PM : MY HEART IS STRONG
By Cecily Asson Thursday, May 24 2012
“It is not my heart!”
Instead Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar yesterday told the nation it was her constant battle with diabetes and hypertension that led to her brief hospitalisation at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Bridgetown, Barbados on Monday.
She told journalists that she had failed to follow her medication routine while attending a Caricom leaders meeting and a Caricom-Mexico summit in Barbados.
She began feeling ill, she said, and decided to check herself into the hospital and once she found out it was not her heart, she was ready to return home to get some rest as ordered by her doctors. A much needed rest will not come until over the weekend as the Prime Minister will attend the Cabinet meeting today followed by the second anniversary celebration at Mid Centre Mall car park, Chaguanas where she is scheduled to give a review of the People’s Partnership performance over the last two years. She will also attend Parliament tomorrow.
Persad-Bissessar said, “I feel a little weak, I must say, but the vital signs are all in order. I think that’s the most important thing. My heart is very strong for my fellow citizens.”
Persad-Bissessar, dressed in a black pants-suit, spoke to journalists following the official cutting of the ribbon to mark the opening of Goodman Road Bridge and the newly paved Goodman Road at the corner of Lachoos Road and Goodman Road, Penal in her constituency.
She said there was a fear that she was suffering from a heart condition.
“The tests were conducted there (Queen Elizabeth Hospital Barbados) in the hospital. Those came up well. The fear was that it could be my heart, it was not. It was the same problem I have from time to time with diabetes and hypertension and those levels went off kilt a little. I think I was not very good in keeping to my medication routine because it was a very busy week.
“It was a long week, I guess I was a little tired. The doctors have asked me to take a little more rest, take a break, that is a difficult thing.
“It is difficult to take as much rest as you can. Over the weekend I will take a little rest.”
Persad-Bissessar said she had a busy week travelling to Belize, Miami, New York and finally to Barbados where she fell ill.
Persad-Bissessar said once she got the results that nothing was wrong with her heart, she discharged herself from the hospital and made arrangements to return home.
“They completed the tests and they said it was not my heart,” Persad-Bissessar said, “ and once I knew there was nothing wrong with my heart, the hospital was not too far away from where I was staying and I felt I would have had a more comfortable rest back in the hotel room, the hospital was quite crowded as you may well appreciate, once I knew there was no immediate danger, I decided I would leave.”
She said she was unable to get a flight back to Trinidad late on Monday. She said she began feeling ill on Monday morning but had hoped the feeling would go away.
By the time she was finished with the caucus meeting of the heads of government, the prime minister said she decided to seek medical attention.
She explained, “I had a meeting on the Sunday evening. I was okay, (but was) tired flying out and coming in there. Monday morning we had the caucuses of the heads. I discussed issues relating to the Caribbean Court of Justice. We completed the caucus meeting and went from that into the opening session of the Caricom-Mexico summit. I was feeling a little unwell but I thought it would pass away and we went straight from that into the plenary session of the summit. I completed all my engagements. I went back up, had something to eat and it was soon thereafter, later in the evening, I really felt I should go and get myself checked out.”
Asked by reporters whether she would reduce her travelling in light of her illness, she said former prime minister Patrick Manning travelled more than her. She said it would be hard not to travel regularly as she was positioning Trinidad and Tobago on the world stage.
“I think it is very important what we are doing. A lot of benefits are coming back to us here. We have to put the red, white and black on the world map and the only way I can do it is to brand Trinidad and Tobago. I have to be out there and try my best, so I will continue to do my duty to my nation and to my people.
She made it clear it was not the travelling which caused her illness but it was because there was so much to do in one week. When asked how she intends to deal with her routine in taking her medication, the Prime Minister responded, “Ask anyone who that happens to, I will try my best, I will continue to try my best.”
She refused to comment when asked by reporters whether or not she needed a travel assistant.
The Prime Minister’s sister Vidwatie Newton, who had accompanied her on previous overseas engagements, did not travel with her on this last trip, following condemnation from the Opposition about the cost to the State.
When Persad-Bissessar returned from Barbados on Tuesday, heart specialist Dr Rasheed Rahaman had flown back with her prompting concern that she had a heart problem.
Speaking earlier to scores of constituents who had gathered for the official function, Persad-Bissessar said she knew they were all concerned about her health.
“I know some of you have been a little concerned over my health, let me say my heart is very strong and with you in my constituency. I love you very much and all the citizens of this land. Sometimes the body gets a little weak but I am only human, I am just a woman. And so we get tired sometimes, we do get tired. I want to assure you that all tests were done at the hospital in Barbados. My heart is still very strong, according to those tests. What happened, I am diabetic as you know. The levels went out of kilt because I wasn’t properly monitoring and taking my medication as I should because sometimes you get too busy and don’t remember, and I know most of you would be in the same position, diabetic and hypertensive, and sometimes it gets out of kilt. But I am strong and alive and I thank God that I am here with you today.”
When questioned about the current controversy surrounding the Movement for Social Justice, (MSJ), which has withdrawn from today’s rally, the Prime Minister responded , “We are about diversity, we are not about adversity. And therefore whilst I can see any member of the Partnership in intense moments raising concerns, that is part of coalition politics. I have no difficulty with concerns being raised. In fact, in more intense moments those concerns will be raised but I can’t see it as a considered and deliberate strategy when people speak of withdrawal from the Partnership. In my respectful view that would be a breach of the trust that we were given two years ago.
“We are two years old and while there is much to be done, there will always be much more to done. In two years one cannot condemn the child that is the People’s Partnership,” she said. Asked about the deadline issued by the MSJ to iron out problems particularly in the labour sector before today, the Prime Minister told reporters that Labour Minister, Errol Mc Leod would address the issue tonight.