Tag Archives: Mexican healthcare

Dental adventures

dentist
My child bride gets a root canal.

AS I’VE WRITTEN lately, we’ve been having dental adventures.

The most recent report was just a few days ago in the Good and Bad. And, previous to that, there was A Dental Day. I recently wound up the process of getting a tooth implant, the first of my life, and my child bride will soon start on four implants.

On Monday we dealt with an unrelated problem, one which required a root canal for her. Our regular dentist in the state capital referred us to a dental surgeon, the talented young woman shown in the photo.

Her given name is Nayelli.

While the procedure was under way, I watched from a comfy sofa in the corner, a nice touch you’d be hard pressed to find above the Rio Bravo. I was sipping a strawberry milk shake I’d purchased just down the street.

I tried not to make slurping sounds.

The root canal took less than 45 minutes, and my child bride’s now set to start the implants in two weeks.

The adventures continue.

Good and bad

sunrise

WITH SO MUCH bad-weather news happening, I thought it would be uplifting to show good weather. This is a photo taken from our upstairs terraza … a few years ago.

There is other good news. Not weather, dental.

Since I recently had a tooth implant inserted in my upper jaw, we revisited the mouth of my child bride. When we met in 2001, her dental history was typical of Mexicans. When a tooth problem appears, you don’t fix it, you remove it.

Yeah, I know. Incredible.

At 41, she had removed five. All were in the back and not visible when she smiled. The situation,  however, created a problem later due to the spaces, so she got two bridges, also not readily apparent, but bridges are a bother, or so I’m told.

So she’ll be getting implants too, four not five. The dentist said she could easily ignore one at the very back. She begins the process in a couple of weeks, and it will take, as mine did, three months total. This will cost a bit over $5,000 U.S.

We’ll pay cash. Donations accepted via PayPal.

I wonder what four implants would cost above the border. Lots more, I am sure. Likely $5,000 each.

* * * *

Bad news

Now the bad news, also in the medical category.

Recently, I had a sharp pain in my left heel whenever I walked. When I was not walking, I felt nothing.

I visited a clinic here, a hospital actually, that’s part of a church complex. I’ve known two people who died in the clinic, but it’s a good option if you’re in a rush, and it’s cheap.

But that’s not the reason I went. I went because my heel was hurting, and my usual doctor wasn’t available.

The clinic’s right off the main plaza downtown. The doctor consultation was $4. He immediately guessed the problem correctly. Osteoporosis! But I am a poster boy for not having osteoporosis in all categories save one: I’m old.

I am not overweight. I do not drink. I do not smoke. I eat healthily, a salad a day and better. I take calcium tablets. And I’m a guy. Mostly, it’s women who get osteoporosis.

I have a girly affliction!

The Goddess has a wicked sense of humor.

To confirm his guess, the doctor pointed me over thataway to get a couple of X-rays of my foot. Cost of the x-rays: $22. That was done immediately while the doctor sat and waited.

Really.

Seems part of the bone in my heel went elsewhere, leaving a little peak that dug into my heel pad on walking.

The doctor prescribed an anti-inflammatory gel plus pills that do much the same.

He told me to get a glass bottle and rub it sideways over the peak twice daily to make it gradually less pointy.

I have done this now for two days, and it’s really helped. I did my daily exercise walk around the neighborhood plaza yesterday with no problem.

And I’m doubling my daily dose of calcium.

Getting old is a bitch.

* * * *

(Update: Online research, plus having my X-rays on hand, has convinced me that my problem is not osteoporosis but a heel spur, a much nicer diagnosis. Tip of the sombrero to Al Lanier for pointing me toward heel spurs in his comment below. This means the clinic doc misdiagnosed. The good news is that treatment for the two separate conditions is basically identical.)

A dental case

I MADE IT more than 72 years with the big-boy teeth the Goddess installed in me when I was a kiddie.

Never lost a one, neither to decay, accidents nor bar fights.

I joined the Air Force at 18, and one day early on I was ordered to report to the dentist. I had no idea why. When I got there, he told me that he was going to yank my wisdom teeth.

