Don Carlos

The honorific title of “Don” (“Doña” for older women) started in Europe for royalty and leaders of honor in Spain, Italy and Portugal, while today in Latin America it is a term of respect and endearment for senior adults. Since I started my cancer treatments, most of the different doctor offices call me Don Charlie, Don Charles or now my oncologist office lady always calls me Don Carlos. It is kind of nice to have the respect shown and helps to keep you from feeling sorry for yourself. 🙂 Respect for the elderly in Cosat Rica is everywhere!

Report on Today’s Two Doctor Appointments

Like with so many doctor appointments, both gave follow-up appointments with the biggest being with my Ophthalmologist who is doing minor outpatient eye surgery on my left eye this Friday right after the dentist appointment. It is one of her standard procedures to partially close the eyelid that won’t blink or close on its own. It will be down to a kind of permanent squint so the eye doesn’t dry out and water so much like now AND most likely I will no longer need to wear an eye patch! AND I will be able to see with both eyes (particularly helps depth perception). Both eyes are still 20/20 vision so I still don’t need glasses, though over-the-counter reading glasses (magnifying) is okay and sometimes needed for someone my age. I’ve especially needed them while reading with one eye only the last couple of weeks. And maybe the best part, her special ophthalmology operating room is in Ciudad Colon on the Atenas side of San Jose, meaning a shorter drive! 🙂

It was important to squeeze this in before radiation starts to avoid more damage from the radiation. It is like they are rebuilding my body.

And the oncology surgeon just checked the incisions and swelling which is visibly going down now, but can take a month or more. This skin is less and less sensitive in that area. But it could take up to a year before back to “normal.”

¡Pura Vida!

Insect Bites on Hikes?

One of my regular readers asked about insects and bug bites on all the wilderness hikes I make with every trip and in a little-less wilderness around where I live in Atenas, Alajuela Province, Costa Rica. And he asked what I did about them.

YES, in the tropics, and Costa Rica specifically, there are actually more insect species than all of the U.S. and Canada combined. Generally they seem to me to be worse at hot times, our summer which is North America’s winter – ironically the time of year we have the most tourists! 🙂 But also location is a big factor, para ejemplo (for example) hotter lowland rainforests and year-around wetlands seem worse to me than mountain cloud forest like I was in last week. And that includes most beaches which have more mosquitoes for example than I have ever seen here in the central valley. But the government has done an excellent job of keeping down the population of mosquitoes all over the country because of diseases they carry and I seldom see one. But there are still many other bugs that bite all over the country! And spiders too!

And you birders remember than many birds eat insects, thus the places I have photographed the most bird species like Maquenque Lodge Boca Tapada and Rancho Humo Guanacaste are wetlands year-around and thus more insects than some dryer places. Here in the Central Valley I see more insects just before and at the beginning of rainy season (April-May) than I do during the daily rains like right now. Not sure why.

When hiking in the reserves and parks I usually spray with Deep Woods Off (a high % of Deet) before going out, and occasionally here at home when I see lots of insects. For treatment off bites I always take a tube of Allergel with me or a similar antihistamine gel/ointment /cream to relieve the itching (many brands here from Europe, U.S., etc). When you live in the tropics you must learn to live with insects! 🙂

Around my house I notice at different times of the year an influx of different flying insects that are pests more than biters, while at other times I get biten and don’t even know by what! 🙂 I just pull out the antihistamine gel and treat it and so far I have lived through all my bug bites! 🙂

Frogs have it easy, they can eat what bugs them. ~Unknown

¡Pura Vida!

See my Insects Gallery which is separate from my Butterfly Gallery or an earlier blog post titled “Living with Bugs.”