Infección del Oído

We recently spent 8 glorious days and 8 restful nights on the tiny Mexican island of Isla Mujeres. Well, actually it was only 7 restful nights because one midnight halfway through the trip poor little Mack awoke in distress. His ears hurt.  Bad.

None of my kids had ever endured an ear infection, but based on his tears I knew the pain was serious. According to the front desk attendant at the hotel, the nearest hospital was 1/2 mile away. With no car, we had no choice but to walk. I slipped on my shoes and carried Mack through the darkened streets alone.  Aside from feral dogs nosing through the trash and the static hum from transformers on the electrical poles, it was a silent march for my boy and me.

We arrived at the emergency room shortly after 2 am. The hospital was ramshackle. Window blinds hung askew, metal file cabinets rusted from the sea air, furniture was rickety and aged.  The floor was grimey and fluorescent bulbs buzzed in in the ceiling.

But, the quality of care was excellent.  The nurse took Mack’s vitals and then promptly woke the snoozing doctor who quietly called us down a dark hallway and into an examination room.  Never before have I been more grateful for the moderately conversational grasp of Spanish I know. The nurses and doctor on-call spoke no English. After a thoughtful and thorough examination the doctor confirmed my suspicion.  Poor little Mack had an infección del oído. ¡Pobrecito!

After an easy 30 minutes we left with a diagnosis and a prescription. The cost for excellent emergency room care was 95 pesos – just $7.85. I firmly believe all human beings deserve equal access to adequate medical care, and if a poor country like Mexico can offer strangers like us inexpensive care, why is my co-pay at a US emergency room $250?!

Much to his dismay, Mack wasn’t allowed to swim in the pool for the rest of the trip (the doctor said the infection likely came from pool water that wasn’t maintained properly), but he was allowed to swim in the ocean!

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