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My Medical Month

  

 Health and Medical 

By Karen McConnaughey 

I was full of energy one day and decided to make appointments that have been long overdue. For instance, it’s been four years since I’ve been to the dermatologist. I thought it was time. So I thought I would share my experiences and costs with you since those are the type of questions we’re asked most…“What about health care in Mexico?” And “What did that cost?”

Dermatologist:

I had a wart on my ear. It had been there for about a month. When I had my regular massage therapy (yes, it really is a therapy!) with Barbara Rotthaler, she suggested I see a dermatologist.

Dra. Andrea Biviana Ruiz Leal 

Dermika (they accept Visa & MasterCard)

Carretera Oriente No. 57
Phone: (376) 766 2500
Mon - Fri: 9:30 am to 7:30 pm
Sat: 9:30 am to 3:00 pm

dermika.com.mx/ 

Their services include: Medical dermatology, Laser dermatology, Dermatological surgery, Cosmetic dermatology, Pediatric dermatology and ophthalmology services (which hasn’t been added to their web site yet)

The doctor I saw last time and made the appointment with again is Dra. Andrea. She is there on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  She speaks English and is very good about explaining everything she’s going to do or what needs to be done. She’s very gentle too. Didn’t feel a thing!

When I saw her about my wart, she said it was inflamed, and while she didn’t think it was serious, she wanted to send it for a biopsy just to be sure. She anesthetized the area, scraped it for the biopsy and then burned it off.

Cost for everything: $450 pesos (approximately $34 USD). This included biopsy and follow-up visit for results of biopsy and further checking of the ear. I also got Bill in on the ‘treatment.’

I have been worried about Bill’s scalp for awhile. Bill is ‘follicly challenged’ :-) and doesn’t wear a hat or sunscreen. His scalp had developed a few dry patches and scabs (because he also keeps being attacked by trees in our yard).  

I talked Bill into going into the office with me, just in case ‘it was bad news’ I wanted him there with me. And, of course, that was partly true…I wasn’t worried, but you never know, right? 
 

When Dra. Andrea was finished with me, I blind-sided both her and Bill by asking the doctor to look at Bill. You should have seen the look on Bill’s face. Dra. Andrea laughed and said, “It is okay…I have a husband too and he is my worst patient.” 

Bill has Actinic Keratosis (another name is solar keratosis). It is a pre-cancer, sun- damaged growth. “Actinic keratosis is not a skin cancer yet, but a certain percentage of these may go on to develop into a skin cancer. An actinic keratosis generally does not need to be surgically treated. Treatments include freezing with liquid nitrogen, applying a topical medication or photodynamic therapy. Often, the biopsy will remove the actinic keratosis, but if any roughness or lesion remain when the biopsy has healed, the area should be reexamined in the office.”

After Dra. Andrea explained all his options, we opted for the Photodynamic therapy, which will be performed on February 18.

What is photodynamic therapy?

Photodynamic therapy or PDT is a treatment that uses special drugs, called photosensitizing agents, along with light to kill cancer cells. The drugs only work after they have been activated or “turned on” by certain kinds of light. PDT may also be called photoradiation therapy, phototherapy, or photochemotherapy.

Depending on the part of the body being treated, the photosensitizing agent is either put into the bloodstream through a vein or put on the skin (Bill’s therapy will be on the skin). Over a certain amount of time the drug is absorbed by the cancer cells. Then light is applied to the area to be treated. The light causes the drug to react with oxygen, which forms a chemical that kills the cells. PDT might also help by destroying the blood vessels that feed the cancer cells and by alerting the immune system to attack the cancer.

The period of time between when the drug is given and when the light is applied is called the drug-to-light interval. It can be anywhere from a couple of hours to a couple of days, depending on the drug used. Bill’s ‘drug-to-light interval’ will be two hours and it will be sitting out in the sun!

