Archive for the ‘Costa Rica’ Category
Yesterday we tried to do the unthinkable – getting 3 things accomplished! When we first moved to Costa Rica, we were “warned” that if we got one thing on our list accomplished, to think of that as a successful day.
I had a dental appointment at 2:50 p.m. in Escazu; went smoothly except I have to return next Tuesday to see a Root Canal Specialist and then meet with the dentist afterwards. Between you and me, they can pull the tooth….not relishing the possibility of a root canal. First thing accomplished. Loud applause, please!
Then off to CIMA for a bone density test. Got registered for that and paid for it; waited a bit to be taken back for the test. Just as they called my name, Joni called and said your appointment with Dr. Arbaca needs to be changed, he had an emergency. That office only speaks Spanish (except for the Dr.) and I can muddle through it; however, on the phone is just too friggin’ challenging for me! Enter Joni!!!
So as I’m being walked to the “bone density room”, I’m trying to come up with a time for the new appointment; settled for 5 p.m. on Wednesday.
So, 2 of 3 things were accomplished and it was a very successful day in my mind!!!
Living in Costa Rica means you just have to go with the flow – if you are unable to do that, this might not be the best place for you! LOL
Pura Vida…..it’s another gorgeous day on the mountain side!
Back in the old country when I was but a wee lass……May Day, May 1st, was a great holiday. We spent the week before May 1st making May Day baskets. Then we would fill them with candy, spring flowers, etc. – on May 1st, you would deliver your May Day baskets, hang them on the front door or your friend’s homes, ring the door bell, and run like hell so they wouldn’t see who was delivering May Day baskets to you! Sort of signified the coming of spring in Michigan (for us, anyway).
I kept up the tradition with our girls for awhile too….of course, by then, people had no clue what was going on…hmmm, perhaps that’s the beginning of dumbing down America! LOL
Here in Costa Rica it’s ”labor day” and most things are closed.
With President Obama coming here on Friday, traffic will be a worse mess than normal; except for the closed roads. We live on the side of a mountain where planes coming in to land at Juan Santa Maria airport, make their wide turn in their approach. We are hoping to see Air Force One make that approach!
I had wanted to go and see the “parade” but decided to heed the warnings of traffic delays, etc. , so we’ll just stay home and watch it on TV.
Welcome to Costa Rica on Friday, President Obama…..too bad you can’t come to Atenas and meet lots of ex-pats!
Here it is April 12 already! Can’t believe how fast the month is flying by….yay!, since it’s one of the hot months! Rainy season is creeping up on us….some days it rains now, some days it doesn’t!
Yesterday was Juan Santa Maria Day – we kind of think of it as the US’s version of Columbus Day; some places closed, some places open.
We brought Nazareth, Dylana and their father, Luiz, home from town on Wednesday. Nazareth couldn’t wait to show me some school work that she got a 100% – Excellent on!!! She was so proud of that.
Knowing they wouldn’t have school, I invited the girls to come swim; however, I didn’t specify a time (live and learn); they were here at 8:30 a.m. to swim; we were still in bed!!! Altho’ Hernan came to collect for the water bill at 7:30 a.m. because Mark forgot to pay it on April 5 at 3 p.m.! LOL
Maricela was with them so I offered to make coffee; cut up some homemade banana bread also; coffee pot is done and yep! Did it again….we had the best hot water going. I forgot to put the coffee in; we both got a laugh out of that!!! So I made another pot of coffee and then we sat on the rancho watching the girls in the pool.
Nazareth likes to pretend she’s doing water ballet, which is something new for her. But then again, there’s always something new for her going on.
Dylana is busy with school work and playing futbol (soccer).
Just another day in Pura Vida land!
Once or twice a month we get together with two other couples, Mike and Joni and Pat and John for an afternoon of cards, following lunch. Yesterday was that day!!! I’m always impressed how other people “cook” and make delicious things, because my love of that is so “over”!
“I’ll Buy That” card game is always fun and a cause for some good ribbing!!! Yesterday was no different! Retirement is all about friends getting together for good times and a LOT of laughs.
Mark chose to walk into town because he knew I’d be coming along in the car. He made it almost to Kay’s before I happened upon him. He looked beat!!! For those that know where we live, this was a great accomplishment!!! But I will also add, he was very happy I came along when I did.
