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Practicing Medicine without a license--Cuenca style...

One of the reasons that we are spending a week in Cuenca, is that after 30 months in Ecuador, we figured that it was time for another round of physicals and renewed lab results.


We have copies of our last batch of lab results, and even a copy of a Kaiser printout, so Roxanne dutifully copied down all of the tests we wanted, and bright and early Monday morning we showed up at the really modern lab right across the street from Mt Sinai Hospital.  We were quite a sight--two Gringos holding a cute little doggy, ordering a mass of tests from the young woman at the reception desk. 

She went down our list, rapidly entering codes for each test (or group of them), and finally printed out a new ID card for us, and a long list of labels to be attached to our blood vials and urine sample.  The cost:  $41.00 for me, and $54.00 for Rox.

We trooped over to the lab waiting area, and were called immediately. where a very professional lab tech filled up three vials, and pointed us in the direction of the cup-filling area--we had bought our own urine sample cup for a quarter, so we didn't need the free one that the lab tech was offering.

We arrived at 8:30 am, and were on the way out at 9:00!!!  And...I pick up the lab results this morning!

Rox wanted to get a mammogram, but we weren't quite sure of the procedure, so on the way out, we saw the Radiology office, and she walked in to see what she had to do--remembering the two month wait at Kaiser, she expected to be scheduled some time in the future.

They told her to wait 15 minutes, and that the cost was $45.00, and she was called right on time by a very professional male technician, using very modern equipment.  After the exam, he told her to wait  10 minutes for the doctor to read the results.  Sure enough, in 10 minutes, the tech came out, told her the doctor had examined her results, and everything was just fine--"no problems!!"  The whole deal from the minute she walked in to the minute she walked out was less than 30 minutes.

Since we were cooking right along, we decided to see if we could get our hair done--and sure enough, there was no waiting, and I got mine quickly, and left Rox to her 3 hour appointment, where she receives "the works".  Total cost for me and Rox, plus a ton of playtime for Coquita with the hairdresser's three year old daughter--$39.00--big tip added, however.

During Rox's appointment, I hoped to get a hearing exam to see what kind of hearing aid I was going to need.  At the Coast, with it's constant "white noise" of the wave action, Rox has been getting more frustrated by my continued response of "what?" or "say that again!" to every statement she makes.  She says that I just have to get a hearing aid...period...

Well Mt Sinai Hospital has a diagnostic office, but they were filled, so I went to St Inez about a kilometer away.  I found the doctor's office, his staff administered a 40 minute hearing test--more complete than I have ever had--and sat me down with the results and their recommendations.  All this for $30.00  Turns out that I need the kind that sits behind the ear and has a transparent tube that goes into the ear.

Now just about every hearing aid manufacturer makes a model like this, and they are all adjustable by the user, so now I just have to decide how much I want to pay, and who to buy it from.  My hearing loss was bad enough in the one ear, that those "invisible" little hearing aids were not powerful enough.

And that's not all!  I have been increasingly bothered by an old knee injury, and Jan mentioned to me when she and Bob visited, that maybe my injury is not the "knee replacement" kind, but might be fixed by surgery to repair the meniscus.  There is only one way to make sure, and that is to order an MRI of that knee--so I did.

Before I picked up Rox from her hair appointment, I dropped by the MRI office, talked to an American Board certified radiologist, who spoke perfect English, and reminded me of our other saintly doctor, Dr. Parra.   He listened to my story, and said that an MRI was certainly in order, and he scheduled me for 3:30 the same afternoon--cost $250.00.  I would say that in the US, that test is now approaching $2,000.

I was a little nervous as I picked up Rox, who looked great, and Coquita, who was worn out from 3 hours of non-stop playing with a 3 year old who loves her.   We headed for our place, had a quick bite to eat, and then I headed out with my passport and passbook to get the cash needed for the MRI.

I showed up a little early, and the radiologist greeted me, I paid the clerk, and she walked me about two blocks to a modern building that had lots of electronic locking doors.  I filled out a form stating that I didn't have a bunch of stuff inside of me or my head, that would screw up the test...and off I went to the changing room.  This gown actually had a back!!!

I was pleasantly surprised to see that the new Phillips MRI had a much larger opening than I was used to at Kaiser, and that it was open on the other end.  No claustrophobia for me today!!! (never had it before, either).

So I get up on the gurney, the tech adjusts the height, and packs my knee with a bunch of heavy pads, gets me another pillow for my head, and provides me with a set of earphones--not for me to hear anything, but to block the sound of the MRI.

In I go, with the "panic button" safely tucked between my fingers.  Since this was only for my knee, I was put in feet first, and my head was actually outside the "tube".

Then we start...I had forgotten how loud MRI's are...there were loud noises that sounded like a whirring airplane motor, a jack hammer, a car wreck, and once in awhile, it sounded like the whole bunch of then all had a wreck off of a metal bridge...

The only discomfort was that the test lasted 29 minutes, and that is a long time to "not move".  I could feel the hair stand up on end around my knee, but that was the only physical sensation.  I must have dozed off, because it seemed like no time until the tech was removing the earphones, and I was staring at a friendly face telling me that the test was over.

I took a minute to shake out, went into the changing room and got dressed, and found the Doctor looking at another patent's results.  The computer picture of a rotating interior of a skull, in full color, was truly amazing.  He told me that he would write up my report and go over it with me if I would be in his office in an hour.  I told him that we had a dinner engagement at that time, and that I would see him in the morning.

But, if I had stuck around, the whole procedure from the time I ordered the MRI to the time that the Doctor went over the results with me was less than five hours...

We figured that it would have taken over two months just to schedule this all in the US.

And, to cap it off, we had a wonderful evening with Rich and Nancy, caught up on all the gossip, and enjoyed the great food while catching up on everyone's projects.

To say that we had had a packed Monday, would be putting it mildly...


Posted on Tue, March 2, 2010 at 01:56AM by Registered CommenterBob & Roxanne | Comments4 Comments

Reader Comments (4)

Thanks Bob, newcomers always ask about medical care in Ecuador. We will refer them to your excellent write up. Your experience echoes ours; availability of prompt and inexpensive medical care is very comforting.

March 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterChuck Watson

Hi Chuck...thanks...we have been telling folks stories like this since we arrived and discovered Dr. Parra over two years ago. We thought that a little naration of how it really works would make it seem more real.
And...thanks for the many referrals from your website, as you and Nancy send more folks than any other blog, by far...

Bob & Rox

March 3, 2010 | Registered CommenterBob & Roxanne

Such good information. My husband and I have dreams of a retirement in Ecuador one day. Just 2 weeks ago he had an MRI on his heart, routine followup from a couple years ago. We have well above average insurance. His part alone... tada.... over $1800.00. Absolutely ridiculous.

A better lifestyle, better medical costs at retirement, a more active lifestyle as well as some adventure are just a few of the reason we are so strongly looking at Ecuador.

Love reading all the posts!

Crystal Clifton

April 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCrystal Clifton

Love the blog and your place. Hope to come visit around labor day. Curious how much you may have paid for your hearing aid. I may take the time to get that done when my wife and I are there.

May 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLonnie Kohl

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