I Feel Like a Genius — I Fixed My Treadmill!

(Post 81 of 233. Thanks again to those who participated in the Fundrazr!)

I can’t remember when I bought my treadmill, but it feels like it’s always been here. I use it a lot. I’m probably on it an hour a day on average (while watching TV). Last night, it turned on, but the belt would not move and I got an error message indicating that the problem was related to a voltage spike. Dang, there was a Mexico-wide problem on Monday that could maybe explain that, but I’d used the treadmill without any problems Monday night. Very curious.

I opened the casing where all the guts of the treadmill are located. It was very much temple from the start of Raiders of the Lost Ark in there, lots of cobwebs and dust.

The light on the circuit board indicated that it was getting power. With the cover off, I tried to start the treadmill and was able to determine there was no evidence that the motor for the belt was getting a signal. I did some digging and found a YouTube video explaining what the various blinking patterns of a treadmill circuit board mean. I was getting a steady blink, which the video said meant a problem powering the belt motor, so that confirmed my diagnosis (and that the video was relevant even to my off-brand cheapie treadmill!). poked around and found corrosion and a loose connection to the belt motor. I cleaned that up and tightened the connection, then tried to start the treadmill again. This time, I heard a “click” that told me that the motor was getting the instruction to move the belt, but the belt still wasn’t working. I went further in the video and there was a blinking code for “the motor is seized up.” I wasn’t getting that blinking pattern, but it did give me a nudge towards the next thing to try. So I decided to try to move the belt manually. Sure enough, it was stuck. Once I got it moving manually, I tried again to start it and, well:

But what a noise! Turns out that I should have been lubricating my treadmill. Oh, dear. Am I glad I learned this lesson on a cheap treadmill that was forgiving and not on a fancy expensive one! I found out that there is treadmill-specific silicone-based lubricant out there. I didn’t want to wait for days to get some online, so I called a gym and asked them if they knew where I could find such a product. I was told to try Decathlon, a full-service sports and recreation department store just north of me. I’ve been wanting to check it out for eons, but never had a reason to. Well, I finally did!

I head up there this morning and the store was wonderful to go through, kind of like MEC “light.” There were tons of deals, so I picked up a new workout wardrobe of several pairs of moisture-wicking leggings and tee shirts as well as some bits for making yoga more pleasant. Once I’d explored to my heart’s content (the store was nearly empty), I found an attendant who showed me where the lubricant is and even made sure I knew how to use it.

So that’s my project for tonight, cleaning up the treadmill guts and then lubricating it. Hopefully that little bit of attention will keep it serving me well. I’m virtually walking the Appalachian Trail, am 10% of the way there, and highly motivated to stay on schedule, so an equipment failure would be devastating!

My years tinkering with the RV really served me well. If I hadn’t changed out the converter in Miranda and made all those other electrical upgrades, I would never have had the confidence (or skill) to tackle the treadmill repair!

Covered (Kind of)

(Post 80 of 233. Thanks again to those who participated in the Fundrazr!)

I’m getting very close to the date when I’ll be able to become a permanent resident of Mexico. I’m also in serious saving-for-a-house mode and growing my business like mad… and over 40. Something that never used to bother me too much started to eat at me — lack of catastrophic healthcare coverage. It would be stupid to lose all that I’m working for for because of a medical problem.

I handle the little things just fine paying out of pocket. Because of how the healthcare system didn’t work in Quebec, I just never got in the habit of going to see a doctor for much. The thought of going for a sniffle is beyond me. Heck, I even learned how to do my own first aid care. I would have ideally needed more regular follow-up with my anemia problem, but the process for getting a simple blood test and then having those results followed up on was so onerous and flawed that I never even bothered with that.

So all that to say, I knew that getting myself a private healthcare policy in Mexico here for annual checkups and such would be a huge waste of money. I’m just fine paying the $200-ish pesos every six months to have my iron levels checked by popping out to the clinic right around the corner from me first thing on a Monday morning and then going back out around 4:00 P.M. to pick up the results. Ear wax build up? Most pharmacies have a medical clinic attached ,and it’s just about 50 pesos or so for the treatment. UTI? Message a doctor friend and he messages back a prescription. Easy peasy.

But what if my appendix goes rogue or I find out I have cancer or I trip on Bonita going down the stairs and break my femur? Big things that would affect not just my bank account at the moment but long-term. What if I found myself unable to work on top of accumulating hundreds of thousands of pesos’ worth of medical bills?

A friend of mine is an insurance broker, so I spoke to her about my concerns and the possibility of getting catastrophic healthcare coverage. The request, it turned out, was not unusual and such a product exists! She pointed out that the going cost for an appendectomy right now is around 150,000 pesos (7,500USD/10,000CAD). That would be devastating to my current savings plan.

The policy she recommended is from AXA, a company that has provided me vehicle insurance in Canada and decent service, so seeing a familiar name was helpful. I got the most basic policy for just under 13,000 pesos for a year, covering me, in theory, for up to 2 million pesos in bills. There are a ton of conditions that I’m not insured for for the first couple of years, so I’m glad I started young and can build up a history. The deductible is 40,000 pesos and I also have to pay 10% of the bill after the deductible, up to another 40,000 pesos. So I have to be prepared to shell out up to 80,000 pesos should anything really major happen. But the deductible is waived in the case of an accident.

On top of this policy, I am able to access the government healthcare here now, the new programme that replaced the former Seguro Popular. I just have to present my residente temporal card and a copy of my CURP (Mexican SIN/SSN). So if I find myself in a situation where my policy hasn’t kicked in yet or I’m not covered, I do have a safety net. I can’t imagine that the government healthcare here is any worse than what I experienced in Quebec, so my plan was to go through there if I had something catastrophic happen. But you know what? I’m not poor anymore, I’m constantly upgrading my standard of living, and so I’d much rather be in a lovely new hospital with a dedicated team of professionals than hanging out on a gurney in an overcrowded hallway…

The $13,000 for the policy was a huge chunk out of my savings account, but the peace of mind is priceless. I’m so grateful that I’m starting to have a network here. I think that if I had had to look for a broker first, I would have kept on procrastinating. But being able to go to a friend who knows me really helped cut down on the work I had to do!