This morning I woke to find my husband taking short breaths, grasping his chest as if he had just been punched by Mike Tyson. His face was the absolute definition of fear and frustration and eventually, he broke into tears, asking me to take him to the hospital. I hadn’t taken him seriously until the waterworks began. He may cry during an episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, but if not subjected to watch children suffering from a terminal illness or the likes, tears are a rarity with my husband. We ventured into the early morning darkness in search of an IMSS hospital. We passed several “regular” hospitals (like the kind we are used to in America) in our search for a public hospital. IMSS hospitals in Mexico do not charge their patients, do not require insurance, and fill all prescriptions at no charge. I am told the care is sub-par, and the waits are horrendous, but that it usually does the trick when you can’t afford anything more than… a trick.
I didn’t get a chance to develop my own opinions of IMSS because apparently we arrived hours before they opened and we couldn’t find any Urgencias (Emergency Room) entrances. Instead my husband suggested I take him to work where he could see a nurse in the infirmary, and assured me that if it were a matter of life or death, she would be able to call an ambulance. It’s quite a predicament, isn’t it? We are in “my husband’s” country, yet it is so foreign to him, he doesn’t even know how to call for help in an emergency. We will be investigating this for sure.
The nurse at his work took his blood pressure and immediately diagnosed him with alta-presion. After a couple of hours of observation he was sent to S-mart to purchase celery, which was said to be the solution to all his problems. Whatever. I stopped judging my husband’s gullibility a long time ago. Maybe I’m just a skeptic asshole for even considering him to be gullible in the first place. All I know is that celery isn’t the answer. I called him every hour throughout the day to make sure he was still alive and left work a half hour early with the intention of taking him forcefully to the hospital. When I finally made it home he didn’t look as desperate as he announced that we could no longer eat pork and I saw a bag of dry oatmeal and an aloe leaf out of the corner of my eye. Here we go…
Dr. Magallanes was recommended to us by the mechanic on the corner. When we entered his office, conveniently located in front of a Farmacia Benevides, my husband was comforted by the fact that he recognized a patient in the waiting room as one of our neighbor’s “rich, older brothers.” His words, not mine. I guess my husband isn’t familiar with just how stupid and uninformed rich people can be, but that’s another blog, my friends. The floor of the clinic was dirty and I was just happy they had a wi-fi connection so I could distract myself with Facebook. Gordo seemed to be working on some deep breathing, Zen type techniques as we watched Canal Historia on the television in the waiting room. I can’t remember what show was on. The distractions turned out to be a necessity because from the second we walked into this place I was skeptical. Not only am I naturally skeptical to medicine in general (thanks to my mother and her schooling on homeopathic remedies) but I also happen to be American. As an American, I think “our” medicine and methods are better than that of any other country out there, whether it’s true or not.
When it was our turn for Ray’s “consulta,” I carefully studied the degrees and accolades that hung haphazardly on the stained walls of the doctor’s office. I questioned whether or not it would be rude to ask why there were only copies of the doctor’s degree from the Universidad Autonomo de Ciudad Juarez instead of the originals. I decided to keep my mouth shut. I bit my tongue as Dr. Magallanes took my husband’s vitals and asked him routine questions. I fought the urge to argue that further tests were needed and why the hell doesn’t this dude know what Aleve is? When the questioning was done, I was surprised and pleased to hear his diagnoses. There is nothing wrong with my husband.
He didn’t have a cough or chronic heartburn or episodes of vomiting. He didn’t have any pains in his arms or legs and hadn’t turned purple as he struggled to breath this morning. The doctor’s solution was so simple that I almost struggled to swallow it. He announced that Gordo’s pain was due to stress and only relaxation and profound sleep would resolve the problem. As they discussed it further I learned that my husband never feels fully rested and rarely even gets 4 hours of a deep uninterrupted sleep a night. I am a person that goes to sleep after my husband and require a solid 8 hours, so I was quite shocked by this development. As quickly as I concluded that this doctor was a genius by his diagnosis, he gave my husband 4 prescriptions. Four. Cuatro.
Wait a minute; I thought there wasn’t anything wrong him? Again, whatever. I was in no mood to argue and hoped I was just being the skeptic asshole that I am prone to be. We took his pink slip of paper straight to Farmacia Similares. Ketorolaco, Paracetamol, Ivel and Benedorm. That’s the trick. It’s now been 17 hours, 590 pesos and my first visit to a Mexican doctor since his original episode and we are both feeling much more at ease.
I am trying to ignore my assumptions of Mexican medicine and Gordo is eating bits of papaya as I type. It’s no surprise that I am not a health expert, but I remain a skeptic. I am drinking Padre Kino and plan on eating copious amounts of pork in the middle of the night, just before bed. No one would ever make an example of my current lifestyle, that’s for sure. Gordo fully intends on cutting back his sodium and fat (bacon) intake and I intend to never wake him up until he asks. Our first medical emergency in Mexico has passed, for now, and we are both still alive. Us 3, Universe 7. That’s right, we’re keeping score. Bring it.