Fortunately I wasn't working on the roof but I was still over two meters above the ground. Not a chance to do anything except suck it up. Well, more like let it out.
After catching my breath from the pounding my old paramedic skills kicked in and I started my self-assessment: wiggle toes, remember the date and time, recall what just happened, etc. I determined things weren't too bad but I knew there was potential for serious damage given the various points that hurt. A couple of attempts to roll over and get up however told me quickly it was time for a little help so we called for the ambulance to package me up and take me to the clinic.
The ambulance was actually quite prompt and manned by three quite well-trained technicians. They accomplished a fine primary and secondary survey. Cervical collar in place they loaded me onto a backboard, strapped me in and with help from friends hauled my big butt out of the yard and into the bandaid box. Friendly and professional they apologized for the lack of air conditioning!
I opted for Clinica Carranza rather than the two free hospitals mostly for the level of care but as well because I thought I could afford to pay my way rather than add pressure to an already burdened socialized medical system.
The clinic has an emergency room, small with only four beds that I saw yet from the look of equipment, quite complete. My Spanish must be improving as I was able to confirm the turnover between ambulance tech and the emergency room doctor was complete. What is it about hospital johnnie's? My was a fine deep blue color but shorter than propriety demanded. Same-same everywhere I guess. The doctor did his thing and set me up for x-rays. Apparently some special procedure was happening in Radiography so I had to wait a bit. During that time my orthopedic surgeon arrived. He knows us well unfortunately having treated Wifey for back pain and myself for my broken wrist. We joked and he did his survey and seemed concerned but his bedside manner was quite reassuring.
X-rays completed and reviewed by the radiologist and my doctor it was good news overall. Two manageable compression fractures of vertebrae (8th thoracic and 1st lumbar) and two broken ribs left side, rear. No surgery necessary! Not bad considering what could have happened. "Mucha suerte" - very lucky.
Room for the night was arranged and IV's started for drugs. Wheeled up to a private room (there are no shared rooms in the clinic) I had wonderful care by very diligent nurses and nursing assistants. That night I had a general practice doc on the floor who came by to check in on me. He started right off practicing his English which was quite good. I asked him to have a seat in Maya just as a joke and by begorrah he understood and taught me a few extra words of Maya. We had a fine conversation.
The level of care provided by the ambulance crew, clinic staff and doctors was excellent and nothing less than I would expect in the USofA except two things: there were no unnecessary procedures (CAT scan, MRI, etc.) and the pay-as-you-go process helped keep all the accounting squared away.
I won't harp on the "unnecessary" procedures except to say we need some serious tort reform to help lower prices in hospitals. Also, it's well known that self-pay patients are swindled as they are the only ones who, absent being poverty cases, can pay their way. Insurance companies and especially Medicaid (et al) limit payments so hospitals make it up where they can with $5 aspirin tablets and soaking the self-payers.
Pay-as-you go at this clinic meant you were expected to make a deposit for care upon arrival and, as the balance was reduced, supplement the account periodically. Before the staff would get your wheelchair for the trip out the door you have to show the balance has been paid.
We had two bills : one for the ER and one for the room. The ambulance trip was gratis under the socialized care system here in Mexico. I can provide a breakdown upon request but the total bills were 3,196 pesos for the ER, drugs, x-rays and specialist and 2,751.10 pesos for the room, two meals, and a couple of IVs with drugs. US$457.47. All inclusive.
So here I am now with an unfinished porch soon to be relegated to a local carpenter to finish. But if I do say so myself, and I can as this is my blog, the basic structure is in place and everything is level and square so he should be able to make short work of it.
I'm not wheelchair-bound and am allowed to ambulate from bed to chair and back which is all I really need. I have a fine collection of electronic books to keep me occupied and am working on a project list for the next 6 weeks that should keep me mentally active and somewhat productive on the writing side.
Most importantly of all, our friends near and far have been very supportive and I thank them all for their help, attention, and fine jokes at my expense. It's not easy for me to be on the receiving end of such help but I think I could get used to it! I certainly can't say enough about my lovely wife who has been brave and stalwart through it all. She's taken the organizing of bed and board such that I can be very comfortable and avoid unnecessary movement. I can't write enough how much I love and appreciate her.
As a final note on this episode I received a visit from the local fire chief. Apparently I chatted with the ambulance techs and told them about our time in fire and rescue. They came, literally hat in hand - a very nice paramedic hat they presented me - and a request for assistance with procuring donated equipment from the USofA. As it turns out, I was looking for some way to volunteer and give back to our little area that has so welcomed us and this could be a fine opportunity given our backgrounds and contacts. So not too far down the road I'll be introducing Los Bomberos (the fireman) y Paramedicos de Chetumal on Facebook and online. At which time, of course, I'll be looking for my kind readers to spread the word. But not until then, I still want to research what they have, want, need, etc. and look into organizations we can associate with in the our mutual pursuit of excellence!
So, as I've been reminded I'm behind on my recipes, the most appropriate for this episode given the Humpty-Dumpty aspect would be Egg Drop Soup. Really easy to make, only requires a few ingredients, and if done right is as soothing as your mom's chicken soup. The chicken stock is a great base to modify with all kinds of delightful treats like a dash sesame oil, tofu pieces (use the extra firm tofu in cubes), small chunks of tomato...there's really no limit.
Egg Drop Soup
4 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 lb fresh mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 lb baby bok choy, thinly sliced
4 spring onions, thinly sliced
1/2" fresh ginger, peeled, sliced
1 stem lemongrass, bruised
1/2 teaspoon peppercorns
1 tomato, squeezed of juices and chopped
Soy sauce (to taste)
Dash of sesame oil
et cetera, et cetera, et cetera!
1 tsp cornstarch (this added cornstarch doesn't change the soup much but prevents the eggs from becoming rubbery)
Heat stock with extras after putting the smaller pieces into a tea ball or spice bag and simmer for 15 minutes. Scoop out all the flavoring extras with a slotted spoon. Taste and add salt or soy sauce as needed.
Mix 1 TBS of cornstarch in a small bowl with water and whisk into the stock until incorporated. Add more cornstarch if you like a thicker soup...remember, it's cuisine and you're the beneficiary so make it the way you like it!
Whisk eggs with 1 tsp of cornstarch. If you are going to be adding 4 eggs, keep soup at a very minimum simmer otherwise for just 2 eggs you can remove if from the heat source. Hold the fork over the bowl with one hand and pour the contents very slowly through the tines and into the soup. Using your other hand and a spoon or whisk, simultaneously stir the soup gently so the eggs mix.
If not already done, remove from heat and let stand until eggs finish cooking.
Serve immediately, topped with thinly sliced scallions.