Ouchy, Ouchy – Getting Sick Here

As a foreigner rapidly zooming by the mid-life years I’ve had a handful of surgeries here in town and here are the three main differences I’ve noticed between Mexico and US healthcare.  (Sorry, Canadians, but I’ve managed to bop around visiting your shrines to k.d. lang without taking a tumble so your medical options are a mystery to me!)

Pre-Surgery Interviews

Having had ill, senior parents I was accustomed to the factory-esque atmosphere of American hospitals and found the notion of chatting with my surgeons and anesthesiologist prior to surgery a colossal waste of time.

I was wrong.

Now it helps I came to the interviews fresh from a danzon (style of dance) performance at a local grade school.  My costume is all white making me feel less like a vestal virgin than a little boy that lost his First Communion class.  Mexicans, however, often feel a danzon outfit is sexier than Brad Pitt’s bare butt so to be a foreigner in one always starts conversations.

That was helpful as by the time I rolled into surgery in a state closer to a zombie than actual person I was someone they knew.  Probably someone that had taught their Mom or Nana how to dance.  Humanizing a patient helps obtain a higher level of attentiveness.

Plus in these interviews I learned certain post-surgery conditions that would set my expectations.  For example, with recent spinal cord surgery I learned I could never lift weights again, something I had been doing since I was 12.  It was nice to know that kind of information sooner, rather than later.

Medical Records

When I was in college (commonly known as the Jurassic Era) a new major started called Medical Records Admin.  At the time I pondered “Why go to college to be a hospital secretary?  Can’t you do that right out of high school?”

Come graduation time I wish I had as those gals (and they were all women) had far more lucrative job offers than my film degree got me!

My point being, we turn over our medical records to the doctor’s office or hospital.  In theory, for privacy though anyone with an internet connection can figure out access.  Here you literally carry your x-rays and test results to your doctor as those are your’s, not the doctors.

Insider’s Tip – Don’t give your records to your doctor’s office staff as losing x-rays must be an elective in today’s Medical Records Admin studies.  Hand them to your doctor in your next appointment.

Private vs. Public Hospitals

We’ve an immense public hospital that is far less expensive than any private hospital.  That’s its big pro.  Cons include:

  • Beds are hard to get and easy to lose when out for a surgery or x-rays.
  • Visiting hours are minimal, strictly enforced and limit persons in your room (or what they bring with them). Your whole family can visit all night long at a private hospital.  Heck, you could probably host a quinceañera while there if so inclined.
  • Being older, the public hospital appears to host far more former patients nightly according to many after-hours employees.
  • Surgeries can be much shorter, time-wise.

Wait, since when is good time management a bad thing?  Indulge me in an example….

In my 40s veins in my legs start dying off so you want to remove them to prevent meeting up with one of those pesky strokes.  In a public hospital the doctor will make 3 cuts in your leg to whip those dead veins lickedy-split.  In a private hospital it will be an 8 hour surgery with cuts every few inches up your leg.  This way your recovery is way briefer and less painful.

Like with real estate or a restaurant meal, a far cheaper price in medical expenses needs your own cost/benefit analysis.  It was more important to me to enjoy less pain and a quicker recovery.

Insider’s Tip – As anyone not raised by wolves knows, you bring in treats to the nurses’ station when in the hospital.  Being an author on San Miguel de Allende I bring in my coloring books based on the Mexican Maria doll.  You should order some for your next hospital stay as caregiving angels that work in faraway hospital wings come flying to your room to land them a book or two.

Being popular, even if only in the hospital for the day, never hurts like much else there does!

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