The American healthcare system started this whole story. I was stuck in Eugene waiting to go to the Ducks' roasting at the Rose Bowl, and I needed my prescriptions for six months while I was in the remote. I went to my doctor, and he heard my story, giving me electronic prescriptions for everything.
When I went to the pharmacy however, I discovered that I had only gotten a few measley pills for each of my drugs. I confronted the pharmacist, and she said, " Your insurance only covers the drugs I gave you. I can fill out the prescriptions for six months, but it'll cost you hundreds -- and I do mean hundreds of dollars."
Since Mexican drugs cost the same in pesos as in American dollars in the USA, I decided to hold off. Today my stash was at low inventory mode and I had to go to the hospital for refills. Guillermo was available for translating, ready at 1:00 PM.
If you put all three hospitals in Cachania together, they might make a half of a hospital in a tiny town in Oregon. The Mexican hospital in the rural areas is definitely not the Mayo Clinic. I had been on a tour with a delegation of gringos who decided that it was in their self-interest to upgrade the facilities to the maximum extent. We're going to have someone from Doctors Without Borders tour the facility this April.
We climb the hill, and go into the tiny, cramped waiting room, and who do we discover there? My much hated neighbor Dony! If you're a rabid ONL reader you might recognize Dony from the sex scandal I wrote about last year involving a prominent politician. A few days ago, we had a major run-in with Dony's family when someone from his family compound across the street stole our wind chimes, sawing one tube up in the hopes of scoring some copper to support their crystal meth habit.
We got a restraining order from the police against the whole family, and I come into the hospital --- finding only one chair available and it's right next to Dony! I kept my Ray Bans on as I sat down beside him, and said "Buenos tardes, Dony" in my best unhappy Chicago gangster voice. Dony shrank to about two inches tall before he finally slithered out of the door after his father had received the hip X-ray he had come for. All the time Dony is holding his head in his hands, and he is probably thinking something like this in his drug-addled mind:
Secret Agent ONL has wired every house in Ejido Wonderful to monitor every whispered conversation. His team of Spanish translators in the NSA are feeding him choice tidbits as needed.
Agent 129 reports: "Attention, ONL. We've picked up a transmission stating that Dony is taking his father to the hospital at 1300."
ONL: "Roger, wilco 129. Can you get a visual track from the satellite and notify me when he's five minutes out of Cachania?
129: Will do. Estimated time of arrival is T-minus five minutes.
ONL: Notify Agent Guillermo Condition Red. We're moving.
ONL to Agent Guillermo: Lock and load, Guillermo.
Guillermo: Si, si generalismo.
Unfortunately, it was a coincidence.
Getting the prescriptions was a different thing entirely. After a one hour wait, I was finally ushered into the doctor's office. Imagine my surprise when I found out that there was not one doctor, but three in the room. Two looked like Doogy Howser. Their combined age was 28. The other doctor was old enough to have a thick Mexican mustache, and he was in his early 30s.
Although I had the feeling I might have been going through some kind of mental evaluation from the combined medical group as I discussed my prescription needs, why I was here, the problems with the American medical system, the cost of drugs, what kinds of food I liked in Mexico -- everybody was extremely friendly and helpful. It took time to figure out what drugs were available in Mexico, with two out of the five drugs requiring substitutions.
The drug that stood out was my generic version of Darvocet that I take when I have my severe muscle pains (not fibromyalgia, a myofacial condition) in the middle of the night. Dr. Doogy went through the Mexican version of the Merck Manuel ;) -- and he couldn't find anything.
Finally, the other Doogy spoke in English. "We have a very fine drug available at our hospital that is a much better pain reliever than Darvocet. This drug does not cause stomach problems, but it is very expensive. It costs about 1000 pesos or about $83 American."
I said, "No problem. There are lots of drugs that cost that much money in the United States. In fact many people pay tens of thousands of dollars each year for their medicine."
There was much palaver in Spanish, and we got ready to leave. As I went out the door, Guillermo took one of the prescriptions out of my hand and he headed for another part of the hospital. What the doctors had done is to put Guillermo's ID number on the prescription, and Guillermo obtained the medicine at the hospital for no charge, thus saving me 1000 pesos. His/my medicine was free.
And how did I pay for my one hour visit with three doctors? Ordinarily it would have cost me 200 pesos, but it was decided that there a greater need. The tienda across the street had closed due to the bad economy, and what the doctors really needed was some Coca-Cola and potato chips. We immediately went to the supermercado and bought 200 pesos worth of junk food that we returned to the grateful physicians.
On the way home, we discussed what Guillermo had gotten me as a substitute pain killer -- Cerebrex! Now I may be wrong, as I haven't consulted Wikipedia, but I believe that Cerebrex was pulled off of American pharmacy shelves due to its nasty little side effect of giving people heart attacks!
I told Guillermo that Cerebrex was yet another example of Yanqui imperialismo, as Pfizer had an overly large inventory of bad pain pills that it had to get rid of. The answer for them was to go to the time-tested Plan B of dumping the shit on unsuspecting national drug buyers all over Latin America, Africa, and Asia. A few $250 a plate dinners or $350 rounds of golf at some exclusive club and voila! Inventory reduction clearance sale with continued high profit margins. By this time the cost of manufacturing that rotten Cerebrex is zero, and Pfizer contributes to the overpopulation problem by killing off unsuspecting Third World citizens. Who said American capitalists don't have a social conscience?
Before I leave town, I think I'll leave my unopened packages of Cerebrex on Dony's property.