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Pandemic Diary X

Lockdown is nicer with a puppy.

This is Taco. She has been part of my family for 3 1/2 weeks. She is a little girl, weighing just about 7 pounds. She's about 6 months old now. She started out with a docile, quiet demeanor, but she has found her personality: she's very playful, loves to fetch, barks in tiny, single, high-pitched yaps when she wants attention or sees her reflection in the refrigerator, and has more than a little mischief in her.

Fortunately, she has quickly become housebroken. Some friends told me about the "bell" technique, so I looked it up online. The idea is you hang a bell from the doorknob. Then every time you take her out, you ring the bell. And you try to get her to ring it by jingling it until she nuzzles it, rewarding her when she does. Eventually, she's supposed to learn to ring the bell whenever she needs to go for a walk.

Well this was failing miserably. I'd persistently ring the bell, bump it against her nose, and praise her, but she showed absolutely zero interest, and seemed to be making no correlation between the bell and going outside. I was about ready to give up on it. Then, about four days ago, while I was eating dinner, she started ringing the bell! I was delighted, praised her, gave her a treat, and took her out immediately.

Unfortunately, she learned too well. She started ringing the bell almost constantly. I'd take her for a walk, bring her in, and five minutes later she'd ring the bell again. After three days of that, I took the bell down.

I am really enjoying getting to know my little girl, and she is good company during this otherwise lonely time. Here are some more pictures.

Begging for a belly rub
Taco got a new bed

This morning we took our first walk together on the malecón, which was closed from early April until yesterday. I have never really understood why they closed it. I do get that the areas around the walking path are used for picnics and other large-group gatherings, but the walk itself is a wide path where it is easy to keep your distance from others. I am glad it has reopened.

A lot of other businesses have also reopened in the last few weeks. I've actually been out to breakfast three times at my favorite breakfast spot, Scallion. They have outdoor seating with the tables spread far apart.

Ironically, all this reopening is happening at the same time as the first cases of Covid-19 have arrived in our communities along Lake Chapala. The first cases were reported just over a week ago, and as of yesterday we are up to 20 cases in the municipality of Chapala. So while many are enjoying the reopening, a lot of people I know are keeping even more persistently close to home. Police cars patrol the neighborhood announcing the dangers on their loudspeakers and proclaiming, "¡Quédense en casa!"(Stay home!)

I had to make an unpleasant outing yesterday. I had to go to Guadalajara for a colonoscopy. Without being too graphic, I was having some symptoms last week, and I went to see my doctor on Friday. He immediately set up the appointment for me for Monday morning, and I spent the entire weekend expecting the worst. Fortunately, the procedure showed that everything is okay, though there is a small laceration, and my doctor prescribed some meds to help heal things down there.

This was my first experience with the medical system in Mexico (other than my doctor's and dentist's offices). And it was fascinating: not nearly as patient-centered as medical care in the US. First off, I was required to pay before even going to reception. The cost: $6500 pesos (less than $300 US), and that's without insurance. Then I went to reception, and they said someone would come out from the door marked "Endoscopia." After about a half hour, a nurse or doctor, I'm not sure which, eventually came out and went through a medical questionnaire with me. Then she said it would be another half hour, and she would come and get me. Finally she came and took me into the room, had me partially undress and put on a gown and then walk into the other room and get on the table. There were two other doctors(?) in there, one of whom was sitting in a chair tapping on his mobile phone. No one ever introduced themselves to me or really said anything. They just got me into position, put an IV into my arm and oxygen tube under my nose. And I woke up moments later, surprised that they were done. Actually, an hour had gone by. She brought me my clothes, and I got dressed. They she sat me in a wheelchair and rolled me out into the waiting area. I felt okay and got up and waited for the lab results. They gave them to me after about ten minutes, and they I left.

I should say I was not alone. I had a driver. (Actually, the nurse at my doctor's office was supposed to arrange a driver for me, but they never showed up, and I finally called a driver I know and he was able to come pick me up.) He dropped me off in front of the clinic, but they wouldn't let me even pay for the procedure unless he was there with me, so I called him and he came, which was good, because he was able to translate for me. He helped with the medical questionnaire and all the other questions people asked me.

I had the foresight to bring a granola bar with me, because after not eating anything all day Sunday or Monday morning, I probably would have passed out. No one at the clinic offered me so much as a glass of water following the procedure.

In these days of pandemic, they generally did an okay job of keeping things safe and secure in the clinic. They took my temperature at the door, then gave me hand sanitizer, had me step on a mat to sanitize my shoes, and spritzed me with something. And although it was crowded in the waiting area, they mostly managed to keep people distanced.

(Note to self: remember to bring a pen with me wherever I go. I hate being handed a pen to sign stuff.)

Still, the whole thing felt so completely impersonal. As awful as the healthcare system in the US is, I've never had a procedure there where I didn't feel nurtured. Nurses, surgeons, anesthesiologists, everyone has always introduced themselves to me and asked me if I had any questions or concerns. To have no one engage with me personally throughout the experience was really jarring.

I got home by about 1:00 pm. My neighbor, who I arranged to take Taco for a walk, had my puppy down the street, so I went and got her. Then I walked over to the doctor's office to bring him the lab results. He took a look and saw a small laceration in the colon in one of the photos, and he prescribed a few things to make everything get back to normal. No charge.

Now I just have to hope I am staying healthy. I'm even more worried about Dengue than I am about Covid-19. Every day I spray myself down with DEET, but the mosquitoes still get me. Mostly it's a particular variety of mosquito I worry about.

Aedis aegypti, the mosquito primarily responsible for the transmission of Dengue.

There is no vaccine for Dengue. (Well actually, there is, but it only works in people who have been previously infected. In those who haven't, it can increase the risk of a severe infection.)  I believe it's likely that the development of a vaccine has been neglected since it's only common in tropical climates. 

Well this has been one of my longer Pandemic Diary posts, and I haven't really written that much about life in quarantine. I'll save that for next time, along with an updated list of the movies and shows I've been binging on TV.

I hope everyone reading this is staying safe and healthy.

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