Sunday, October 24, 2021

the last book I ever read (The Undocumented Americans by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio, excerpt five)

from The Undocumented Americans by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio:

I ask Julieta if she ever resorts to alternative medicine in the absence of access to doctors, and she dismisses folk medicine as something that Cubans and Haitians do. “They have ridiculous beliefs with respect to medicine, and you’re not going to leave them without them doing a prayer on you,” she says. Instead, she describes another form of alternative medicine. “I have two migraines and I have a Cuban neighbor who loves me. She was born here, and she’s insured. She goes to her doctor and pretends she has migraines, she says that the light bothers her, that she throws up, and he gives her medication. She shares. A lot of people count on other people. My sister is a citizen and she gives her blood pressure medicine to a woman who is undocumented.”

Julieta swears by hospital-grade Tylenol because she, too, sometimes gets intense pain in her molar. She goes to a Honduran man who was a dentist in his home country but cannot legally practice in the United States; instead he goes to private homes to fill cavities. “He does a very good job,” she says. I have only a couple of dozen memories of my early childhood, and one is of my father writhing on the floor with tooth pain. My mother and I just stood back and watched, sometimes behind over to pat his arm, until the pain stopped—it took about a day. Either he would die from the pain or the pain would stop, and that time it stopped.

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