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La inyeccion de la camarera (03/16/2008)
By John Edstrom

People ask me why I don't write more often. As often, say, as the editor of this operation, my wife, who is generally good for a column an issue, unless she is very sick. If only a little sick, she can be counted upon for a column about her illness, if nothing else. I explain that I, as an editorialist, must have a suitable subject, which can't be scrounged from recent personal experience; about this subject a sensible opinion must then be rendered, buttressed by suitable facts arranged within the framework of a logical argument. Skimp on, or get these last wrong, and your detractors will be all over you next issue. So editorials are not as thick on the ground around here as columns.

Herewith, then, is a column on what I did on vacation along with details of a recent illness. Los Flamingos, the hotel we have stayed at in Acapulco off and on since we first visited Mexico in 1979, sits high on a cliff overlooking the Pacific. Far off in the distance towards China the sun sets at about 6:45 every evening, about 45 minutes after the onset of cocktail hour unless you are hard core, a condition which subtropical Mexico tends to encourage. Sunset is usually the most rigorous of the day's activities.

To avoid falling into a malaise there I, years ago, adopted the habit of a daily swim in the pool, at least a half hour of bracing laps. This may not seem like much in a climate like ours, but down in Mexico it serves to organize the entire day, giving one a sense of orderly Prussian rigor, and a satisfying moral superiority over the idlers baking on the lounges like greased lizards. Unfortunately, one of these had apparently not changed his grease at the appropriate interval, and perhaps some of the bad stuff got into the pool, and thence my ear. In any case, within a few hours after my first swim I could feel my right ear canal swelling as the hearing on that side diminished.

In Mexico it is a little scary to be ill, if for no other reason than one is far away from the familiar facilities and faces at home. To lessen the trauma for sick tourists, there are clinics that specialize in sending doctors out on location to the various hotels, and Adolfo, who runs Los Flamingos, arranged for an appointment with a médico in our room. She was a lovely woman, and very reassuring and motherly for one so young, but unfortunately, spoke little English. Through a stilted communication of pidgin English and broken Spanish, it was made known that I had an ear infection, (which I already knew), and that I would need to take two different kinds of pills, and also, three injections, inyecciones, please lower your drawers, lie down, and don't move.

I hadn't realized that people still got shots in the butt anymore, what with the general squeamishness in regard to needles. ( Although I had, just as an aside, been prescribed pain relief in suppository form in Italy.) Thankfully, the doctor had a woman's light touch with the sticker, and the unpleasantness was minimal; but who would administer the remaining two injections, I wanted to know?

She saw no particular difficulty. Just go to a pharmacy, or any medical facility, she said, and pocketing her 600 pesos, off she went with a sweet smile and an "adiós." She had assured me that I would need no eardrops, a nostrum in which they no longer believe down there. It just puts more junk in the ear, she explained.

The next day I went to the front desk and asked the girl there, Angelés, what I might do about getting another inyeccion. I had the two ampules of medicine, I explained, but no syringes. All of this in English, you can be sure, having learned long ago not to trust my Spanish to conduct important transactions. I could just picture the maid appearing to give me an enema.

In fact, it was the maid who came, but with a syringe antiseptically sealed in plastic. Just wait till I go get my glasses, she said. I was skeptical, but she had the required alcohol swabs, ticked the ampule and syringe expertly, and ordered me to lower my drawers, lie down, and don't move, with the voice of authority. So I did, and took my pills as ordered also, yet a week later in Winona my ear was still swollen, full of junk, and not operating.

Fortunately, I was able to get Dr. Wilfahrt to see me on short notice. He looked in my ear, and pronounced it full of junk. I told him what the doctor in Mexico had prescribed, including that they don't believe in ear drops anymore down south of the border. "Well, I still do," said he, and prescribed seven days worth, four drops twice a day. He apologized for not having a free sample of the otic potion, which I shrugged off until I saw the bill at the pharmacy.

Up here, the medical consumer doesn't realize that a shot in the butt can be administered by a chambermaid. On the other hand, my ear infection is clearing up nicely.



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