We will first publicly reveal that we are rolling without Healthcare insurance for the first time in a long long time. In researching this trip, we discovered that its fairly cost prohibitive and unmanageable to have healthcare coverage like we've had in the US, and like many cruisers, we've opted for a different approach. We're rolling the dice in an educated way and hope it won't take more from the kids college fund than this trip already has.
I suppose its also a given that I was the first patient of this crew to seek outside counsel. I've had a lingering ear infection that is going in to its third week and wasn't improving materially- and with the snorkeling and diving we like to do - we needed to get it fixed. I had exhausted our ships' medical manuals, had consulted one of our Top Secret ER Doctor connections and had experimented with various antibiotics, including French and Spanish antibiotic ear drops given to us by wonderfully generous cruisers. It was time to get a proper opinion and La Paz proved a great place to seek help.
Through the Club Cruceros (Cruisers Club) resource guide I found two Ear, Nose, Throat specialists and called the first one up. I got a VM, left a message in english with a spanish translation of our cell phone number and dismissed that approach as I got busy on another project. Much to my surprise, within an hour, the Doctor himself called me back, spoke in perfect English and offered me two slots on his calendar the next morning.
I headed to his office close to the main square and cathedral, and waited 10 mins in a clean, well kept medical office. I learned later that he was delayed talking to construction workers who were finalizing repairs from the last hurricane, and building a new wall to keep water out in the future. He swept me in to his office, took a short medical history and was quite chatty as he inquired about my background and what we were doing in La Paz.
He then moved me to his fancy examination chair, and proceeded to put a scope in my ear and show me on a video screen what the inside of both of my ears looked like. One was obviously not doing well at all. He discussed multiple options of remediation for me, as well as prevention, and showing me how the ears worked. He proceeded to do a Tympanogram (my first ever) on my good ear, and applied a cortisone cream on my bad one.
He gave me some instructions, gave me some ear plugs and gave me some of his own home made drying drops. I had never spent that much time in discussion of my ears and nose/jaw, and as the full hour came up I was getting concerned on what the bill would be. I felt good about the assessment and the treatment- but a bit nervous on what rum money I would need to forgo.
After giving me the directions to two pharmacies, including generic options (no prescription needed here for any drugs), I gathered the courage to ask what I owed. "600 pesos" he replied, and I started doing the math in my head....... $45 US dollars?? A fantastic and thoughtful healthcare experience. I happily paid him and made my way to the pharmacy- also vowing to get the word out - if you need Ear, Nose or Throat help in La Paz- Dr. Noe Alejandro Agurel Mendez is well worth a visit! Chris