January was Mental Health Month. As someone who has struggled with depression and anxiety for more than two decades, this month has a special meaning for me. Back in Canada, January was always the longest month of the year, although other months also have 31 days. But January is in the middle of winter when the nights are long and the days are short. January is also synonymous with snow and cold.
But this year I am in Mexico, a sunny and warm climate. Yet January was a very stressful month for me. I had a huge decision to make. It was obvious that the cataracts were seriously limiting my vision. And I could not fathom returning to Canada in the winter. I haven’t experienced a Winnipeg winter in several years. And if I did return to Canada in April as I had originally planned, the surgery was still several months away.
I had seen two doctors here in Mazatlan, and I did not feel comfortable nor confident with either oi them. The technology here leaves a lot to be desired. And the references I had received from others were far from encouraging. In fact, it was strongly suggested that I have the surgery done elsewhere.
And what do I do when I’m upset? I write. So I wrote a blog post called Curve Ball. A former student of mine from Guadalajara is a doctor as well as a good friend. He read my post and asked what was wrong. So I explained my dilemma to him. He reassured me that cataract surgery is very common and highly successful in Mexico. He also offered to make inquiries for me among his colleagues. Touched by his concern, I accepted his gracious offer. And a few days later I was on an overnight bus to Guadalajara.
Surgery. Ugh! I’ve had two of them in the last 5 years. But they were back in Canada. Now it turns out that I need cataract surgery. I have decided to have it here in Mexico rather than be put on a several month waiting list in Winnipeg.
The other day I ventured out to a lab for the required pre-op tests. I had often walked by this particular lab as it’s conveniently located close to a grocery store that I frequent. But this was my first time walking into the facility.
A guard opened the door for me and handed me a number. After a short wait of less than five minutes it was my turn. I handed the requisition to the attendant and was delighted to find that she spoke English. Although I had prepared my vocabulary in Spanish, it was comforting to converse in my own language. I explained to her that I was traveling to Guadalajara for the surgery and that the results should not be sent to the doctor in Mazatlan who had requested the tests. She assured me it was no problem as this was a common procedure here in Mexico.
I barely had a chance to sit back down again in the waiting room when my name was called. The service was amazingly efficient. In less than forty-five minutes, blood, urine, chest x-ray and EKG were all complete. So Canada, you need to get your act together in this respect as well.
I was astonished to be told that all the results would be ready by 3 pm the same day. I thought back to the last time I had pre-op tests in Winnipeg in 2013 where they required a 3 week interval between the lab tests and the surgery date. My cataract surgery is scheduled for next week.
I wasn’t able to come back that day but the following morning when I returned everything was ready for me to take to Guadalajara.
Future blog posts about my experience having cataract surgery here in Mexico are on the horizon.