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Medical Crisis In Mexico, Part Two

“Super Gail,” as Ric Saborio now refers to his wife, powers through and gets the couple home and to treatment.


(Part One of this story told of how EG resident Ric Saborio, on a cruise with his family of the coast of Mexico, came down with a mysterious ailment.)

The plane to pick up Ric and Gail Saborio and take them to Fort Lauderdale was on its way. Now Gail just had to settle the hospital bill in Cozumel, the island off the coast of Mexico where the cruise ship had left them after Ric became ill.

First there were the doctors. Gail had a few hundred dollars on hand, her “trip cash.” She used that. Then there was the hospital bill itself.

She heard the figure 43,000. What? Forty-three thousand dollars?

“My mind was racing a mile a minute … how can I get $43,000?” she thought. She almost broke down – after the drama to pay the $16,600 chartered plane cost, this was more than she could handle.

Then she realized they were talking pesos, not dollars. The bill was just under $4,000, no small sum to be sure, but so much better than $43,000 it came as a huge relief.

But how to pay even that sum? She did have another credit card. She handed it over. It was denied. Denied – how could that be? She had checked with the card company before the trip to alert them to their foreign travel. There was no balance.

She called the number on the card. The woman on the other end of the line said no: ““There’s nothing I can do.”

Gail was stunned. No amount of talking to the woman would work. She would not allow the charge. Gail took the first card. Because of the flight, they were already over the $16,000 credit limit, but she didn’t have any choice so she handed it over. It went through!

Now, 24 hours into their odyssey, their departure was finally imminent. All the Mexicans who’d helped them so far – one man bringing Gail some food from his home, the young girl who accompanied her from the hospital to the consulate and back to the hospital, the woman in the ambulance who held her hand – had made Gail feel cared for. “They were very compassionate,” she said.

But when the two U.S. nurses from the plane arrived at the hospital to help transport Ric to the airport and said, “We’re here to help you,” Gail felt a rush of relief.

“It was really great to see Andy and Diana,” she said.

The plane wasn’t one of those island-hoppers but rather a sleek flying machine. Flight time was all of 90 minutes.

“It was a wild ride. It went 600 miles an hour,” Gail said. The plane flew in airspace above commercial jets.

“It was the high speed lane, George Jetson’s lane,” said Ric joked.

In Florida, Gail was finally able to relax ... a bit. Since Ric had woken her up talking about a burning plastic smell early Tuesday morning, July 3, to the time they touched down in Florida Thursday morning, July 5, Gail had slept a total of one hour. She just couldn’t let her eyes close.

Now, in the Florida hospital, Ric’s nurse told them, “I have two patients in this room.”

In Mexico, doctors had thought Ric had had a stroke. But now Gail was being told it was a virus.

“I think that they knew that something was really wrong with him,” Gail said. He needed to be stable to get on a commercial flight – that was the objective in Florida.

Gail was back on the phone, changing plane reservations. Initially, she was told it would cost $500 to change the tickets (they were to have flown out after the cruise from a different airport). But when Gail called back to actually book the new flight, the woman she talked to listened to her story, then said a family member had just had a stroke. She told Gail to hold on a minute.

When the woman came back on the line, she said the ticket change would cost $25. Total. For both tickets. “She used every coupon she could for us,” Gail said.

Ric and Gail flew back to Rhode Island on Saturday, July 7. There they learned Ric had a malignant brain tumor, an astrocytoma. It was affecting his sight, smell, taste, short-term memory, and sleep.

He had cranial surgery July 18, where doctors removed 50 percent of the tumor. He will start radiation soon. After that, the doctors will see how things look.

Ric is finally this week getting some sleep and he’s got a new haircut. A hairdresser friend came over to the house to finish the mohawk that the surgeons began.

Gail is going through papers and looking into reimbursements for all the out-of-pocket expenses they incurred getting Ric home.

They are both filled with tremendous gratitude.

“There are some really good things that have come out of it,” said Gail. Namely, “the renewed sense of confidence that I have in the basic goodness of strangers and humanity. For every one person who wasn’t helpful, twenty people when out of their way to help us above and beyond.”

And they are both hugely aware of the importance of health insurance.

Ric is slim and athletic. As Gail says, “He never smoked a cigarette in his life, he’s a runner, ideal body weight, we did everything right. You try to take care of yourself and still life throws you a curveball.”

