My Surgercation in Guadalajara: Meniscus Surgery in Mexico

My Surgercation in Guadalajara: Meniscus Surgery in Mexico

I'm recouping on a surgercation in Guadalajara. What is a surgercation, you ask? It is a cross between medical tourism and a workcation. As I write this blog, I’m on the rooftop pool patio, crutches in sight, and laptop on my lap.

I came to need surgery due to repetitive knee injuries, from white water paddle boarding and downhill skiing at high speed. Being the queen of designing my experiences… I researched. Meaning, I shopped around. We live part-time in Mexico, and I've come to love the health care available in the country. Doctors are available. Appointments are as long as you want. Prices are stellar. And the technology is cutting-edge.

Are you a Loner or a People Person?

I'm the type of person who would rather suffer alone in a cave, than with family around. I had similar surgery at 25 and knew what to expect post-op. As the Yogahealer, I'm quite disciplined when it comes to self-care. As a therapeutic yoga teacher, I know how to rehab in alignment. And as a meditator, I know how to be with what is. All that is to say – I don't mind the cave experience. I love having time to heal.

So, after research, I opted for a knee doc in Guadalajara. He built his career on injured Division 2 and 3 soccer players. Soccer being the most popular sport in Mexico, he is a great find. After finding him, I booked the nearest boutique luxury hotel to the hospital.

In pre-op conversations, the Doc, medical concierge and I texted on Whatsapp. I had those anxious predictable annoying questions patients will tend to have before surrendering their bodies to anesthesia and knives. When we met, the day before surgery, they drew blood, to know my blood type for platelet injections into my knee. While I was there I asked if he could check my chronic shoulder issues.  He ordered an MRI, and with no prior appointment, I had the MRI and was back in his office an hour later.

Making Appointments in Guadalajara

I was then, free for the day. Walking around, I saw a first-rate dermatology clinic. I've surfed for 20  years in the tropics and sub-tropics, so I popped in to see if I could get my skin checked. The answer was immediately ‘Sure’. And a professional dermatologist saw me right away. We spent an hour together-  after checking my skin, she gave me a California peel. All said, it was about $225.

I left, wandered around, and passed a chic boutique. I popped in and had my hair cut and blown, and nails done for about $25. I wanted to go into surgery feeling good. Then, I went to a med lab where the technician took a sample of my toenail fungus so we could determine what exactly it was. He wrote down which fungus I had 10 minutes after stepping in. Cost? $10.

While I was on a roll, I read some dental reviews off Google Maps. I've been meaning to get my teeth whitened and some composites replaced. I made a post-surgery appointment.

On the day of the surgery, I was at the hospital at 6 am. My anesthesiologist was the kind gentle uncle I never had. I knew I was in great hands. He gave me a local anesthetic, which made me quite bubbly. I chit chatted, through the surgery, telling jokes with the team. We saw that my ligaments were in great shape – the opposite of the MRI report – so the surgery was less invasive than I expected going in, but confirmed my Doc's expectations.

After surgery, I was rolled to my private room. I sent reassuring texts to my people. I pulled out my laptop and went to work, to take my mind off my immobility. Work always passes time quickly for me. Then I pulled out my iPhone and ordered, from UberEats, fresh green juice, a red smoothie, and a cappuccino. I figured a liquid laxative diet was the best post-op. And, as it turns out, hospitals are very familiar with UberEats these days.

I chit-chatted with family and worked all day. I have a fantastic focus,  and due to only having the local anesthesia (plus the cappuccino!), my mind was surprisingly crystal clear. I sipped, I worked, I peed in the bedpan. The hours slipped by.

By late afternoon the Doc removed the drain from my knee. While my booking included the night in the hospital, I preferred my luxury hotel with 24-hour bellboys and a king-size bed. I was cleared to leave at 8 pm.

What You Want for Post Op

I brought 2 key post-op machines with me – an ice machine and a TENS Unit, both customized for knee rehab. I figured a few old school ice bags, for when I might not have my machine would come in handy. They have. Upon arriving at the hotel, I trained the bellboy on the ice machine, stacked my pillows, and went to bed. I kept my knee elevated on and office for the next 48 hours. I listened to Joe Dispenza Meditations and the Calm App. And called on bell boys to change the ice in the machine every 6 hours.

I also brought rose essential oil for my spirit, tea tree essential oil to kill germs, and CALM magnesium supplement,  as a laxative for the pain drugs.

After surgery I used RAPPI, the equivalent of Postmates, to get aloe vera juice, high oxygen bottled water, coconut water, and green juice. I know for my body type  (Pitta-Kapha), an anti-inflammatory mostly liquid diet does wonders. I did not disappoint myself.

A big reason I chose Mexico, over the US, for surgery is the quality of care. And part of it is cultural. Mexicans are still very intergenerationally family-oriented.  People take time for conversation and go out of their way to be helpful. I knew that even amongst a group of strangers, I would instantly develop a community of care. And that is exactly what happened at the hotel.

Between UberEats, Rappi and bell boys, bringing anything I could possibly want post-op, I had days of uninterrupted healing time. I came alone because I like to heal alone. With Youtube videos for post-op therapy,  I've done my exercises a few times a day. Healing is rapid.

I've also slayed it at work. Being this confined I've had a chance to catch up and go deep.

My parents and friends were deeply concerned about my solo surgercation in Mexico. I followed my informed intuition. It's been perfect.

I  was able to make the dentist appointment via Uber a few days after surgery. The dentist identified what work needed to be done. He laser cleaned my teeth and fit me for whitening. He invited me back that afternoon to replace a few gumline and other composites. He was able to work gently and without novocaine. With the whitening trays,  the cleaning and the handiwork, the bill was $650. We became fast friends.

I told Winston, my husband, that I’m planning a trip to Guadalajara each year, en route to our place in Punta Mita. Batch tasking all medical in a few days where it’s easy and cheap to get around, surrounded by excellent restaurants and lovely hotels.

I’ll see my dentist, my skin doc, and take care of other appointments and do other tests, like the annual colonoscopy and colposcopy recommended for Lynch Syndrome.  I’d rather pay out of pocket than deal with insurance. I’ll return to the Square Hotel with gifts for the guys who took great care of me. I’ll shop in Tonala and check out Chapultepec. I honored my way. I had a blast. Who knew? I have a free video training that guides you to design the next chapter of your life and align your time. Check it out! 

Cate Stillman
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