When I protested, he sent me on my way with my wisdom teeth intact. I still don’t know what that was about.

Keeping my wisdom teeth contributed to the wisdom I possess to this day, the wisdom to move to Mexico, the wisdom to marry a Mexican, the wisdom to vote for Trump.

Well, the long run with my own teeth came to a halt on Friday. One had to be pulled, and I was faced with two options: a bridge or an implant. I chose the implant, of course.

Bridges are for old people like my grandparents.

I sat in my dentist’s chair in the state capital, totally ignorant. I had not even Googled tooth implants. I was flying blind with faith that my good dentist would do me right.

And he did, both on price and service.

I was reclined in the chair, except for a brief break, for two-and-a-half hours. My mouth was deadened, so I felt nothing. Actually, I saw nothing either because a cloth was over my head, executioner-style, leaving just my mouth accessible.

First, my defunct tooth was broken into parts and removed. Then a post (yipes!) was screwed into my jawbone. Then a temporary fake tooth was attached to that post.

The permanent tooth will be installed in three months after the jawbone has firmly grown around the post.

I expected the area to be inflamed and ugly from the abuse when he was finished, and I was worried about what would happen when the anesthetic wore off.

When I walked out of the office almost three hours later and peeked into my mouth with the car mirror, it looked totally normal, as if nothing had been done. Later, the anesthetic wore off, but I never felt any serious discomfort.

I’m writing this 24 hours later, and I feel fine. I am taking a week’s worth of antibiotics. The whole shebang, excluding the antibiotics, cost about $750 U.S.

Like all things medical here, I paid out of pocket.

Life is good, and I can chew.

Healthcare in Mexico

New ImageMUCH IS said, especially here, about the differences between Mexican healthcare and the dreadful, pricey, irrational system found above the Rio Bravo.

An online publication named Mexico News Daily published this informative piece on Friday. It deals with the differences in medical training on each side of the border.

Quite interesting.

Healthy as an old horse

horse

I GET A MEDICAL checkup once a year, self-directed and inexpensive, which is to say about as far from the Obamacare coercion as one can get. Here’s how it goes:

Each December is kicked off by a visit to a private lab where I leave a bit of fresh poop and have blood extracted. The poop test is, of course, an old method to check for colon cancer.

My choice.

I got a colonoscopy once, in 1997 before leaving Houston. Haven’t had one since. In Mexico I’ve twice subjected myself to the barium enema, one step up from the poop test and one step below the colonoscopy. I’ll stick to the poop test in the future.

Also at the private lab, I get results on cholesterol, triglycerides and blood sugar. I do not do the PSA (prostate) exam because medical thinking on it has changed radically in recent years, especially the wisdom of doing it after age 70.

I leave that controversial can of worms sealed.

I always arrive at the lab at 8 a.m. when it opens. With rare exception, I’m the first customer.

It’s a small place, an outpost of a larger lab across town, and it’s manned by a nice nurse who takes the blood and accepts the poop sample I scooped up an hour earlier. I pay the peso equivalent of 25 bucks, and leave by 8:20.

The results are ready by 1 p.m., same day. No doctor request/permission is required. It’s my decision, as it should be. This year’s results are all very good.

Next stop: X-rays, and my child bride goes with me. We both get the chest shot to evaluate heart, lungs, spine, etc. This is done in a different lab a few blocks away from the first place.

Again, no doctor’s permission required. No appointment either. We just show up at 6 p.m. one evening.  The wait is about five minutes. I go first. She goes second.

This runs the peso equivalent of about 15 bucks each. For that you get not just the X-ray, but a doctor’s evaluation of the results.  We pick that up the following morning.

Again, everything looks good, especially for this old dog. The next stage is my electrocardiogram. For this I made an appointment with an internist who does the test in his office.

We arrived at his clinic for the 11:30 a.m. appointment, waited about 10 minutes before being ushered into the doctor’s office. The test results were very good. Cost:  20 bucks total.

