What happened was:
The original plan was for Thea and I to fly out to Cuba and for her to stay with me for the initial week-long assessment; she would then return to London and I would remain in Cuba for four weeks of treatment. We repeated this plan three times in e-mails; the response was “Come on down !”
Almost as soon as we got there we were told that the Institute’s policy is that nobody stays there alone. The residential area isn’t a hospital environment at all; in fact, it’s a very pleasant suburban street of what are essentially guest houses:
Although each house has a nurse present at all times, the environment wouldn’t have been quite right for me to stay there by myself. With the assistance of a very helpful contact we got a few things in place in case the Institute let me stay; a smaller room, rubber floor mats for the bathroom, a laundry service...but it was pretty obvious that they were going to remain adamant about the carer policy. What really pissed me off was that they were totally unapologetic about the whole thing, saying “Just go home and come back when someone can accompany you for four weeks.”
Obviously, earning opportunities in the UK are greater than those in Cuba but they seem to think that Johnny Foreigner is made of money. Two tickets to fly half way round the world and back cost a bit more than a bus ride into Havana. As Thea said, if they’d told us this fundamental aspect of their modus we wouldn’t have come without setting everything up first.
The whole thing, combined with my inability to do anything about it, wound me up so much that my ulcers, which I haven’t heard from in about eighteen months, kicked off and I spent the last night there in massive pain, occasionally vomiting with remarkable projectile gusto. Poor Thea cleaned it all up, and Nursey administered a magic injection in the morning which, combined with a few hours’ sleep, sorted me out with just enough time to have a shower and get to the airport.
The upside, then: A comprehensive assessment and report, valid for the next six months. When we go back we’ll know what to expect, we’ll be on our guard against any further pisstaking, and armed with evidence of exactly how much we’ve paid upfront. Most importantly, having looked around the facility, and seen and talked to some of the patients, it’s definitely something I want to be part of. It’s a pity it’s proving so hard to get access to the goods, but behind all the nonsense CIREN’s the real deal. When I go back, and who I go with, isn’t certain yet, but it’s going to happen.