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Laughing Gull

This Laughing Gull isn’t…

I haven’t done much writing recently – so time to catch up a little.

For those who follow this blog I am pleased to tell you I had a clean report from the urologist in January this year.  So we were cleared for takeoff to go back to Puerto Vallarta for February and March.  There is an old joke – Man “I’ve been happily married for 5 years”.  Friend – “But you were married ten years ago?”  Man – “Yes, I know!”  I said old, not funny.

Well we had a lovely month in PV this year.  “But weren’t you there for two months?”  “Yes!”  I’d better explain.

We arrived in late January – the weather was its usual wonderful self, and we were met at the airport by a very good friend, Curt.  We were staying with him for the first couple of days.  It was a good time.  We moved into our rental condo on February 1.  The first week was great.  Except I was watching the ocean for signs of whales or dolphins when I slipped over the edge of a shallow step and managed to break my little finger on my right hand (didn’t do much for my dignity either).  Everyone knows there is no point in seeking medical help for a broken little finger, am I right?  They will only tape the pinky to the next finger.  I could do that myself.  Mind you it did look very swollen and hurt like a XXXXXX.  But I carried on like the trooper I am.  Actually I have no idea how troopers carry on – but if it includes whining and complaining – I am right there.

Well this was the start of a series of health related events.

There was a lot of flu and coughs around.  Being the friendly type I invited a virus to come home with me.  I developed a low-grade fever and a few other unwelcome symptoms.  After consultation with my higher authority I called the travel insurance company (who were excellent by the way), and they sent a doctor over to our condo in 45 minutes and I was prescribed some antibiotics to prevent an infection.  Unfortunately the flu virus, although very mild (probably because I had had the flu vaccine), triggered an irregular heart beat (Atrial Fibrillation) – a recurrence after 16 years, so after another call to the med insurance folk (who opened a second case in one week) and I was visiting the ER of the San Javier Hospital in PV.  If you need a hospital in PV I can highly recommend SJ.

After an initial examination I was sent to see the Cardiologist who confirmed the AF.  He said I had two options.  They could admit me and reset my heart with ‘The Paddles’. You know the scene in the medical dramas “Clear – zap!” and the body twitches violently or I could go home and take a high dosage of a different arrhythmia medicine and come back in twenty four hours.  If it was going to be effective it would work within twenty four hours, if not, it wouldn’t ever work and they would go ahead with the paddles.  So let me think about this.  The electric shock treatment or try the meds first.  Which to do?  Being a coward and in my right mind I chose to try the meds first.  Happily, over night it worked.  When I saw the cardiologist the next day he prescribed a change in meds and wanted to see me again in a few weeks.

By this time Susan had developed symptoms of the virus which, apparently, I had passed on to her.  Her symptoms included a nasty hacking cough.  My cardiologist heard it and said “I don’t like the sound of that.  If it’s no better by Monday (this was Saturday) you come back and see me”.

Well, by the next day the cough was a lot worse and Susan was clearly quite sick.  So I called my friends at the Med Insurance and they opened our third case and sent us back to the San Javier ER.

After an initial examination, Susan saw the Lung Specialist.  He said “Your lungs sound horrible. I am admitting you and putting you on intravenous antibiotics”. She tested positive for influenza A, was contagious and had a developing pneumonia.  She spent the next four days in isolation and received all kinds of treatment.  However, she enjoyed the visits of the lung specialist who had been recruited from General Hospital or some other daytime soap.  He was young and handsome and very charming! Amazing how you can smile while ‘suffering’ from pneumonia.

Eventually she was released into my care, and we were able to gradually increase our activities and enjoy our surroundings.  Now wouldn’t you think this would be enough?  So did I. However, read on…

Two of the stacking arm chairs for the balcony had become stuck together.  The higher authority ‘suggested’ I unstick them so we could use at least one of them for our guests. In prizing the chairs apart I managed to get my thumb squashed between the arms of the chairs.  It was about the most painful thing I have ever experienced. I hopped around the condo, holding onto my thumb and quietly saying “O gosh, this smarts, oh gosh this smarts”.  At least that’s what I recall.

The thumb nail almost immediately turned black and the the thumb swelled to about three hundred times its normal girth.  And did I mentioned it throbbed a little? Also, the heart doc had put me on anticoagulant medication – commonly referred to as ‘blood thiner’, which meant the blood didn’t clot quickly under the nail – exacerbating an already nasty injury.

“Do you want to go to the hospital?” asked the higher authority.  “No!”

Next morning I called my second and newest best friend at the insurance company.  Stop smirking H.A.  When we arrived at San Javier emergency I felt like Norm on Cheers.   Señor Rod!  they all cried in greeting.

It turned out they thought the thumb injury wouldn’t likely reduce my life expectancy. I was prescribed medication to try to relieve some of the pressure and hopefully a lot of the pain.  Thankfully they don’t use the hot needle through the nail these days. Did I mention it was excruciating.  The doc mentioned I would likely lose the nail, but he didn’t know when.

Gradually we both healed.  Susan finally was over her cough and had her strength back.  My heart was keeping a good rhythm and my thumb was only throbbing mildly.  My pinky had adopted a cute bent position and would swell and turn red on a whim. But we were getting about again and starting to take advantage of the good life in PV.  Susan was allowed to have visitors and be in groups again so all was looking well.

The recovered Higher Authority on a day trip

Unfortunately a good friend of ours had developed a slightly sore throat – but put it down to dryness.  However it developed into a lovely hacking cough – and Susan’s immune system still weakened from the the previous bout of flu, picked up the infection and developed a new cough and bronchial symptoms.  I just couldn’t bear the thought of asking the insurance company for a fifth case to be opened,  so we made an appointment to see Dr Lu (short for Lupe (pronounced loopy) which is actually short for Guadalupe).  Dr. Lu is great.  We had visited her before.  She soon had Susan taken care of – and of course on new meds.

So, two months and five medical interventions later we returned home to Winnipeg.

Everyone we met wanted to know “Did you have a great time in Mexico?”  “Lovely thanks – do you mind not breathing on me and please be gentle when we shake hands”.

Post script: We are so thankful for our good friends we see in PV  and our church community there – they were very kind and helpful – lifts to the hospital, bringing communion to us, visiting Susan in Hospital – getting shopping in, prayer support.   And our neighbour in Winnipeg had essentials in the fridge and a dinner invitation the day we arrived home.  We are truly blessed.  And we have only good things to say about the wonderful care we received in the Mexican hospital.  Even the food was excellent!