My night in a hospital

Not since I was 19 years old have I spent a night in a hospital. That was 57 years ago when I was in the Air Force with mononeucleosis, which is normally not an affliction that requires hospitalization, but in the Air Force you either work or you’re hospitalized. There is no staying in your barracks bed till you feel better.

And it was my first-ever hospital stay in Mexico. I would rate it C-minus at best, and if I had it to do over again I would go to a different facility here on the mountaintop.

Yesterday morning, I blew my nose. It was a normal nose-blowing, not that strong but sufficient to clear the nasal passages. That was when the problem started.

My nose began to bleed, and I don’t mean what you normally get with a nosebleed. Oh, no! It was a gusher. Think of those movies when Freddy Krueger slices someone in the jugular vein, and the blood starts spewing. Mine was not spewing, thank the Goddess, but it was flowing like Niagara. It was blood galore! A bloodbath.

I jumped up and stuffed a wad of toilet paper up the hole. The paper rapidly turned red. Half an hour later, thinking I had staunched the flow, I tried to change the toilet paper. It started again. Blood all over the place. It was a sight to behold.

This was not my first rodeo. About two years ago the same thing happened. I stuffed toilet paper tightly in my nose and went to a local clinic/hospital called Clinica de Pátzcuaro, which is a very good place, but they have no emergency room as such, which is almost the sole reason I did not go there Monday, an error.

At that facility, two years ago, a doctor stuffed a string of gauze about a mile long up my nose and sent me home. He neglected to tell me anything about removing it. I waited a week and pulled it out, and all was well.

Last week, I had the same problem. I shoved toilet paper up my nose, and within a couple of hours, the geyser ended, and all was well … I thought. Till yesterday.

I went to this other clinic/hospital, which is relatively new here on the mountaintop. It appears to be a modern facility, and it has a 24-hour emergency room. Once again, a mile of gauze was crammed up my nose. I was told to return in three days to have it removed. Within two hours at home, the blood overwhelmed the gauze and started to flow again.

I returned to that emergency room. A different doctor was on call. She pulled out the bloody gauze, sprayed something to inhibit the bleeding, which the first doctor had not done, and shoved another mile of gauze up my nose. I went home.

A couple of hours later, the bleeding began to overwhelm the plug yet again. We drove back to the same place, having decided that staying overnight in the hospital was the wisest move at that time, so that’s what happened. What I needed, I was told, was a ear-nose-throat specialist who could cauterize the raging vein in my nose.

There is a ear-nose-throat man at the other clinic, but not at where I had chosen to stay. They had one on call in the nearby state capital, but she wouldn’t come till the next day.

I was installed in a decent-enough room. It had a single hospital bed, and a recliner for the family member to use, which is standard in Mexico where relatives normally spend nights with patients. It’s often a recliner, but it can also be a second bed for the family member.

Immediately, I was connected with a machine that recorded my heart rate. It made a loud BOING, BOING, BOING when my heart rate was above average, which it was fairly often because I was not a happy camper. After about an hour of the damn racket, I told the nurse to disconnect it, which she did with no argument.

I was charged for that gizmo.

I was also immediately given a serum drip, which was stuck into my arm. I saw no need for that, but they said it was to replenish what I had lost through my nose, or something like that. Those things really restrict your movements. After about an hour, I was fed up, and I told the nurse to disconnect it, which she did with no argument.

I was charged for the drip.


The mystery pill

I received a supper which strictly adhered to the famous hospital-boring-fare reputation. Around 8 p.m. I asked the nurse if I could have a pill to help me sleep that night since I knew I would not sleep well due to the circumstances. I asked if my wife could have one too. No problem. Around 10 we got the pills, which began the most bizarre element of the entire experience.

We slept like the dead, both of us. At 7:30 I woke up, needing to pee. My child bride was still out cold in the recliner next to me. I had difficulty standing. I was reeling like Dean Martin on a bender. I could barely walk in a straight line. Peeing was a challenge, and I stumbled back to bed. My wife was not in much better condition, walking-wise.

What on earth was that tiny “sleeping pill” they gave us both?

I asked three or four times, but I never got a straight answer.


At last, a solution

Finally, as promised, the ear-nose-throat specialist arrived at 4 p.m. from the state capital. She seemed quite competent, explained the issue well, and cauterized the offending vein in my nose, which was not as unpleasant as you might expect. My nostril was cleared of gauze and bandages.

I’ll be doing a follow-up with her in a week or so at her office in the state capital. Interestingly, she is also a plastic surgeon. We finally escaped around 6 p.m., drove to a street taco stand for a late lunch, and then drove home in my child-bride’s Nissan.

