In Mexicali, the doctors don’t give you the run-around. They go directly for the cure, and you don’t have to wait months for an appointment!
In America, Jim tried to see a gastroenterologist for stomach problems. The earliest appointment he could get was three months away. What kind of health care is that. Could it be any worse?
Below are our health care experiences in Mexicali. Great experiences, which really opened our eyes, and showed us why so many people go abroad for medical care.
Jim and I came down with “La Turista.” We believe we got it at lunch at an open-air restaurant. We had become a bit overconfident and dropped our guard, indulging in some mango juice! This bad experience led us to one of the best doctors we have ever met, our wonderful Dr Arturo Rosas. He has his own little office building just down the road from our home. He is a small, pleasant man, business-like, but without the drama we often found in doctors back in the States. He gave us a prescription, and told us, “Do not drink the water and don’t use ice. It’s the water that will give you this problem. Avoid all juices, iced tea, and fresh lemonade with ice in them.” Dr Arturo’s medical fee was less that a US copay. We took a two minute walk to the pharmacy, got our medication, and relief.
Dr. Arturo Rosas Garcia
AVE. 2 DE OCTUBRE 19
21210 Mexicali, BC
I have a history of lower back pain that has plagued me through the years. It has gotten worse, so bad that, some days, I can’t even walk. In the States, my regular doctor advised me to see a pain doctor, which I did.
Dr. Pain (no, not his real name, but it works) said I needed steroid injections directly into my spine – three injections, one per week for $1,000 a pop!” “OK, said the desperate lady.” Dr. Pain sent me for an MRI, and set my next appointment to check out the MRI results.
I got the MRI and at my next appointment, saw only Dr. Pain’s assistant, who took a quick look at the MRI, explained nothing, and gave me an appointment for the first of three steroid shots.
On the day of the first shot, I finally got to see Dr. Pain again. He had on his Darth Vader X-Ray suit, and was helped by two assistants. Those assistants couldn’t have been much, as Dr. Pain was literally shouting at them for not doing whatever.
Dr. Darth Pain, while looking into some sort of a magnifying x-ray screen, injected the steroids into my lower back – high drama. For each visit, we had to pay $1,000 up front, with extra fees of $250 for “accidentals and incidentals.” Dr. Pain never told me what was wrong with my back – no diagnosis at all. That’s American healthcare.
Now, here in Mexicali, off we went to see Dr Arturo about my back problem. He listened patiently (30 minutes), and immediately told me, “Your pain is coming from a pinched nerve.” He wrote down the prescription for some nerve medicine, and called to introduce us to Dr. Carlos Maya, a spine doctor. No drama from Dr. Arturo, just the usual payment of twenty-five bucks. Dr Arturo’s nerve medication removed a lot of the pain in my lower back immediately, and were much more effective than Dr. Pain’s shenanigans.
Dr. Carlos Maya
Av. Riforma 1022
Office: +52 686-555-4742
Office hours: 6:00pm – 9.00pm
Dr. Carlos Maya is a professor at the university here. He operates during the day, and sees patients from 7:00pm to 10:00pm in the evening. We got to Dr. Maya’s office “early” at 6:00pm. His waiting room was sardine-packed with patients. My turn came, and I brought my old MRI and an x-ray of my spine for him to see.
Dr. Maya, who speaks English, listened patiently about the pain in my spine, and, now, also in my knee. He looked at my MRI, and explained everything. Shucks, I am now an MRI expert – at least for the spine. His diagnosis was that I had a partially herniated disk pressing on the spinal nerves. The root cause was something called “scoliosis.” Huh? He explained “scoliosis” means I have a curved spine, slightly curved, in my case. Now, I ask you, why didn’t Dr. Pain with all his assistants tell me that?
Dr Maya then did a thorough examination of my spine. He had me stretch out my arms and lean against the wall. Then he pressed on each vertebra with his thumb to locate the pain.
The pain in your knee and numbing of your leg is caused by something in your lower spine—I can give you an injection now to lessen the pain. It will last 21 to 27 days? What do you think?”
I said “Yes!”
I lay face down on the long couch. Dr Maya pressed on a place on my spine, and with a marker, placed an “X” on it. I could barely feel the shot, Dr. Maya then wrote one prescription. “I want you to go down to this radiology center; I need an MRI on your spine. Bring the MRI back to me and don’t worry, everything is going to be fine”.
No drama, no Dr. Darth Vader outfit, no x-ray screen, no assistants, but a diagnosis and a pain killing injection done, right there, in his office. The total cost came to $150 – and the injection worked.
A couple of days later, Jim and I drove down to this large Radiology Center, which had separate entrances for separate medical issues. One was just for testing blood. We went into the X-Ray waiting room, which was large, we went up to the counter, and were able to get an appointment for that very same day.
For the MRI, I entered a room, guided by the radiologist’s assistant. He told me to remove my bra, but leave the shirt and pants on, and to slide into the MRI machine. This MRI machine was a huge machine, with open sides, unlike the MRI machine in America, which was a long narrow white bullet shaped claustrophobic coffin. For those who have a problem with claustrophobia, the place offers an injection of a mild sedative.
