But to my current dilemma. What the h--- am I going to do? This is just a finger for goodness’ sake! Except we don’t realize how balanced the human body is until we lose the use of some part of it. Our eldest son broke his big toe and had to hobble around in a foot cast for weeks. Our middle son badly smashed his pinky and could barely function for weeks.
So, do I go to the local hospital here in this small Yucatecan city? How do I look for a doctor? Head to a larger centre? Unfortunately, Spanish is not our mother tongue. A distinct disadvantage especially when seeking medical help.
Fortunately, our neighbour and landlady, Carmen, speaks Spanish of course. And English. So, in a moment of desperation, I ask Carmen if she knows of a general doctor who can see me. I wave my distraught (middle) finger in the air at her. She does not take my gesture the wrong way.
She nods. Disappears into her home; a short time later she texts, “Dr. Leonardo told me he can come first thing tomorrow morning to see you.”
My mouth is locked open. Did she text “come to see you”? She did. But only because she knows some doctors who actually ‘do’ home visits.
We are about to learn the subtle ways of medicine in Valladolid.
First thing the next morning, Dr. Leonardo arrives with his little black bag and his wife (no, not his assistant). We welcome them as Carmen brings over fresh cups of steaming coffee for our two guests. We sit in the dining room, very civilized, with the electronic strains of Spanish guitar music (courtesy of Alexa) playing softly in the background.
Dr. Leonardo, his wife, Norm, and I, gather around the table as our guests sip their coffee.
Dr. Leonardo is young, a handsome Latino who speaks English (better than my mangled Spanish), Mayan, and Spanish, of course; his manner is gentle.
I tell/show him my problem middle finger and he begins his investigation.
First, he pulls out the familiar items of his trade from his little black bag. I spy a blood pressure cuff, thermometers, finger clips.
He is interested in my medical history. He takes my temperature and blood pressure. Interestingly, in Canada when I have my BP taken in a medical facility, the reading is sky high. Known as the ‘white coat syndrome’, blood pressure results in hospitals and doctors’ offices often read high due to stress. Today, in this relaxed setting, my BP is normal.
He is about to order a blood test but Norm, fortunately, explains he can show him the results of our latest blood tests on the computer. El Doctor studies the numbers and is satisfied. He takes my blood oxygen levels (and notes I do not have COVID).
Finally, he examines my swollen finger, asks more questions, and confirms the finger is badly infected. Especially when he touches it and I jump. He prescribes antibiotics and ibuprofen.
With a smile, he makes sure we understand his Spanish-written instructions. What to take, when, how much, and for how long.
We shake hands. Coffee cups are empty. Instruments are folded, put back neatly inside the black doctor’s bag. Before leaving, El Doctor gives us his cell number and WhatsApp address if we wish to contact him.
The appointment is over. And no waiting in a crowded doctor’s office.
Cost for the 30-minute at-home visit and diagnosis: $60 Cdn.
Now we walk ten minutes to the nearest pharmacy. It is open-air, like many restaurants and other businesses in this tropical climate.
But because the prescription is in Spanish (naturally!), we second guess the instructions. Is it one every seven days or …..? Doctors are notoriously poor in penmanship the world over! We hand over the scribbled-on piece of paper and the attendant has no problem filling it.
Cost for the prescriptions: $11 Cdn.
Already, after my first drug dosages, my finger is pliable. It is no longer alive with fire.
Granted, my medical necessity was not horrific or an emergency. But it is common. I can’t help comparing this genteel experience with ‘back home’ in Canada. My el doctor visit here appeared civilized, almost social, and certainly less traumatic. I believe years and years and years ago, family doctors did ‘do’ home visits in Canada.
My, how times have changed.