Summing up: tests for cholesterol, triglycerides, blood sugar, colon, chest X-ray and electrocardiogram totaled 60 dollars out of my pocket. It’s a very basic test but far better than nothing.

And so simple to do.

I think 60 bucks is about what American hospitals charge insurance companies for one aspirin.

Meanwhile, this old horse gallops on through golden fields, a young filly at his side, not with a sunset ahead but a sun rising behind. And strains of Cielito Lindo  soar in the sky.

The old hospital

hospital

HEADING BACK to the Honda this afternoon, I passed this place, Hospital San Juan as it’s usually known, but I see here that it’s dubbed the Hospital General Dr. Gabriel Garcia A.C.

Open 24 hours.

I’ll stick with Hospital San Juan. It’s connected somehow — physically at least — to the Templo de San Juan de Dios, and it’s where Jean Kinnison died about a decade ago of a heart attack. She and her husband Al lived just over a block away, so it was the logical place to take her that day when she was feeling very poorly, so poorly she died shortly after arriving at the Hospital San Juan.

It’s a very basic hospital. If you’ve got some major issue, better head elsewhere, but if you’re in a rush and nearby, just go there for starters. We’ve done that a couple of times, but not in many years. You can get a consultation at the emergency room for about two bucks. And these are real doctors who work part-time here while also practicing in more prestigious places.

Enlarge the photo and you get a clearer view of the offerings. Not just the emergency room, but dental care, blood transfusions, surgery, X-rays, whatnot. Just about anything. I took Steve Cotton there years back when he had some issue with a blood-pressure prescription.

The building in which sits the hospital and the connected church is about 500 years old, but they keep it tidy even if the beds look like something from the Spanish Civil War. No matter. I would recommend this place in a pinch. However, if you have time for a drive, and don’t mind paying more than two bucks, go down to the state capital where you’ll find this alternative.

If you’re being discharged from the Hospital San Juan, or if you’re visiting a patient, be aware that as you walk out the front door, you can turn right half a block where you’ll find incredible sugar donuts in a pastry shop. The sugar donuts are not available on weekends, just weekdays.

You’re not likely to find such treats near one of those fancy-pants medical centers.

Living in paradise?

flag

A GRINGA READER recently chided me for looking “at the dirt.” She was taking me to task for not regarding life in Mexico as “paradise.” Like many folks from above the Rio Bravo who have intelligently relocated to Mexico, she finds her new nation to be an endless delight. I am happy for her.

Even though moving to Mexico over 15 years ago was surely one of the best ideas of my life, I feel quite differently about this paradise thing. My contrary perspective comes from being in a Mexican family on one hand and, for many years now, having virtually nothing to do with Gringos on the other hand.

Let me begin by repeating the famous quote from Octavio Paz:

A Mexican’s face is a mask, and so is his smile.

What does this mean? It means what you see is false. Mexico has had a long, difficult and often bloody history. This made life uncertain and put people on constant edge. It also made folks quite suspicious of their neighbors. Mexicans love “Mexico,” but they don’t like other Mexicans much.

Our* long, difficult times have produced two things: 1. Our famous family ties. 2. A smile on our faces.

When you live in a troubled world where there were next to no official safety nets for centuries, you learn to rely on your relatives by necessity. Your family becomes the most important thing, and this cultural fixation continues today even though Mexico is not nearly as troubled and uncertain as it once was.

In the company of family is about the only place Mexicans let their hair down.

Everywhere else, they keep their hair up and a smile on their faces. This smile has become as famous and as locked in tradition as the deep bow in Japan. The smile, however, as Octavio Paz revealed, is bogus.

It is cultural, not heartfelt.

Foreigners here do not know this, and it’s why most find us so freaking “friendly.” It’s why Gringos and the many Canucks who live in Mexico believe they are bosom pals, best friends, with their maids and gardeners.

Mexico is, in fact, very socially stratified, much like Europe. We don’t embrace American egalitarianism.

The endless smile and associated words result in cultural traits that we’re famous for. Topping the list is that we will tell you that we will do something, show up for an appointment or come to lunch, when we have absolutely no intention whatsoever of doing it. We lie right in your face — with a smile, natch.

