Monday 30 July. Yep! That does seem different, evening instead of morning, but that is the way it is (and maybe when an operating room was available at the small private hospital). And the doctor said the sooner we do it, the less damage will be done to the tendon and the sooner I will be without pain. And instead of using the main Hospital Metropolitano in downtown San Jose we are going to one of their 4 suburban campuses, the only one with an operating room. It is in the Lindora barrio of Santa Ana which is on “my side” (west) of San Jose just off our “freeway,” Ruta 27, and about 30 minutes closer than the downtown hospital campus, especially during rush hour, thus easier and quicker for both me and my driver whom I’ve already scheduled.
I am to be there at 5PM, with the surgery scheduled for 7PM to 8PM with one hour in the Recovery Room and return home soon after 9PM. That should be a good way to get sleepy for bedtime! Ja, ja, ja, (español for ha, ha, ha) 🙂 though the anesthesia is only local.
He says my activities can be normal in a week to 10 days though I will have 5 weeks of physical therapy (2X a week), the hardest part one U.S. friend said. But I did cancel or postpone my August trip to Sarapiqui, which I now have rescheduled for next May. Before then I will be a new man who will try harder to not fall off the bed or on the rough sidewalks of Alajuela! It’s just that time of life! 🙂 No cane yet and hopefully not soon! But maybe needed someday?
The play this time was actually 4 monologues titled “True Reflections” written by British Playwright Alan Bennett and acted by 4 professional actresses from England living here. They covered 4 serious subjects about aging with both seriousness and that subtle British humor. Very well done as they dealt with alzheimer’s, death of spouse, change in living situation, and a sort of an affair.
This was my 3rd time to see one of the Little Theater plays and all have been exceptionally well done or very professional. It is one of the regular “trips” for our Atenas expat’s group.
Orosi Scouts in Cartago (through a dirty bus window) These five teens are Scouts from Orosi who rode the bus with me to Cartago, for an event I imagine. Girls and boys are all in the same Scout program here, wearing bright blue shirts & navy pants + scout neckerchiefs. But note the two girls and one of boys have on jackets because it was in the 60’s farenheit this morning. And yeah, that is very cold here! And they got off the bus earlier than me is why the bus window shot. Cartago, Costa Rica
“Coca Cola” Bus Station in San Jose It is on the site of an old Coca Cola bottling plant and thus the name. I waited only about 10 minutes for this bus to load and no wait in Cartago! But the bus from Cartago went to the Lumaca Station and I took a taxi to here which was another 10 minutes! Note the row of pay phones, a disappearing sight, even here. San Jose, Costa Rica
Most working people in Costa Rica travel by bus rather than by car (only rich people have cars) and thus it is a good way to get to know people and culture here, not to mention the language! I used my rough Spanish a lot this week since not too many in Orosi cater to English-only North Americans.
It has been a good week and both bus trips were good and fairly easy. My biggest learning experience on this trip was that I will try to avoid B&B’s in the future. First because I prefer to have a “built-in” restaurant and/or close to good restaurants. Second, she had 3 big dogs and 2 cats and thus almost no birds and the animals hovered a lot when I was out of my cabin, wanting my attention. Plus she did not mop the bathroom the whole 4 nights I was there and provided only one hand towel and the one knife in the kitchen was not sharp enough to cut the peeling on all the fruit she provided for my breakfasts. Not my favorite lodging in Costa Rica, but the birding and local tours were great and I have a lot of photos! The Orosi area is a beautiful and great place to explore AND bird!
Pattern of the Crowded Flying out of San Jose Airport in December I snapped this shot of a very crowded neighborhood. Should I have titled it “Pattern of Poverty?” The roofs don’t say except that they are very close together. San Jose, Costa Rica
Photos like this remind me that the world is packed with people and not all live beautiful or happy lives, even in Pura Vida Costa Rica. Though I think poor people do better here than in maybe most other places. The First Baptist Nashville group coming here on mission trip to Hogar de Vida will be serving beautiful children who were removed from their parents because of severe abuse or other problems, maybe from a neighborhood like this one.
See my photo gallery on San Jose which includes the prettier sites.
It would take a huge gallery to show all the statues and old historic building – here’s a sample:
Anne Frank Downtown San Jose, Costa Rica
And if you think it is unusual to find a statue of Anne Frank in Costa Rica next to a Catholic Cathedral, in another park of downtown, maybe 8-10 blocks away, in front of a Catholic Church and near the entrance to Chinatown, is a life-size statue of John Lennon sitting on a park bench beside whom you can sit and have your photo made. 🙂
Historic Building Downtown San Jose, Costa Rica
“The Yellow House” A government building where foreign representatives are met. President Obama met with CR president here. Downtown San Jose, Costa Rica
The Mexican Embassy (through a moving bus window) So much more inviting than the razor-wired concrete bunker for USA. Downtown San Jose, Costa Rica
A bunch of old expats listening to a San Jose Guide. Downtown San Jose, Costa Rica
Our Tour Bus for the Day Downtown San Jose, Costa Rica
Graffiti Wall like many Downtown San Jose, Costa Rica
The old historic building our guide lived in Downtown San Jose, Costa Rica
Our first stop on an Atenas Expats tour of San Jose today was
The Metropolitan Cathedral of San Jose
My favorite art work there is this statue of the Pope’s visit to San Jose in 1983 by a Costa Rican sculpture.
We visited two more places which I will share over the next two days along with finishing up my report on Villa Blanca. Though I have done my own tour of San Jose earlier, this was different and led by the author of the book on San Jose for visitors, so always something new.
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! 🙂