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My spinal operation in Mexicali, Mexico II

Congressman Bob Filner was recently presented with a plaque in recognition of his introduction of H.R. 3270, Visitors Interested in Strengthening America Act (VISA Act), which would grant humanitarian visa waivers to children and their parents coming across the border for medical appointments or for educational or cultural events. Pictured here with the Congressman are (from left) Gloria Maria Loza Galvan, Assembly Speaker, State of Baja California; Dr. Carlos O. Maya Quevedo, American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons; and Jose Luis Jaral Moreno, Binational Committee for Immigrant Human Rights.

Dr. Carlos Maya: Congressman Bob Filner was recently presented with a plaque in recognition of his introduction of H.R. 3270, Visitors Interested in Strengthening America Act (VISA Act), which would grant humanitarian visa waivers to children and their parents coming across the border for medical appointments or for educational or cultural events. Pictured here with the Congressman are (from left) Gloria Maria Loza Galvan, Assembly Speaker, State of Baja California; Dr. Carlos O. Maya Quevedo, American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons & U.K.; and Jose Luis Jaral Moreno, Binational Committee for Immigrant Human Rights.

Thursday morning, September 10th – A nurse came in at 7:00am and inserted an IV drip into my right hand. “Getting ready for your operation,” she said. Mentally, I was ready and excited about this whole procedure.

At 8:45am,  the nurses came in with a gurney and transferred me from my bed to the gurney.  This was it!

Jim had arrived early to keep me company, and waited in my room, while I was wheeled out and into the operating room.

There, waiting for me were a neurosurgeon, two anesthetists, and two nurses.

Dr. Carlos Maya, my spine surgeon was outside, in the hallway, speaking to someone. The doctors and the nurses were dressed in green scrubs.

“Buenos dias,” I smiled. “Buenos dias,” they all answered returning my smile.

The two nurses started to wrap my lower legs with gauze bandages and fitted each leg with a dark blue Velcro-like stocking to hold the bandages up.

Dr. Fernando, the anesthetist, spoke English to me, asking me how I liked Mexicali.

“I live here in Mexicali,” I answered. He was surprised at that, and we continued to chit chat about life and food in Mexicali.

As Dr. Maya entered the operating room also dressed in green scrubs, everyone fell silent.

Dr. Maya sat down next to me and said, “MaryAnn, I will make sure the cyst is out, and that you will have no pain. Don’t worry – everything will be fine.”

As soon as Dr. Maya finished speaking, Dr. Fernando showed me two syringes, saying, “Which one would you like, the one to put you to sleep, or the epidural?” He looked at me and said, ” I suggest the one to put you to sleep.”

I agreed. Dr. Fernando said, “You will have no pain, as I will inject the anesthetic into your IV drip.

In no time, I was out.

My MRI showing the Tarlov Cyst

My MRI showing the Tarlov Cyst

Three hours later, I woke up in the recovery room. There was no headache, and no side effects. I felt great!

Jim was standing just outside the room peering in. “MaryAnn, Dr. Maya found a second cyst, one inch long – you had twins, Honey,” he smiled.

Here in Mexicali, the doctors keep their patients in the recovery room for at least two hours to make sure that they are fine before returning them to their rooms.

At 3:00pm, I was wheeled back to my room and transferred to my bed. “You did just great, Honey!” Jim kissed my forehead and grinned.

The first thing I did was wiggle my toes – yippee! They all worked!

“Jim, I have no more pain,” I said, sleepily.

“Wow, that is amazing, MaryAnn! Dr. Maya is a genius!”

There were now three tubes coming out of me, my IV, a tube from my spine to drain the blood, and a catheter for the bladder.

X-Ray showing my Tarlov Cyst removal

X-Ray showing my Tarlov Cyst removal

Through the IV, I was given pain medicine, antibiotics, and medicine to calm my tummy.

For the rest of the day, I slept.

When I awoke to have a light dinner, Jim was there. He had arranged to feed our pets, and decided to spend the night in the room with me, sleeping on the sofa.

Jim and I slept very well that night. Jim was relieved that everything had gone so well, and, for the first time in 13 years, I had no pain in my back.

Around 9:30am the next morning, Dr. Maya came to pay me a visit. He explained that, in addition to the cyst we knew about which was about half and inch long, he had found a second, larger, cyst about an inch long.

He then looked me over and removed the small plastic tube draining blood from behind my spine by simply pulling it out very slowly.

When he was finished, Dr. Maya wrote out a prescription for an anti-inflammatory, a pain killer, and an antibiotic, and told me I could go home, anytime, but that I had to rest in bed for four weeks. The healing was important, especially the internal healing. The two cysts were in the middle of spinal nerves, and if scar tissue formed there, it could push on the nerves, causing pain.

“You come to see me at my office on September 25th,” he said.

“Dr. Maya,” I said, “you are a genius – thank you so much!”

Dr. Maya looked at me, and pointing upwards with his finger, said, “No, it’s God.”

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17 comments to My spinal operation in Mexicali, Mexico II

  • Tom A

    Dear Maryann,
    I read your Tarlov Op posts n found it most informative. My wife has been diagnosed with tarlov, and I want to make sure that she gets the best surgeon we can afford. Like you, we have no health insurance, but we think we will be able to afford the bill for the surgery in Mexicali.
    We will be making an appmt with Dr Maya, n will take it from there, using u as a reference, if that’s OK with u?
    Take care,
    Tom and Christine A
    Seattle, WA

  • That sounds like the operation. You were brave to go through that with such a great attitude!

