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.


Trestle Bridge Nicollet Island, Minneapolis
The Mississippi, from the stone arch bridge Minneapolis

  Suggestion, view of the Mississippi, Minneapolis

Cornerstone, Minneapolis

Patina, Minneapolis

Sidewalk, Chicago

Popsicle, Chicago

Red Car and Facemask, Chicago

Chains, The Chicago River

Chicago Ave.

Chicago Ave.

Hasta Luego Ustados Unidos

Perpetual Tourist


image courtesy of

Due to a general disregard for logic, and my fear and loathing of bureaucracy, I have been living on a tourist visa for the past seven years, which means I must exit Mexico every 180 days.

People often ask how long I have to stay away. I have no idea. As far as I know I could turn around in the American airport and receive a new six month visa in the same day, but I’m usually out of the country for at least a month, so I’ve never troubled to inquire. People also ask why I don’t have a resident visa since I’m married to a Mexican. Answer–refer to the first sentence.

Most think this wacky, but as with many difficulties in my life I realize it has its benefits. If I had a permanent visa I wouldn’t be able to justify, due to the expense, returning to see my family as often, and I wouldn’t receive the renewal, injection of information, and vitality a visit to the United States affords.

I left the U.S. for many reasons, a preponderance were political. When I fled I would never have guessed what a gift it is to spend a month here: the cultural diversity, progressive ideas, smiles(oh, how I miss stranger’s smiles)and the citizenries’ genuine, if not always realized, desire for civic responsibility. As much as love Mexico, these are things I don’t get much of in my community.

I have no desire to live here again, I love the mayhem of Mexico, the daily insanity that challenges my fortitude and burnishes my character, but I’m grateful for the ‘fresh eyes’ I now see my own culture with. Someday, I’ll be a responsible grownup and make my position in Mexico more official, but until then, I relish my time as the perpetual tourist.

A change of scenery always sparks creativity, here’s a little number I wrote while standing on the corner of Canal and Jackson, in front of Union Station.

Union Station

If the wind doesn’t change
I will have to move away
from the filth
the physicality

from the stench
rising off of
pain, lack of
options and ultimate


symmetry of war
dark tiger
dangles heavenly
dazzles the cons

and the pros
live in the exactly
hairline fracture
of our


wax trickles
runs from
our feathers

Still the man gropes
his groin for blood

all watch the beautiful
girl in a filthy dress


Chigaco,Il. 10/13/2013

© 2013 Abby Smith, Writer

Hasta Luego


I live in Mexico, and have been visiting the states for about a month. I return home tomorrow and as always I feel it is just in the nick of time. I will not have internet service when I return and so will not be able to post poems daily, though I will continue to write daily and post them here as soon as I make it back to civilization.

I am really enjoying this challenge and a part of that is due to your support through your likes and comments. For those of you who have just followed vsvevg I do my best to post once a week and I will continue with that schedule throughout the next six months. Many thanks to all for reading, paz, Abby

A poem from the archives.

The Density of Things

when there is nothing
to do is when you feel it most
when there is no prize
to drive you
then you know
life how it presses
with all it’s sound

disinterested, concerned
ongoing, fatigued
no weather can save you
since mother spit you out
and gave you the loaf

cradled in your arms
hefted over one shoulder
shifted, from one arm
to the other

Chicago Il. April 10th 2013 Napowrimo day 10

© 2013 Abby Smith, Writer