Welcome to Mexico!
By Victoria Schmidt
Medicine in Mexico
“Welcome” was the last word I expected to hear as I was wheeled into the operating room at Sanatorio de San Francisco de Assisi in Guadalajara. Yet “Welcome” was exactly what I heard; and Beethoven’s Für Elise playing in the background. My surgeon introduced everyone who was in the room, even though they were indecipherable behind their blue gowns and masks. The last thing I remember was the anesthesiologist asking me if I felt sleepy yet. “No” was my answer, and then I heard him counting, “uno, dos, tres…” I was gone by seis.
I had arrived at the hospital, early in the morning, about an hour prior to surgery, and while I was going through the pre-admission details, a gentleman came up and introduced himself to me. There in the lobby, the anesthesiologist who would be working on me was already assessing me. It wasn’t that my neck surgery was going to be so difficult, but my size made the anesthesiology the more difficult part of the surgery. He walked with me to my hospital room and was delighted to see me walk over 200 yards with no problems. In my room, he told me that he had started praying for me when my neurosurgeon booked him for my surgery eight days before. How could I not feel comforted by this?
His was the voice I keyed into in the operating room, the voice I awoke to, and the voice I heard the next day, as I was getting ready to leave the hospital. He came to visit me to see that everything else went OK.
I am no beginner at surgery. The last anesthesiologist who worked on me, came into pre-op with his heavy gold chain shining beneath his green scrubs. His attitude was arrogant, and he was irate because the staff had a difficult time starting the IV. His feeling of superiority leached from every pore, yet he was also unable to start the IV. On the 14th attempt, they finally got enough medication into me to put me out, and did a cut down on my ankle. I never saw him or his gold chain again!
Here in Mexico, I pointed the best vein out to the nurse who smiled, and started my IV on the first try. I told her my story, and her eyes sparkled as she accepted my gracious compliment. The surgeon checked on me at 8:30 that night. (Also a first.) When he saw how well I was doing, he told me if I felt the same in the morning, they would remove the drain and send me home. I left the next morning.
I know that the many prayers and positive thoughts provided by friends and neighbors also helped. I was told that when my neighbor two doors down heard of my upcoming surgery, that her small church dedicated a mass to me—that was a first.
When people learned I needed to have surgery on my neck, they were surprised I didn’t return to the USA for the surgery. Circumstances prevented my return, but I wanted my surgery done here, in Mexico. I wanted the neurosurgeon who saved my husband’s life to operate on me. He and his family have become friends over the years. I knew that this man cared for me, and that he would do his best. With very few exceptions, the doctors I have met and worked with here in Mexico have been superior in every way to the doctors I was forced to endure in the USA. After my husband’s three surgeries here, and my own surgery, that gives me four experiences to draw upon here in Mexico. I continue to prefer the medicine here in Mexico.