  • claudine

    “We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.”
    ~Edith Lovejoy Pierce

  • Dana: Google translates your comment as: “Am reading your site in amazement as the patients are satisfied with you. I would also like you to operate. I’m from the Czech Republic. I come. I have a Tarlov cyst 1mm at the base of mine. Thank you for submitting the information.”

    I’m not sure that you intend to come to Mexico, but my Tarlov operation was 100% successful, and much cheaper that it would have been in the U.S.
    Nejsem si jistý, že máte v úmyslu přijet do Mexika, ale můj Tarlov operace byla 100% úspěšná, a mnohem levnější, že by byla v USA

  • Dana Černá

    Pročítá vaše stránky užasem jak jsou pacienti u vás spokojený. Chtěla bych také u vás operovat. jsem z České republiky. Mohu přijed. Mám tarlovovu cystu.1mm u kořene mýchy. Děkuji za zaslané informace.Dana Černá

  • Correct – the cysts cannot be removed – only drained. That is what Dr. May meant. Had he removed them or damaged the nerves I would have been in pain on awakening from the operation. When I awoke, however, I was PAIN FREE, and remain so six weeks later.

    You stated in a prior comment, “I have had surgery with a wonderful doctor in the US and the doctor himself was paid $5000.00 for performing the surgery. Yes a TC surgery.”

    One of Dr. Feigenbaum’s patients has challenged your claim stating, “I haven’t heard of a surgery that cheap in about 40 years. Now, I was stretching when I said Dr, F charged 100,000. but I looked the bill up and it was 82,000.”

    Could you clarify your statement, by stating clearly what YOU paid for the operation instead of what “the doctor himself was paid.”

    Could you also share with us and our readers the name and contact information of your doctor?


  • Debra

    I didn’t write this Maryann you did, you said your doctor said “I will make sure the cyst is out” Didn’t want to leave any unsuspecting readers with the mistaken impression that these cysts can be removed.

  • I think we all know that, Debra.

  • Debra

    Tarlov Cysts cannot be removed, they can be reduced but a true Tarlov cyst has nerves running through the walls and to cut them would leave you in constant pain for the rest of your life.

  • Thanks Rob: Like you, we are uninsured. The insured people, if they can get the operation in the states pay far more in insurance payments, co-pays and whatnot than we paid for my operation in Mexicali. I see that people in the U.S. and elsewhere are suffering, looking for a doctor who knows something, and battling their reluctant insurance companies. If they just stopped paying the insurance premiums and saved the money, they could get the operation done here. Jim was paying $96 per month for his Medicare part A. He had been paying that for years and his payments over the years came to better than $10,000. He finally discontinued his part A, and we can devote the savings to health care here.
    Sorry to hear about your being laid off – if Obama puts in the public option like he promised, and like most folks want – a lot of people would be OK.
    God Bless,

  • Rob Andover

    Mary Ann, I’m glad to hear that your operation went well and you are recovering. I am also glad to hear that affordable health care of high quality is fairly close to me, living in Phoenix. I was recently laid off like so many have been and without insurance, I am really grateful to know that Mexico is an option should I need a procedure. Thanks again for sharing your life in Mexicali with the masses! Rob Andover, Phoenix, Arizona

  • Hi Rebecca:
    Thank you for your kind wishes. Not to worry! You will be fine. If you have any questions, feel free to email me.
    God Bless,

  • Rebecca Crawmer

    Hi MaryAnn,

    Glad to hear all is going well! Keeping you to my thought and prayers! I am on the beginning of this journey and not looking forward to it. Appreciate all your comments. My hubby worked in Mexicali for 1.5 yrs. & i visited him there!

    Kind regards,

  • Dan:
    I am now in my 2nd stage of recovery. I saw Dr. Carlos Maya on Friday, Oct 9ty.. He was very pleased with the complete healing of my incision. Dr. Maya informed me that my 28-day bed rest has paid off – no painful scar tissue inside! I am taking anti-inflammatory and pain pills, but only for the operation and not for the intense pain I had with the Tarlov cyst. I have to walk from 5 to 10 minutes a day and slowly increase that. Dr. Maya said he had to cut through 5 layers of skin, etc. and that is where the pain comes from – again NOTHING like the pain from the cyst.
    I will be writing another post about the operation in a couple of days.
    Until then,
    God Bless,

  • Dan

    MaryAnn, Look forward to your next post, I am trying my best to get as much info before going for surgery. Great news that you are free of pain. Wishing you the best. Take it easy.

  • Dan: Thanks. So far so good. It has been one month since my operation, and I am completely free of any pain from the Tarlov cysts. I no longer have to take steroids or pain killers, and my body is getting back to normal. I still have some pain from the operation, but it is nothing like what I was going through before. My next post is going to be on Tarlov cysts and will cover some things I have learned about what is going on in the area in the U.S.
    I hope you are bearing up, and will make the right decision. Mine was to have the operation, and I don’t regret it for a second. With the high costs in the U.S., and being uninsured, Mexico turned out to be my salvation.
    God Bless,

  • Dan

    Wishing you a speedy recovery from surgery. Please post on how you are coming along post surgery. I am also a fellow Tarlovian and looking into the possibility of surgery.

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