The one-eyed Mexican

Photo taken yesterday shortly after returning home.

We must stop meeting like this. Bandaged up, I mean. Just last November I posted this photo from a hospital bed with much of my nose covered in bandages, which was mostly unnecessary, I later learned. And now it’s the eye.

But this was necessary. At least I hope so. Yesterday morning at 9:30 I arrived at the Clínica David in the nearby capital city for laser cataract surgery, not knowing exactly what to expect, but from what I had heard and read it didn’t seem to be a very big deal, procedure-wise. I did hope the outcome would be a very big deal, however, because I had developed serious problems with night vision, which is perilous for night driving.

Right on time I was taken near the operating room where I doffed all my duds minus my skivvies and socks and donned one of those hospital gowns. In the operating room I lay down on the surgical table, and I was covered with a warm blanket. It was chilly.

There were six other people there, including the anestheologist and my ophthamologist, Dr. Adolfo Chacón Lara, whose photo you can see on their website. Dr. Chacón has been my eye doctor for years.

The actual procedure lasted less than 10 minutes and was not uncomfortable in the slightest. I don’t know what sort of anesthesia I was given, but it did not seem to put me to sleep, but I think it did. Dr. Chacón told me to close my eyes, which I did, and I had the impression my eyes were closed during the entire procedure, which is impossible, of course.

I could lightly feel the work being done and the bandage being put in place. He then said everything had gone fine. The next thing I remember I opened my other eye, and a nurse helped me stand up. The doctor was nowhere in sight, pun intended.

I have another appointment today at noon to have the bandage removed. This is being written yesterday a couple of hours after we got home. When I return home today, with both eyes working, I’ll have a better idea of the results. If all goes well, and I imagine it will, I’ll repeat the procedure as soon as possible because I suspect my eyes won’t be in sync.

The work yesterday cost the peso equivalent of $1,400 U.S., as will the other eye. I imagine alterations will be needed for my glasses, both those I use daily and my prescription sunglasses, so the jury is still out cost-wise.


MEDICAL INSURANCE AT LAST

Related to this is my decision, after two decades in Mexico, to purchase medical coverage before my luck runs out. At age 76, I have long passed the point of any insurance company wanting to roll the dice on me, so I am enrolling in IMSS, one of the government plans, and my child bride, at the tender age of just 60, is signing up with MetLife.

The Metlife policy will cost the peso equivalent of $800 U.S. for the first year and will, I am told, go up every year. There is a deductible of about $5,000 U.S. and after that a copay of 10 percent. The policy pays up to approximately $568,000 U.S. or over 11 million pesos. You’d have to be very unlucky to reach that limit in Mexico.

In the United States, of course, it would be easy.

The IMSS coverage, on the other hand, has no deductible or peak. You’re in the caring arms of Uncle José. The annual cost at my age and up to 80 is about 14,000 pesos or $700 U.S. After age 80, it goes up somewhat but not much, and you’re at the last payment level.

Why don’t we both enroll in IMSS, which seems the far better deal? Because IMSS clinics and hospitals can be dicey, to put it mildly. It’s the government, for Pete’s sake. You might get great service, and you might get lousy service. With MetLife, you get private hospitals, many of which are excellent, and you get to choose where you go.

You get what you pay for. Were I under age 70, I would go with MetLife too. I do not anticipate using my IMSS coverage except in the most dire circumstances, finance-wise. I’ll continue with private physicians, paying out of my own pocket. But it’s good to have a safety net.

The two of us have completed the enrollment process, and my coverage starts on March 1. Her coverage does not have a specific date, but it’s about a month from now. Her application is in the paperwork pipeline.

Take note, Obama and Biden: Mexico does not force everyone into the government system. It is an option, nothing more, and it exists alongside an excellent private system.


(Note: Any typos you spot in this post are due to my writing it with just one eye.)

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.