Odds & Ends south of the border

LIFE CONSISTS of details strung together, some good, some bad.

We live next door to a hot-springs motel that was constructed over a decade ago in what was an empty lot where a lonely cow lived. The motel has not provided us with as many interesting moments as we had imagined.

The traffic there is fairly constant. It’s a nice, well-maintained place.

Recently, the owner installed an automatic gate opener in the exit lane. It makes a whirring sound every time it’s activated as satiated customers depart.

We hear the whirring in the Hacienda, and we call it the Sound of Satisfaction.

* * * *

Credit card fraud, etc.

We’ll be going downtown early this morning to the bank. If you get there at 8:30, the wait isn’t bad before you can talk with one of the officers.

We have a number of issues to resolve. My child bride’s debit card is about to expire. The electricity bill for the Hacienda was not paid automatically from our checking account last time, as it’s done for years. And I need a new credit card because we had to cancel one last week due to hefty fraudulent charges.

odds&endsI only use credit cards online, never out in the real world. How do crooks put charges on it? This is not the first time it’s happened, but this week’s bogus charges are considerably higher than ever before. Good thing I keep a sharp eye on card movements.

Due to such perils, I consider four a minimum number of cards. All of my credit cards are issued by our Mexican bank. I had American credit cards when I moved south, but they’ve fallen by the wayside.

Anyway, if you live in Mexico you should have Mexican credit cards.

If you don’t care if your name is engraved on the card, and I don’t, you can pick up another credit card immediately at the bank. Ditto for the debit cards.

Our bank is BBVA Bancomer, the best bank in Mexico.

The worst bank is HSBC.

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Sonogram of my insides

More has happened on the health front. Recently, I got a colonoscopy, which I wrote about here, Getting a hose up my butt, and then a few days later I wrote a companion piece, An inkling of death.

The gastroenterologist who put the hose up my butt, due to some blood work he found suspicious, recommended I get a sonogram of my liver. I did that yesterday, and the doctor said everything looked okay.

The doctors keep trying to kill me, but I defy them.

The sonogram, done by a doctor not a technician in a high-tech lab in the state capital, cost the peso equivalent of $27.

Beats the devil out of ObamaCare.

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Nasty little birds

New ImageI’m battling birds. Some years, but not all, I have to fight off swallows around this time who want to build their wretched mud/spit nests on the roof beams along the edge of the Hacienda’s exterior.

They stick muddy spit up there, and I scrape it off from below with a hoe. They try it again. I scrape again, and so on. This has been going on for a week. Some years they bypass us entirely. Most years, actually.

But they are stubborn this year. Some people say it’s bad luck to remove their nests, but I don’t care. They’re nasty.

* * * *

Cheese and chairs

Within two blocks of the lab in the state capital, we found a cheese shop, so we bought some superlative cheese off a huge wheel. We also found a specialty workshop that we’ll be using. It’s a guy who renovates old office chairs.

At this moment, I’m sitting in an elegant office chair that I bought about three months ago at Office Depot. It was a replacement for the previous elegant office chair I had used for many years.

Alas, the old one is in bad shape, even sporting tape on one arm.

How fortunate to have found a shop that renovates old office chairs. When we return next week to pick up the official results of my sonogram, I’ll be dropping off the old office chair. Perhaps it has many more years ahead of it, supporting my butt because I prefer the older one.

Mexicans do everything.

We’ll likely cross the street for more cheese too. It was wonderful cheese.

 

Getting a hose up my butt

MY FATHER HAD colon cancer. He didn’t die of it. A heart attack carried him into the ethers at age 75 back in 1991.

He was in a hospital in Atlanta getting his five-year, remission checkup when he was on the verge of being discharged, cancer-free, just lying in a bed.

Bam! Dead. Heart attack.

It’s a good way to go, far better than cancer. But he was only two years older than I am right now. His cancer was found at age 70 via a colonoscopy.

All of which is to say that I have a very close family tie to colon cancer. The medical community therefore recommends that I get colonoscopies on a regular basis. I do not do that. They are unpleasant tests, and I tend to dodge unpleasantries when possible.

This is shortsighted and stupid, of course.

My first colonoscopy took place in Houston in 1997. After I moved to Mexico in 2000, I heard that colonoscopies are done here under full anesthetic, the kind you get with major surgery. Nah, I said to myself.

Instead around 2005, I got a barium enema, which has a reputation of being very unpleasant. It’s no fun, but it’s not horrible either. It’s a good scan of the colon, but it lacks the thoroughness of a colonoscopy.

I was polyp-free. In 2011, I did it again. Polyp-free.

New ImageRecently, I noticed some odd sensations in the nether regions, so I thought maybe I should get another checkup, especially since life was going so well, and I was hesitant to wave bye-bye.

I found a gastro surgeon in the capital city by pure happenstance, which is to say I grabbed a business card from a counter at a hospital. I emailed him, and he answered right back. I told him I would prefer not to have a full anesthetic, so he gave me what I had received in Houston. It’s called “conscious sedation.”*

I did it yesterday. The procedure was done in a small operating room in a huge, new facility called Hospital Victoria. In attendance were a nurse, the gastro surgeon,** an anestheologist in a “Fly Emirates” T-shirt, and the gastro surgeon’s very sharp son, 11,*** who acted as a go-fer.

