When I got the call from school asking me to come because my daughter fell playing tag and injured her hand, I wasn't too worried as we have a long history of strong bones in our family. But when I got to school, there was my 9-year-old daughter. A few tears and a very crooked finger. At that time, we had been in Mexico for a while already, but this was my first time with a medical emergency.
So, as with many things in my Mexican life, I went home first to call some friends. They guided me to first to go to the x-ray clinic. The x-ray clinic in La Colorada, near Pochutla, Gabinete Radiología Doctor Savedra, was brand-new. It has modern equipment and hardly any wait time. On the wall, is an x-ray menu. You don’t have to have a doctor’s order to get your x-rays here. You can choose the ones you want!
We chose the appropriate x-rays and were seen immediately. At this clinic, you can choose to receive just your x-rays or also have a diagnosis from Doctor Savedra. The doctor was in and he kindly showed me and thoroughly explained the break in my daughter’s ring finger. He explained that it was not a simple break and that it would likely need a couple of screws or a pin. He recommended going to the local hospital.
We went to the local hospital and were seen immediately. The doctor on call looked at the x-ray and concurred with his colleague. However, I didn't receive much explanation about what would be done or how it would be done. The hospital doctor warned me that if I went somewhere else, it would be more expensive. I didn’t feel comfortable without the details and he wasn’t willing to take the time to explain. It was a finger on a 9-year-old, an important working part.
So, I decided to go back home and talk with some friends about other recommendations about places to have the surgery. With their recommendations, we decided to go to Puerto Escondido, and meet a surgeon there.
Dr. Francisco Perez Sanchez is a traumatologist and practices at the Olvera Medical Clinic in Puerto Escondido. It is a private clinic. He looked at the x-ray and thoroughly explained what he thought was best to do for the break. We discussed when the surgery should happen and how much it would cost. The cost was right around 10,000 pesos. This included the surgery, a night of observation in the clinic because of the anesthesia, and any and all follow-up visits. (For comparison, the hospital surgery would have likely cost between 1500 and 3000 pesos. But it’s hard to say exactly because pricing is determined on your possibility to pay.)
All of this was pretty straight forward…. except that my daughter was worried. Not about the surgery. But because she had a karate test the next day! The surgeon explained to her that if we did the surgery before the test, she wouldn’t be able to take the test because once he put the pin in place, she would have to be very careful to not move it for the next 4-6 weeks.
Clearly, my daughter was disappointed, but she understood. Then the surgeon offered to wrap up her hand and finger and protect it well and allowed her to do the test so that she could advance to her next belt. Of course, her karate teachers were understanding and were very careful with her. So she was able to take the test at 7 PM the next evening. The doctor adjusted his schedule to receive her after her test, considering we had to drive an hour to the Clinic. She had the surgery at 9 PM on a Saturday night!
She was given an IV for fluids. And was given a shot for the general anesthetic. The finger had to be opened and a long pin inserted to stabilize the bone. It was nicely sewn up. And my sleepy daughter was delivered to her room for the night. There was also a couch where I was able to stay with her. Everything went wonderfully well.
In the morning, the doctor checked her hand and sent us home. We had a check-up during the next week and I had instructions to observe the finger. When it was time to take the pin out, she had another x-ray to show that the bone had properly healed. Then we had a last appointment to take out the pin. At this appointment, the doctor gave us exercises to bring back movement to the fingers and hand.
We also had a friend who is a physical therapist and was able to check in with my daughter on her progress as she recuperated her full range of movement. Our experience was a very positive one. I was reassured by the fact that I was able to “shop around” for a surgeon and a clinic that I felt comfortable with. They treated my daughter great.
The clinic is a standard clinic, no-frills, but with a good basic service and a competent staff. Since then, I've been back to that clinic taking friends for different doctor visits. They are always happy with the treatment they receive. We loved the fact that the doctor was willing to make the best out of a little girl’s accident by letting her take her test. He was so thoughtful. She was indeed motivated. As it turns out, that anecdote is a true testimony to her dedication to her practice as she earned her black belt recently.
The Olvera Medical Clinic is located on Av. Marina Nacional, esq. Perez Gasga, Puerto Escondido. Tel: 954 582 0968. They have a range of doctors and practices: ultrasounds and esthetic medicine, orthopedist, general and minimum invasion surgery, plastic surgery, gynecology/obstetrics, dermatology, pediatrics, psychology, neurology, and more.