Good Friday road trip

Dishwasher in the restaurant.

We took a drive this afternoon and ate in one of our favorite restaurants on the northwest side of our huge, high-mountain lake. I had a plate of fried shrimp and my child bride ate mojarra. She deemed it great, but I never order things that come to me with eyeballs.

The restaurant overlooks our lake and, as we were leaving, I took this shot.

There are worse places to live.

Returning to the Hacienda, about a 30-minute drive on a two-lane, rural highway, we passed some interesting places. Outside a town called Tzintzuntzan — can you say that? — is a business of stone-cutters. And then farther on, a business that sells wood stuff. It’s fun to look at these things and see how imaginative people are, especially the stone workers.

Now that’s a lot of rock. This shows about 15 percent of what’s there.
Not sure I’d want this fellow in my yard, but there’s someone over his right shoulder who’s praying for him. This guy looks like I felt when Trump “lost” the election.
Wood, wood, wood! I like wood, but I like stone more.

There are lots of these types of businesses in our neck of the Mexican woods. It’s one of the many reasons to live here. Plus big plates of fried shrimp and mojarra.

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.

Old-style living

line

I WAS HANGING these socks, jeans and towels on the clothesline today when it occurred to me that people north of the Rio Bravo likely don’t do this anymore. You’re all modern and such. Got your gadgets.

When we built the house, we had a gas connection installed there in what Mexicans call the “service patio” in case we ever bought a gas dryer, but we’ve never bought a dryer, 15 years now. We line-dry.

It’s no big deal, and it’s free.

We do have a washer. Same one we purchased 15 years ago.

Sharp eyes may notice two propane tanks. The big one was installed when we built the house, but about two years ago it developed issues, so we bought a new one, the smaller. Next January, we’ll have the big one hauled away.

It’s 99 percent empty.

The manufacturers recommend a shelf date for those things, about a decade. That surprised me. I thought they were good indefinitely, and they likely are used indefinitely by most people if there are no problems.

But we had problems.

When I was a kid in Florida, I recall my mother hanging clothes on a line in the backyard. We had no dryer. I don’t recall a washer either. She must have done them by hand. It was nice seeing white sheets blowing in the wind.

Like in the movies.

Doing the propane shuffle

gas
“The guy” and his son install the new propane tank, left, on Friday.

I’M A GAS MAN, and I’ve been a gas man since long before I flew over the Rio Bravo to settle down. I don’t like electric stoves, for instance, and can’t imagine why anyone would use one when there is a gas option.

Gas is cheaper, and you can fine-tune the gas flame far better than you can adjust the heat on an electric burner. Quicker too.

When I lived in Texas, our house received gas from God knows where via buried pipes. Water came the same way. Both were metered, and you paid for what you used.

In Texas, and New Orleans before that, my stoves were gas as were space heaters and water heaters. Gas is the way to go. Cheap, clean, explosive. Nothing’s perfect.

When we constructed the Hacienda 15 years ago, I bought about the biggest residential propane tank you ever see. It holds 500 liters. I filled it when it needed filling, but otherwise I gave the thing little thought.

About a year ago, the gizmo that measures how much gas is in the tank decided to quit working. This is problematical. I began winging it, guessing. Recently, I had a plumber over, told him about the issue, and he asked how old the tank was.

He said that it’s a good idea to replace them every 10 to 15 years, something about the interior welding that can go bad. So instead of replacing the meter, which would have been a special order, time-consuming, and the tank was nearly empty, I bought a new tank.

They’re not that expensive.

It’s smaller, holding 300 liters instead of the 500 the bigger tank holds.

I’ll be using the smaller tank exclusively, so I can either let the big one sit there forever, or I can have it removed. I’ll likely do the latter although that’s going to be a bear. The only way out is through the kitchen, dining room and living room.

The tanks are in an interior patio.

I’d prefer to have the big tank empty before hauling it through the house. Since the meter is broken, the only way to judge the quantity is by knocking on the side with your knuckles. It’s sounded empty for weeks, but we’re still using its gas.

But it will run out one day soon, and I’ll just switch to the other tank, which I had filled yesterday from a tanker truck.

The plumber rigged the copper pipes and connections so that I can fill either tank separately from an outside connection on the street, and I can send the gas into the house from either tank too, separately.

Excellent Mexican design.