The anesthetic was not like I remembered it 20 years ago. It immediately shot me into a bizarre world of chaos and colors. It seemed like I was there 30 seconds, but it actually was about half an hour. I came out of it quickly, and my concerned child bride was standing at my side.

I am still polyp-free, but the doc did encounter what was causing the above-mentioned sensations. I return next week to see what can be done about that. With luck, it will be non-surgical.

Amazingly, the full tab for everything, including the crap you have to drink the previous night to flush your gut, was the peso equivalent of about $400 U.S.

I even received a color DVD of the hose’s full journey up my backside and back again. I have not watched it yet, and likely never will.

I paid cash, as I have done with all medical expenses since moving over the Rio Bravo. I am not in the clutches of ObamaCare.

Or Medicare either, for that matter.

Aging is no fun, but what can you do?

* * * *

* Why it’s called that is beyond me. I was not conscious at all, but you do come out of it very quickly and with little hangover.

* * Dr. Angel Arroyo, Office 1005, Hospital Victoria.

*** How many doctors take their sons to work in the United States?  They’d likely lose their licenses.

December means medical checkup

lab
This is my wonderful lab.

WHEN I WINGED south over the Rio Bravo way back in the Dark Ages, I had the hysterical healthcare mentality of a typical Gringo.

Live without health insurance? Why, that would be sheer madness, so I purchased coverage with a system called IMSS. If memory serves, it was the peso equivalent of about 300 U.S. bucks for a year of full coverage. But after that first year, I knew better and did not renew.

One must go to an IMSS clinic, and I didn’t want to. They’re dicey.

Health insurance? Who needs health insurance? Pick your own excellent doctor and pay cash or yank out your debit or credit card.

After marrying in 2002, my child bride talked me into getting a complete checkup in 2004 at the Star Medica Hospital in the state capital. I repeated the process in 2007. In 2013, I decided on a simpler approach.

Every December I pick a day and head to the outpost of a lab downtown at 8 a.m., and I get my cholesterol, blood sugar, triglycerides and poop tested. The last I hand over with some cute comment. On some years — not all — I get an EKG and chest X-rays. I do those elsewhere. The first in a doctor’s office ($25 U.S.), and the second ($16 U.S.) in a different lab.

I skipped those this year because I did them last year.

After the pretty nurse takes my blood and poop sample, I head home where I arrive by 8:30 — there’s rarely any wait at the lab because I get there when it opens — and I dine on a nice, warm croissant accompanied by hot café Americano negro and a beautiful woman.

In the afternoon of the same day, I return to the lab to pick up the results. Yes, same-day service and, of course, there was no physician’s referral required. Charge: $27. Now that’s healthcare for you.

That all took place yesterday.

How you folks lovin’ that ObamaCare?

This year’s results: I’m in tiptop condition.

Trump’s da man!

(The following is an editorial from the Investor’s Business Daily. For an even more detailed list of President Trump’s many accomplishments, go here.)

AFTER WEEKS and months of fixating on tweets and Russia, someone in the press decided to have a look at what the Trump administration has been up to since January. Lo and behold, they discovered that it’s getting a lot done.

serveimage“Trump Has Quietly Accomplished More Than It Appears,” reads the headline in the Atlantic.

“With the Trump administration’s chaos sucking up all the attention,” the article begins, “it’s been able to move forward on a range of its priorities … It is remaking the justice system, rewriting environmental rules, overhauling public-lands administration, and greenlighting major infrastructure projects. It is appointing figures who will guarantee the triumph of its ideological vision for decades to come.”

It goes on to detail these achievements, many of which we’ve highlighted on these pages.

Border crossings, for example, have plummeted, even though all Trump has done so far is promise to enforce existing laws.

The Supreme Court approved parts of Trump’s travel ban, a success made possible by Trump’s appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the bench.

Trump is busy filling lower court positions with conservative justices. Ron Klain, a White House aide to Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, said that Trump “is proving wildly successful in one respect: naming youthful conservative nominees to the federal bench in record-setting numbers.”

What else? Well, Trump pulled out of the Paris climate change deal, which as we noted in this space is a yuuuge win for the economy.

The EPA, meanwhile, is dismantling Obama’s coal-killing, growth-choking Clean Power Plan, and draining the heavy-handed Waters of the United States rule. When a veteran EPA official resigned this week, she complained in a letter to her former colleagues that “the new EPA Administrator already has repeals of 30 rules under consideration,” which the New York Times described as “a regulatory rollback larger in scope than any other over so short a time in the agency’s 47-year history.”

Trump promised to kill two regulations for every new one enacted, but in his first six months the ratio was 16-to-1.

Trump also approved the Keystone XL and other pipeline projects held up by Obama. He’s also rolled back a ban on coal mining on public lands.

To be sure, Trump hasn’t scored a major legislative achievement on signature issues like ObamaCare and tax reform.

The Atlantic writer describes the administration’s achievements as something akin to a shadow government. But these actions aren’t in the shadows. They’re just being ignored by a media that is obsessed with digging up dirt on Trump.

* * * *

(Note: An excellent way to get correct information on the Trump Administration is to go to the White House website and subscribe to the 1600 Daily, which is a brief wrap-up emailed to you of what’s actually happening every day in the administration.)