After the total disaster of the reno from hell in Westbank, which forced me to flee the country, mostly for my heath, it only got worse from there. I ended up dumping what little money I had left into another reno from hell and got burned badly by a guy back in Kelowna who owned the place that I worked on in Panama. On top of all that I offered refuge to a Panamanian family who supposedly had nowhere to live. They ended up ripping me off for about five thousand dollars, including the cost of feeding their family of seven for two months, plus they stole everything they could get their hands on when the police finally got them out. It was a horrible experience and one that turned me totally against Panama. Even the police chief told me that you need to keep your eyes on any Panamanian working in your home. Various people working in the home, who I paid very well, stole everything from my brand new camera to my rings. They look you right in the eye and lie to your face.
One of the worst crooks of all was a young, cute, 21 year-old, who I considered a good friend. She worked for me and I paid her well, yet she stole from me and lied to me. She stole my cell phone and my camera and anything else she got her hands on. When I finally locked her family out to get them to pay me for anything, she told the police that I was in the country illegally; that I was a drug-dealer and that she had paid the rent the previous day. Believing everything she said, the police came and literally broke down my gate and arrested me and I thought I would languish in the horrible Panamanian prison system, never to be heard from again. Luckily my Spanish was good enough to explain things to one of the nicest police officers I have ever met in my life and he let me go.
People in developed countries, such as Canada, believe that certain people can be trusted. Two of the most crooked professions in Panama are Realtors and lawyers. I had the misfortune to deal with a young Panamanian immigration lawyer who ended up trying to extort money from me and then she threatened to have me beat up when I refused to pay her.
It appears that God himself was also against me in Panama because in the midst of all this grief he decided my gall bladder would fail. I was in excruciating pain for several days and ended up in the worst third-world hospital you could ever imagine. I still remember the surgeon kicking the operating table trying to get the light to come, as I drifted off from the anesthetic, figuring I may well not wake up from this one. I was sorry I did because a week in that hospital was sheer torture. My bed was only a youth bed, broken as well, meaning I kept sliding down. Every time I had to try to pull myself up the pain from my operation was intolerable. They did not have enough medications available, so they would let me go hours before giving me more morphine for the pain. I could not so much as get a glass of water. They did not feed me anything for almost a week. It took me hours to get someone to help me to the bathroom and they did not have any toilet paper because they could not afford any.
My doctor here said that the technique they used to remove my gall bladder is basically twenty years old. Now they make two small incisions and it is basically day surgery, with no lasting scars. Thanks to care in Panama, I am basically scarred and deformed for life. Upon hearing what hospital I was in, a friend in Panama told me I was SO lucky to have come out of there, period. She said that hospital has numerous lawsuits against them for killing people, so I guess I have to count my blessings.
So, with a grand total of $21 in my bank, no medications for my diabetes and no idea where my next meal was coming from, I begged the owner of the house I had renovated to send me anything on the thousands of dollars he owed me for all the work I had done. He refused and just asked me to make sure I gave the keys to someone on my way out. Very compassionate! Luckily my cousin in Toronto offered me a roof over my head and to feed me until I got back on my feet, and she saved my life, for which I will be eternally grateful to her. I managed to raise my return airfare by selling everything I owned in the world and arrived in Toronto March 18th. For the first time in my life I have been forced to go on social assistance, but I am going to stay hopeful and positive that some good luck will come my way eventually.
A very sad part of all of this is that I am but a few kilometers away from my children and grandchildren, at least as far as I know, but I have been unable to make any contact with them. I held my son’s first daughter, Danielle, when she was a small baby. She is now about 17, I think. I have never met his other two daughters, Marissa and Mackenzie, plus I have not seen my own daughter, Heather, since she was 13. She is now 31 and has a child of her own and lives somewhere in Burlington, I believe. Despite how badly my own life has gone, family is crucial to me and I hope I will be able to see them before I die.
Oh well, now you are caught up.