Doctor Natera came by, I think around 9PM. He’d been delayed by a sudden inrush of patients, I think at the other clinic, where he treats those who can’t afford the services of “Star Medica.” He asked if I was in pain, and we had the “little pain?” conversation. He convinced me not to try to drive home that night, which had been the original plan.
There was a Denny’s about a block away. About midnight or so (my time-sense goes bad around here) I resolved to walk there. I really, really wanted food. Standing up hurt. Reesa helped me dress, and we went downstairs. We tried to communicate to the staff that we were going outside and then back in, but had a lot of trouble getting the message across; no one on duty then spoke English. Eventually, I managed to mime that I was stepping outside to smoke, and they seemed fine with that and pointed me to the correct exit. We walked around the parking lot, out to the street, and about halfway down the block before a security guard on a bicycle from the hospital stopped us. I couldn’t understand his words, but it was obvious we were to return to the hospital. He was friendly, but firm.
We walked back, found what I think was a security manager who spoke English, and explained that we were not permitted to leave the hospital parking lot. He said it was for our safety, and I think it really was. Oh, well. At least I got a cigarette.
I undressed. It hurt whole heaps and bunches.
Then came the night. Mexican hospitals are strange: when you are recovering and need sleep, they let you sleep. Bizarre. The only interruption all night came from someone bringing in a bottle of water and setting it on the inevitable wheeled tray.
A good night’s sleep helped a lot, but I still hurt. In the morning, Sergio and Irene came, and we packed (Reesa packed, actually, I proudly pulled my own socks and boots on) and checked out, which was a very simple procedure. They put is in a hotel shuttle which would drive us to meet Irene, get my perscriptions, and then to the border.
Ooops! The border? The driver had no visa, and in any case the hotel shuttle was not permitted to cross the border, in spite of the hotel saying that they would do so.
So Irene and her brother drove us around a bit to find a pharmacy to pick up the prescriptions for my pain meds, anti-biotic, and anti-inflammatory. It was frustrating, because my credit card, though it worked fine in ATMs, kept failing at the pharmacies. But we got it, and I happily gobbled down the pills.
A lot of pleasant conversation with Irene and her brother, who seemed to think the world of Dr. Natera. And we spoke of the “Wall of Shame” and all cursed those who make the decisions for the US. Irene calmly matter of factly told the story of Sergio being arrested at the border as a suspected terrorist and held for 30 days. He was finally released because (wait for it) he had been a singer for Mariachi band that had played at the White House under the previous Bush, and new the Governer of New Mexico.
Why had he been arrested? They never found out; no one would tell them. Her telling of the story was, as I said, so matter-of-fact, and with so little bitterness, that it seemed as if her attitude was, “This is just part of life if you live near the US.”
How many others has this happened to? How many are still in jail because they don’t have the connections? It is one thing to know this is happening; it is another to hear how it happened to someone you know, and like.
We got into the long, long tine for the border crossing. There are people selling food and trinkets, and begging, all along the bridge over the Rio Grande. We talked of the stupidity of “Homeland Security” and of vague hopes for the future; they seemed to have no more hope that an Obama presidency would change things than I do.
They dropped us off at airport parking in El Paso. We found our car, and began the long drive home. Reesa did the driving, I did the moaning. I’m such a wimp!
I hope we manage to stay in touch with Irene and Sergio; they’re great people. If you are in the position I’m in: rich by Mexican standards, poor by the standards of what is need for healthcare in the US, then I recommend Mexico without reservation. I also want to thank Dr. Flash Gorden, who advised me about hernia care, treatment, and gave me some reassurances about Dr. Natera.
I’m sure I’ve left off a thousand interesting things; maybe I’ll talk about them in discussion, or later posts.
It is good to be home; I miss Irene and Sergio and hope we stay in touch.