While we were playing cards, Sebastian called and asked us to come to his house for pizza last evening. He has the cutest little girls. The youngest isn’t a year old yet, very big brown eyes and always has a serious look on her face, till you stick a camera in her face and she just grins! It was so funny! (Picks are on facebook)
Delicious salad with a dressing concoction of his; great pizza and 2 bottles of wine later, we headed home.
I was so looking forward to watching IU play basketball; what a friggin’ disappointment! But I’m sure the team is even more disappointed than I am. Sad to see their season end.
But the best part of the day, I spent no time in the kitchen!!!! Living in Costa Rica is just Pura Vida!
(Note: Mark added his thoughts in italics…)
I had the most wonderful experience at Hospital La Catolica in San Jose!
Dr. Mario is on staff at this hospital and his lab partner in med school Dra. Candy, who recommended him, said he will be head of the Urology Department there soon. Most gringos choose CIMA Hospital because it’s a little closer to Atenas, and much larger.
Arrived at 9 a.m. to check-in. This is the hospital that is used for VA patients. The man that checked me in spoke English, which was one battle won! LOL.
When dealing with medical issues it’s always less stressful not to have to deal with the language barrier. Although we discovered later that we could do OK speaking / understanding Spanish questions.
From that window, we went to the caja window; gotta get that money up front. Then we waited just a few minutes and were asked to follow the girl taking me to my room.
“caja” – now that’s a fun Spanish word that is used a lot here… depending on context it can mean:
- room in the post office where letters are sorted
- abbreviation for the socialized medicine program
Dr. Mario suggested we pay with a credit card. Good advice. They asked for a deposit of $2200.
WOW! Room was huge, with a couch and chair; private bath and shower; armoire to store my clothes in, TV and a most comfortable bed!
Overall, the hospital is not as new and impressive as CIMA, but in the long run we thought this was an advantage. After a couple hours of wandering around I felt that I knew my way around pretty well. A couple of hours at CIMA and you might know one floor of the many buildings that make up the CIMA complex. Everything was clean and tidy. All the staff was very courteous and caring and helpful and patient.
Vital signs were taken….b/p was taken twice because she thought she didn’t get it right, yep, 100/60! I guess that shows that I felt comfortable and felt like I was in good hands.
This is where we did pretty darn good with our Spanish. The nurse preferred to do the pre-op questions in Spanish and between the two of us, we got the questions answered correctly. A couple of times we did ask the nurse to help us with a little English to make sure we understood correctly. She was like us: she felt more comfortable understanding than she did speaking the “other” language. When the nurse asked about Nancy’s bladder, we didn’t quite catch it… the nurse wanted to know: Did Nancy have to “pee-pee?”
Then two techs came to get me….I was on the third floor; and taken to the first floor for surgery. The minute I was in the “surgery hall” going to the surgery room, it was obvious. It was freezing!!!
The two techs both spoke good English and had great bedside manner. Of course they wanted to know where we were from. Like always in Costa Rica and the rest of the world, when we said “Kentucky”, they referenced Kentucky Fried Chicken, and then laughed at how clever they were to make that connection.
The anesthesiologist came in and introduced himself; can’t remember his name; his hands were absolutely freezing and he insisted on touching my arms, for reassurance, I guess; told him his hands were freezing and he explained he had been in surgery all morning; this is the anesthesiologist doctor that cardiologists use for heart transplants, yep, I was in good hands!
He is the one that put the IV in my arm. Veins kept rolling and I kept reassuring him that if I could please have some water, and plump them up, they wouldn’t roll. Finally, he ended up putting the IV in my hand.
Then I headed off to the surgery room. While there I was switched to the O.R. table, and my arms were put in the “arm wings” for lack of a better description.
I looked over at the doctor and noticed he was saying a prayer; yep, I was in good hands!
In the meantime I was relaxing in Nancy’s hospital room. The wi-fi was fired up and I was surfing the web. Since they had taken her to surgery in the same bed that was in the room, I had lots of space. Could have zoned out on the couch and been good to go for the day. Instead, since I skipped breakfast because Nancy had to fast before surgery, I headed to the restaurant. And it was more restaurant than cafeteria. Cafeteria style food service, but there was a guy in a white shirt, black bow tie and vest to carry my tray to the table which had a white linen tablecloth.
