My medical trifecta

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, bam, bam, bam! First it was a visit to my dermatologist, second came my ophthalmologist and lastly I saw my dentist.

My dermatologist checked a mole I spotted on my back via a mirror. I’ve had skin cancers over the decades, 40 or 50 eruptions. Yes, really. With one exception, a slightly more serious squamous cell carcinoma, they’ve all been basal cell carcinomas, a manageable form of cancer. You slice it out, and that’s the end of it.

Why do I have this problem so often? It started decades ago, and I imagine my youthful life as an unofficial sun worshiper in the sunny southeast of the United States played a role. If it wasn’t my bareback days on Florida beaches, it was my bareback motorcycle rides in Louisiana. Oh, the lovely suntans I sported. I could have passed for a “person of color” most summers, perhaps gotten into Harvard due to affirmative action. And a scholarship.

If Elizabeth “Pocahontas” Warren can do it, why not me?

I speak cracker dialect!

I have a good dermatologist here on the mountaintop, a young woman. She took me on time, no wait, concurred with my diagnosis, laid me flat on my stomach, and sliced it off. She asked if I wanted a biopsy, and I said no.

She left me with two stitches. The consultation and minor surgery cost about $90 U.S. I paid cash.


Tuesday afternoon, during our weekly shopping jaunt to the nearby state capital, I visited my ophthalmologist to ask about special glasses for night driving. I have mentioned here previously my failing night vision.

Turns out my problem is cataracts, especially in the right eye. The cataracts are not extreme. It only affects driving at night. I still see fairly well during the day though I have noticed it’s not like the olden days. So Tuesday next week, I’ll get laser surgery on the one eye. The one-eye cost, including an anesthesiologist, is the peso equivalent of $1,400 U.S., and I’ll pay cash.

An internet search reveals that the cost above the Rio Bravo runs about $5,000 to $6,000 and even up to $10,00 per eye. Another example of how Mexico is superior. I’ll report back next week after it’s done. I should see the keyboard better.

I’ll almost certainly do the other eye soon.


And lastly, today was the dental visit. I have a hygienist in the state capital who does the best cleanings I’ve received in my life, and during a visit recently she pointed out a cavity that needed excavating.

Instead of returning another day to the dentist she works with, I opted for my dentist here where I live, both for convenience and cost. Last week, she repaired the cavity, and set another appointment for today when she replaced two aging fillings with new resin, making me look fine because they were on my front teeth.

Price for the complete filling and the two replacements: the peso equivalent of $85 U.S., so again I paid cash. I am considering buying health insurance now, but who knows? I’ve been sailing fine without it for two decades. Maybe I should buy some before I die.

17 thoughts on “My medical trifecta

    1. Ricardo: I have decided to get insurance. Can get private coverage for my wife. It’s pricey, but not overly so. High deductible, but that’s okay. Alas, I am too old to get private coverage down here. Nobody will touch me, so I’ll get it from the government.

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  1. Felipe, re: cataracts. I’ve had them in both eyes, and my VA doc replaced the lenses rather than oblate with a laser. As the surgery I had gives you 20/20 distance, you WILL need reading glasses! Not sure if the laser affects the eye the same way. Nevertheless, recovery is a walk in the park, and basically pain-free! Best wish for a swift recovery! Cheers!

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    1. Dan: From everything I’ve read about it, the procedure seems one of the best things about modern medical technology. I am optimistic. I’ll leave the office with an eye patch Tuesday, return the next day and have it removed. I asked the doctor if I would need new glasses. He said maybe. I suspect that was a Mexican response which means yes.

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  2. I am rather agnostic on the topic. I spent most of my life without medical insurance and never felt the need to buy it, probably for the same reason that I am not a casino fan. But I do have some coverage. My Air Force retirement package includes a type of medical insurance. I can be reimbursed for medical bills in foreign countries at the rate of 75% less some deductible. In the past three years, I have received exactly zero reimbursement for the few medical bills I have submitted. It is almost like not having any insurance.