She took over my evening salad-making duties because I still had trouble walking in a straight line. Same for her but less. We turned on a Netflix movie, which neither of us recall watching because we were still bonkers from the sleeping pills. Finally, we stumbled off to bed. This morning, we both felt normal.

Next time we have a health emergency we’ll be heading to the other clinic, a really nice, privately run facility popularly known as the Clinca de Pátzcuaro. It’s a modern clinic run by a family of doctors of different specialties. We’ve been going there for the five or so years since it opened. Should have gone yesterday, but hindsight is 20-20, an accurate axiom.


P.S. I was the sole patient in the entire hospital during my overnight stay. Total cost for the overnight was 15,000 pesos, about $700 U.S., and that did not count the two previous emergency-room visits which were about $35 U.S. each. To give them their credit, I was given a chest X-ray, blood work, urine analysis, etc., all of which indicated I’m in better-than-average condition for my age. But none of that stuff had squat to do with my nosebleed. They also said Sunday night they were going to give me an electrocardiogram yesterday, but it seems it was forgotten, missing another opportunity to pad the bill.

38 thoughts on “My night in a hospital

    1. Marco: A baby aspirin daily, which is about one-fourth of a regular aspirin, has been part of my daily routine for a long time. However, I quit doing that a month or so ago. I do not think I will resume it either. I got a colonoscopy almost three years ago, and it presented a problem with doing the procedure because my blood was thin. They gave me a shot of vitamin K, and that improved my situation, so the colonoscopy was done. Also, during the second emergency room visit yesterday, I was given a shot of vitamin K too. Forgot to mention that.

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    1. Thirsty: It wasn’t a nightmare, but it was very unpleasant indeed. Well, at least till I got adequately plugged. As for “to go” pills, I sure would not have wanted to take another of those pills they gave us.

      Don’t know why your comment went to moderation. Should not have, of course.

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  1. Welcome to old age. The doctor who told me to take an aspirin every day now says not to. That was then, this is now. Everything changes, but nothing changes.

    Good luck!

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    1. Señor Gill: A year or so ago I asked my regular internist about the daily baby aspirin. He recommended six months on, six months off. But I’ve decided to stop entirely.

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  2. Glad you are out of the hospital and feeling better, Felipe! Take care of yourself! I LOVE the cost of Mexican medical care! The U.S. could learn a few things from them if they can get the greedy insurance agencies and medical corporation owners out of that business!!!

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    1. Thanks, Mike. Just a simple overnight above the border would have cost far more, I am sure. As for improving the situation in the U.S., that’s not likely to happen with the Democrats in charge. It will be business as usual.

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  3. I’m glad you are home and well. Reading about your experience sort of parallels what I just went through with losing three teeth. The bleeding wouldn’t stop, and that huge ball of blood-soaked gauze in my mouth was awful. In the post-surgery instructions they suggested soak a tea bag in ice water, then place it on the gum. Of course, I didn’t have any. So at 5 p.m. I knocked on the door of a neighbor, and they did have a box of tea bags. Surprisingly, that did control it, so I didn’t have to worry about falling asleep with that awful ball of gauze in my mouth. It’s been over a week, and I still have a little swelling, but no bleeding. Thank Goodness. Phil in Phoenix.

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    1. Phil: Yipes, that sounds about as grim as my situation. I’ve read often about the tea bag solution. Never tried it because I never had cause to. Interesting that it worked so well. I’ll file that away in my sagging mind somewhere. Thanks. Any sort of tea does it?

      I don’t know why your comment went to moderation. Should not have, of course. Second time today.

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  4. The ketamines you were likely given are a patient management tool, keeping patients from asking annoying questions, making unreasonable demands like asking for a glass of water, and otherwise disturbing the understaffed night shift. But the important thing is that you’re back home and underfoot.

    And refrain from blowing your nose. A simply wipe on your sleeve should be a lot safer.

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    1. Ms. Shoes: Ketamine, you think? Maybe. As for blowing my nose, won’t be doing that with any force anytime soon. A gentle breeze will do it, or it won’t be done. However, when there’s a big ball of snot up your nose, wiping the sleeve does nothing. FYI.

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        1. Kim: I thought this was a typo of some sort till I looked into it. It’s for sale on Amazon MX, and has lots of positive reviews. Cheap. Think I’ll buy one. Thanks. I’ve been doing something similar with a normal glass and warm salt water for years. Very helpful.

