in Panama. Gabriel is a police officer, and part of the Presidential Detail. They not only protect President Varella; this group gets the toughest regular policing assignments. Colon is a major drug transshipment point, and there is a lot of violence. Gabriel is there with his team for three weeks clearing out a drug cartel, and he can’t come home no matter what is happening with his young family until the job is done.

Yesterday, Fani had to take Gabrielito into Panama City for his routine echocardiogram. Regular readers will remember that Gabrielito was born with a complex heart defect called Tetralogy of Fallot. He had surgery, provided by a visiting U.S. team, when he was about 18 months old. Despite the seriousness of his problem, the surgery went very well. Now he is considered to be developing normally, although he has to have routine echocardiography to check for leaks in the repair.

Fani left with him on public transport at 3am in the morning, a two hour ride. At the public hospital they take a number and wait. The trip took almost all day. This, for the poor, is what passes for “stay off your feet and rest as much as possible”.

4 thoughts on “Panama 2017: A Hard Life

  1. This is when I wish I was rich and retired. I’d hop on a plane and come down to wait on Fani for the next two months. I am holding her in my heart. I know how frightened she must be. Please tell Fani she is in my prayers and I am looking forward to seeing photos of her precious baby girl.

  2. Please give Fani & Gabriel my best wishes. I hope all goes well and that they soon have a beautiful and healthy baby!

  3. for Randi: We read this to Gloria in Spanish, and she is going to tell Fani. She was very grateful for your concern. In truth they are all worried, but not much to do in any concrete way — Fani has to work, Gabrielito had to have his echo, and Gabriel can’t come home right now. It’s a hard life.

  4. for Phyllis: I will. Seven months is way too early. And unfortunately, if Fani or the baby go into distress, it’s 2 hours to Panama City for care. The local facilities can give routine pre-natal care, but they cannot deal with this. In the U.S., I suspect the response would be far more aggressive, like getting Fani out of work, off her feet, and home — maybe even bed rest. Not going to happen here.

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