August just happens to be National Wellness Month. I talked a bit about self-care last month and I’ve chronicled my own challenges with health issues and navigating the Mexican healthcare system over the years, so I won’t rehash that. However, I’d like to share some statistics to emphasize the importance of adequate health care for women, no matter what country you live in. Women’s symptoms are systematically dismissed by doctors resulting in poor prognosis, unnecessary suffering, and early death.
According to the World Health Organization:
- A thousand (1000) women die every day of the consequences of pregnancy and childbirth.
- A female in a low-income country can expect to live 24 fewer years than a female who lives in a high-income country.
- One-third (1 / 3) of all female deaths are due to stroke and cardiovascular disease.
- More than four million girls under the age of five die from preventable communicable diseases every year.
Today I’d like to share Bonnie’s health story. Bonnie is one of our ladies in our support group Women Surviving Rural Mexico. This summer, Bonnie had surgery which was an ordeal in and of itself. She didn’t know she had to have blood donors lined up. She had to travel to a medical facility outside of her area. And while she was in recovery, a nurse found a lump on her breast.
The nurse told her she should get a mammogram immediately. Bonnie went to her local clinic and had one done. She commented that the equipment was not very modern and the whole process made her feel as if her breasts had been flattened in a tortilla press. The technician told her that the results would be available in two months.
Since the nurse stressed that the mammogram was urgent, Bonnie asked for the CD disc copy and took it to a private doctor for a diagnosis. The private doctor charged 200 pesos and gave her a printout to take to the clinic run by Seguro Popular (Mexican health insurance). Based on those results, Bonnie was scheduled for an ultrasound.
There was only one technician trained to use the ultrasound at the clinic. The results weren’t available for two weeks. Bonnie then took the ultrasound information back to Seguro Popular which referred her to another doctor a biopsy.
She went to the clinic for that appointment which performed the biopsy on the lump without anesthesia. Bonnie had to take the tissue sample to a private lab for analysis. That cost 400 pesos but the results were ready later that same week. She was given a referral to another doctor for a second opinion.
The doctor couldn’t see her the day she had the appointment but sent her to a health fair in a town about an hour from her home where they did a second biopsy free of charge.
When the results were ready three weeks later, Bonnie took them back to the doctor who then said she would get a referral to the hospital in San Luis Potosi, a three-hour drive. Several trips later and Bonnie was able to see a specialist. The lump is cancerous. She is scheduled to have a mastectomy on September 11. Chemotherapy is scheduled to begin after surgery.
The medical staff signed Bonnie up for Gastos Catastróficos once the cancer diagnosis was official which will cover more of her treatments and follow-up care.
Since breast cancer is one of the most expensive cancers to treat, Mexico public healthcare, despite all the waiting for appointments and results, is a godsend for Bonnie and her family.
If you wish to help Bonnie on her way to wellness, you can send your donation via Google Pay or Paypal to happycrabb at gmail.com
In honor of Wellness Month, A Woman’s Survival Guide to Mexican Healthcare is free for the next few days at Amazon. As you can see from Bonnie’s story, navigating the Mexican healthcare system is complicated but doable if you are determined enough.