Day 3 in the ICU

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I’m back from my fifth fabulous trip to the Grand. I have lots of great stories to tell about that vacation, but first I have to finish the heart attack trip.

Monday was not a whole lot different from Sunday. I got up, had breakfast at the buffet and then went in search of an ATM. I had brought more cash than usual on this trip, but the two a day taxi trips were making me burn through it. At the lobby I was told there was an ATM at the shopping center. The shopping center is right across from the Lindo. You simply walk out of the lobby, make a left and walk to the “main” road, cross it and you are at the shopping center. There are mostly jewelry shops it seems, a few restaurants that are part of the all-inclusive and a couple of clothing stores. There is also a tequileria and a shop that sells western boots. The chapel is over here as well. There is a pharmacy and the discos. And an ATM. Or so I was told. I wandered all over and couldn’t find it. It is right in the middle and eventually I did find it. Finding it didn’t do me any good though because it wouldn’t give me any money. It gave instructions in English and Spanish and gave the option of US dollars or pesos. I put my card in and went through the usual routine and then it said my transaction was incomplete. I tried again. Same result. Some people came in and I let them use it and they got money. They tried to help me, but it still said the transaction was incomplete. I finally gave up and took a taxi to the hospital.

However, every day I went and tried to get money from that machine (I’m a slow learner) and the same thing happened. Incomplete transaction message. Imagine my surprise when I got back home and checked my bank account online and saw that it showed money had been taken out every day to the tune of over $1000. It only showed one withdrawal per day, but it added up. I immediately called my bank and they did an “investigation” and the money was refunded. I didn’t ever find out what happened and why it showed money had been withdrawn, but it had an okay ending so I didn’t worry about it.

I don’t remember what kind of taxi ride it was that day. Some days I literally feared for my life because they drove so fast, weaving in and out. One time he drove excruciatingly slow and that driver didn’t have air conditioning. My travel agent and the travel insurance company had instructed me to get receipts. Some drivers gave me one and others said no. It didn’t matter because the travel insurance company refused to pay for any of my taxi rides to the hospital. They said none of my expenses were covered because my trip had not been interrupted, only Zung’s had. I didn’t find that out until we got home and I submitted the expenses. I guess I was supposed to put him in the ambulance and tell him I’d meet him at the airport if everything turned out okay. Do I sound bitter about that?

I got to the hospital and was really hoping that Zung would get sprung from the ICU today. Not today. Dr. Basave came in while I was there and said he wanted to continue to monitor Zung closely. I wanted to know what he was watching for and he replied, “Another infarct, rupture, arrhythmia.” That all sounded like a good reason to keep him. I honestly think in the US he would probably have been sent home, but Dr. Basave seemed a bit conservative. I asked if maybe Zung could take a little walk and he agreed he could. It was a very little walk from his bed to the door and back.

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it already, but I was really struck by how much more formal the doctors in Mexico were. They wore lab coats and shirts and ties. They just had a more formal “air” to them. I think that is a good thing. I know it sounds silly, but it makes you feel more confident.

Zung said they took him to take a shower this morning. They woke him at 6 am for that. He looked forward to meal times, which were on the late side. Breakfast at 8, lunch at 2 and dinner at 8. The main meal seemed to be lunch. Lunch and dinner both had soup, which Zung said was very good. Dinner was always a sandwich, chicken or turkey and cheese. Seriously, cheese for a cardiac patient?

Zung introduced me to the nurses that took care of him. He said Angela told him she was trying to learn more English, but when she did she planned to move to another country because she would be able to make more money. The hospital didn’t pay for the nurses to learn English, they had to pay for it themselves.

The hotel staff, waiters, bartenders and lobby staff all speak excellent English. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of value for the nurses to know English though. It seems strange that they aren’t valued the way bilingual health care workers in the US are.

Zung wanted to read a newspaper, so when “the visit was over” I went in search of one and an ATM that would give me money. I asked at the lobby where I might find an English newspaper and they suggested the Plaza las America mall nearby. My enthnocentricity was apparent when I assumed “America” meant English and I thought it was a tourist mall. It was not a tourist mall, at all. I wandered around and realized I was not in the tourist zone. I was able to find an ATM and a department store that had a copy of Time in English. I was able to get a taxi back to the hospital and thought I probably could have walked it. I visited with Zung as long as they would let me and then went back to the Lindo.

When the kids and I returned we had a very chatty taxi driver, super nice guy. He waited for us and on the way back asked who was in the hospital, then asked if it was stomach problems. We talked about his family and being a taxi driver. He and the kids went back and forth talking in Spanish and English. When we got back to the Lindo and I asked him how much I owed him he kind of frowned and said, “I don’t know, you are paying so much.” It was like he didn’t want to charge me. It was very heartwarming and I told him it was usually about $80 and I gave him $85. He said, “Are you sure?”

His name was Adolpho. He was one of the good ones.

But his talking so much made him drive kind of slow and we had to race to get to our dinner reservations. We ate at the Japanese restaurant, which is over at the Beach hotel. There were a couple of very drunk women trying to get in without reservations.

We were seated. I asked our waiter for some Cabernet and when he said they didn’t have it there I told him last year they had found me some. He found me some as well. I told him he was my best friend and tipped him well.

He did the tequila Boom Boom shooter (tequila, sprite and grenadine) with the boys (even Patrick with his white/kids bracelet). They slam the shot glass down and then after you drink it they shake your head. I’m not entirely sure what the point is, but it’s very popular. Susie and I declined.

We walked back to the room and I went to sleep. It felt almost normal.



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