More Medical Mayhem!

Selfie with Nebulizer and Fake Lips

Selfie with Nebulizer and Fake Lips

The bad news: I am behind in my recitations because I’ve been missing my walks due to severe asthma and allergies. Even talking caused coughing fits, and weirdly, I can’t memorize without speaking the poem aloud.
The good news! It provides another opportunity to tell you about México Medical System .
In my usual, let’s wait until I’m almost dead before we go the doctor mode(I think I channel some stubborn old Midwestern ancestor ) Felipe and I ended up on a forty minute, midnight mad dash to emergency on Sunday. A fleeting moment of romance pierced the terror as my gallant husband carried me to the car; for I assure you it is terrifying not being able to breathe with the hospital over an hour away.
Of course, there was a huge storm threatening, relampago flashing, tronar crashing as if the devil was chasing us to drag me to hell, and of course, the bocho had a dangerously low tire and an ominous screeching emanating from the drive shaft. I was in my mismatched pajamas, unable to breathe when seated, I knelt in the bocho’s filthy floor (it had recently been full of chicken shit , don’t ask)) with my head handing out the window like a gasping golden retriever. I didn’t even know if Felipe knew where we were going. Fortunately, he did.
We went to clinic I visited when I needed treatment for fibroid tumors . It’s open for overnight emergency services, and is only forty minutes away. I was on an IV(the most painfully administered one I’ve ever received, bless her heart) in let’s say… seven minutes from curb to faint inducing needle insertion(and I am not a baby about these things folks ). Approximately twenty years ago, I visited Northwestern University Emergency room for a high fever. If memory serves, I waited two hours on the floor(again, unable to sit up) of the waiting room for a bed in the hall way.

Just for fun, let’s compare of the cost of these two visits.
México— Emergency Sunday 1am private clinic visit.
40 pesos about $3.75

U. S. A. —Entering the Northwestern University Emergency room.

México—Treatment, including multiple check-ins from a very nice female doctor, five medications and prescriptions for two medications they didn’t have on hand.
860 pesos about 90 bucks

U.S.A. —I don’t recall the exact treatment at Northwestern but there was blood work, a potassium shot, and intravenous fluids. The doctor was certain I was bulimic; I was not. He was nice about it, but its unnerving to have your doctor trying to wheedle a confession to a psychological disordered out of you when you’re delirious from fever.
The cost was around 1500 dollars; I think I was there about 5 hours. Fortunately, I had insurance. My out of pocket cost was aprox. 600 dollars.

The day after our hell-bent trip to Maternidad de Paris(tres chic), I visited La Tigra’s free clinic. They supplied me with the prescriptions I wasn’t able to get the night before and loaned me a nebulizer, all free of charge.

Felipe thinks it’s ridiculous to compare the U.S. and México s medical systems because the economies are completely different. Example: Minimum wage in Chicago 8.25 an HOUR, Minimum wage in Morelos 65 peso(about five bucks) A DAY, he argues. Not to mention the difference in services available at Midwestern and Maternidad de Paris. I argue( illogically) “Yeah, but we still pay $5.75 for a gallon of gas in México!”(I just like to throw that in when I have a chance.)
Still, I find it questionable that the charge for something as simple as entering the building should be so disparate: three dollars and seventy five cents…opposed to six hundred and fifty dollars. Really?
Am I an economics dolt, or do you agree it’s unreasonable to charge a person 650 dollars to lay in the floor for two hours?

P.S. Just so you don’t think I think everything about México Medical system is peachy, I did decide against the karate chop procedure suggested at my first visit to de Paris. Instead, I applied Edgar Cayce’s castor oil pack remedy , and the Depo-Provera(gasp!) they proscribed. I no longer suffer symptoms from the tumors.

Check out my new office!

That's me with my Ipad, and Jandro my muse. This is my latest office behind the secondary school. Me, my Ipad and Jandro my muse.

I like to keep you up to date about my location, mostly for the laughs.

Recently internet service was installed in the secondary school in La Tigra. But I was reluctant to get my hopes up about the possibility of local, free service because of my clinic office downfall.

So I went to town and checked out the signal, but I didn’t change my routine of: walking 15 minutes in the afternoon sun with my laptop, sweat running down my body, riding the bus for half an hour and then setting up shop in the internet café in Tehuixtla with its year round mosquito infestation and teenagers playing video war-games and 80’s power pop in the not distant enough back ground.

Within a week of the school’s connection, kids (and some parents!) stormed and trashed the school even thought they could get signal outside of the school’s walls, and the teachers kicked everybody of the signal.

But recently the teachers had a change of heart and reopened usage for the community with the stipulation there will be no more breaking and entering. And so, I have a new office. With a chair!

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How far would you go to stay online?



“It’s life that is hard: waking, sleeping, eating, loving and dying are easy.”   Marvin Bell

I moved to Mexico for the lawlessness . The first six years I lived here I saw a NO sign twice. Now they’re popping up like kudzu . So when Graco was elected (Felipe voted for him) and the Nuevo Vision implemented, I cringed. Because it looks to me like the new vision is to become a U.S. clone, even though most of this country’s citizens aren’t welcome there.

To be fair, the new vision’s focus is to eliminate government corruption. Our only experience with the initiative is that of a family member, arrested on his way to help a neighbor slaughter a pig for having a pistol lying in his front seat (no comment). Rather than the standard negotiation, a bribe to the arresting officer, he was jailed and advised by his lawyer to bribe the judge. A judge’s bribe is ten times that of a local cop. A new vision indeed!

Mr Graco’s program also includes enforcing revenue generating regulations like car insurance. Not say, public health programs (also revenue generating) like sewer systems.

