Wednesday, July 18, 2012



My recurring back pain called me into another excursion into the world of Ecuadoran medical practice. My lumbar discomfort found occasions to get my serious attention periodically during my adult life. Most recently, a 737 narrow body flight in the center seat followed by a 500 kilometer drive triggered a couple days in bed and temporary use of a hiking pole for support. Ouch!

My previous rayo -X (rayo equies) revealed some problems and physical therapy provided little lasting relief. A previous bone density scan did not clarify the issues. Earlier this year, two US trained chiropractors added to my temporary relief. Maybe an MRI will shed definitive light on the issue. Medical costs, at a fraction of US billing, certainly are not a deterrence, as they were in NC.

Following a friend’s referral (and my Santa Inez insurance), I scheduled a visit with Dr.Romulo Idrovo (09-808 5691). What pleasant experience! Dr Idrovo spoke excellent English, was quite friendly, and completed my visit with the common "Here is my personal phone number - call anytime."

After a couple days on a temporary prescription, I called the kind doctor. In two hours I was in his office. He walked me downstairs to schedule my MRI for the next morning.

My MRI lumbar results were available in half an hour. What was the cost? A mere $250!

Earphones buffered the loud banging, humming and screeching of the MRI tunnel. How do you pass twenty minutes unmoving in a tight conical enclosure? The gentle fan blew fresh air over me, dispelling my fear of developing claustrophobia. So, I prayed for my friends and reflected on God's faithfulness in my life's difficulties.

The differing medical perspectives of chiropractic, X-ray technology, P T, and magnetic imaging remind me of the blind men as they examine the elephant. One, holding a leg, describes a huge heavy beast; another, holding the tail, describes an unusual canine; while the third, with the trunk, considers a reptile.

The chiropractor, noting hip dislocation combined with a sciatic problem, disputed the exercises recommended by the PT. The exercises were excellent, except that they aggravated the hip dislocation. Inflammation must be reduced before any exercise regimen. The MRI will reveal problems with marrow and ligaments, adding another dimension.

My Saturday morning appointment with De Idrovo was brief and to the point: serious inflamation around bone marrow required a spinal injection of anti-imflamatory. The inflamation may have been longstanding and prevented further healing.

Within four hours I was in the operating room of Santa Inez for a 15 minute procedure, then half an hour in recovery room. What may have taken a month in the US was completed three days. Total cost for three doctors, hospital procedure, MRI and prescription was $545. My Santa Inez insurance should cover 85% of it. (See postings on health insurance)

Now, I must be vigilent for my back. All this is not a permanent cure. No more moving pianos or middle row seats. But what a relief...