Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Finding a Doctor Near Chacala

Alejandro is the retired baker in Chacala.
He raised his family here and then returned a few years ago.
His daughter-in-law wrote me last year
when she happened to find this blog on the internet.
She found a post where I was talking about the delicious croissants Alejandro makes,
and she emailed me. So we have been in contact off and on for a year or so.

I have been here, in Chacala, for 33 months. I have sought medical treatment twice since I got here, both times for "emergencies". Once for an "erosion" on my stomach wall resulting from an ear infection. Not having a doctor, and not knowing how to find one, I had treated the ear infection with an antibiotic suggested by a pharmacist. Ended up in one of the American hospitals set up for tourists with insurance for three days. Very expensive, but only by Mexican standards.

The second time was when I had food poisoning or something that caused explosive diarrhea and vomiting as I was riding home on the bus. That time a taxi driver took me to the IMSS (government hospital) in San Pancho, where 8 or 10 hours of treatment was 23 or 26 US dollars. Can't remember which.

Otherwise, I haven't been sick. Except for diabetes, for which I have been taking meds, watching my diet (more or less) and doing finger-sticks to check my blood every week. Or so.

Anyway, about 10 days ago I started having an intense urinary tract infection. I went to the pharmacist in Las Varas, who offered me a prescription for a pill that is supposed to change the pH in your urinary tract (like drinking cranberry juice). It worked quickly, but about eight days later the infection was back.

So I went back to the pharmacist, and she said, "you have to see a doctor". When I said I didn't have one and didn't know of any, she made a phone call. I would hear her explaining to the doctor that I was an American, etc. Then she handed the phone to me. It turned out he had studied three times in Canada (special courses in advanced issues), and spoke pretty good English. Certainly better than my Spanish. It ended up that I handed the phone back to the girl, the pharmacist, and she said he would come up in about 45 minutes to see me. His office is in Zualcapan, about 10 miles from Las Varas.

I settled in for the wait on the taxi bench outside the pharmacy. I assumed he would be hours late. Just like any doctor, Mexican or not.

One taxi driver after another came over to talk to me, and to ask if I wanted a ride home to Chacala. I kept saying, I was just waiting for the doctor. Pretty soon I could hear them discussing what kind of sickness I had. So I said that I was having a baby, and put my hand on my stomach. They looked totally appalled and astounded. Then I laughed, and they laughed. And we discussed what to name my imaginary baby.

While I was sitting on the bench, reading, one of the taxi guys called to me. And pointed across the highway, to a big Coke truck. It was the Coke truck, and the drivers, who deliver Cokes to my house every Tuesday. And here I was in Las Varas, hanging around with taxi drivers. The Coke guys were waving to me and signaling me, so I walked across the street, and paid them them ahead for the Cokes, and off they went. It was very sweet of them.

What's especially interesting to me is how observant and aware everyone is around here. Everybody knows where everyone is and what they are up to. No secrets here. I am sure when I walk around town tonight several people will ask me about being sick (since I told the Coke guys I was waiting for the doctor). Just like at least ten people have asked me about my nieto, Grandson, because they saw my son (and me) around town with a young American woman with a small boy.

Anyway, the Doctor, Miguel Morales Ramon, showed up on time. And the pharmacist, who speaks a little English introduced us. Then we walked across the street to a medical lab, which was really a little station where they do blood draws, urine collection, etc. All the tests are done in Tepic, the State capital, and the results are telephoned to the patients' doctor.

After a brief, superficial exam, a number of questions, and a conversation in Spanish and English, the Doctor prescribed an antibiotic (I think it's Cipro) and something else, and told me to drink water water water. Con limon. I have to go back into the lab first thing in the morning to get the blood work done. The blood work is the tests I should have been doing regularly for my diabetes. The Doctor will email me the results tomorrow afternoon or then next morning. He charged $20, mostly because he drove up from Zualcapan, I think.

I went over to the pharmacy and got the drugs ($69US), and got a bottle of water to drink. I was waiting for the collectivo, cursing the heat, when one of the taxi guys walked up (from the taxi station two blocks away). He said he was picking someone in Chacala up, and did I want a free ride home. YES!!!! So I rode home in an air-con car. Not a bad day. Execept for spending $90. But I know it would have been much more in the U.S.

1 comment:

La Gringa said...

I'm glad you found a good doctor. It's very nice how everyone looks out for you. And congratulations on the new baby! ;-D