True Life: I went to the ER in Mexico

I was recently working and living in Cuernavaca, Mexico, and got pretty sick… We are (romantically) talking about days of not leaving the toilet, not sleeping, and not eating. Unsure if it was food poisoning or an infection at the time, I called my travel insurance company, and they instructed me to head to the ER. I began to Google, ‘how much does it cost to go the ER in Mexico?... ‘what is going to the ER in Mexico as an American like?’ and couldn’t find any decent straight answers. Per usual, I guess I was finding out IRL.

Although our apartment was across the street from a public hospital, which would mean an inexpensive visit, we could see a very long line. Hours long. A friend of a friend gave us a recommendation for a private hospital in the area, so we headed there instead.

The hospital I visited is located in a huge medical building, and looked more like a clinic, than an actual hospital. After registering, I waited not more than 10 minutes before being seen by a doctor there. She assessed me, and took all of my medical conditions and history into consideration, before deciding it was a stomach infection. She first recommended a parasite test (you’ve got to have solids for that aka it wasn’t happening) and then recommended IV antibiotics and hydration. In little to no time, I was in my hospital bed. The entire hospital was extremely clean and well organized. They collected my blood, which is very strange compared to how to they go about it in the US. They actually use the IV connection, in order to openly pour your blood into vials. Everything was great with the IV saline, until they connected me to my antibiotic, Cipro.

In no time at all, my vision became blurry and my heart began to race. I called in the nurse, who slowed down the IV output. I wasn’t feeling any better (190 heart rate), so I called in the RN again, followed by the doctor. The doctor took me off the IV, and said she would give me IV Benadryl, but I happily declined. Last time I given IV Benadryl to ‘counteract’ the effects of a different medication, it made me go into tachiacardia.

My heart rate finally slowed down, but my vision still seemed blurry. I contacted my partner, and asked him to look up Cipro side effects (since I couldn’t) and he confirmed a temporary change in vision can happen. The strange part is that I have taken Cipro in the past, just never intravenously. She expressed her concern that I needed antibiotics, and that I probably need to see an allergist, due to all of my reactions, past and present. We know…(#MCAS). We agreed on a prescription for Bactrim, and continued omeprazole. I finished my saline, and they discharged me soon after.

Minus my own scary reactions (not the hospital’s or doctor’s fault), I had a good overall experience. The total cost for my ER visit and my prescription medication in a private hospital was $200. Yes, you read that right. Two-hundred dollars. That would have easily cost me thousands of dollars in the USA. Either way, I am so glad I had travel insurance which later reimbursed me.

Know that you if you ever end up in a Mexican hospital (I can only speak on behalf of private hospitals), you are likely in good hands.

Cuidado, y por siempre,

Buen Camino

P.S. Soon after I discovered that I also do not react well Bactrim/sulfas, as it caused me long-term dysphasia (throat tightness). I had my esophagus dilated two months later.

P.P.S. It was much later discovered, that I had indeed picked up Giardiasis (lucky me), which brought me to the hospital.

Moral of the story: TEST FOR PARASITES IF YOU EVER CATCH A BUG IN A FOREIGN COUNTRY.