Health Problems

20150217_094300I 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.

Puerto Vallarta to Mazatlan

Time to post a few pictures that I took when we left Puerto Vallarta and also a few from the park in Mazatlan.  I mentioned before that there are two routes between Tepic and PV and neither is very good. I didn’t mention that there are actually four but the other two are very bad. I drove the Tracker and Steve followed while I navigated one of the very bad routes.  There is a brand new road being cut from north of Tepic to San Blas and that will become the preferred way eventually, although we don’t plan to drive to Puerto Vallarta again. Mazatlan is so much nicer and there is no need to torture ourselves with the drive. This route we took on highway 57 was very pretty though and I’m glad we drove it.  I would not recommend it for larger RV’s and unfortunately we still came out in the middle of Tepic so we had to pay one of the tolls that we would have missed going the coastal route. P1030323-2Steve had to often drive into the middle of the road to avoid low hanging branches. The good news was there was no one else on this road.  It climbs and winds for a long time.  I would guess this choice of routing took two extra hours in getting us to Mazatlan. We came through this little town high in the Sierra Madres and were stopped because of a parade and celebration. I was about 30 seconds too late to get a picture of all the horse riders in their white hats at the front of the parade. P1030328-2P1030329-2P1030331-2All the fruits and vegetables at this stand were yellow or green P1030338-2 Paper flags strung over main street as far as you can see P1030024Here we are parked up at Las Jaibas RV Park in Mazatlan for a month.

Rhythms of the Night

Rhythms of the Night is an everything tour in Puerto Vallarta that wows from the first minute to the last.  It’s a boat trip with open bar and music, it’s an all you can eat buffet, and it is a first class musical show.  First we took a boat from the marina to the Las Caletas beach hideaway on the southern side of Banderas Bay.  The boat ride is over an hour long, going full speed in a catamaran but the time went fast with music on board, open bar, dancing, and entertainment from the crew.

P1030240-3P1030243-3P1030249-3When we arrived at Las Caletas Beach, we walked along a path and encountered  mythical characters perched here and there among the rocks.

P1030251-3P1030252-3P1030254-3P1030273-3I would say there were at least 350 people between the four boats on the tour and wondered how crowded it would be at the beach.  But the organizers had skillfully set up many cozy dining areas, each with it’s own buffet.  The buffet included, beef, chicken, shrimp, many vegetables and salads, desert, and wine.  Different musicians came to the tables and played for us.  The harp player sure wowed my mother.

P1030277-3There were thousands of candles and torches lighting the dining areas and walkways. Everything was just immaculate with beautiful palms and plants along the paths. Even the bathrooms were worthy of being photographed which I didn’t do but should have.

After we ate we all went to an outdoor theater area for a show that was themed as ancient mayan but with a modern Cirque du Soleil twist. It was fast paced dance with beautiful costumes, drums, lots of fire, and acrobatics. We were not allowed to take pictures during the show. I did not expect to see a show so professionally well done on a remote beach far from the city but it definitely compared to anything you would see in Las Vegas or even better.

P1030270-3Too soon it was time to walk back to the boats for the long ride back to Puerto Vallarta

P1030291-3Looking back at Las Caletas Beach

P1030293-3We assumed the boat ride back would be long and tiring but it was anything but.  The crew dressed up as the rock band “Queen” and put on a show that almost had us on the floor laughing.  Oh my, it was SOOO good!

I think initially my mother was shocked that we bought the expensive tickets for Rhythms of the Night but when it was over she thought it was a bargain and had a wonderful time.  It was definitely a night to remember.

Puerto Vallarta’s Malecon

The English-speaking world usually translates malecon as boardwalk. But there are no boards. A malecon is actually an esplanade or promenade. The definition of esplanade is a long open level area, typically beside the sea where people may walk for pleasure.  The malecon in Puerto Vallarta is a one mile long paved walkway along the Bay of Banderas and is main attraction in Puerto Vallarta.  You can shop, eat, stroll, exercise, get a tan, people watch, swim, look at the ocean, or study the artworks along the malecon. I’m sure there is more to do but it’s the perfect place to perk up your day under almost always sunny skies.

P1030187-2

P1030186-2Puerto Vallarta’s malecon has attracted a huge artist colony and probably the most visible are the hard at work sand sculptors.  Once a piece has been completed, they spray it with a stabilizer, leave it up for a time, and then demolish it. The process of sculpting and demolishing is ongoing throughout the high season that lasts seven months.

P1030193-2P1030201-2P1030205-2These sand statues are alive. The one sitting remained deathly still while we watched the other tossing sand onto every inch of his body and even his face. I don’t know what he was coated with to make it stick, maybe oil or perhaps his sweat because he would be quite hot. The one standing is already covered in sand. I cannot imagine going through this each day as they are working for just tips.

P1030207-2My mother treated us to a wonderful lunch on the malecon and then we walked over to Our Lady of Guadalupe Church. The church dominates the downtown skyline and is one of the favorite landmarks in the city.

P1030212-2P1030214-2As far as churches go, this one is very young. The foundations were started in 1903 but construction did not really start until the early 1920’s. It has had several crowns, one fell off during an earthquake in 1995, and the current one was made by a famous artist since then.

P1030217-2There is a lovely courtyard on the left side of the church

P1030224-2P1030220-2The flags are called paper picado, perforated paper, and have been cut from tissue paper into elaborate designs. They are displayed for mostly religious occasions such as Easter, Christmas, The Day of the Dead and for baptisms and weddings.

P1030223-2It would be interesting to know the significance of the little door.

P1030225-2Old town Puerto Vallarta and another glorious day in Mexico!