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  5. Sorry to hear about all that, Felipe. Nice to hear you’re back home. When I was a kid I used to have nosebleeds every few days (not kidding). I could usually stop them not by putting a mile of gauze up my nose but squeezing my nose with a Kleenex for 10-20 minutes in a resting position. I had veins in my nose cauterized many times. Thankfully, I outgrew that and have had very few nosebleeds since. Now due to a cardiac arrhythmia that was discovered a year ago I am on a blood thinner and some other pill. Not fun but that is the price of aging, I guess. My blood still clots but maybe not as quickly. Better than getting a heart attack or stroke. I hope you are feeling better and this doesn’t happen again. Take care when blowing your nose.

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    1. Brent: There are nosebleeds and then there are nosebleeds. What I had was beyond belief. The ear-nose-throat doc gave me some tips. She said if it happens again, keep the head down, not up as is often suggested, and squeeze the nostrils about two-thirds down as tight as possible between a finger and thumb. Keep it squeezed a minimum of five minutes but 10 minutes would be better. I did not do that when the problem erupted. Live and learn.

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      1. I agree with your doctor. That did the trick for me when I was young and I had a few gushers. You don’t want to have your head inclined backwards too much or the blood will go down your throat. If 5-10 minutes doesn’t work then go another 5-10. Not fun but you usually don’t lose that much blood even if it looks like lots. Just don’t get it on your favourite shirt! All the best.

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        1. Brent: For some inexplicable reason, with all the blood flowing, not a drop got on any of my clothing. The floor, the bathroom counter, the bathroom wall, the toilet rim, yes, but not a drop on my snappy attire. Otherwise, it looked like a Halloween movie around here.

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  6. Glad you are home safe and sound, Felipe. I have never had a nosebleed in my life, but I remember kids in grade school got them regularly. Did it make you dizzy to lose all that blood so quickly? Praying that that’s the end of that and hoping you are good to go without another episode. That floors me about the cost of health care in Mexico. Take care of yourself and tell your wife (CB) to do the same.

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    1. Hola, Annette! Thanks for the best wishes. Never had a nosebleed in your life? That’s incredible. Lucky too.

      Did it make me dizzy? Not at all. Actually, it was rather odd in that I normally have a very weak stomach when it comes to blood, mine and other people’s. I could never be a surgeon or a mercenary. But when it was pouring out of me like Niagara Falls, it did not make me queasy in the slightest. It was just lots of red paint. I was surprised. I handled it like champ.

      Yeah, Mexican healthcare is great. You should all move south. That’s my recommendation. I haven’t had medical insurance in 19 years.

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  7. I’m glad you are on the mend, I also can’t say anything bad about healthcare in Mexico. Emergency room visit was 250 pesos and recommended that I wait to see if my problem went away. The doctor said no sense in wasting money.

    Only had a couple of nosebleeds when I was younger, I tended to talk when I should have been listening, usually alcohol was Involved. Take care of yourself.

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    1. Kirk: Healthcare is way up there in the many reasons to live down here. For readers above the border, 250 pesos is about ten bucks. Pretty good price for an emergency room visit. Depends on where you go. I’ve paid as little as $2 for an emergency visit. And some drugstores that have doctors on site will charge nothing for a consultation if you buy the prescription from them.

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  8. I hesitate to mention it, but when I was a kid, I had a lot of nosebleeds. We would put a nickle between my lower lip and the gum. It was supposed to stop it. Some times it did, and some times it didn’t. Nosebleeds occur when the nasal membranes dry out. The old folks used to keep a coffee can of water on the gas heaters. That kept the air moist. But in Arizona, we have a lot of dry air all most all the time.

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  9. May you have a speedy recovery and never a relapse.

    Saludos,

    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    Where I’m a former nosebleed victim too. Hope it never comes back.

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  10. Wow. Sorry for that experience, but glad you’re home and that you’ve recovered. Take it easy and resume your normal routine gradually, perhaps. Perry

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    1. Perry: Just found your comment in the Trash file. Got no idea why it went there.

      Yeah, the hospital experience was not fun and, as a bit of time has passed, and I made a visit yesterday to a different ear-nose-throat doctor here in town who had a very different view of the situation, and treatment, it’s become crystal clear that the hospital overnighter was a complete, and rather costly, waste of time.

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        1. John: The U.S. healthcare system is a mess, as you surely know. Ours is much better, but still it’s possible to get inadequate/bad care. With a few days of hindsight, I have decided that the second doctor there is incompetent. Our system is great, but you have to know what you’re doing, get good recommendations. One reason I went to the place was to give it a test run. It’s a relatively new facillty here in town, modern. No matter. It failed.

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          1. The USA healthcare industrial complex is pure crap. Nobody wins except for the giant companies that profit off people being sick. Sharon and I have signed up for Medicare. My ridiculously high monthly premiums are coming to an end.

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