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.