Ecuador, like a lot of South American countries, does not control non-narcotic medicines as severely as they are controlled in North America. Since we don't take a bunch of medicines, we have only recently begun to explore just what is really available for the asking, at the numerous pharmacies that seem to be everywhere.
I don't know if anyone gives a person a better deal than the Veteran Affairs Hospital system. But, as I go to refill prescriptions for blood thinner and a mild "water pill" to make my blood pressure perfect, we find the price is similar, but there is no doctor needed as a middleman. For example, Coumadin (warfarin), and Diazide (hidroclorotiazida) cost less than $10.00/month
What opened my eyes, however, was when I had a pretty bad head cold this week, and felt that nagging tickle in my throat as soon as my head hit the pillow, producing a hacking cough, and no sleep. I've had this kind of cold over the years and knew that the best way to get sleep was to take a dose of Codeine cough medicine just before bed. I looked it up on Google, and was surprised to see that it is seriously abused by kids in the US, to the point that pharmacies are making it even more difficult for patients to get relief. The bottle is 60mg and is perfect for the kids to pour into one Sprite and pass around. With an added piece of candy, it is called "Purple Drank" in the southern states.
Well, with this information clanging around in my head, I had little hope, when I took the printout to the nearest pharmacy, that I could get it without a prescription. As I greeted the pharmacist with a hearty "buenas dias", I got a friendly greeting in return, but as he looked at my printout, he shook his head. I knew my luck had run out, but he walked back to the rear and came back with two bottles, one with and one without lung decongestant. (Expectorant) I was waiting for him to ask for a prescription, but he asked me which bottle I wanted, I asked the price, and then said "I'll take them both" Total price: $5.60
This stuff is about 15% stronger than the stuff the kids drink, and I can feel it doing its work better and faster. I just have a lot more respect for it. I am now at the point where I sound bad, but feel a lot better.
About Lab Tests:
We went in for physicals after checking our Kaiser printouts, and Googling any new symptoms. Turns out that, Yes, the doctor can order your battery of tests, just like in the States, but so can you!!!
Rox has always had a lower than normal temperature and super low blood pressure, so as she was ordering her battery of tests, pretty much reading from her Kaiser printout, she also ordered a few extra tests for Thyroid and Pituitary gland functions, just to make sure that the hormones that regulate this important stuff, are functioning perfectly.
These tests cost a couple of bucks more, and when we brought them in to our really great doctor, he asked why we ordered the extra tests, Rox told him, he read the results carefully, and pronounced her glands to be in perfect order, and not to worry about these readings...
He also congratulated her on her good health...
He said I had a "strong, good heart"--sounds good to me