Pros and cons of PDT

Studies have shown that PDT can work as well as surgery or radiation therapy in treating certain kinds of cancers and pre-cancers. It has some advantages, such as:

  • It has no long-term side effects when used properly.
  • It’s less invasive than surgery.
  • It usually takes only a short time and is most often done as an outpatient.
  • It can be targeted very precisely.
  • Unlike radiation, PDT can be repeated many times at the same site if needed.
  • There’s little or no scarring after the site heals.
  • It often costs less than other cancer treatments.

But PDT has limits, too. It can only treat areas where light can reach. This means it’s mainly used to treat problems on or just under the skin, or in the lining of organs that can be reached with the light source. While some of the drugs can travel throughout the body, the treatment only works where the light shines. This is why PDT can’t be used to treat cancers that have spread to many places. Also, the drugs that are currently used leave people very sensitive to light for some time, so special precautions must be taken after the drugs are put in or on the body.

Total Body Care Spa Visit:

Ocampo #33. Ajijic

(corner of Ocampo and Juarez)

Tel: 01(376) 766 33 79

Parking available in Manix Restaurant (½ a block away)

www.totalbodycarespa.com

e-mail: info@totalbodycarespa.com

Of course, I consider my spa day an essential appointment! I usually get a manicure, pedicure, facial, lower-leg waxing, reflexology (foot massage), scalp massage and a full-body massage. I finally divided these treatments because three hours lying on a table is a lot more wearing than it sounds. So for this visit, I got the mani/pedi, facial and waxing. The total cost for these four treatments (without tip) was around $720 pesos (around $54.00 USD). I always leave there feeling on top of the world and really pampered. When things slow down a bit, I will make an appointment for the three massages.

Chiropractor

Victor J. Youcha

Doctor of Chiropractic Licensed in Mexico & USA

Certified Chiropractic Sports Physician, USA

Member of the American Chiropractic Association         

Appointments | (376) 766 1973

Cel. Ph. (33) 3200 5583

Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico

victoryouchadc.com/index.html 

Stacy Hewitt wrote an article about Dr. Victor for one of our newsletters.

It took me awhile to go to a chiropractor here in Mexico. I had become disenchanted with them in the United States because, once my first chiropractor retired, I always felt as if I were on an assembly line with the younger ones. I didn’t feel special…there was the same treatment every time without really checking to see how I was doing. I once spent $450 USD on weekly appointments to straighten something out. It never got any better, and I finally said, ‘enough.’

With Victor, it’s different almost every time I go. Your first appointment for a consultation and exam is $600 pesos (approximately $45 USD) and thereafter, it is $500 (approximately $38 USD) pesos per visit. He checks me every time to see how my spine and neck are doing based on what work we had done in the past. Sometimes my back is tight and sometimes my neck isn’t moving very well. He is also a big proponent of exercise and occasionally has an instructor come in to teach classes on the Foundation exercises.

Victor says on his web site, “Sometimes healing changes can be brought about by simple changes in posture and awareness. At other times a more extensive intervention is necessary. The body will make specific adaptations to imposed demands (S.A.I.D). The approach of correcting weight bearing and compression strategies of joints is key to my work. Manipulating and freeing segments that have lost mobility is as crucial to healing as strengthening and stabilizing areas that are weak or hyper mobile.”  

He talks to you too. He doesn’t just slap you on a table and start cracking. I think he is the best chiropractor I have ever been to.  

Massage Therapy:

Barbara provides a holistic approach to acute and chronic conditions, based on more than 40 years of experience in Alternative Medicine and Pain Therapy.

Barbara Rotthaler

Holistic Practitioner

Sta. Isabel 240,

Riberas del Pilar

Jalisco, Mexico

In Mexico 01-(376) 108-0444

http://chapalahealth.com/ 

I have been seeing Barbara since 2008 when she helped savemy back for an important business trip I was going on. She saved me then, and then again in May 2010, I had more back problems that almost crippled me. Since then she has helped me with holistic remedies, exercises, massage therapy, and counseling that is worth its weight in gold.

As Barbara always says: “Illness as a wake-up call: Illness, pain or dysfunction is meant to be a friend that is sent to us as a message…a lesson. The deeper meaning is that ‘something’ is out of harmony.” That’s what she wants to do more than anything…put you and your body back in balance and in harmony.