I was in the MRI for 50 minutes.
After all was done, we went to pay at the cashier’s. The total came to $450, and we were told to collect my MRI the next day, at 2:00pm.
The next day, there were three MRI sheets, a typewritten analysis, and a computer disk with the MRIs on them. Wow! The computer disk had a program to process the MRI images in a number of ways. You could coordinate side views with top-down views, or even run it as a movie! Back in the good old USA, it was 15 minutes in the MRI machine, and we got only one MRI sheet, no explanation, and no computer disk.
Armed with my MRIs, we went to Dr Carlos Maya’s office at 6:00pm, the following day. You don’t have to make appointment with Dr. Maya – you just show up, no appointment needed.
Dr Maya said, “OK, now we look at your MRIs”
Dr. Maya spotted immediately what all my American doctors had missed—I had a Tarlov cyst. It was even written on the MRI analysis that I had two Tarlov cysts, which even the MRI people in America failed to detect.
‘If I need an operation for the Tarlov cyst, Dr. Maya, how much will it cost?”
Dr. Maya replied, “The Tarlov cyst is very rare; I have seen it only twice in the last twenty years. I would have to have a neurosurgeon in attendance. It’s a two hour operation and one day stay in the hospital, we operate with you lying on your back, elevated spine, we will drain the cyst as it can’t be removed since it is the middle of spinal nerves. The operation will be about $5,000.
On the way out, we paid the receptionist $45, for 30 minutes of Dr. Maya’s time!
Jim and I left Dr. Maya’s office happy and relieved. In America, we checked I was NEVER told I had a curved spine, scoliosis, and a Tarlov cyst. An operation on a Tarlov cyst in America would cost us $100,000 to $200,000 (depending on the accidentals, incidentals and hospital stay)!!!
Neither Dr. Rubin (oops), I mean Pain. nor his assistants ever told me that I had Scoliosis. Not a word from any of them. This was to be expected, as they barely looked at my expensive MRIs which clearly showed the Tarlov cyst back in 2007.
Now that I have had my Tarlov cyst operation, I am feeling great and all the pain has left me. I still have a bit of healing to do, but, compared to the results in the U.S., I am as good as it gets. If you don’t believe me, just take a look at the Tarlov cyst sufferers at Team Inspire’s website.
Dr. Marquez address is Av. Obregon No. 779. His cell phone is +52 686-122-0896, telephone +52 686-554-1404. Dr. Marquez is fair in English. Here is a Google maps link: http://goo.gl/maps/l9jC. His office is very close to the border crossing.
Dr. Arturo explained to me that steroid shots for pain are just about the worst thing that a doctor can do to you – at least in my state. Steroid shots put on weight – that is why the football players get them. Excess weight is the worst thing for your back if you have Scoliosis. The extra weight compresses the spine and puts even more pressure on the nerve. Now I know why I shot up 40 pounds after Dr. Rubin (oops) Pain gave me all those steroid shots.
We very pleased with Dr. Carlos Maya. He even has patients coming from as far away as India, where they have a lot of tuberculosis of the spine (ugh).
Orthodontist – Dr. Diaz
Av. Madera 998
Mexicali, B. C.
US Number: 760-4403
I always wanted to have my teeth straightened. I was told by my great gynecologist, Dr. Marina Montanez (more about her, elsewhere), that Dr. Carlos Diaz was the man to see.
Dr. Diaz has a large modern clinic located on Av. Madero No. 998 (at Calle B), US telephone no. is 760-670-4403, or, in Mexicali, 686-554-0041. His clinic is just 8 blocks east from the border, with plenty of private parking.
In his clinic he has a lot of people working for him, and a full waiting room.
There was a nice young man sitting with the receptionist. He spoke English. He explained to us that the braces would be on for about a year, and that the cost was $1,000—Heck, we paid a good $5,000 plus for one of our kids.
“Let’s go,” I said. As usual in Mexicali, there is no appointment needed, and the receptionist ushered me into room with a dental chair. There, two young technicians took a bunch of pictures of my teeth—not my best looking photos! After a brief return to the waiting room, I was ushered into the office of Dr. Diaz, himself—Dr. Diaz was the young English speaking guy we spoke to at the receptionist’s desk!
Dr. Diaz was able to pull all my photos up on a computer screen. He explained what he could do, and that it would take a year. Great!
Then Dr. Diaz told me he couldn’t put braces on me, as I had periodontitis! “Wha?” No, problem, he said. I could get treated for periodontitis and be back to see him in a couple of weeks. Now, one of our kids had his gums treated up in Silicon Valley. I think the tab came to about $10,000—not sure, however, as he has a good job and is on his own (thank Heaven).
Dr. Diaz told me I should see Dr. Luis Marquez for the procedure.
Periodontist – Dr. Luis Marquez
Av. Obregon 779
Mexicali, Baja California
Office: +52 (686) 5541404
Cell: +52 44 (686) 1220895
Dr. Marquez, it turned out, is a university professor, and Dr. Diaz had been one of his students. Dr. Marquez’ office hours are from 4:00pm until 9.00pm, and you need to make an appointment as you could be in the chair for hours—groan.
