The Butterfly Effect (choices, death and outcomes)

Anderson Evangelist in Mt. Hope Hospital

“In chaos theory, the butterfly effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions, where a small change at one place in a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences to a later state.”

I found myself thinking about the Butterfly Effect today – no, not the terrible movie, but the one cited above.

I was thinking about how changes, however small, in a person’s life impact the path you walk down from that point onwards. I was thinking about Anderson, my mom’s worker who died in Mt. Hope General Hospital last week Thursday. He was 21 years old and he died of a brain abscess. He was transferred to Mt. Hope from Sangre Grande Hospital on the 22nd of October, as a critical case, Sangre Grande requesting that an MRI be done immediately, as a CAT scan had revealed a brain abscess that was small, but in dire need of attention. The MRI, as it turns out, wasn’t done until the 7th of November. The day his abscess ruptured- an abscess that, by that point, had grown to almost quarter the size of his brain. That night he began to froth at the mouth and break out in rashes. The following day, he died.

When my mother told the neurosurgeon, days after Anderson was transferred, that she would pay for the MRI if Mt. Hope was unable to perform it, she was told that while the patient was in fact critical, the MRI was not urgent. Yeah…I dunno. I don’t know if a better effort on the part of the neurosurgeon to carry out the necessary procedure could have saved Andy’s life. The doctors in Sangre Grande who transferred him, upon hearing of his death, were furious. One of the Cuban doctors insisted that had he been admitted in Cuba under the same circumstances, an MRI and drilling would have taken place immediately to stem the swelling of the abscess. I don’t know if doctors in Mt. Hope were just content to keep this little black boy from Valencia warming a bed in the hospital until space in the morgue opened up. I don’t know why there was no sense of urgency, no real attempt to save a life. Another doctor in Mt. Hope was allegedly livid when he heard that the MRI was postponed for almost 2 1/2 weeks because apparently, as an in-patient, Andy should have been a priority.

So now I wonder, what impact Andy’s death will have on the 13 siblings (and 14th on the way) he supported as the main breadwinner of his family. I wonder how losing Andy will affect the path laid out in front of them now. I wonder how spending weeks in the hospital caring for and changing your big brother’s diaper, only to watch him die, will affect his sister. I wonder what it means for the country. I don’t know…I don’t really like to actively engage in the microeconomics of trading life for death and how that affects our stock as human beings.

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One thought on “The Butterfly Effect (choices, death and outcomes)

  1. I don’t even know what to say. Everyone is one the offense when it comes to public service issues especially with respect to our Health Care. People point fingers at everyone else, but ignore the 3 other fingers pointing straight back at themselves. The true tragedy lies in the fact that this life could have easily been preserved. I just urge everyone to take 5 mins out of your day to do something selfless- think of the butterfly effect of that.

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