My five dentists

Dr. Silva’s office. My old Honda on the corner yesterday.

As I have three water heaters, I have five dentists.

When I arrived in the state capital more than 21 years ago, among the first things I looked for was a dentist. A Gringo couple I met at the language school recommended a woman dentist, and she was exceptional. Even after moving to my mountaintop town eight months later, I continued with the same dentist until 2014.

Why did I abandon her? She became scandalously pricey. By 2014 she was charging 1,250 pesos for a standard cleaning. That is high today, and it was even more so seven years ago. I asked around, and a friend recommended a dentist named Baltazar Silva. He was charging half the other dentist’s price for a cleaning, and the cleaning was better.

Silva has a woman dentist working for him who does mostly cleanings, and she does better cleanings than anyone I’ve ever encountered in my life. I thought she was a dental hygienist till about two years ago when I heard someone refer to her as doctor. I asked her if she were a dentist. She said yes.

So, a dentist employed by another dentist. I imagine she simply did not have the finances to open her own practice, or she just prefers less hassle in her life, which her own practice would entail.

She’s been working with Dr. Silva for about 20 years, so it’s not a temporary situation.

Coincidentally, the first dentist also employed a dentist, but the employee was young, and I think it was a temporary gig. Above the border, I never encountered a dentist employing another dentist for any reason. Maybe it’s a Mexican thing.

Silva is a tall, good-looking guy and a superlative dentist. In addition to normal upkeep, he’s given me one implant and four to my child bride, all expertly done and reasonably priced. Oddly, however, he does not do root canals. For that, he sends patients to a nearby specialist.

That’s his office in the top photo. Do you notice something strange? That is correct. There is no indication of any sort that it’s a dental office. He is purely word of mouth.

Not even in the Yellow Pages.

My mountaintop dental office where there is a sign.

Truth be told, I’ve long wished for an equally talented dentist in my mountaintop town, purely for convenience, and I’ve tried two or three here over the years, but Silva was always far better.

But a couple of years ago, a cap fell off a tooth, and I walked to a dental office I’d noticed downtown simply to have it glued back on. It was, from the street, a humble looking establishment.

A woman dentist ushered me in, and glued the cap in place. I was surprised at the office because the entrance and tiny waiting room were very misleading. Inside there are three modern work areas and lots of high-tech gear, more than Silva has. There are three work areas because there are three dentists, siblings with different specialties.

The woman and two younger brothers.

They even have their own laboratory in the rear, staffed by one or more technicians, where they make their own dental gear. And the woman dentist, unlike Silva, does root canals.

So I’ve found a local dentist where you sometimes get three for the price of one. She consults with her brothers. I let her do a cleaning once, and it was adequate but not even close to the loony thoroughness of the lady doctor at Silva’s place. So I still drive to the state capital for cleanings.

Plus if I ever need another implant, I’ll return to Silva even though one of the local siblings does implants too. Actually, I would return to Silva for anything big-league. I just have lots of faith in him.

View from inside the waiting room, which is where I was today.

Stuff I’ve lost

Enjoying an espresso on the plaza after the dentist visit.

—–

We were watching a television series last night on Netflix when someone started to dine on a TV dinner. It occurred to me that I’ve never seen a TV dinner south of the border, and I liked TV dinners. I know they’re not haute cuisine or a great bowl of Vietnamese pho, but I’m a simple fellow, and I liked TV dinners, past tense.

That got me to thinking. Just recently, I remembered those cinnamon rolls that come in a cardboard cylinder with a spiral seam, the things you whack against a counter edge to open. Bake and serve. I liked them too, and I’ve never seen them down where I am now.

I wonder what other cheap pleasures I’ve lost, things I’ve yet to notice, like those TV dinners last night.

—–

At 4:30 today, I went to the dentist. I’m getting a new crown after a root canal. She’s a lady dentist whose office is just two blocks off the main downtown plaza. She shares space with two brothers who are also dentists, so you get three for the price of one at times.

She’s the oldest of the three, and one brother is named Fidel.

They have different specialties. It’s a very modern establishment with its own lab where they make whatever needs to be made so you look right. Though my dentist just turned 40, she looks about 25, and she has two kids. She’s named Torres. Doctora Torres to you.

Dr. Torres has a strange way of working. She does a little bit, then she schedules another visit. When you return for the next visit, she does a little bit more, then schedules another visit. So her work, which most dentists would do in two or three visits, can spread out for weeks. But it doesn’t cost more. It’s just her style. She’s meticulous.

Or something like that.

So, not surprisingly, my visit today was brief. When I left, it had been pouring rain, but it had stopped. I leaped across part of a river-filled street and aimed for the main plaza where I sat at a sidewalk table, ordered an espresso and watched people passing by. There were lots of folks for a Wednesday.

We must be in a vacation period. Every day is vacation for me.

From pain to gain

Pase ud. basically means “come on in.” We bought him from a muffler place ages ago.

I woke at 5 a.m. with a dreadful toothache, the worst I’ve ever had that just appeared by itself. It’s not that it was so bad but more that I’ve rarely had toothaches because I do preventive care. I took a Tylenol and wondered if I would go back to sleep. I did.

Toothaches are bad enough without also feeling grumpy from lack of sleep.

At 9 a.m. I phoned my dentist in the nearby capital city. Be there at 11:30, I was instructed, so both of us showered, dressed, ate oatmeal and hopped into the Honda.

It wasn’t a bad problem. Probably, the dentist said. Appears that I somehow put too much pressure on the area during the night, and my age (drat!) allowed the tooth to shift a tad against its neighbor. He gave me a mild anesthetic, shaved a bit of enamel off here and there, and it was significantly better, but not gone entirely.

If it’s not back to normal in three days, the dentist said, I’ll likely need a root canal because the issue will not have been what he initially believed. I hope it won’t come to that. I don’t remember more than one root canal before moving to Mexico, but I’ve had quite a few since. All quite painless and inexpensive.

We then went grocery shopping and ate lunch at our favorite tacos ahogados (drowned tacos) place. My tooth comported itself fairly well, which made me happy.

We drove back up the mountainside, unloaded our vittles, chilled a bit with Grey’s Anatomy, and drove downtown in separate cars. She went to the gym, and I sat at a sidewalk table with my Kindle and a coffee.


Tomorrow our plumber comes (probably) to install a new solar water heater on the roof. It will be our third solar heater. Call me a glutton for punishment and/or a dunce because the first two didn’t work for squat. More on that in a few days.

Election Day arrives in less than two weeks. Lots of nationwide campaigning going on, signs and flags all over the place, horns tooting, some candidates and current officeholders being shot dead, the usual Latino stuff. I’ll be voting for candidates who have no connection to the race-baiting MORENA party of our doofus president.

Pray for us. But if you’re in the United States, you’d better pray for yourselves. At least our president knows where he is and his own name.


What’s the photo up top got to do with any of this? Nothing. I just noticed the view when I drove through the Hacienda gate, and I took a shot for the heck of it.

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.)