Without health insurance, Gail said, they would lose their house. “Even with one of the best insurance companies in the country, it still cost me $20,000 to leave that country that I had to pay up front.”

She said they were fortunate to have the credit available to them too. But she returns again to the people who helped them.

“It’s mostly the strangers that touch your heart. I’ll never see them again. I’ll never even know their last names,” she said. “Those little kind words along the way.”

She recalled several times in Mexico where someone said, “I’ll be here waiting,” when she went into the consulate or with Ric to a different hospital for a test.

“And then they were there when I got back.”

Postscript: Ric Saborio, a fifth grade teacher at Eldredge Elementary, will not be in the classroom in September. He hopes to return in November … and he says they’ve lined up a great sub!

Rose MIner August 02, 2012 at 01:31 PM
This community has long known of Ric's superpowers in and out of the classroom and now we learn that Gail has superpowers, too! Your family is in the thoughts and prayers of us all. We love you and are here for whatever you need. Wishing you a speedy recovery! The Miner Family
Nicole Wright August 02, 2012 at 02:03 PM
Mr. Saborio, We think you are amazing and are thinking of you everyday! Lourdes and Caymus (and family)
Nicole Wright August 02, 2012 at 02:08 PM
Ric and Gail, Sounds like quite the magic carpet ride ;) And wishes do come true. . . Nicole Wright
Dana Wronski August 02, 2012 at 02:11 PM
The Wronski Family is praying for full recovery for you Ric. We love you! The community loves you!
Camille Speca August 02, 2012 at 02:22 PM
we were very sorry to hear this, and we are wishing you a speedy recovery.
Heidi Adele Macfarlan Johnson August 02, 2012 at 02:35 PM
What a story! So glad you are back home and Ric is getting the care he needs. I know I would do whatever I could to support both of you if it comes time to do some fundraising. My daughter, Stephanie Nelson, is now 24 and had Ric for 6th grade. I volunteered that year for the Ellis Island field trip and certainly could see why Ric was such a favorite teacher of Steph's. When I told her about this, the affection was still in her voice. You will be in our thoughts and prayers. Heidi Macfarlan Johnson
Kim August 02, 2012 at 04:24 PM
Ric, You and your family are in our hearts and prayers. Please know that everyone in the EG community is thinking of you and wishing you the best! The Hare Family
Kim Balkcom August 02, 2012 at 04:35 PM
"Super" is an understatement! Gail is a saint! There are not many people who would have maintained their composure so well during such a crisis... and Ric - you really rock the mohawk! Lots of love from the Balkcoms! See you all soon!
Judy August 02, 2012 at 05:52 PM
What starts off as a nice relaxing family celebration/vacation turns into a medical nightmare with a happy ending. Gail you had your family on your shoulders and some how with the kindness of others you pulled it off. You taught us all how to deal with a crisis and how to fight to get what you needed to get Ric what he needed and keep your head above water which is not the easiest thing to do. My hat goes off to you.. Ric, you are in our hearts and prayers for a speedy recovery to get back to what you love, your family and your students. With Warm Regards, Judy, Jonathan and Ariel Finkle
Jen P August 02, 2012 at 08:02 PM
Mr. Saborio I was so worried when my mom told about what happened and I hope you feel better soon!!! Your past science student, Hunter Piacitelli
Jared Greenberg August 03, 2012 at 12:56 AM
Mr. Saborio, my family and I are thinking of you and praying for you every day. We hope you get better very soon. Your favorite aphid,Jared (and fam)
Sheri White August 03, 2012 at 01:20 AM
Hi Mr. Saborio, We are so sad to hear what you and your family are going through. You are in our thoughts and our prayers. We hope you are feeling better and we are wishing you the speediest recovery. You and your family are awesome!! Love, Abby White and family
Isabella Muratore August 03, 2012 at 01:20 AM
Mr. Saborio, my family and i hope u get better very soon!! I know the 5th graders wouldnt want to miss the school year in your class!! I hope you get better soon!!! You are the best teacher ever!! From, Isabella and family
Johnny Anderson August 03, 2012 at 06:42 PM
Mr. Saborio, I hope you get well soon. You're the best! -Johnny Anderson
Renée Worthington August 03, 2012 at 07:23 PM