Food wasn’t cheap like U.S. hospitals. $9 for a plate lunch with drink and dessert.
After lunch I went exploring and found the older part of the hospital which was a convent. It’s now been converted to rooms for patients families and the public. Might be the best kept secret in San Jose.
Oscar, the recovery nurse woke me up. When I started to doze off again, he came over and patted my hand and waved his finger in my face gently and said, “no, stay awake.” He took his thumb and finger and opened his eye wide to illustrate how I should look.
At this time he told me they could find no stone or tumor in the bladder! Even tho’ two ultrasounds showed a large stone or tumor. Go figure, I guess I’m Wonder Woman. Then I was moved to a wheel chair till they took me to another room to get dressed. Mark was with me.
He said the Dr. has no idea where “it” went. He said if it was a stone, it was much too large to have been passed.
What a puzzle! No stone! Nada. The doctor said her bladder was “perfect.” He checked her from stem to stern (almost literally) and said that everything was great. He surmised that what was showing on the ultrasound was cartilage! I can’t help myself… SNARK ALERT: I want some money back from Dr. Mario! Two trained physicians looked at an ultrasound and decided that Nancy needed to undergo treatment. I’ve seen this diagnostic procedure too many times at the mecanico – guesswork. Ain’t right.
Before I was discharged, I was wheeled to the caja window to settle up our bill. We got a refund!
Since there was no “surgery” involved, only the colposcopy and Dr. Mario said the operating room fee was based on a per minute usage, our initial down payment was double what the total hospital bill was:
- Operating suite: $211
- Surgery supplies: $233
- Special surgery equipment (the scope): $274
- Recovery: $77
- Medicine: $178
- Lab: $70
The refund was given in caja – colones – at a favorable exchange rate. We walked out with a million colones – but no precious stones.
Stopped in the dining room of the hospital and got a little something to eat and then we headed home.
This is where my Spanish went hilariously bad. I told the discharge tech that “Nosotros vivimos al restaurante.” That means: “We live at the restaurant.” Not all that far from the truth, but the tech barely suppressed her smirk.
First stop in Atena’s was Antano’s (I know it needs a tilde, but this key board isn’t set up for it) and had a wonderful Sea Bass dinner and caught up with our friends at the restaurant. Then home to some anxious dogs! Arrived about 5 p.m., tried to stay awake but about 6:30 p.m., I headed off to dream land.
During the night I was extremely cold, to the point of shivering; began to wonder if I was running a fever; Mark got a beach towel to cover me and that really helped; at least I stopped shivering. Later on during the night, I all of a sudden felt something stinging me; brushed it off, and it stung my hand too. Not sure what it was, but I do have a red mark, so I know it wasn’t a dream.
Yeah that was weird. Nancy is never chilly. I woke up hot because the ceiling fan was off! When I went to turn it on, she told me how she felt. I think it was probably just reaction to her big day. She is up and at ‘em.
About 9 a.m., this morning, Sunday, the Dr. called to see how I was getting along. He’s still puzzled about my miraculous “recovery”. Said to let him know if I have any other problems. I have the Drs. cell phone number and his email, how cool is that?
I’m on antibiotics and pain pills for now; have been on antibiotics since last Tuesday, maybe that broke up whatever was in my bladder….yeah, I’m grasping at straws for an answer.
My experiences with Doctors in Costa Rica has been nothing but the best! We are absolutely thrilled with medical care here! Even tho’ I would prefer to not have had some of my experiences, it sure is nice to be aware how kind and caring the Doctors are!
Pura Vida…..it’s a great Sunday!
We are loading up the DVD of the entire operation and we’re gonna see if we can find anything! If you want to see the DVD, click here.
Remember: MARK wrote the stuff in italics. I am not responsible!
The month of February flew by and am I ever glad it was a short month; had two serious bladder infections that required more in depth tests.
When the infection “returned” within 6 days of completing the antibiotic, Dra. Candy, at Linea Vitale in Atenas, requested an ultrasound to see what was going on.
Made an appointment and had that done on a Tuesday; left the ultrasound office, with the pictures and diagnosis in my hand; I think this way of testing is wonderful! There’s none of this “well, we can’t tell you anything, we’ll send the results to the Dr. and then you can meet with him for those results.”