I have a fundamental problem with the insurance concept. We buy insurance to protect ourselves, if we feel the need for protection the bedrock of this feeling is fear. And fear is the enemy. Not the adrenaline get out of the way of an oncoming bus fear; but the low grade buzz of anxiety that makes us inclined to insure everything from a parcel to our pets. It is the fear of loss, and the possibility of injustice.

If we aren’t willing to trust people to act responsibly we can’t expect to live in a healthy society. If we fear financial ruin and pay a company to protect us, we don’t believe in our own self-reliance. Though I realize having insurance is a near inescapable necessity of life in the U.S., which is one of the reasons I am willing to forgo triscuits and electricity to live here.

In our area, we’ve been introduced to Morelos’s Nuevo Anglo Vision with Roadblocks.
We are stopped on a remote intersection by state police, our cars and their contents searched by surly(perhaps due to their pay cut?) officers with rifles and are asked for proof of insurance. A driver’s license is requested but it’s not as important as insurance. I assume because the Nuevo Vision is more interested in installing the multi-billion peso insurance industry than driving expertise.


Blessedly, Mexico can still come to my rescue. Its wayward heart still thrums. The scene above occurred at the same corner that the day before we were harassed for the third time in a week, but this day we were waylaid by friends.

They’d set up a makeshift bar in their van. We stopped to drink a beer, filling our palms with semillas, spitting the shells on the stickyhot blacktop. Cows passed, plopping massive piles clomping, syncopated rhythms. We talked about La Tigra, Mexico, and Mezcal. There was spontaneous singing.

We had to move on and as we departed they invited us to a party. In Mexico, there is always a fiesta on the horizon. Much later we met again, and I sat in exposed bulb light gnawing chewy ears of feed corn prepared for people. The moths danced a shadow quadrille above us and I talked with my neighbors about women’s roles and why I live in La Tigra (an endlessly fascinating topic it seems).

Several of the people there had both wronged and helped us. Felipe had stood in debate with them and the Auydante, some things were settled amicably– others not. In La Tigra, rather than insurance, we rely on the Ayudante(mayor). If your neighbor transgresses you, you talk with them about it. If you’re not satisfied with the results the Auydante intervenes to restore accord…sometimes.

But that night we ate and drank together, we talked and laughed, because we’re neighbors. Today we celebrate; tomorrow we may quarrel, because we’re human.

Disasters will occur. Health is its own reality. Tragedy, loss and injustice are as fundamental as joy and satisfaction. We cannot protect ourselves from life. We cannot invest in fear and a lack of confidence in humanity (to the benefit of corporations and fear mongers) and ever hope to live in a world of peace and equality.

The quote is from the poem; Poem After Carlos Drummund De Andrade, by Marvin Bell.

Interested in what else I’m up to? Visit me at my Etsy Store and Face Book page Eloquent Remains.

© 2013 Abby Smith, Writer

The End of the Road

The End of the Road

The End of the Road

 “Daniel Boone was an idiot ”  Bill Bryson

Purportedly, when Daniel Boone saw the wisp of a neighbor’s campfire on a distant mountain he knew it was time to move on, the neighborhood was too crowded. For this, Mr. Bryson questions his intelligence.

Generally, Bryson and I are in accord. Perhaps it’s because we are both from Des Moines. But more likely, it’s my idol worship.  If only I could have written Lost Continent, a book I’ve read three times and still laugh so hard I disturb Felipe’s sleep.  Anyway, I found myself siding with the maligned Mr. Boone recently, when to my horror and amusement, I found La Tigra can now be located on Google maps.

I understand Boone’s concern, especially since the wilderness I live in is not as vast as the U.S. west was in Boone’s day. Because living in the middle of nowhere requires fortitude: I wash my clothes by hand on a washboard, I don’t have a refrigerator, hot water, television, internet, or a reliable phone, and the change of seasons is marked by which bug I’m tormented by. Still it’s worth it, for the beauty and the solitude.

But the possibility of also enduring nearby people and their 24 hour polka music at Spinal Tap volume, their dogs that have never once been discouraged from barking, their roosters, roaming animals and inquisitive children, would I am afraid, make life here untenable. Thus, a place on google maps is like a bonfire on the horizon. Though I had to laugh when recently a gentleman used the map to visit us and ended up taking a farm road I hesitate to ride my horse on.

Google also tell us that La Tigra’s population is 310. I like this though I know it’s inaccurate, I’d guess around 500. When I brought up the subject with family most were slightly offended, “No, we are much bigger than that since the road was finished.” We were five miles from pavement when we moved to La Tigra. Three years ago the road was paved within 50 meters of our driveway.

It’s true, the paved road (that google maps doesn’t indicate as the best route) has brought commerce and work and new La Tigrians. It saves our tires and cuts the time of our trips to civilization in half. But I knew it was the harbinger of a future move higher up the mountain. We have another piece of land up there, miles from a town, hundreds of meters from any neighbor and they only live there during planting season.

Of course people think this is crazy, “Why would you want to be more isolated, farther from people and services?”  I agree it’s a little crazy, but only because we can’t move higher forever.  Still, I imagine we will live in google’s wake until there are no more uncharted roads, and then I want to move to New York City, because if I must have neighbors, I also want libraries and museums, and Thai food.

*This quote is taken from Bryson’s, Wide Open Spaces, in, I’m a Stranger Here Myself. It’s a brilliant, scathing essay on U.S. attitudes toward immigration. Read him and weep with laughter, or envy if you’re like me.

© 2013 Abby Smith, Writer

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