It’s been four days since Montezuma first decided to seek revenge on me. A few antibiotics later, and I’m hoping that my sacrifice proves sufficient to appease the gods—and leave the rest of my little family revenge-free.
This visit from Montezuma was a disappointing turn of events: I’ve been ridiculously careful in my food choices—more careful than I’ve ever been in Mexico, or anywhere in the world for that matter. Two weeks without taco stands, food carts, or other street food wonders. Two weeks of soaking every fruit and vegetable, raw or soon-to-be-cooked, in Magic Microdyne. Two weeks of home-cooked meals and pasta boiled in filtered water and fruit with thick skins. But still, Montezuma had his sights set on me.
Disappointing, too, because our first two weeks have revolved around getting to know our local mercados and tianguis--finding the best fresh yogurt stand, the butcher who chops and deskins a pollo entero the best, the tortilleria with the warmest tortillas, the farmer with the freshest baskets of calabaza and zanahoria. But now, all those choices are second-guessed: Was that yogurt pasteurized? Is it really safer to buy your chicken fresh from the butcher at the mercado than in the big, frozen, industrial packages at Costco? How long do fresh tortillas last? Am I supposed to live in an impossibly sanitary bubble until this baby comes? Or now that I’ve been sick, can I go ahead and throw caution to the wind—and eat those tacos on the corner that have been crying out to me?
While he offers a sympathetic eyebrow raise and head nod, Fresh has been of little help. In these same four days, he’s been out sampling all that the local vendors and taquerias have to offer--tostadas de ceviche, tortas ahogadas, meaty street tacos. While I subsisted on popsicles and electrolyte solution, Fresh strolled for coffee and downed liters of beer. To be fair, he was on full-time Anna duty for a few days, entertaining his co-pilot from the drive down, and still made multiple grocery store runs for popsicles and ginger ale. But when you don’t speak Spanish, even a popsicle-run can be a challenge. What did Fresh come home with on the first attempt? Chamoy: Pickled fruit flavored with chili. Not exactly calming to a sad, sad belly. (Oh, and yogurt-mango—to which I requested, “Don’t they have anything like a Freezie Pop? You know, sugar, water, fruit flavor?” At least he thinks highly of my food choices: “But I thought you’d want the healthy popsicles…”)
After a weekend of trying to appease Montezuma, on Monday, I knew it was time to call in back-up: I needed a doctor. While I’ve met my OB here, he is not available on Mondays, so Ivette insisted: Off to the San Javier ER! I protested, my American health care framework still in tact: But it’s so expensive! Irresponsible! I just need antibiotics! Don’t you have urgent care? Isn’t there a doctor who will see me? Or even just prescribe them over the phone? “Oh no,” Ivette said, “this is not like the States. When you are sick, you go to the ER. Plus, it is the only way your insurance will cover it.” So off we went to San Javier, where I dreaded spending a gorgeous sunny day.
But San Javier is more like a hotel than a hospital, with the triage team wearing matching gray suits and heels with mauve blouses and eyeshadow. We waited ten minutes TOPS, and that only for the attending physician to confirm with the chief of gastroenterology that he was prescribing the correct antibiotic for a pregnant woman. The doctor repeated every vital that the triage nurse took, asked for a detailed medical history, chatted with me about my stay in Guadalajara thus far, and explained his rationale for each part of his diagnosis and treatment plan. The chief GI doc even came in to explain in detail his prognosis for recovery and his recommendations for food choices in the second half of my pregnancy. We were done within one hour, armed with a prescription that included not only my antibiotics but also specific orders to rehydrate, rest, and call if I had any questions. What had been a dreaded day of waiting indefinitely for some Zithromax turned into a pleasant and speedy foray into the Mexican health care system.
(And how much did this thorough, humane visit to one of Guadalajara’s best hospitals cost? M$420, with antibiotics an additional M$228. Less than US$50! This wasn’t the deductible; this was the entire cost. Clearly the US has lessons to learn about delivering affordable, effective, high quality health care…)
So we’ve been laying low for a few days, with each popsicle lick and dose of meds saying a little prayer that Montezuma may finally move on and seek revenge on some other unsuspecting gringo. I’m feeling better—fever’s gone, tummy is calm, and food is once again appetizing. Perhaps too appetizing—we’ll see if today’s chilaquiles were part of the doctor’s orders!
While living in Mexico, I joked that speaking Spanish forced me to be far more Zen about life: Since I could only speak in the present tense, I was forced to just live in that present tense.
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