NORMAL! NORMAL! — Mi Aventura Médica

That is what the wonderful young Tico doctor almost shouted to me at the conclusion of my angiogram. Normal! Normal! (Fist Bump!) He seemed as pleased as me that I have no blockages or other problems. Now I will try to summarize my gran “Aventura Médica” as I am calling it. Totally using the national health system which means my only expense was the taxi fares!  🙂

WEDNESDAY, 23 AUGUST

Hospital San Rafael de Alajuela
Alajuela, Costa Rica

My friend Jason Quesada goes with me on bus and taxi to Hospital San Rafael de Alajuela for a 1:00 pm appointment for what I thought was going to be paperwork to take with me to the bigger Hospital Mexico in San Jose on Friday though Jason thought I was going to be checked into Hospital Alajuela, which I knew couldn’t be two days before a test. I was wrong again. In short they were full and one day in advance is enough said Lorenzo in Admissions. (See my last post) So he promised me he would have a room the next day because the test was pre-scheduled.

THURSDAY, 24 AUGUST
Jason & I get back there a little before 3;00 pm and wait about 30 minutes to start the process. One of the first things they did before taking a group of us upstairs to our rooms was snap on the usual hospital bracelet with my hospital ID number & name. Note that most Latin Americans use 3 names like mine shone here but with slightly different meanings. Of course the “first name” or “given name” is the same. But what I call a middle name “Everett” would be a Tico’s father’s last name and the one most commonly used for shorter names. My Dr. Hernandez is using his father’s last name as his primary family name. Then the third or last name in a list like this is their mother’s maiden name, which is what some here may think about my last name of “Doggett.”

Jason snapped this of me eating soup in hallway.

We had one delay because my hospital file (started earlier) was lost.  🙂  But they found it and up we went to the fourth floor which includes cardiology. Then we sit in a hallway while that nurses station gets me checked into my room 414 which was really my bed number in a room of 6 old men with heart problems, beds 413-418. We are sitting in a hallway with a TV playing a horrible Mexican Comedy Channel for maybe another 45 minutes. No TV in rooms, so you come out here to watch. They start serving the dinner trays and I get my first hospital dinner in Costa Rica while waiting in the hallway for my room preparation. It is very healthy and mostly tasteless bland! Vegetable/chicken noodle soup, beans & rice, mixed tropical vegetables you Tennesseans wouldn’t recognize, a cold beet and carrot salad, cup of fruit juice, and an apple for dessert. This was typical lunch & dinner with varieties and even a pear instead of an apple the next night. I would recommend those planning on a hospital visit to pack salt, pepper, herbal seasonings, hot sauce, catsup, or whatever you like to give more flavor.  🙂

My roommates were all nice and interesting gentlemen, all speaking Spanish of course. 4 of them were bedridden.  One came there after a massive heart attack and the following night or at 1:15 am this morning he had another attack and nearly died while I watched, but was still alive and on machines when I left today, but his son told me he had been given only 30 days to live by one doctor. Another commentary on Costa Rica: almost every bed had a family member sitting in the one chair by each bed. Family First here! And the heart-attack guy is why my angiogram!

They kept working on me to past 8:30 pm with things like blood for tests, shunts for catheters, x-rays and the constant blood pressure checks, etc. It was a very noisy night as was the second night with one roommate talking (hollering) in his sleep, nurses in every hour with whatever services and of course turning on lights, and the hospital has all kinds of buzzers, bells, etc and a PA system for announcements and paging of person, and the very friendly and happy crew at the nurses station, right outside our door, laughing and carrying on all night. If planning on a hospital visit here, I suggest you bring ear plugs!   🙂

And we all wore something like hospital sweats or whatever you call the buttoned shirts and tied pants. The only hospital gown I got was for the surgery room test Friday.

FRIDAY, 25 AUGUST
This was the big day and the part I had the most uncertainty about, cutting into my leg at my crotch and running something up the artery. Ugh. By 5:00 am the nurse was getting me ready with two stents for drips as needed and shaving parts of me, etc. We left a little after 6 am with a crew of 4 in an ambulance for the normally 21 minute drive to Hospital Mexico, but in rush hour it was probably 30 to 45 minutes (didn’t time it). Most of my attendants were in their 20’s it seemed, the doc maybe 30, a nurse, orderly, and some kind of helper. The driver was very professional as I learned on the return trip.

The ambulance pulled up to a side door of Hospital Mexico and I was rolled into the second room

Hospital Mexico
San Jose, Costa rica

where of course I waited at least 30 minutes while the crew enjoyed themselves! The happiest people in the world just love to be together! Laughing, talking, beautiful digital music and occasionally giving me attention. Someone was having this procedure ahead of me and course another gurney rolled in right after me; a regular assembly line! I was surprised at how quick it was having been told from 30 minutes to two hours if a lot of blockage. After he stuck me with the needle for the local anesthesia (the only part that really hurt), I would guess 15 or maybe 20 minutes before he shouted “Normal! Normal!” with a great big smile on his young face. Then gave me a fist bump. Made me feel good! Even though one of the Mexico nurses whispered in my ear in English, “You still need to avoid KFC and cheeseburgers.”  We smiled and chuckled at each other.

They quickly rolled me back in the waiting room where the next person was waiting or we traded places. I had to lay real still for 30 minutes before they rolled me out to the ambulance again and another ambulance had just arrived with another angiogram person coming in. Wow! They must like angiograms here!   🙂

BUT THE MOST FUN WAS THE DRIVE BACK to Hospital Alajuela which we did make in 20 minutes because the driver turned on the flashing lights and the siren and use the other loud horns and sounds to weave us through the bumper to bumper traffic on Ruta 1 which goes by the airport and thus heavy traffic all day. It was fun and I’m sure the driver enjoyed it and he did a great job! The Alajuela doctor kept reminding me “Don’t move! Don’t move!” referring specifically to my right leg because that is where they cut into an artery and that is not where you want a rupture or blood coming out. Then the rest of the day and second night was difficult because I had to lay still for 24 hours to help the incision heal and avoid a serious problem. I read on my Kindle and played games, talked a little, ate a little, and had to use a bed urinal, but I survived 24 hours of stillness of at least my right leg. Then another noisy night and a heart attack in front of me, meaning I am very tired now and will go to bed early.

THANK YOU to those of you who sent kind notes and prayed for me. It made a difference! It was a good medical test with a very happy result for a 77 year old with no junk in his arteries!   🙂

Keep Walking!   Keep Smiling!
Pura Vida!

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