“Will this be painful, Dr. Marquez?” The doctor, a large friendly man said he had been doing these procedures 30 years, that he knew how to minimize the pain. I couldn’t even feel the Novocain injection. Dr. Marquez really did a job and I felt no pain, only swollen, after each procedure.
The procedure was done in four visits. At the end, Dr. Marquez was very proud of his work, and said, “Healthy gums, beautiful job!” When you’re good, you’re good, and called Dr. Diaz with the OK. In America, my dentist wanted to put caps on my six front teeth for around six grand. Dr. Marquez said, had I gone along with it, I could easily have lost the capped teeth. Did my US dentist tell me that I had periodontal disease? Nope.
After four visits, one each week, my gums were cleaned out. The fee – a super-affordable $550!!!
Back to Dr. Diaz the Orthodontist
After my Tarlov cyst operation and my treatment by Dr. Marquez, it was time to see Dr. Diaz again. We went to his office on a Saturday to make an appointment. Silly us, Dr. Diaz said, “Come right on in; we can do it now.” In no time I had my braces on. They were the most modern kind. We paid the English-speaking receptionist $300, and agreed to pay $50 for each monthly visit over two years. Not bad! I have only a couple of months to go, and my teeth are movie-star straight, and the shape of my jaw improved – unbelievable!
Dr. Marina Montañez
1173 Av. Madero, Mexicali B.C.
Office telephone: +52 686-582-8099
The first doctor I saw in Mexicali was Dr. Marina Montañez, for the removal of an old IUD, and a Pap smear. I was a walk-in, no appointment, and had to wait awhile. Dr. Montañez is a young and attractive woman. In her office, I explained what I wanted, and asked to set up an appointment. In Mexico, they are Johnny-on-the-spot. Dr. Montañez asked, “Would you like to do it now?” A half-hour later, the IUD was gone and the Pap smear taken (it turned out negative), all for $80!
Jim has had a ligament problem with his right ankle for years. At times, he could barely walk. It got so bad that a foot specialist gave him a one-year handicap card for our car. The ligament would get better, and then it would get worse.
Our favorite guy, Dr. Arturo, sent Jim for a blood test. The last one Jim had in the States cost over $600, and we never got to see the results – privileged information for the doctor, I guess.
Anyway, Dr. Arturo gave Jim a prescription to go to the Women’s Hospital for the test, since it was close by our place. The Women’s Hospital is the most squeaky clean place I have ever seen. They took Jim’s blood, and told us we could wait around for the results. When the results were ready, they gave them directly to Jim – no secret communication with the doctor. AND, the bill came to $62, about one tenth of what it cost us in the States.
Dr. Arturo saw immediately what was wrong with Jim’s ankle. “Jim has gout.” Jim also has elevated cholesterol (who doesn’t). Dr. Arturo wrote out the necessary prescription for the gout and for the elevated cholesterol, and Jim’s ankle is just about back to where it should be. As usual, our wonderful Dr. Arturo’s fee was $25.
The best optometrist we know is Meyer Optical in Los Algodones, a border town near Yuma, and 50 miles east of Mexicali. Los Algodones is just south of Highway 8 west of Yuma. Meyer Optical is on the main street in Los Algonones, and its address is Calle 2, #174. Their telephone number from the U.S. is 011-52 (658) 517-7745, and you can email them at email@example.com.
On our first visit to Meyer Optical, Jim had his eyes checked there (for free) and learned some things his optometrist back in the U.S. never told him. First, Jim has the beginning of a cataract in his right eye. Second, the prescription for contact lenses is not quite the same as that for eyeglasses. Finally, Dr. Armando told Jim that all the “floaters” that have appeared in his eyes could be treated – however, Jim is not one for elective surgery.
Meyer Optical has a huge selection of eyeglass frames, and can usually give same day service. Jim got a pair of bifocals from Meyer Optical with polycarbonate lenses for much less than back in the U.S. We have been back to Meyer Optical a number of times, usually for my contact lenses – again at a very good price.
Appointment? Not needed, as with most medical facilities in Mexico—they do that stuff in the U.S.
If you want to visit a great website with all the doctors and dentists, etc. in Los Algodones, click on http://www.losalgodones.com/.
The Best Pharmacy
La Farmacia La Mas Barata
Calzado Justo Sierra #505
The only place to go for your prescription drugs (with no prescription needed) is La Farmacia La Mas Barata. Great prices, and the place is HUGE. They are open 24 hours a day, every day of the year!
They have everything. If, for some reason (usually for antibiotics), you need a prescription—no problem—they have a super cheap doctor ready to help you. For most things, however, you will not have a problem. If you go there after 3:00pm, ask for Luz Angelica. There will be plenty of people eager to assist you, but Luz Angelica is the gal we alway use. You can simply ask for her as everyone in the place knows her.
La Farmacia La Mas Barata is easy to locate, and is not too far from the border crossing. Here is your Google map.