Almost as famous as our smile is our “yes.” The legion of problems this creates — up to and including the economy — is massive. A promise is often not a promise in the slightest.

I earlier mentioned the advantage of being in a Mexican family. It’s where truth comes out. So many times have I heard relatives say something to someone not in the family and then immediately say the exact opposite when the non-family member has departed. The outsider got the mask, the “yes” and the smile.

Most foreign residents, even those who’ve been here many years, think the mask is real, and that is where our reputation of being such friendly folks originates. But even so, living here at times can be quite trying.

It is very common for Gringos here to say how much they “love the culture,” a laughable phrase that invariably causes my eyeballs to roll in their sockets at the utter silliness of it. Truth is that some aspects of the culture, as in all cultures, are admirable. Some are quite nasty. It is like this in all nations of the world.

I have a funny story.

Years back, I was sitting at a sidewalk table downtown with an American couple who had lived here less than a year. During the conversation, the woman said that she “loved the culture.” My eyeballs started rotating, and the husband smiled because he knew my take on things.

A couple of months later I ran into him on the sidewalk, and I asked where his wife was. He said they were moving back to the United States, and his wife had left before him. I asked why. He said that his wife “couldn’t take it here anymore.” The figurative “dirt” had conquered her. I chuckled.

Almost all foreign residents here live on a separate plane, speaking English, interacting almost entirely with other foreigners, a sort of permanent vacation zone where the natives remain apart, smiling and masked. This woman had somehow wandered off the plantation, out of “Cancún,” an uncommon event.

There is dirt here, and I see it. There are also blue skies, beautiful visitas, helpful people who can do almost anything, low cost of living, low taxes, no dangerous worship of multiculturalism and diversity, liberty in most things, and an efficient, low-cost, healthcare system. It is the antithesis of the 21st century, left-leaning, elitist, meddlesome, spoiled, politically correct, downward-spiraling, race-obsessed, American culture.

But it is not paradise. No place is. But it’s pretty damn swell in spite of its warts.

* * * *

* Having been a citizen now for 10 years, I feel comfy saying “our.”

Marvelous Mexican medicine

THERE IS LITTLE that pleases me more than rubbing the Gringo and Canuck socialistic noses into our marvelous Mexican medical system. We have a routine that works.

pillsIf you get sick and you’re poor, go to a government clinic and you’ll be cured for free or next to it. Are these clinics on the level of the Johns Hopkins? Of course not, but they get the job done far more often than not. Health care is not a “right,” but it is highly desirable.

The government clinics are paid for, of course, by the government. But — unlike ObamaCare — it is not coercive in any fashion. You are not bludgeoned into being a part of it.

If you get sick and you’re not poor, go to a private doctor or hospital, and you’ll be cured for a reasonable price that you normally can pay out of pocket. And you won’t spend time in a waiting room with 20 other people, and you won’t later spend even more time in a cubicle with your butt chilled behind an open gown.

You will have made the appointment the previous day or perhaps that very morning.

What brings this issue to the forefront today? Why, something that happened to me, of course. For a number of days, I’ve had an annoying ache on the outside of my right calf. I’m a little slow-witted at times, and it took me almost a week to remember that I had this precise problem two years ago.

So what did I do? Did I make an appointment with a doctor three weeks from now because she is booked up till then? No. Did I see a doctor at all? No. I went to my file folder labeled Health, and I found the prescription from two years ago. I had noted on the back what the problem had been:

Ache on outside of leg. Nerve issue.

Bingo!

Unlike above the Rio Bravo, the prescription had not been confiscated by the pharmacy two years ago. It was returned to me, as are all prescriptions that do not involve feel-good stuff like Valium. And antibiotics have also been added to that category, which is good because Mexicans used to eat antibiotics like candy.

I drove to the drugstore and re-filled the prescription. I expect to back back to normal pronto.

Hassle-free, reasonably priced, rapid, non-socialistic healthcare.