    Because I do not pay a premium for that insurance, it appears to be free. It isn’t. Because I am over 65, the military insurance remains in effect only if I pay the part B Medicare premium — which, of course, is absolutely useless in Mexico on its own. The government reduces my social security check each month by $480 for coverage that currently is somewhat useless to me.

    To be fair, the two times I used emergency room services in The States, Medicare and Tricare combined to pay all of my expenses. That probably was good for two years of premiums. And I was reimbursed about $4000 (US) for my 2009 ziplining accident.

    So, for me, IMSS would probably not be a good investment. We will see what the current administration does with health care. Military health care has often been a target in medical insurance reforms. I may need to look at other options if that occurs.

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    1. Señor Cotton: Sounds like your coverage works at times and at other times no.

      That you spent most of your life without medical insurance is one thing. However, these days medical costs have skyrocketed, so I think maybe it’s time for me. Of course, they have not skyrocketed in Mexico nearly as much as above the border, as if anyone knows what medical costs are above the border.

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  3. Felipe: I had the same symptoms as you do at night while driving. And I also found that I had cataracts. The surgery is a piece of cake, 20 minutes, tops, for the surgery itself. Two hours for the whole thing. No pain, and I drove the car the next day. I would suggest that you get the “near and far” vision lenses put in. When the nurse asked me, “Do you want to see clearly in the distance and wear glasses to read, or do you want to wear glasses to see distance?”, I replied “Both.” She told me that they didn’t do that, but I knew better. Not many folks do that due to the extra cost. There are lenses available that let you see both near and far. Two of my friends had earlier had both put in and swore that that was the only way to go (if you could pay the extra fee). Insurance only pays for one or the other, and you have to pay extra for the good lenses. (The insurance company says that the premium lenses are “cosmetic.”) But you are going to pay cash, I assume, so check out the good lenses. Mine are Abbott ZXR00 and Abbott ZXT225 One being different due to some astigmatism in one eye. I wore glasses for over 60 years, and it feels great not to have to wear them anymore! Although I do use a cheap pair of reading glasses if the print is very, very small or the light is very dim. I read a lot of books and am outside most of the day, and it’s great to be able to do all that without glasses. The extra $10,000 (in the U.S.) for both premium lenses was well worth it!

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  4. Felipe: You might want to call your doctor on it before Tuesday. The doctor may have to special order the premium lenses. He had to for mine since they don’t keep them in stock because most folks (actually almost all) do not opt for them. But be prepared for some changes after you have the surgery. Colors are much brighter, and butter looks a lot less “yellow”!

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  5. Have you signed up for the covid vacine? People over 60 can now register. the link is: mivacuna.salud.gob.mx

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    1. Antonio: We tried that — I imagine it was the same URL — a couple of days ago. Did not work at all. I just dialed it up, and the first page appeared, asking for my CURP, so that was a little progress. I typed the numbers, confirmed I was not a robot, and it went to the next page where it said: Sin respuesta. There was no way to proceed. I tried my wife’s CURP twice, and mine once. Went nowhere. So, it works about as well as the original Obamacare website in the U.S. and about as well as the ALMO administration in general.

      Maybe they’ll get the bugs worked out later.

      If you are 60-plus, did it work for you?

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  6. Actually it works quite well. Keep trying. The sin respuesta return may happen once or twice. It happened to me also. It is best to open the site in a new window if that happens. I signed up several elders of our family last evening with little trouble.

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  7. From your previous post, I was pretty sure it was cataracts. Every thing is fine, then suddenly it isn’t. Welcome to old age.
    When it happened to me, I had no idea what was wrong. Finally, I went to the doctor and found out.
    I had been saving money for radial keratotomy which my insurance wouldn’t cover. But they did cover the cataract surgeries. It was found money to me.
    After the first surgery, I realized how tacky and dirty the house was.
    There is a downside to every thing.

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