I started feeling slightly ill already in Puerto Vallarta a month ago. I didn’t get worse and didn’t get better, just felt lousy enough not to be able to do much. Then a week ago I woke up with a fever, something that I never get, and a cough that was like being stabbed with a hot knife. Four days in bed and not being able to eat convinced me it was time to go to the doctor. The RV park manager suggested the new Hospital Marina Mazatlan only 10 minutes away.
It was a Sunday afternoon and no other patients were there and the emergency room doctor saw me right away. My temperature was still high and after listening to my chest he knew I needed antibiotics so I was put in a bed and an IV line was inserted. The first medicine was for the nausea and that worked quickly. Then came antibiotics, cortisone for the trachea swelling, anti-inflammatory meds, fever reducer, stomach meds because of all that I was getting, a big bottle of liquid food chocked full of vitamins because I had not eaten, and a few more that I don’t remember. After that came a couple of nebulizer treatments that helped my breathing immensely.
The doctor was young and exuberant and so funny. Since he didn’t have any other patients, he talked a lot to Steve and me. I found out that his medical school in Guadalajara only cost 500 pesos a semester. That’s about $35 US!! He said there are 10,000 applicants each year and only 1,000 are accepted and 590 actually graduated in his class. He had a cute way of explaining why it’s bad to take antibiotics for a viral infection and that is it kills the good bacteria and then the virus says “oh good, more places for me to move into”. Of course you would have to hear him say this with his Spanish accent. Up until a year ago a person could freely buy antibiotics in Mexico without a prescription but now there is a law that requires one. The doctor said it makes diagnostics difficult when people take them on their own and skews blood test results.
I really liked watching the interaction between the nurses and doctors coming and going through the ER. The men shake hands and the women and men give all the nurses a peck on the cheek. Everyone is so affectionate and respectful without being flirty.
The doctor waited two hours after my medications were done dripping and when he saw my temperature had not come down and chest sounds had not improved, he called a lung specialist to come in – from home. The lung doctor ordered an X-ray and blood work but they also had to call people in for those tests since it was Sunday and everything was closed in the hospital. The doctor did say the rooms upstairs were quite full of patients. The blood work showed I had a bacterial AND a viral infection which made sense because I also had a head cold. And the X-ray confirmed bronchitis with one area that was just starting to be pneumonia. So the lung doctor wanted me to wait 3 more hours and if my temperature didn’t come down they would admit me. Luckily it did and I was able to leave. Before I left, the ER doctor gave me prescriptions for two different inhalers, antibiotics, and more. Plus instructions that were a bit amusing like don’t go to bed with a wet head, wear warm clothes, don’t drink tea, and the nurse told me not to put my purse on the floor because it is bad luck. And above all, eat! I felt so good after those 6 hours that I did finally eat.
I have a pretty good idea this same visit to an emergency room and all the medications and treatment I had would cost a minimum of $5,000 in the US. I know someone that had to go to the ER a few years ago because a cyst ruptured and all she received was a prescription for pain medication and the bill was over $4,000. My bill for Sunday was $367 US. And another $68 for the lung doctor because he was called from home. That’s all.
I have never had bronchitis and don’t know if an ER would have done all these things in the US but the goal at the Marina Hospital was to get me better and fast one way or the other. I could be tempted to move here for the wonderful medical care – it is that great. I sure liked not having to tell an intake person what was wrong, then a medical tech, then a nurse, then finally a doctor. Repeat, repeat, repeat is the name of the game in the US. And the doctor does not sit there scribbling or typing in a computer either while I am talking. He would go into his office on his computer and somehow magically everything appeared at the front desk in itemized detail for the bill, ready when we left. Everything single item, just like in the US, is charged but not at an exorbitant price.
Now I see the lung doctor every two days at the hospital when he is there in the morning to make rounds. I thought the fever was back because I have started waking up all night long soaking wet with sweat but the doctor said that is a good sign. Since the doctor is already at the hospital for those visits I pay about $56 US and that includes the emergency room charge and an injection yesterday. They love to give shots here!
I do still need to do a last post for Puerto Vallarta, namely to tell you about the tour we took and how fabulous it was. I wanted to take that particular one when our Australia cruise ship stopped there in early September but it was not available. We haven’t done much in Mazatlan yet but hopefully that will soon change.
In the meantime, Steve has been wonderful walking and feeding Molly, doing the cooking, cleaning, and laundry. He met a woman in the park that had been very sick too and she gave him some natural remedies for me. One is honey that has lots of garlic pieces in it that tastes so good I will take it when I’m not sick, another is a Mexican honey with all kinds of herbs that is specifically for bronchitis, and a recipe for ginger tea. Oh, and to roll a lime back and forth across your throat but then throw the lime away. The other thing she said is that she made herself cry for three days to get all the poison out of her system. Steve said she was serious about that and not trying to be funny.
I haven’t been eating meat for about 3 years now – maybe more. A little fish here and there but not much of that either. But I’ve decided I am going to start eating a little lean chicken and pork a couple of times a week because I don’t feel very healthy lately and maybe I’m missing something in my system. About 10 years ago my cholesterol was very high, 369, and so I took statins for a long time. Then when I stopped eating meat and almost no dairy I stopped the statins. My blood test results Sunday showed my cholesterol was 225 and triglycerides 93. I think that is awesome that it came down that much from 369 without using statins so I want to continue to be pretty careful in the meat and dairy department.