People I meet: Enrique

People I meet: Enrique.

This is a series of articles about the people I meet year in and year out. I travel—on average—twenty times a year and the most valuable thing I take, over the miles, the layovers, crappy hotels, faulty A/C and stale cookies, is the people.


I met Enrique in the U.S. in 2011 when I visited San Diego for training. He was a thick man with a bushy moustache, eyeglasses and gray hair.  We instantly clicked as both us used sense of humor to cope with everyday life. The thing was, his everyday life was completely different from mine.

It was after meeting him that my perception of the medical industry changed.

Enrique had been working for IC Medical for fifteen years already. When the recession hit in 2008, IC Medical had to cut costs and it meant milking the living crap out of every single one of IC Medical’s tech minions, Enrique included. The manufacturing shifts—in which he was included—went from the normal 9 hours to a 13-hour permanent overtime shift. But the salaries didn’t proportionally. IC Medical claimed a lack of income as the sole reason.

Granted, it was a problem that hit all of the U.S. and the world.  But, if it only had been that their lives were the same, with just a bit more work then there’d be no problem. But Enrique’s wasn’t.

His wife had suffered an accident, displacing three vertebrae on her back and, ironically, needed the equipment IC Medical sold to fix her condition.

Given that healthcare in the U.S. doesn’t use a socialist basis, Enrique could only afford certain hospitals. Hospitals, by the way, which were not willing to use IC Medical’s products to cure her, because the hospitals were “married” with other companies. Enrique was left with an alternative: either dig and burrow through his house for more money or turn to his employer for support.

So he turned to IC Medical. If his own company could pay for a hospital that did use the products, then his wife would make it. IC Medical didn’t even flinch. At the moment, providing the products for free was out of the question. I’m talking about two or three consumables and one machine: a cost of about 1000$.

So, as he told me this, whispering of course, I started thinking about all that I’ve done throughout the years. I’ve sold to doctors just because they want something cheaper, I’ve sold to doctors just because the brands I distribute are prestigious and I’ve sold to doctors just because their employers bought our brands. And in all three cases, I’ve wondered if they’d even flinch when I ask them for help.

Just like IC Medical with one of its own employees. A veteran nonetheless.

I kept in touch with Enrique after the training. I send him emails every once in a while and the most recent email I got was that his wife is now permanently disabled. IC Medical offered to pay for a percentage of the insurance required to have her home all day. But nothing else. Enrique is still being milked for every last drop of effort he can get. And I still sell IC Medical.

Why? Because I have to. Because Enrique has to. Or else, we f***ed.


A death in the hospital, a death in the news

At about seven o’clock in the morning, she came out of the hospital, escorted by seven policemen and the endless sea of reporters. Her face was not frightened which confused me; if anything, it scared me. She was calm, she was–and I believe I can say it with complete assertiveness–at peace.

She just looked at the news cameras and smiled. Then she lowered her head in shame. No make-up, bristly gray hair on her head, with the occasional hint of black, and serene green eyes behind wrinkles, a lot of wrinkles. They seemed too weathered, she wasn’t that old.

I made my way near a wall, not to disturb anyone. I came in for the machines, I told myself, and not for the patients.

Then I noticed it; she was a nurse. White dress, closer to her skin that it should have been, a white hat and pale panties. Why a nurse? People pushed and shoved, they wanted to get a look, perhaps shout something. No, some of them even nodded with satisfaction. The policemen loaded her into the back of a squad-car gently and drove off. She left behind a needle. A single needle.

Four hours prior to this, she had entered the hospital dressed as a nurse. The uniform, she had gotten from a used clothing store just a couple of blocks down; the hospital guard trusted her, uniforms are usually a giveaway, and did not ask for her ID. I don’t he checked her purse either; doesn’t matter, she would have stolen the needle from a supply room.


And she knew what she was doing: injecting a huge air bubble then a hefty dose of adrenaline in the main bloodstream would cause anyone an irreparable arrhythmia.

Accelerate the heart past control, sending it to overdrive and forcing a heart-attack, while killing the brain. It seemed the perfect crime. Discard the needle in a junkie-town and you’re home free.

How powerful are needles?

But she didn’t leave. She injected the patient slowly and she cried. The monitor started beeping, it piked with alarms and signals. The lonely nurse on duty at 3 am rushed and found her sitting next to the patient.

“Rest now, my friend,” she said, patting a frail, almost grayish hand, “rest now, my dearest.”

The nurse on duty could do nothing. She was dead within minutes.

The Benevolent Murderer killed her best friend, Lilly, who was on renal support, blood monitoring and, occasionally, a respirator. Lilly was 55 and had been diagnosed with acute diabetes just months past. Her condition dropped to delicate and then to terminally ill in just months. Doctors just waited. Relatives just waited. The Benevolent Murderer didn’t.

Would you wait?