The ultrasound Dr. thought it looked like I had a large bladder stone, approx. 2 cm, YIKES! Said, if that’s what it is, you’ll never pass it and need surgery to remove it; however, to be on the safe side, you should have an x-ray to confirm this.
The x-ray showed nothing, nada, nothing! Took it to Dra. Candy and she immediately said “you need a urologist for a better diagnosis”. She called and made the appointment for the following Tuesday. (4 days later)
Keep in mind, I’ve had an ultrasound and an x-ray and seen a urologist in San Jose within 7 days and a surgery scheduled! Wonderful, huh?
Met with the urologist in Hospital California, where he has an office; he looked at the ultrasound and said immediately, “this looks like a stone”. Then he looked at the x-ray and was puzzled. So I hopped up on the exam table and he started the ultrasound machine and said “yep, there it is.”
He is not positive it’s a stone but is leaning toward that; he said it could be a tumor; at any rate, it needs to come out ASAP.
I’m scheduled for surgery tomorrow at Hospital Catolica in San Jose at 1 p.m.; first he’ll do a colposcopy to determine whether it’s a stone or tumor. If it’s a stone, he’ll shoot the laser beam and break it up and remove it. If it’s a tumor, he’ll remove it right then too.
Originally, he wanted to do it today, March 8th, but I told him I had other plans today; so then he said, “we’ll do it Saturday.” I had made arrangements to go with some friends to the furniture expo in Palmares today and didn’t want to miss that. I do have my priorities straight.
If it’s a stone, he said the surgery will be about an hour and half; if it’s a tumor, it won’t be that long.
This is the best part of the surgery — if it’s a stone, he’ll try to tape it back together and give it to me; AND, I’ll get a DVD of the surgery! Is this a great country or what? There will be an upcoming movie night at the Van Patten’s!
He’s thinking that the stone has been caused by a faulty bladder sling; possibly a thread worked it’s way thru the bladder and a stone formed around it. This will be surgery #5 on my poor bladder!
If it’s a stone, I’ll be home Saturday late afternoon; if it’s a tumor, I have to spend the night.
When I’ve told some friends, they’ve inquired “headed back to the states for surgery”? WHY? Why would I go back to the states, most likely all these tests would have to be performed again, after all Costa Rica is a third world country or a developing nation . Not sure the medical mentality in the US would accept the test results from Costa Rica. But as far as I’m concerned, the medical care here is first rate – and quick.
Healthcare here is topnotch! And affordable!
I then inquired about going through CAJA (government medical care for which we pay about $60/month for the two of us) for this procedure; he didn’t recommend it because of having to wait; he said the CAJA Drs. would look at the ultrasound and assume it’s a stone, which wouldn’t be a life or death situation and then I would get on a wait list.
He then went on to say, the only thing that should be in your bladder is urine; no foreign objects whatsoever; it needs to come out immediately!
And here’s another plus, his fee includes any other problems related to this and there will be no other charges for it! I’m telling you, this is a great place for healthcare.
Ultrasound was $62; x-ray was $20; Drs. consult fee was $90; and all of these tests and surgery were scheduled within 11 days.
I have the utmost confidence in Dr. Mario Gonzalez; the anethesiologist is one that the cardiologists use for heart transplants; I do feel I’m in good hands.
Will be checking into Hospital Catolica at 11 a.m.; surgery at 1:00 p.m.; and hopefully, home and in my own bed by 6ish!
Stay tuned for Chapter 2 for the update on how things went.
Pura Vida….home of health care that I love!!!
We live a short ways out of Atenas in a little burg called Guacimo.
Many times on our way into town there will be people sitting at the bus stop. We stop and offer them rides into town. We wave at everyone on our road, whether they are walking, in a car, riding a horse, etc.
I now get the feeling they know “we are the good guys!”
I decided that I would keep track of how many people we take into town. For the month of January, we gave rides into town to 27 people; yep, picked up 27 “hitchhikers”!
There is one older lady that will come running out of her house to flag me down for a ride – it cracks me up. They always are cheerful when entering the car and extremely grateful for the ride into town.
It’s just one of my ways to pay it forward….
Granted most of the time it’s women heading into town but I’ve taken a fair amount of men too. The majority of riders are heading into the central market but I’ve taken a fair number into the medical clinic too.
