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.
"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.