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19 June 2010
Dave Clingman


The wonder of IMSS, Mexico's Health System

The rainy season has finally begun here in Guadalajara, Mexico. That means cooler temperatures and many night time thunderstorms, with usually clear blue skies during the days. Grass is growing again, and Jorge and Elvis now have plenty to eat. Oh, had I not previously mentioned Elvis? That is the name we gave last year to a very old donkey grazing in the pasture next to Jorge's. Since the fence between the two pastures collapsed late last year, the two are hanging out together. Yesterday, while Andrew was working, Mela and I visited the two animals. I sat on a rock, with them nearby, and lonely Elvis wandered over and put his head against my chest and let me massage his neck and ears for a good long while. When we got up to leave, Elvis followed us halfway to the gate before realizing that we were leaving. Mela simply loves these great big "dogs", even though they don't often want to play with her.

My shoulder and arm are still bothering me immensely. We've tried massage and chiropractic, neither of which did much good. We visited (and paid for) a private doctor, since the IMSS doctor didn't seem to care much, and he suggested we get an MRI at a cost of around US$250.00. So, we returned to IMSS and my doctor, to see if he would request an MRI for us (for free, of course). Again, he showed a disinterest in me and my pain, even though we had our friend Pedro with us to be sure we understood each other. The doctor referred us to a clinic specialist, who turned out to be an internal medicine doctor. Internal medicine? Even that doctor was confused as to why my doctor referred me to him when it was clearly orthopedic medicine that I would need. The specialist wrote a note to my doctor asking the reason, and my doctor again showed an extreme disinterest. I will certainly request a different doctor next time I have to see a regular doctor at our local IMSS clinic.

The IMSS clinic specialist referred me to the IMSS hospital across town to yet another doctor, and after a two hour wait beyond our appointment time, we got to see him. He was clearly interested and requested many things for my problem: an xray, an ultrasound, a specialist for my shoulder, and a therapist. This doctor determined the problem to be muscular or related to the tendons with significant inflammation, which is what the private doctor also declared. Finally, someone who really cared.

After another hour and a half wait at the IMSS hospital, we got into the xray room. Meanwhile, Andrew checked into seeing the therapist and to get an appointment for the ultrasound. To see the therapist, we had to drive back to our original IMSS clinic to get the appointment at the IMSS hospital across town. That appointment was made for two days later, which was yesterday. Why couldn't the IMSS hospital's therapist's secretary make that appointment?

The appointment for the specialist is the 23rd, which we took to mean next week. It turns out, though, that our appointment is actually for August 23. Yikes, more than two months away. Ah, but that is nothing. Our appointment for the ultrasound is in OCTOBER! Well, no one ever said IMSS is fast.

Andrew has a theory (and I mostly agree with him) that what you don't pay for in money, you pay in time. Most of the time with IMSS, we do indeed have to wait much longer than we might wait at a private doctor, but the amount of money we are saving compared to visiting doctors in the USA with this problem is significant.

First, there is the insurance coverage cost of US$253 I used to pay each and every month, as compared to less than that amount for an entire year's coverage here. Then there was the US$70.00 fee just to see a doctor, any doctor, and I would have to see my regular doctor before being able to be seen by a specialist. The cost for one xray was US$10.00, and I can imagine that the ultra sound would cost a bit more than that. Here at IMSS all of this is free (after the initial yearly subscription. We also get all medicines for free, and we've received over a dozen so far. Each of those would cost a minimum of US$4.00 at a Walmart, if Walmart offers their special price for generic prescription drugs for the ones we've received. If they didn't have that particular drug in their low priced catalog, I would have had to pay much more.

So far, I figure we have saved well over US$3000.00, which works out to approximately US$200 per hour of our time. This amount will increase even more once I start receiving the daily therapy sessions for free.

The therapist at the IMSS hospital also showed interest, and then he scheduled me for ten visits for therapy there at that IMSS hospital, starting July 5, every day for two weeks. The lady who will be performing the therapy (not sure yet what she'll do) told us to bring two bath towels and a roll of paper towels. Please continue praying the pain eases. Thanks.

For our one year anniversary last weekend, we spent the night at Casa de las Flores Bed and Breakfast in Tlaquepaque. Our friend Pedro from church made us a lasagna dinner with pecan pie, and he babysat Mela for us, so that we could have a nicer room than the Mascota (Pet) Room at Casa de las Flores. It was a nice relaxing time.

This coming Wednesday, Andrew flies to Washington, D.C. for six days to attend the celebration of one of his Canadian friend's wedding. While there, the two of them will go to Six Flags America for a day, and Andrew will also tour through a bunch of museums, I'm sure. I hope this trip he will be able to go up inside to the top of the Washington Monument. That view is very nice. He'll return a week from Monday.

This afternoon is Gay Pride here in Guadalajara, Mexico. I'll write about that next time.

Have a great weekend.

Read update 27 May 2010

Read update 26 June 2010

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