Posts Tagged ‘hospital’

A trip to the Mexican hospital

April 15, 2013


Sunday, the temperatures were in the 70’s and we thought it would be nice to go mountain biking.  John researched on the web and found a mountain bike trail on the north end of town. It was rated “moderately technical” with maximum climbs of 780 ft.  Seemed relatively easy.  We rode our bikes along the bike lane on the Malecon (waterway) – about a 3- mi trip and then turned in land at the trail head.  There was a nice wide dirt road into the desert.  The first 1 km was ugly because people had dumped their trash there (obviously against the law).  But after the road turned to single track, we followed it up hill.  In places the trail was hard to navigate because of soft sand and gravel, but we learned that “moderately technical” must mean rocky single track flanked on either side but nasty looking cacti.  The track was narrow enough that a few times, I couldn’t walk my bike because my bike and I were too wide to avoid the cactus on the side of the road.



During the entire ride we saw only one other person, a hiker who was resting underneath a large rock outcropping.  Vultures circled overhead and I joked to Johnny that they must like Gringo white meat.  The trail was short (only about 3- mi) then we crossed an arroyo over to where the hiker was resting and caught up another trail back to the trail head.

This trail was very rocky in places and I got off my bike several times to navigate some scary-looking rocks.  But as I approached an area that appeared to flatten out and the trail began to widen, I got back on my bike.  Stupid mistake.  as I came down the hill, the trail cut sharply to the right, marked at the curve by a an 18″ metal spike, a boulder about 2′ high and several smaller boulders.  My back tire hit loose gravel and I skid and I lay down my bike.  Fearing impalement on that nasty-looking spike I jumped off the bike and fell smack onto the boulder striking  hard my left ribs, elbow and bending back my left index finger.

My first thought was Omigod, don’t let there be a rattle snake under this rock I just overturned because he is going to be very upset that I disturbed him.  Fortunately, no rattlesnake.  Then Omigod, I broke my arm and ribs – the searing pain!  The third thought, “hey I’m going to live, the vultures circling overhead have left the area!

John, who had ridden about 200 yards in front of me heard my screaming and cussing and ran back. After gasping for breath for about 5 minutes, I did manage to stand, but couldn’t get back on the bike. We were still two miles from the trail head and had no choice but to hike back. I managed to walk back to the road without assistance and John walked both bikes.

When we got to the road, we turned left, walked another 200 yards or so, and entered a hotel parking lot where a small taxi was waiting. The taxi was too small to take our bikes, so I got in alone and had him take me to the hospital. The driver told John he was taking me to Salvatierra hospital. He apparently managed to flag down a larger cab, but still had to take the bikes apart. The cab driver took him to our house where he unloaded the bikes and then he proceeded to the hospital.

Salvatierra (shown in the photo) is a very modern-looking newer hospital opened in 2010. When it opened, President Felipe Calderon called it the most modern hospital in all of Mexico. From the outside, it is certainly shiny and new. Inside however, it did not have the sterile squeaky-clean look of an American hospital. I found the emergency department. They took my name address and birth date off my passport and asked me what I wanted to be seen for. I was not asked to fill out form after form and no one asked me about insurance. Then, wonder of wonders, after giving my information they IMMEDIATELY took me inside to an exam room and within one minute a young doctor came in to examine me. While waiting I looked around. The room had two examining tables but neither had paper on them (that would normally be changed between patients). I thought about my bike shorts that had been rolling in the desert dirt half an hour ago sitting on the table and the poor patient who would follow me, as well as wondering who had been there before me. There were overhead tracks for privacy curtains, but no curtains. There were two sinks, one of which had a prominent sign in Spanish “Do not use for washing your hands.” The other sink had no such sign so I assumed it would be okay to use it to wash my hands. There was liquid soap dispenser and paper towels but only the cold water work. Gee, I thought, I sure hope I don’t need surgery.

The doctor came in and was friendly and introduced herself by her first name. She examined me and asked the right questions. We communicated in Spanish, but I suspected she could speak English too. She then referred me for X-rays. The x-ray technician came by within 2 minutes and escorted me to the radiology department. Again, no paper or other protective covering on the examining x-ray table. There was a glassed in window from which I could see where he operated the machine and a computer screen to view the x-rays. He x-rayed my arm from two angles and my ribs. I was not given a lead apron to protect any areas not being x-rayed. I saw him take the films into the next room and through the window could see him and presumably a radiologist looking at them on the computer. Then he came back into the room and escorted me back to the exam room where he handed the films to the ER doctor. She put them up on the viewing panel and showed me that I had no broken bones or fractures. A nurse came into to wrap and immobilize my elbow, which has swollen to twice its size. I had an abrasion on my knee but the doctor told me I did not need a tetanus shot, as I did not cut myself on any metal. She gave me a prescription for extra-strength Ibuprofen, handed me my x-rays to keep, and said I would be fine in a few days. My discharge papers did not contain any diagnosis or instructions for follow up treatment. But here’s the great part: the medical exam and consult, three x-rays and patch up cost me only $59. In the states I probably would have paid several thousand dollars and for the privilege of waiting for five or six hours to be seen for a total of 15 minutes. Salvatierra had me in and out in 45 minutes. I was discharged five minutes after John arrived.