Not every minute of every day is spent holding hands with Diane as we gaze lovingly into each other’s eyes skipping through the warm Caribbean surf. Oh yeah…we do that too but I’m not a great skipper anymore. My skips never were great, by the way! The point is that living overseas as an expat also means we must tend to the day-to-day tasks like managing finances, changing the oil in the car, shopping, cooking, laundry, medical appointments and all the rest of the things that all of us do in our daily lives.
In Ecuador, many of the day-to-day tasks were more complex or sometimes more frustrating than I wanted them to be. We did have the advantage, however, of having a wonderful housekeeper who made our life very easy. (We still maintain contact with Fatima through Facebook) Unfortunately, no housekeeper here…yet!
Here in Cancun, much of the frustration I had begun to feel after a couple of years living in a small town on Ecuador’s coast has been eliminated. Shopping here in Cancun has yet to produce a day when we couldn’t find what we wanted or a suitable substitute. I went 3 months in Ecuador without a printer cartridge. Not the case here.
The primary reason we left Ecuador, as I’ve previously said, was to be closer to better quality medical care…including dental. Yesterday was our first experience with a local dentist. We followed a referral provided by a gringo friend and connected with a dentist in Playa del Carmen, about an hour away from us here in Cancun. Yes, I’m certain there are many qualified dentists here in Cancun but…we gladly took the referral. Diane had been in pain for some time and it had finally reached a level where she could no longer tough it out. I nudged her once or twice as I saw her struggling but she was still resistant.
“What do you want from me,” she finally said.
“I’m sitting right here by the phone and no dentist has called. What else can I do?” she said jokingly.
Cute! That is what I was up against. I knew her pain was increasing and her resistance was decreasing. Finally, I got the referral from a friend and contacted the dentist.
“Babe, I have a FB message from a dentist in Playa who can see you tomorrow at 5 PM.”
“Okay, I surrender!”
Within 24 hours of connecting with the dentist on his Facebook page, we had an appointment for Diane to be seen.
We arrived at his office a half hour early and met the dentist in his outer waiting area. He spoke great English and while we desperately wanted to speak Spanish, his English was much better than our Spanish and he requested that we all Speak English so there would be no misunderstandings in the conversations that followed.
Shortly, Diane went into his office and I was invited to sit with them as he began his examination. Diane related the problem and then said “Ahhhh”! There was the normal probing and poking followed by an x-ray.
As I had just returned from the states and spent a number of days involved with my own health care issues through the VA system (I love the VA Healthcare system, by the way) I had just undergone a complete dental exam including a bunch of x-rays. All my X-rays were done digitally, and were instantly available to the dentist on his computer screen. Diane’s dentist used the traditional method with a cardboard film slide is held in place inside the mouth and then developed within a few minutes.
The results confirmed that Diane would need a root canal and some other work. The dentist had an associate who was just about to leave but who was an Endodontist…the guy who does root canal procedures. In a few minutes, they had consulted and provided Diane and me with their suggestions, which included a root canal and some other stuff.
“How much”?Hmmmm…he pulled out a scratch pad and said all the work would be $3000 Pesos, about $275 dollars.
“When do you want to do this”, I asked.
“We can do it right now”
Diane nodded and I said “Okay”.
Our appointment was at 5 PM and we were out of there by about 6:30 with all work completed.
The office was up to American standards with what appeared to be modern equipment, air conditioning and even magazines in the outer lobby area. While the endodontist was working on Diane, the primary dentist and I left to grab a coke at the corner 7-11.
Our new dentist is a couple of years younger than my son. We talked about his family including his divorce some years ago as well as the recent breakup with his fiancé. He asked about our families. We spent some time getting to know each other as people.
We returned to his office and I moved into the treatment room where Diane’s face was partially hidden behind a hygienic, green rubber dam used during root canal procedures. The conversation continued between both dentists and myself while Diane occasionally grunted and chuckled to contribute what she could. We discussed all of our families as well as the training process both dentists underwent to acquire their licenses.
When it was all over, my Visa card was swiped and he presented me with his business card which had his email and cell phone as well as his home phone number on it. I explained that I wanted to discuss my needed dental work with him. Diane is feeling much better and so is our bank account. According to the Google thing, the cost of a root canal procedure in the states may range from $500 to $1,000, and the cost of the post and core procedure to strengthen the tooth is approximately $260 to $360, not including the cost of a crown restoration. All that was done, PLUS the other stuff she needed for $275 here. No complaints!
We are still exploring the Cancun area to discover the local markets and restaurants where good value can be had. We are making progress. Now, at least, we have a good dentist and a good physician. Diane is still looking for the right hairdresser. She’s asking around.
We met some great folks yesterday. They are from the United States and have been living on Isla Mujeres (The Island of Women), just off shore from Cancun, for 7 months. They invited us for a visit and we accepted. I’ve been there once but Diane has not yet been. We’ll take a high-speed ferry over and back. Should be a great day. Stay tuned!