Mr. Norman Rodriguez looks like your typical 32 year old, he has served in the Belize Defense Force for 13 years and is currently a corporal within the armed institution. Rodriguez’s story though, is far from average, he is battling with an arterio-venous malformation on the brain.
When AVM occurs, a tangle of blood vessels in the brain or on its surface bypasses normal brain tissue and directly diverts blood from the arteries to the veins. Mr. Rodriguez was diagnosed in 2007, since then, his condition has deteriorated and doctors say that he must undergo surgery in order to save his life.
However, the procedure is quote costly. Mr. Rodriguez does not have the readily available finance to fund the surgery, so he turned to the BDF.
Nevertheless, they too have told him that they cannot fund the surgery. After much lobbying with his superiors, but no progress, he has taken his ails to the media. He tells his story.
“On 2007, I was in the exercise with migraine headaches. They took me to the Medical Associates Hospital where I took a CT Scan. There, they discovered the malformation in me.
Mr. Louis Wade: “In essence, they took you to Medical Associates. They found a growth. Did you began a treatment process for the growth?”
Corporal Norman Rodriguez: “At first, they did not give me any treatment because they said it was very small. I still was going to jungle and doing patrol as per normal. They spoke to me and informed me that malformation causes seizures and migraines and stuff like that. They didn’t put me on any special duties and told me I could not do patrols.
At that time, Rodriguez was suffering from migraines, but when he developed more symptoms, in 2011, some four years after he was initially diagnosed, the BDF arranged for Rodriguez to visit a military hospital in Mexico.
Corporal Norman Rodriguez: “Over time, I began experiencing symptoms like dizziness, weakness, migraines, seizures, numbness, etc.”.
Mr. Louis Wade: “What did you begin to do at that point in time? Tell me about your interaction with your superior officers. What you began to say and do when you know what it is and clearly, symptoms are getting worse. Explain to us”.
Corporal Norman Rodriguez: “Well, I said to go to the hospital. They used to promise me that they would send me to Mexico to do surgery and every time I go it used to be the same thing and the same thing and they pushed me around and they told me a lot of lies and, they did send me to Mexico, but I went to do another test. Weh deh ah do anadda tess fah if dehn don nuo weh di happen?”
But to this day, Rodriguez says, he has not received his results; here’s why.
Corporal Norman Rodriguez: “The results came back and to now I no see it yet. For some reason, they mih hide it from me”.
Mr. Louis Wade: “Did the doctor speak to you?”
Corporal Norman Rodriguez: “Yes, but they did not explain the results of the procedures because the BDF had not paid for the procedures and I had to come back and I didn’t bring those results along with me. Up to this date, I haven’t seen those results. For some reason, they have been hiding it from me. These papers are what I got from the files at the hospital; they were hiding it from me; I began complaining about it and it magically reappeared”.
As we said, his health has gotten worse; in addition to throbbing headaches, he now suffers from seizures and numbness to the half right side of his body. Consequently, he applied for leave and was granted entitled and not medical leave, which concluded on Wednesday.
However, he admits that he has been bed-ridden for the past few days and is still not well enough to report back to work. But here’s where things get even distressing; even with his diagnosis and worsening condition, Rodriguez says he was tipped off that steps have already been made to take disciplinary action against him for his absence.
Corporal Norman Rodriguez: “Well, more running around and trying to see this people do something for me and the spin me as usual; I dih get worse and sometimes and e reach one time when I can’t really report to work in a timely manner, my leave done the day before yesterday, and I hear dehn don send wa yellow slip fuh stop my pay, and because I was absent for a couple of days because I was weak and in bed all day and I can’t report to work, and nobody call me fuh ask me, ”soldiah, dah weh gaan’ ahn? How you keaah con da work?
Mr. Louis Wade: “There is a punishment or slip or something to that effect waiting for you at the office?”
“For the pay office fuh stop my pay, and also at the guard room. So, when I come in, they are supposed to lock me up and wait for order fuh march front ah dih big man and how much charge I supposed to get and how much money deh ah tek outta my pay or tyhey ah demote me in rank or sohnting”.
The BDF Corporal says that in the preamble of his employment, he signed a contract warranting free medical assistance. Speaking with another media house, Corporal Rodriguez said that if the BDF cannot assist him, then let them simply give him his medical benefits that he’s entitled to, because he just can’t work anymore. If you would like to assist Corporal Norman Rodriguez, his Atlantic Bank account number is 211-476-918.