One question we hear a lot down here at Lakeside: Should I get my surgery in Mexico, Canada, Cuba, Europe, the States? Or do it myself?
We are all likely to face a situation where we have to figure out our best health care options. Unfortunately, of course, once we do finally make up our minds about our choices, someone will come along who knows somebody who did exactly as we planned and now walks on all fours.
So ... First: You have to do your homework. Find a dedicated medical practitioner who is glad to see you and who can’t do enough for your comfort and concerns – clearly easier to do here in Mexico than north of the border.
For example (this is a true story), Dr. Kagas, my former doctor north of the border, treated me (the word’s meaning stretched considerably) for four years. He was always available on a moment’s notice.
That’s why I remained his client for so long, despite the fact that he courted misery and a sense of dread at every visit. It took me a while to realize that this was the reason he was always available at a moment’s notice, and his waiting room magazines were old, featuring cover stories about the hoola-hoop craze and Roy Orbison. He had no other patients. In stark contrast to Dr. Kagas is my current physician in Mexico, the youthful Dr. Luis Ortega (called Dr. Luis Jorge Ramon with maternal grandmother included), a pleasant professional, caring and personable, unrushed, even available to come to my house (as long as he brings a salad or dessert).
Cross-border medical training and exchange of students are a common process these days between north and south. I hope that this glad-to-be-of-use medical disposition from Jalisco will spread north. “I have a headache,” is all I have to say and Dr. Luis Jorge Ramon beams on me like a surgical lamp, asking all kinds of pertinent questions, about lifestyle, diet, current medications, family history, exercise, etcetera.
This gives one confidence, no matter what he or she prescribes for me – self-induced vomiting, colonoscopy, a bungee jump, a prayer vigil – I will oblige. (Well, maybe not the colonoscopy.)
Science tells us that our doctor-patient relationships are principal components to wellness, because amicability, patient trust and analytical thoroughness affect patient psychology, which in turn can have actual therapeutic effects. So choose carefully, and don’t make the smaller cost, no matter where, a factor in your decision. Second, still more homework. Check a website or two about your condition, and find some obscure bit of information about it, or something very new in the science, and ask your healthcare provider about it. If he pulls out a tongue depressor and asks you to say “Ahh.” when you have a swollen ankle, he may be behind in diagnostic techniques.
Or, politely, trick him by asking how many leeches he prescribes for shingles. If he mentions any number under 40, drop him. The correct answer is 42. (I made that up.) Third, do not engage any doctor whose attire includes feathers. Fourth, another magic of Mexico is that you can have two or three practitioners on call at any time, making it possible for ready access and multiple advice.
But make sure these candidates have other patients (to help you sort out the clunkers and quacks). The more patients the better, except that too many is a possibility: If patients finds themselves waiting in the office for so long they’re forced to apply defibrillators on one another, this is “too many” patients. Fifth, I myself am not drawn to any doctor with a Katrina doll hanging behind his desk. Finally, Worry not about Mexican health care facilities. Guadalajara has many first-rate hospitals with local doctors in affiliation, some renowned for their specialties. But avoid any facilities using the word “Trump.”