Lady Parts

I know you’ve all been wondering how my peri-menipuase is coming along. Apparently I am a terrible diagnostician

Our Lady of the Waiting Room

Our Lady of the Waiting Room

I am not experiencing said affliction but rather, a more complicated illness; the treatment will involve expulsion of offending lady parts. The good news, other than that I anticipate feeling better soon, is it affords another opportunity to tell you about Mexico’s healthcare system.

Since my self-treatment for the ongoing aliment  did not alter my symptoms sufficiently I was forced to see a specialist. Having just read Babbitt and The Unsettling of America, specialist, comes out sounding like a dirty word these days.

My first visit to the ginecologo resulted in a half hour wait, not bad for an unscheduled appointment. (There are no scheduled appointment in the clinics in our area, you just show up and wait.) The doctor was affable, asked me what I was doing on the pills I had prescribed myself, informed me this was part of the problem, gave me a an impromptu pelvic exam, and within ten minutes announced I was in need of a hysterectomy which he demonstrated by karate chopping at a uterine model.

“Ya! We chop here (below the ovary) and here, ya!” (above the cervix).

He didn’t actually make the sound, I added that for affect. He did actually chop at the model though. Felipe and I were stifling incredulous laughter.

He then prescribed some lovely synthetic hormones, thank you very much pfizers. The cost of this take-home injection (ya know, so you can do it yourself whenever you feel like it I guess) was more than the cost of the consultation.

Consultation 180 pesos (less that 18$) average cost of a first doctors visit in the US 200$

Depo-Provera synthetic progesterine, 230.5 peso about 25 bucks

I wasn’t able to hunt down the price for this prescription in the US, but I will tell you the last time I bought a prescription there 6 years ago, an inhaler, it cost 35$. Current price of inhaler in Mexico 70 pesos about 6.50$ I think it is reasonable to asume the Depo-Provera would cost at least four times what it costs here, let’s say 75 bucks.

I also received a prescription for an ultra sound to determine the extent of my infirmity and the cost of the surgery.

The terms of receiving the ultra sound were pure Mexican. Show up really early to get a ticket because there are only 30 Ultra sounds given per day. Assume there will be a full roster of women waiting who will have no idea what a line is and that regardless of when you arrive you will likely end up with a number in the double digits. My Midwestern decorum (for better and worse) simply does not allow me to scramble for tickets or tomatoes or anything else for that matter.

We set the alarm for 5:30. I turned it off at 4. I could not bring myself to get my hard working husband up before dawn on his only day off to grapple for a place in line and a three+ hour wait.

Still, I needed to fill the prescription so we went later and Felipe finagled an appointment for us, the last one of the day, #24. We were told to return in two hours, I was to have a very full bladder. Upon our return we waited  an hour and forty five minutes. Though for me, with my ready bladder and still American impatience it seemed like four.

The ultrasound took about ten minutes including compiling my chart which contains my name, age and the ultrasound photos, no blood pressure, weight, health habits; I am still amazed no doctor has never asked me if I smoke. Again, the healthcare worker was genial, as he commenced to press vigorously at my uncomfortably full bladder.

He said, “See here, that’s you bladder,” pointing to a grayish, sort of defined image. “And that, that’s a tumor,” pointing to another kind of grey/black possible blob.

I thought for a moment he may jab me with the electro wand, like a faith surgeon and pretend to pull the tumor from my gut showing me a piece of chicken fat he’d craftily palmed. But no, that was just my skeptical reverie.

My favorite ultra sound moment—when the tech exclaimed, “Yee, Buena! Grandotas!” (All right! That’s a good one, really big.)

Great I thought, I love impressing a likely jaded medical assistant with the mass of my abnormal growths.

