Monday, 17 January 2011

Some Notes About Medical Bills and Procedures

      As a card-carrying member of the International Association of Hypochondriacs, and a one time vice-president of that organization, I fight an urge that all but forces me to moan and whine about every little pain and/or discomfort.   It comes mainly from my Grandfather Rex Andrew Neal, who was a bundle of Southern contradictions......among them, never being sick a day in his life, but having more medical complaints than a charity hospital in New York City....daily.    He took every known purgative, curative, preventative, additive, and recyclitive that was produced during the period from 1893 through 1971.     When he moved his family to South Texas in the early 1920's, he hit the jackpot, because most Mexicans....especially those of primarily or totally Caucasian racial background are born hypochondriacs.  To this day, everywhere in Mexico....and most of Latin-America....there abound interesting, fragrant little stores that sell preparations for all known and unknown disorders that have ever or never existed.
      He would drink his half-gallon of castor oil, chase it down with a couple of pints of cod-liver oil, and then sit in the lion's-foot with cold bath water steeped in gobernadora leaf tea (to fight against gall and kidney stones).   Every day had to start and end with a 1/4  cup of lemon juice....etc. etc.
      To be sure, the previous paragraph might be a bit of a fudging from the absolute truth.....but the foundation of the point being made is certainly true. My addictions are essentially one fish oil gel-tab, two regular aspirin, and one vitamin D .....every three days.    I use an inordinate amount of garlic, a huge amount of onions, and eat any and all vegetables including huitlacoche (corn fungus), broccoli, cactus, and okra by preference.   Any meat....anemone, roasted crickets (in Oaxaca...mmm,mmm good), liver, menudo, fish-head stew, raw oysters, beef, fowl, seafoods of any and all kinds will be found on my table.    When I was a post two and three years of age.....people would come out to show their children that there are children who would eat everything on their plates.   My mother would put out turnip mush, broccoli, mushrooms, oatmeal, and Mexican dried beef and the little toe-heads would watch with saucer-sized eyes while I consumed it all gleefully.   My table is always graced with at least two forms of something "picante" tame as Tabasco or Cholula Sauce, or serrano peppers, or some other selected or homemade concoction.    We used to joke that my mother ate her ice-cream with jalapen~os   (It was not actually a joke).

      SOooooo?  One might reasonably wonder where all of this superfluous bilge is heading.   As some might remember from a previous post about my unfortunate spill,   my account included the revealing of certain injuries and remedies.    My wife, who is both more reasonable and smarter than I...., noted that no mention had been made about how much it had cost to receive whatever medical intervention was necessary.
Prince, the Guilty Dog, in days before he became
a serial Gringo Destroyer

     It was pointed out that I had a tetanus shot (hate shots), some type of anti-pain sedative, three pills, but not a prescription.   These pills were for things that really hurt, not like my pleasant hypochondrias.   The doctor and his wife (a nurse) were doing contract service for the State to update and provide the current batch of primary school urchins with their required  childhood vaccinations and inoculations.   They had advised someone, I still do not remember who, to tell  me to suffer and they would be out in the early morning of the next day....and they were..... with a neatly stocked van and a portable X-ray machine....The only thing they "shot" was my right big toe...revealing a chip off the tip bone (done swole up real big, Miz Jolly).   The knot on my right side was "probably a cracked rib"...."have you cough't up any blood?"  ...... the knot on the front right side of my head was about the size of a pullet egg (maybe a bit smaller)....and this took the longest time, because the doctor....who looked to be   seventeen years old...(he is actually 27) gazed long and hard into my right ear and even put a q-tip in looking for any trace of blood, I presume.     He told me that his wife....also either a doctor or perhaps a nurse....could take off my right big-toe toenail...but I told him that I had grown attached to it, and preferred long goodbye's in this case.   They also painted up a nasty abrasion of the right knee.   I remember letting everything move along in Spanish...and then changing over to English, just to see how the good doctor would react.   He did not miss a beat...speaking an accented form of text-book English mixed with some practice with literate people in McAllen and Central did his wife.
      When they were through they left....attended to their original, more official mission, and then came back in the afternoon to check on the Old Gringo.    When they had left I paid them what they asked....700 pesos....and told them they could use the guest room as a safe harbour, office, rest area, or whatever while they were out in the boondocks.   I think they could be heard returning later that day...but I was really in a cloud.....but their return late in the afternoon is remembered....because the routine with the Q-tip was repeated and a lot of stethoscope time was given over to the knot on my rib-cage.    "Drink CocaCola at room temperature, and take another of your pain pills at mid-night if you have to"....and then they left....after letting my inside cats in and feeding them.   The 700 pesos at that time was about 56 American dollars.
      For most of the time during and shortly after my regaining any coherence my recollection has been substantially cloudy.   I am very reactive to sedatives and have taken perhaps five in my lifetime...always due to significant minor injury.   So....what led to their arrival I am really still not perfectly clear....but they left behind a comfortable and repairing patient.   The toe, right knee, and the rib are still discoloured....but no longer painful except to the touch....and I am 99.9% whole.
     I noticed that they had used the guest room, left it spotless, and left a 50 peso note for the chambermaid who would have to re-dress the room.
     Now, you know the rest of the story.