She always starts treatments for someone in a chronic condition with a two-hour, case-taking interview. To find out what the problem is, she looks into all different levels of your being…the physical, the emotional and the mental level. She asked me questions that no other practitioner had ever asked me. It was and still is an amazing experience what she ‘drags’ out of me in our discussions…things I would never think to tell someone else and had never been asked before.

After the initial interview, she works with you to develop a treatment plan that includes different techniques and approaches depending on your individual situation and, most importantly, your willingness to get healthier.

A regular 1-1/2 hour appointment costs about $600 pesos, but if a treatment plan needs to be long-term, she will discuss options with you. I have often said that Barbara saved my life, and I truly believe that. Of all the health care practitioners I go to in the Lake Chapala area, Barbara is one I will never give up.

Ophthalmologist

In the last 10 years, whenever I was back in the States, I always seemed to get my eyes checked when I was there. Again, I don’t know why I avoided doing it in Mexico…it just seemed more convenient at the time. However, my eyes had gotten so bad right now that I really needed to see someone.

My ophthalmologist’s office is also located at Dermika.

Dra. Monica Luquin Calderon 

Dermika (they accept Visa & MasterCard)

Carretera Oriente No. 57
Phone: (376) 766 2500
Mon - Fri: 9:30 am to 7:30 pm
Sat: 9:30 am to 3:00 pm
dermika.com.mx/ 

I was very pleased with Dra. Monica. After telling her about the problems I had with my eyes, she gave me advice no other ophthalmologist gave me, and this has been a continuing problem since I was in my 30s.

First of all, for $450 pesos (approximately $34 USD), she checked my eyes for glaucoma and macular degeneration, along with examining me for a new prescription. No glaucoma whatsoever; slight macular degeneration, but nothing to worry about. She said it would be best to come into her office in Guadalajara to get a benchmark for my MD so she can check it every year to see how it is progressing. She did not dilate my eyes for these exams.

She told me that part of my problem is very dry eyes, and she suggested that I use a baby shampoo as a face cleanser to help add moisture to my eyes, as well as to continue with my Theratears or Humylub eye drops. Or I could just use the baby shampoo to wash my eyes. We went to Walmart, and I was able to get a bottle of lavender-scented baby shampoo that was hypoallergenic…perfect!

I found that a very interesting solution. I have used Clinique for most of my adult life and since it is for very oily skin, I wonder if that has helped contribute to my dry eyes. Something to think about, and just wanted to pass it on as a suggestion in case you're having the same issues I am. Very nice doctor...she is in the office on Fridays and Saturdays. 

I got a prescription. They do not have glass frames there, so I had to go elsewhere for those. 


 

Opticas Milenium

 

Opticas Milenium is directly across the carretera from Dermika…a small strip-mall of stores, two doors down from Prasad. I think he had a nice selection, but, then, I knew what I wanted and found it almost immediately. I understand that if you want to see more, he can get them from Guadalajara. With transition and progressive lenses, they cost $2600 pesos (approximately $196 USD). That was cheaper than what I paid in the states at one of the cut-rate places, so I was very happy. It will take about a week to get my glasses.

They have shops in Guadalajara, Jocotepec, Ixtlahuacan (didn’t know that before we went!), and Chapala also.

I have been very happy with my choices and look forward to keeping a better check on my health…not waiting so long to see the dermatologist or the ophthalmologist especially. I need to keep my balance in balance.

Good luck with your doctor appointments. Stay healthy! 

Future appointments:

My dental appointment comes up next week, so we’ll talk about that in March as well as Bill’s photodynamic therapy and how that went.

Feel free to post comments on this article if you would like to recommend a health care professional you’re particularly pleased with. This is information we all need to know.

Karen’s note: This is meant as my personal experience only in the Lake Chapala area and is not meant as medical or professional recommendations of any kind. Please note that this is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice. Please seek the help of your medical practitioner before embarking on medical or surgical procedures. Obviously, this is not intended to be a scientific document. 

Sources: 

  • cancer. org 
  • dmgnc. com 
  • chapalahealth. com/ 
  • victoryouchadc. com 

 


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