Friday, November 10, 2006

Emergency Services in Chacala / Las Varas

I don't understand how the world works. A couple of days ago I was concerned about a man who was injured on/off his bike. And what kind of emergency services might be available to him.

Today I was concerned about me and urgencia services for me. For those who have wondered how things might work out if they are injured in Mexico, here's my story.

This morning I was alone at home, in Chacala. I was rinsing out some clothes on my front patio, (no soap, just water), and I slipped on the wet tiles. I kind of flew up in the air and landed mostly on the back of my head. Saw stars for the first time in my life, and felt kind of electrical vibrations all over. And slept for a minute, maybe. When I realized I was lying on the tile, I felt the back of my head, which hurt, and realized there was quite a bit of blood on my hand. Sat up, and saw I was lying in a pool of blood. My blood, of course. The water was still running in the hose and I hosed away the blood on the patio. And then hosed the blood off some of my clothes and face and hands. And then removed my clothes: too much blood.

Went in the house, put on some town clothes, and called my nearest friends/neighbors. Who had just purchased a truck. Held a blood soaked tee shirt to my head. I couldn't remember any words but cabeza and blood. My neighbors arrived about three minutes later. I think I wasn't thinking very clearly. I didn't want to go to town to Las Varas, just wanted them to tell me what the back of my head looked like. Get some sympathy or something. They said I needed stitches. In Spanish, with hand motions, to demonstrate.

My neighbors don't have licenses or insurance so we went by their cousin's and he drove us to Las Varas. We went to the little state-funded clinica/urgencia building, which I had driven by in the collectivo many times, but never visited. There were about 20 people waitingthere, mostly mom's with sick little kids.

My head was still bleeding, which probably helped get me the quick service I got. The chairs were full and I leaned against the wall, and some ladies insisted I sit on one of the chairs. My friend, Aurora, talked to the Doctor, and he examined me. He was a young Doc, 26, doing his year of service. The nurse, Leo, the infermata, was a 23 year old young man, also doing his year of service.

I waited a little bit, and ladies in the waiting area patted the blood dripping from my head with toilet paper. Which they had apparently brought with them to the urgencia (experienced visitors, I guess). A little two year old held on to my knee and stared at me. The nurse asked my name, which I had to write out, and then my age, and level of education, and town. No medical questions.

Waited another short bit, and was taken into a little room. The whole building seemed very clean, unlike my other experience in a government medical setting, which was filthy. The Doc had me lie on my stomach. He cut off a bunch of hair, (although my hair is pretty short). I think he must of given me some Lidocaine, or something, around the cut. I only felt pain for two of the 25 stitches he put in.

He ran out of something while he was sewing me up, and Aurora run over to the pharmacy to buy more of whatever it was. Maybe gauze. He wrapped my head with a turban of elasticky gauze. I told him I had been a volunteer EMT for awhile. He sort of knew what that was. I said I was concerned about a head injury, because I thought I had passed out. I asked him to check my pupils for dilatation. He didn't know what I meant. Maybe Doc's don't do that anymore. Or it was a case of not understanding.

He came back a few minutes later, and asked if I wanted an x-ray. He said I could get one at a Clinicia in town. I happen to know something about that machine. I would rather not be within thirty feet of that machine, even if it was off, so I passed. The Doctor, Javier, said I could wash my hair tomorrow, take the bandage off when I got home, and gave me Tylenol or something, and an antibiotic. I am supposed to have the stitches taken out by him in 8 or 10 days. He said the cut was "star shaped", and then drew an "X".

He didn't give me any of the head injury warnings I remember from the past: don't go to sleep, or, if you are nauseated and/or dizzy come back. My friends brought me home, and I have had a small stream of visitors so I haven't fallen asleep. My head hurts where the stitches are, but that's all.

The whole visit, including the antibiotic and Tylenol, or whatever, was 78 pesos. About $7US. I offered more, for the gauze and pills or whatever, and they refused. They said they don't have a way to process extra money. But I could bring gauze, paper towels, toilet paper, etc if I wanted too. Which I will.

Everyone was very nice. I speak Spanish well enough that I didn't need my friend there. But it was really nice to have someone holding my hand and translating. I have noticed Doctors, unless they speak English, generally act they can't understand Spanish spoken by gringas. Don't know why that is, but it worked out fine.

I am still a little concerned about the lack of interest in the potential for a head injury. On the other hand, that's probably not such a bad way to go. That's my story.


myahspirit said...

WOW, you take care of yourself, I know you will. It's so good to learn that you do have good friends that will be there for you. You know that they know that you would help them in any way you could if they needed it. That makes you a part of their, your village.

Brenda said...

Sorry to hear about your accident, hope you recover quickly. Take care.

Marie McC said...

What a scary accident! That must have been one heck of a fall to require that many stitches. Thank heavens you had friends close by. I'm so glad you're okay.

La Gringa said...

What a scary experience. Thank goodness you were only out for a couple of minutes and thank goodness you had good friends nearby to help.

I'm glad you aren't going to be so isolated when you move.

I'm not surprised that they didn't ask any medical information but I wonder why it was important to know your level of education. Strange.

I hope you are feeling better soon. Keep some company around just in case.

1st Mate said...

I'm so glad you're ok, and that your neighbors are so attentive and helpful. You've done well in your choice of Chacala, and in getting involved with your community.