On a side note: I attended the third fiesta of friend’s in 8 days! Sheesh! I can’t say no because I’m afraid I’ll miss something! LOL It’s always fun to watch the various people. Last night’s fiesta was on a street that was filled with all the family; yep, every house on that street…. everyone was related. This was held at Evania’s (I’m sure that’s not spelled right) house. Had to go into town first thing this morning to get some blood work done at the lab….walked up to the counter to give the receptionist the list of tests I needed to have done, and all of a sudden I hear “Hola, Nancy” – it was Evania! I didn’t realize she worked at that lab….she came out and greeted me with a big hug! Then she wanted to know if I was inferma? (ill); I was able to explain that I just needed some lab work done! Am sure she was relieved to know I wasn’t sick from eating at her house the previous evening. LOL
Pura Vida from a sunny Costa Rica!
Last Thursday, Shirley, Clara and I went on an adventure. We headed to Multi-Plaza because “Mama needed a new pair of shoes”.
Was beginning to think I was going to be out of luck, when we happened upon a “sport’s type” store. Wandered in and voila, found almost exactly what I had in mind!!! And they had them in my size…..had found some at the Clark’s store, but honestly, I do not pay $135 for shoes, EVER!
Now that I’ve worn them for a few days, they are so comfortable. Found them in a store in Atenas, however, the soles are thinner….I guess as one ages, one needs more support in the foot department – along with other body parts – more support, I mean! Obviously, I should have taken a pic of them before my “big toe” stained them.
I’m happy, my feet are happy! Pura Vida!
Mark and I keep marveling at how we were told on our “due diligence” trip that we would NEVER be invited to a Tico’s home! Well, that’s not true!!! We’ve been invited to Maricela’s home for various celebrations! (And they have been invited to our home too!)
Last week we went to a fiesta at her Mother’s home – a ceremony for the children and to put away the nativity scene till next year. Music, dancing and most of all, the most tasty food! Whoever says Costa Rica doesn’t have good food, needs to eat at a person’s home!
Maricela served a chicken soup/stew with all kinds of veggies in it and garbanzo beans! She even sent some home with us! Had an eggnog type drink with rum, yum!
Nazareth can get me to do fun stuff! As soon as the music starts, she can’t be still; the hips and feet start moving and don’t stop until the music stops! She drug me out of the chair to dance…..I don’t know if it’s because I’m older, but Costa Rican songs go on, and on, and on, and on! Talk about exhaustion!!!
Saw some of the same people that were at the fiesta last week, along with new people last night.
And, we got invited to another fiesta on Thursday night in Los Angeles! Be still my heart (and feet)! Mark is not sure he’s going, but you can rest assured I’ll be there with bells on!!!
The people in Costa Rica have been so welcoming. Everyone is happy!!! And it’s contagious!!!
Still lovin’ our life here!
Maricela asked us to go to her mother’s house last night for ………..never could figure out what she was talking about!
So about 7 p.m. Mark and I trudged up the hill to her mother’s house – smacking my forehead because I can’t remember her name! DUH!
As we were arriving, a car with 4 men in it was arriving; they each had a guitar and one had an accordian. There were lots of people that had already arrived.
Unfortunately, we did not take a camera. Bummer!!!
It was some kind of ceremony signifying that Navidad was over and the nativity scene could be put away for another year. A priest was there to perform this, one of the guitar players. The four men faced the nativity scene and began playing their instruments, singing and the Padre was saying whatever it is he was supposed to say. Mark, Tonya and I were the only clueless people in the room.
After about an hour of this, the ceremony was over. Then the food started…..yum! Homemade bread, tortillas, and the wonder “potato hash”!
Then the musicians began playing and the kids began dancing. Nazareth cannot stand still when there is music!! This child desperately needs to be in a dance class….she has rhythm from the tips of her toes to the top of her head! Her mother convinced her to get me to dance with her…..what an uproar from the crowd; then Maricela convinced Mark to dance, and another uproar erupted.
It was so much fun!!!
Maricela is having a ceremony like this next week at her house! Oh boy!!!
We will have cameras this time.
When we were walking home, Mark said, remember when we did our due diligence tour here and we were told we would never be invited to a Tico’s house…..well, I think it all depends on the person! We’ve been invited to Maricela’s many times and now to her mother’s…..
We had so much fun…..Tico’s know how to have fun!!! We can never thank them enough for including us…