Wednesday, February 17, 2010

I Believe This is What They Refer to As "Coming Full Circle"

When I was in Chicago preparing to move to Mexico, I had a small stroke of luck: my employer switched health insurance. This may not seem like a big deal, but as a woman facing a move to a country with uncertain medical standards, the opportunity to squeeze in all my doctors appointments even though it'd been less than a year since I'd last seen these doctors was HUGE.

I discovered an eye infection and a cavity, both easily fixed. On my last day of work I returned to the office after a final lunch with the girls and someone called out that my doctor had called while I was out. I knew she was planning to call with my test results (she knew I was moving) so I hurried to my desk to return her call.

My stomach dropped with her first words:

"I had a bad feeling when you told me you were leaving the country that there would be a problem."

Just what a girl likes to hear before moving to a country with uncertain medical standards. I had a going-away party planned for that night (my fourth that week) but I asked if there was any way she could see me since my insurance ended THAT DAY.

She said no, then kindly assured me that the tests I needed were very common and I shouldn't have a problem finding a doctor to perform them. She spelled out everything I needed & what the exact procedures were, then offered to stay in contact via email (which she did for a couple months).

And with that, I moved to Mexico.

I found a doctor within a week and thus began what ended up being one of my closest relationships in Zihua. In the three years I've been here I think I've seen this doctor at LEAST twenty or thirty times. Probably more. (and that's just off the top of my head.) I can't tell you how many times we've be thankful that we ARE in Mexico because even though I don't have insurance, the average visit costs 300-500 pesos, roughly $25-40 US. Sure, US co-pays are less, but I'm not paying a monthly deductible.

Anyway, over the past three years I've had countless exams, one biopsy, two minor procedures and one major procedure. Each time I go back for a follow-up, she's found something new. To say this has been frustrating would be an understatement, but at least now I speak Spanish well enough to go on my own. Ibis had act as my translator on those first few visits and he wasn't always as helpful as I'd have liked. Not to mention the doctor viewed me as a delicate American. Once I ditched him, my relationship with the doctor grew.

I wasn't due to see her again until the end of March, but when I decided to return to Michigan I scheduled an appointment at the beginning of February. On Monday Ibis and I went to get my results (they don't mail or call here) and she greeted us with a smile.

"You're fine."

"Everything is okay?"

"Yes. You're healthy."

It didn't seem real. After three years, visiting her on average every other month and CONSTANTLY getting more bad news, I didn't quite believe her. Ibis even asked her again to make sure.

I'll have to find a new doctor and schedule an appointment in another six months, but that's so much better than "fill out this prescription and come see me again in two weeks."

I keep feeling like she's going to call and tell me there was a mistake -- THAT would be fitting for the way things seem to go for me -- but for now I'm trying to focus on the fact that I'm healthy.

26 comments:

stacey said...

YAY! On your good news! It's a sign from the Universe telling you everything is going to be okay. :)

Penguin said...

Good to hear you are healthy, feels good don't it.

I finally went to a doctor, seems I have more than just MSG.

Melanie Avila said...

Stacey, I certainly hope so.

Penguin, what's wrong with you? I hope you're okay.

(and no, I don't actually expect you to answer here)

JLC said...

SOoo glad you are fine. :D I remember you blogs and our chats about your first visits and having Ibis translate. It doesn't seem that long ago! (Although Im sure it feels like ages for you.) Either way, FINE is great news!! (hug)

Aunt Sue said...

So glad your health is good. As someone else said, sometimes things all work out for the best; i.e., not immediately having health insurance when you get back to the states, but now you are doing well. You're bringing copies of your records back with you, aren't you? (even though they obviously will be in Spanish).

Melanie Avila said...

Jen, it IS weird to think it's been three years. Crazy! My doctor laughs sometimes about how far I've come. :)

Aunt Sue, I'm supposed to pick everything up today, which means I'm going tomorrow. And I'll probably call today to remind her.

Kreyfish said...

First and foremost, Congratulations! I can truly appreciate how it feels to get a 'you're good' from the doctor. You have always been a source of inspiration for me (albeit sometimes begrudgingly) and your story continues to inspire. Keep 'telling your story'! Tell other people who have much smaller battles facing them so that they too can realize; 'this too will pass'.

Janna Qualman said...

You're healthy! That's so wonderful. And some good timing, too. :)

I was worried there for a minute. So glad it turned out alright.

Allen said...

There is always something about hearing you are healthy. Starting a new chapter in y'all's life with a clean bill of health must be one of the more settling things about this move.

To health and happiness.

T. Anne said...

Huge congrats on the clean bill of health! Enjoy life to its fullest!

gypsyscarlett said...

Glad to hear the good news, Melanie. :)

Natasha Fondren said...

Well, that's wonderful, Melanie! Wow! Very cool. Another thing to put in the grateful list.

Melanie Avila said...

Kev, I know YOU know. Mine's not as serious as yours, but still, it's nice to hear that. Now what do I have to do to get you to eat better? (and thanks)

Thanks Janna.

Allen, I still don't really believe. We have to pick up my medical history from her and I just KNOW she's going to tell me something bad, like they mixed up my results with someone else's.

Thanks T Anne & Gypsy!

Natasha, very true.

WendyCinNYC said...

Yay, such good news. Stay healthy, Melanie!

Erica said...

Good news - as long as you have your health you can get through anything ;o)

Robin said...

That's wonderful! How cool to find a great doctor in Mexico! Here's to hoping you find a doctor you love in Michigan. *clink* And here's to being healthy! *clink*

mary said...

Yeah for healthy! The older I get, the more I appreciate it!

Rebecca @ Diary of a Virgin Novelist said...

What a great feeling! I hope that is one less thing for you to worry about as you make this move.

Melanie Avila said...

Thanks everyone! I picked up my medical history from her today and there were no warnings NOR did the receptionist drag me back to the exam room. Score!

Lyra said...

Glad to hear that you have a clean bill of health.

Once you move to Michigan will you start a new blog titled: "What Am I Doing in Michigan?"?

Melanie Avila said...

Lyra, you must have missed the announcement -- I DO have a blog called What Am I Doing in Michigan?

Nadine - Japan said...

Yay!That,s wonderful news! So glad I checked your blog right now on my 5 minutes on a public computer in my hotel lobby in Kyoto!

-Nadine

Melanie Avila said...

Nadine!! *tackles her across Pacific*

Amy Mullis said...

So glad for the good news!

Lyra said...

I think I did miss that announcement. I'll definitely check it out. Once you move are you going to shut this blog down?

Melanie Avila said...

Thanks Amy.

Lyra, there's a link beneath my profile picture in the "Posts That Explain Things" section called Why I'm Leaving Mexico (or something to that effect). That was the announcement.