Ric, I was stunned to read what you and your family had to go through. Gail is an amazing trooper. I know that Rachel, Jamie and Lindsay (all former students of yours who consider you one of their most favorite teachers) join me in wishing you a speedy and full recovery. I wish we still were in Rhode Island so we could help out your family in some way. Renée Worthington
Elizabeth August 03, 2012 at 10:23 PM
DEAR MR SABORIO, After i heard what happened i was sooo upset. i really wish you get well, -Alex Atalay
Macdonald August 04, 2012 at 12:25 AM
Mr. Saborio- I was shocked when I heard what happened! My family and I are thinking of you every day. And as Isabella said I know the upcoming 5th graders would not want to miss out on an AMAZING year with a GREAT teacher so get well soon!!! You are an awesome teacher!!!! -Get well soon! Emma Macdonald
Trisha August 04, 2012 at 02:13 AM
My heart sank when I heard the news. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. You are a strong great person. Love seeing that you are still smiling in your picture duspite all that you have been through. Aysha and I would love to donate our services and groom toby for you. Anything we can do to help let us know.
laura foster August 05, 2012 at 01:15 PM
Mr. Saborio, I hope you get well soon, and are feeling better. You are great! Jack Foster
Maureen Orleck August 05, 2012 at 10:26 PM
Hi Ric, We're very sorry to hear about everything that you and your family are going through right now - and hope that you are feeling better very soon. Please know that we are thinking about you, and feel free to give us a call if we can help with anything. Moe, Gary, Erin, and Kelsey Orleck
Brad V August 06, 2012 at 04:04 AM
Mr. Saborio, I am so sorry to hear about this issue and wish you a speedy recovery! I still remember your 6th grade class at Hanaford like it was yesterday. Brad Van Fechtmann
Rabecca Eunis August 06, 2012 at 01:37 PM
I must say I lost my breath when I heard the news. This was such a shock to everyone in my family. I enjoyed speaking with you about the cruise on the field trip to the Freedom Trail! Your excitement to spend time with the family and embark on a new adventure was so intense. Ric, you are a true inspiration to all that surround you. I am so honored to have met you and spent some time with you. Spectacular doesn't even begin to describe the kind of teacher you are with all of your "kids". You have touched so many lives in so many ways. For this reason I know you will have a 100% recovery! You have so much to give and so much more to do in your life. God Bless and Be Well. Maddie says hello and get better soon. The Eunis Family loves your new "dew". Looks fabulous! - The Eunis Family
Mary Morrison August 06, 2012 at 02:03 PM
Mr. Saborio, We will be praying that God will give you strength for each day and a rapid return to health. Just wanted to let you know that you are being prayed for in Texas. Garett Morrison and family
Jane O'Brien August 06, 2012 at 03:43 PM
Only positive thoughts going out to you, Ric and Gail. Thank goodness for the basic kindness in people who helped get you to where you are now.
Maureen Eustis August 07, 2012 at 08:03 PM
Dear Mr. Saborio, The Eustis Family is pulling for you and your family. If there is anything we, or the EG community can do, please don't hesitate to ask. (Jack says "Hi!") Best wishes for smooth road ahead and a speedy recovery. Glad you are home. =)
Mike Swartz August 07, 2012 at 08:41 PM
Mr. Saborio, Just heard what happened...we all hope for a speedy recovery and know all of your past students give our full support. As one of my favorite teachers I couldn't imagine going through elementary school without being in one of your classes. Get well soon! -Mike Swartz
Jennifer Swartz August 07, 2012 at 09:19 PM
Ric, the whole Swartz family wishes you a full and speedy recovery. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. All our best. ~Jennifer Swartz
Judy Bailey August 07, 2012 at 11:10 PM
What a scary experience! Thank God for the many kindnesses extended to you along the way. My best wishes for a speedy recovery.
Kerri Larsson August 11, 2012 at 10:16 AM
I am just reading about this for the first time this morning! I have had the pleasure of interacting with the Saborio family for several years now and it is truly and honor and pleasure to know them. Ric, my thoughts and prayers go out to you for a speedy recovery. Gail, you are an amazing woman! Kerri Larsson
Donna Izzo November 26, 2012 at 01:04 AM
Ric ,Gail and Bella, thinking of you often and hope Ric is doing better, you truly are very special people and i love you all! Miss you! xoxoxoxoxoxo -Donna Izzo

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