Postcards from Ecotopia

old new lefty

old new lefty
alienation, discontent
September 16
Making trouble whenever possible
virgin novelist, middle school teacher for the morally handicapped, government bureaucrat, most famous unknown photographer in LA, PhD dropout, coat hanger sorter, presidential campaign worker, sewer worker, and retired guy -- but not in that order.


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FEBRUARY 24, 2010 11:57PM

Mexican Medical Melodramas!

Rate: 22 Flag

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.

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funny stuff if it weren't so sad this side of the border. beautiful writing on a critical issue, thanks
Mexican medical care: words to fear!
I haven't gone to Mexico in years, and it sounds like I oughta. It doesn't appear you need any help with Dony. About the only thing I need besides a lovely senorita is mebbe some dental work, eventually, as I don't use prescription drugs; but I'd like to make a pitch to increase your contingent by one more gringo from Ashland. buenos noches, amigo and thanks for the aid.
Baby where I am in Mexico, there is NO resemblemce of health care of any kind. Leeches would be an improvement.....
I am going to retire in Mexico, ONL. It is settled. xox
Sounds like the VA I go too! I was on Celebrex and Vioxx until they took them off the shelf. The problem was if you already had a heart condition, they "might" contribute to a heart trouble. People with nothing wrong with their hearts were OK. Darvacets are just weak painkillers. I have to take a time-release pain medicine along with percs to stop the breakout pain. I'm checking with the VA to see if I can have my meds shipped to me, if I move to Mexico, El Mafia Bossman, hah!
Fascinating and depressing.Rated.
I am still working on getting my husbands medicare worked out, there mistake not mine. The VA doesn't have a prescription for Acifex so tried my pharmacy with his old #s from before no insurance. $230. to fill it. It's still sitting on the shelve I told them I would come back later.
It is sad that we can't stop these greedy bastards from killing some and taking food from others so they can line their pockets. I hope hell is really, really hot!
Old new lefty, I think you hit the nail on the head here with your post and in particular: "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."
I tried to get a allergy Rx updated yesterday. Turns out my Doctor is gone and the doctor's office has relocated to another town. I make an appointment and drive to the other town and... Stand in line (the few folding chair seatsd were taken) for over an hour (with an appointment). Never did see a doctor or get an Rx as I walked out in a huff.

Mexico. Arizona. Not much difference that I see.
So things are a joke everywhere..
Great post, Secret Agent ONL. And just more proof that there's a lot of scum working for Big Pharma.
But just remember what Stephen Colbert told a Canadian politician who said drugs are cheaper in Canada, "You get what you pay for, so we must have the best!"
Met a man here in Florida who is homeless here a few weeks ago.
He had no insurance and no doctor. Had been in a car wreak.
Was inquiring about the price of Lortab to the homeless man sitting on the sidewalk in front of me. $7.
No doctor, no insurance and buys his meds off the street.
Welcome to both sides of the border here.

I don't know why I am telling this but it sure seems relevant here. I don't see what is happening in Mexico is much different than the US Lefty, just a unexpected change or twist.
I don't know which is preferable . . . but the Mexican medical doesn't sound too scary . . .
Your ending shows an slightly evil side which I much appreciate. Got hurt in Mexico and they fixed me right up at no cost. The drug companies are something else; pawning off dangerous drugs to the third world. I hope there is a hell for them.
All that for just some junk food? AWESOME!! :)
What a great story, and you tell it with just the right tinge of sarcasm. And while you rightly point out the problems with the American system, you also point out the danger with the Mexican system -- that is, its proximity to "buitres del norte".

The Doogie's were obviously to fresh from med school to have caught up with the news that vulture capitalists pass around all kinds of poison. Ah, America, when will we ever learn that the bst way to regulate banksters, legalized dope-peddlers and other crapitalists is a speedy trial and an even speedier execution?
TV has discovered Mexico. A few weeks back, "60 Minutes" ran a piece on Mexican public health care, which was quite positive; in fact, it was aimed at Americans retiring their and signing up, for a pittance, into this plan. Some talk of banning that if too many Americans indulge.

Then, I've discovered "House Hunters International", which follows people getting a house in a foreign city. Mostly they've been in Europe, but two episodes have been in Merida. Not Baja, but the Yucatan. And not vacation places, but relos, and the folks set to work being artists and the like. I guess there's not no prohibition with work permits and such.

But I do wonder about health care; not so much that it is "primitive" if it's not in the USofA, but access and cost. Aetna and Medicare won't pay.

As to killing of the lower classes, tobacco has been doing that for decades. The problem is that we need to kill a billion or two of rich folk to get the ecological balance back. Or we could nuke Shanghai.
As someone with lupus and fibro, I am frequently on anti-inflammatories. Celebrex was pulled off the market but is back in the US as it was decided (or someone was bribed) that the benefits outweigh the risk. I personally found cheaper drugs which I thought worked infinitely better than celebrex and didn't have as many bad side effects. My biggest issue now is problems with ulcers many anti-inflammatories cause. A really bad one landed me in the hospital a couple of years ago.

You might try a more natural approach such as taking a daily tea of either feverfew (which has nothing to do with fevers but everything to do with pain, especially headaches), or white willow bark (of which aspirin is made.) Teas tend to work if you simply take them daily. Taking them at the onset of symptoms doesn't do as much.

One thing to remember, all NSAIDS have risks - not just Celebrex. They all can cause death as well, usually related to haemorrhages. This risk shoots up dramatically for those over 75. Often, ulcers precede this. It's also important to remember that the "little purple pill" (Prevacid) has been shown to land people in nursing homes because it inhibits calcium being absorbed and leads to severely broken bones. I've found it's in my best interests to avoid NSAIDS as much as possible by trying other supplements. Keep in mind, though, if you have problems with chronic inflammation, this can also lead to heart attack and other problems.

Thanks for the information.
I almost hate to make the postscript on this story. All my prescriptions cost 430 pesos.
Sadly, the Cerebrex probably won't kill Dony. As I recall, it was guilt by association with Vioxx, and it wasn't clear ultimately that Vioxx caused heart attacks, either. But with any luck, he'll overdose.

I would be pissed if I got Cerebrex as a substitute for Darvocet. Probably should have gotten Vicodin or Percocet or something like that. Sorry to hear about your myofacial stuff.