You just never know when you may need to visit the emergency room in Huatulco. We’ve been asked about our experiences and here we share one of our quick trips.
My first and only visit to the emergency room in Huatulco began with some spring cleaning. It had been windy all that day so I took advantage of the cooler evening hours to pick up the leaves and sticks in my carport. I moved a bucket and it happened in an instant.
In retrospect, I know I should have acted more reasonably but once I saw that huge black scorpion just inches from my foot, my reflexes took over and I stomped on it. (I’ve since learned that’s not the thing to do… more on that below.)
Of course I had flip-flops on and when I stomped, the scorpion (who had much better aim) stung my big toe! The sting itself was not bad, similar to a bee sting.
However, I had never been stung by a scorpion of any size or color. I couldn’t remember which ones were ‘deadly’ and which weren’t. Moreover, I had no idea what to expect since we had heard a whole gamut of stories, some true, some fables, about scorpion stings. I have since learned that there are no “deadly” scorpions in this part of Mexico.
What I did know is that I am more allergic than most to other types of bites or stings and so I decided to play it safe.
I called a couple of friends. One said to put bleach on it. The other said to go to the hospital. Another local friend said to put lime on it and take a nap in the hammock. But my neighbor scooped me into her car without any discussion. We went directly to La Cruz Roja or the Red Cross.
The Red Cross Clinic is an emergency room service here in Huatulco. It is located on the main Boulevard Chahue 100 next to the Post Office (phone number is 587-1188). You can also call for an ambulance if necessary.
There are other emergency facilities in town:
- Central Medica Huatulco (Flamboyant 205, 587-0104)
- I.M.S.S.(Boulevard Chahue, s/n Sector R, 587-0383)
- S.S.A. (Carrizal 202 Esq. Huamuchil, 587-1421
What to Expect
The Red Cross here receives everyone with a minimal amount of fuss. They take your name and ask why you came. Luckily my neighbor spoke Spanish. My language skills were not sufficient for this experience. You may also want to take an interpreter along if you are not fluent in Spanish.
In Mexico, the law requires that the nearest medical facility treat patients with emergency medical conditions. The patient is, of course, responsible for arranging payment of the bill with the administration and/or insurance company.
After preliminary information was supplied (name, age, problem), I was taken back to a room with a nurse and a doctor. The next thing I see is a big syringe and I am told to drop my pants for an injection. No discussion…no amount of begging…that was the only solution.
So, my modesty suffered.
Cost of the Visit
I was handed a prescription for loratadine, an antihistamine tablet, and sent home. The charge for the visit and injection was 45 pesos and the antihistamine were another 50 pesos at the pharmacy. An emergency room visit plus meds costing less than $6USD.
The adventure wasn’t over. Shortly after I went to bed my foot and then my leg felt like they were on fire! All night long. Sometime towards morning I must have fallen asleep and when I awoke, I was miraculously fine. No more pain in my leg or my foot. And even my modesty concerns were minimized by the realization that this could have been much worse without the injection they gave me.
A Little More About Scorpions
This story would not be complete without a lesson about scorpions. There are three colors of scorpion in Mexico: black, brown, and light yellow. The black and brown ones can give you a very painful sting, but are rarely life-threatening unless you are very young, very old, or very allergic to the venom. The ones to watch out for are the light-yellow ones; they are colloquially referred to as alacranes gueros. (Guero in Mexican Spanish means “light-skinned.”)
What to Do if You Are Stung
If you are stung by a scorpion of any color and if you are allergic to bites and stings, you will want to seek help from a local doctor or local health clinic where you can be administered an antidote. Don’t hesitate.
However, if you usually have slight or no reactions to bites or stings, the likelihood of developing a problem from a scorpion sting is small. Additionally, some scorpion stings do not inject venom.
You can take an antihistamine. If you are not very allergic, you may choose to not take one. Wash the sting with soap and water and apply ice for 10 minutes on and 10 minutes off.
The effects of the sting are different for different people. You may feel pain or soreness at the sting site, you could feel a little light-headed or dizzy, you could feel tingling throughout the body, the tongue or throat may swell and you could have a general feeling of “drunkenness”.
The Lesson Learned?
A trip to the emergency room in Huatulco can be quick, easy and inexpensive. Of course, depending on your injury, that will vary. After being evaluated in the emergency room, you can always ask for a quote for the services you will receive. If you have already visited the emergency room, you may be considered a local resident and receive lower rates.
The disclaimer for emergency room treatment is to always have health/travel insurance. Some experiences can of course, be considerably more expensive.
The Other Lessons Learned?
Do not stomp on Scorpions of any size or color. There are two reasons for this. First, the scientific reason.
Scorpions are predators and have an important role in controlling other pest populations in nature (insects, spiders and other scorpions). They play an important role in their ecosystem and do a lot of good. Most people capture them. Use a glass with a bit of firm paper or cardboard underneath. Place the glass on top of them and slip the paper between the surface and the glass to lift the offending creature up and relocate it.
Secondly, locals believe that scorpions travel in pairs, with their mates. If you kill a scorpion, its mate will be sure you get a sting. It’s a quick manifestation of karma. What goes around, comes around. True or not true? I relocate scorpions now.
Most scorpions try to keep away from humans. We find them rather by accident. They are nocturnal creatures and have a tendency to crawl into shoes and clothes and even towels overnight, so take the precaution of shaking out any clothes, towels and shoes you may have left out before you step into them the next morning. Also, as I learned, wearing gloves for yard work can save you hassle.
These are the only scorpions I will encounter willingly again. Our beautiful Oaxacan Alebrije Scorpions.
You can find them in many of the lovely shops in our area. They will not rid your home of other crawling pests but they serve as a good reminder that we are co living with nature.