Felipe had been primed with all the information I had gleaned from my ten year old women’s health book, including several options for the procedure. When asked about less invasive possibilities the tech replied,

“Nope, we got one type here.” He then began to act out the procedure on his own belly. “We slice through the skin, fat and muscle” running his finger from navel to pubic bone, then with a disconcerting yank at the simulated wound, “then we pull it apart, and cut out the uterus.” He concluded with a toss of the phantom uterus over his shoulder.

Honestly, I love this, the lack of formality, reverence for the body, or deference for emotions one might have about having their guts ripped out. Still, I wondered why they aren’t more up to date in their practices. My family says the other less invasive options are available in other clinics. That the one we went to is the cheapest. The quote we received for the surgery, hospitalization, and anesthetic.

12,000 pesos (1000 dollars) average hysterectomy in the U.S. 10,000 dollars

The ultra sound cost 190 pesos about 18$ the price of an ultra sound in the US around 200$

I’ve not decided if I will have the procedure done there. I’m not looking forward to the six inch scar that looks like it was sutured with baling twine, or the extensive recovery period required for an incision of that size. But, I also loathe to trek around looking for more choices, spending time, energy and money to be told, financially the other options are not available to me.

Vamos a ver.

It looks as though I may be writing a post on what is like to have an operation in Mexico sometime before 2014. Until then I will be discussing other possibilities with my cells .

Next time I think I will bring something for the virgin, I wonder if they make uterus milagros?

© 2013 Abby Smith, Writer

18 thoughts on “Lady Parts

  1. Hi there. This was a very interesting read indeed, especially as someone who just underwent a hysterectomy in Canada (cost to me $0 !) Anyways, I have started a blog myself on hysterectomies and alternatives where I want to share stories of other people’s experiences ( and wondered if I could repost this entry over at my blog…I won’t do so until I hear from you though. Thanks! (You can just leave me a comment on my blog if you’d like).

  2. If they don’t make uterine milagros, it doesn’t mean you can’t start to make them yourself! Please look around at your options, Abby. You deserve it. Wish i had a place to offer u to stay in DF, could be an outpatient thing? :/

  3. I do not know you personally but so enjoy reading your blog. I appreciate your take on life as you are living it and admire your fine wriitng. So sorry you are going through this experience. I know you will make the right decision for you. You are in my thoughts.

    • Thank you Shirley, and thanks for reading my blog. I am feeling fine and knowing I have the support of people I don’t even know if very reassuring, paz, Abby

  4. I was laughing out loud when reading the karate chopping demonstration in the doctor’s office – he certainly knew how to get the point across!

    In France (I can’t remember if I told you that’s where I’m originally from) all things health related are inexpensive as well (because we make up for it through very high taxes – but at least everyone has access to good quality coverage that way… I guess every system has its pros and cons…..).

    I hope everything works out for you and that you’re back to your old (or new!) self soon!

    • Thanks Letizia, I think taxes is an excellent way to provide good health care for all. I would have loved to see more of my US tax dollars go to health care rather than military spending, but that’s part of the reason I live in the land of the karate chopping doctors. 🙂 paz, Abby


  5. I, too, laughed at your tale – I admire your spirit and love that you stay true to your new culture. I just looked it up and found Depo-Provera “Costs $35–$100 per injection, plus any exam fees” per the Planned Parenthood (yep) site. So your guesstimate was pretty much right on I think.

    When you’ve this behind you, I’d love you to write about your process of learning Spanish, and some of the exchanges you’ve had over the years. I am very much a beginner at learning to speak it, and while everyone says it’s difficult and complicated to learn, I don’t want to believe that (nor what I’ve told myself for years – that languages don’t come easy to me). Perhaps I’m just naïve.

    Given your talent for jewelry making – why not make something for yourself or Our Lady to depict this passage? Just a thought.

    Thank you for sharing, as always.

  6. so funny…last time I went with my mother to the doctor it took us like four hours to get to the doctor, once my dad had to take a medicine and it was 500.00 dls

    just go with your gut and you will be fine

    Mucha Suerte!

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