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Written By: Gary on September 2, 2008 6 Comments

So except for the last trip I’ve never had any “stomach issues” and on that trip it was very minor and passed in few days (no pun intended). This trip the same thing happened for a few days and by Friday I was feeling fine. But then Saturday came…

I think it was the water in something I ate or drank, I don’t drink the water or take ice, but there are vegetables and juices and all sorts of stuff with water. It could have been the bottle of water I purchased from a street vendor on Thursday, the cellophane on the bottle seemed a little loose but the cap seemed sealed but it had crossed my mind enough to check and it seemed fine (but it’s still in my head).

Feel free to skip the rest of this blog post, I avoid getting graphic but it does have a bit on my experience with the health care here in Costa Rica.
Let’s just say Saturday morning I made a few too many trips to the restroom that I went to the farmacia before I left San Jose. I purchased some pills and some electrolyte mixture to add to water. Then I headed out to Samara still feeling lousy. When I stopped for lunch I couldn’t find the medicine anywhere but then I got to my hotel I tore everything apart and still couldn’t find the medicine. And, of course, all the pharmacies were closed by then.

My symptoms got worse as the day went on. That night I got up at least forty times during the night and it got worse as the night went on. The next day, Sunday, all the pharmacies and doctor’s offices were closed so I head on out to the hospital in Nicoya. If I was leaving town, then I was going to see a Doctor…

The hospital in Nicoya was about what I expected not much of a building, no Air Conditioning (fortunately it had been raining and was slightly cool) and they said the Doctor’s did not speak English. I checked in and sat down in the crowd. I starting translating words to Spanish so it’d go faster when I saw the Doctor. I expected to be waiting for hours but I’d say it was only about twenty minutes. The Doctor said he didn’t know English but between what I wrote down and what he knew, we only had to look up a few words. He sent me for an IV and some tests; the IV was really a huge syringe and it as at least an inch-and-a-quarter around and five inches long. It wasn’t too bad but it made me a little dizzy, which they didn’t want to understand as they’re trying to move me to the next room (when I plopped on the a chair and stopped, I think they got the hint).

All of these things had a very short wait except for waiting for the test results. The test results were at least two hours. Then waiting for the Doctor took a while which would have been fine if I could have sat down and not queued up where they had us. He prescribed what I assume to be a similar electrolyte mixture and some pills (more for the stomach pain I believe). Total time four maybe four-and-a-half hours.

The room for the IV was the nicest and I didn’t even need to try and say “utilice por favor una aguja nueva”; it was a specific sentence in the Costa Rican Spanish book for the phrase “please use a new needle”, I assumed it was in there for a reason. Some of the rooms were more warehouse-ish than anything with roofed cubicles in and around the building. FYI – the office for the Doctor and the syringe room were both air conditioned but that was it. I’m sure the building would freak many of you out :)

I got a receipt for the 40,000 colones (about $73) but it’s lacking info so we’ll see what Blue Cross does with it when I try to submit it…

So, I left there and headed towards the main highway, I would have sworn there was an “American Hotel” that I was planning to splurge for but I couldn’t find it. So I drove all the way to Tamarindo (second largest city?) and grabbed the second hotel I tried (the first one was full). I was still sick for about a day and a half, but I was slowly getting better. Part of the problem was that I wasn’t eating either, I normally graze and eat 4-5 times a day but I was averaging less than I meal a day. Monday night, I forced myself out for a second meal hoping only for some soup and a sandwich, and while I’d normally avoid an American chain while I vacation, the Subway fit that requirement for me. I took it back to my room and the soup was so good and I nibbled on the sandwich over the next few hours. From then on I’ve only been feeling better.

It’s Tuesday and I’m not perfect but I’m way better. I’m eating (most of three meals I’ve had) and I got more of a similar electrolyte solution from the farmacia today. I’ve felt well enough to wander around town and the beach a few times and I’m in a hotel I really like so that makes it even better…

Written By: Gary on December 21, 2005 One Comment

So I remember having to come home from college one week when my Grandfather was really sick. I was really close to him, my Mom and I lived with him and Grandma until I was six or seven. I don’t even remember what it was for but I know it was a really big deal. I had to get a professor to let me have an extension on a big exam (maybe it was a final) for a “family emergency”. I really liked the Prof but he was a pain in many ways and he asked for a note. I remember saying that “if everything went well there wouldn’t be anything to get a note for”, he said no problem and told me to reschedule the exam later.


We were there for hours, I don’t remember much of the day, I remember reading that damn calculus book but not much else about the day. What I really remember is going into see him after the operation. Someone, maybe my Mom, said he was in bad shape but the operation went well. I went in the room and he had a ventilator tube down his throat and about a dozen IVs in him and a bunch of beeping charting machinery. I had no idea, I had to get out of there and go out in the hall, it was too much for me. I was probably twenty-two or twenty-three at the time and someone followed me out of the room to check on me, one of my uncles maybe, I think they were afraid I was going pass out or something. I don’t remember what they said, something like ‘we knew it was going to be bad’ and I wanted to scream “I’m just a kid. I’ve never seen anyone like that before. How am I supposed to know what’s bad!?!” Before then I probably hadn’t seen anyone with more than an IV or two. Nobody had been really sick since I was younger and they had kept me out of the hospital those times, so I was pretty clueless. I did go back in the room, but was a bit more prepared when I went back in, as I said I had no clue.

It’s funny because I probably never would have referred to myself as a kid at the time but I certainly felt it. But I didn’t have any other frame of reference to put that in. He did fine afterward the surgery, he lived about another decade afterwards…

That whole scene’s been popping into my head a lot lately, not sure why. No one’s in the hospital, no one’s sick. My other grandfather died just about a year ago so I know that’s been in my head. It just keeps coming up. Plus, I always get a little morbid around the holidays from missing “the way it used to be”. Tonight there was a hospital scene on TV that looked too familiar and made me start thinking about it, so here I am…

FYI – the comment about ‘we knew it was going to be bad’ was re-written several times, it was very caring and not condescending. But I can’t get it written the way I want so you get this little disclaimer.

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Written By: Gary on April 5, 2005 No Comment

There’s this baby up in the nursery, he’s brand new.
No one’s neglected him or damaged him yet…
How did we get from there to here?

That’s from Grey’s Anatomy, a great new show. It focuses on a group of four new residents who just started working those horrible 48 hour shifts at the hospital. The main character, Meredith Grey, has a mother who was a legend in the medical field so she’s got a variety o issues including living up to her mother’s legacy. There’s a few scenes up on the baby floor (at the observation window) that are pretty cute too. It’s on Sunday’s at 10 PM EST.


It’s an odd scene when they’re operating on the woman who was assaulted and raped, trying to be serious and also trying to break the tension by making light of it (which doesn’t work) and the one new doctor is freaked out because the woman was wearing the same bizzaro shoes that she wore to work today. But then they find something and it takes a minute to realize what it is… that it must have got bitten off from the man that assaulted her. It really bounces you from one end of the spectrum to another.

Then the police can’t make it right away so Meredith is stuck carrying around a cooler some they they don’t break the chain of evidence. As a bonus, guess who stumbles in to the hospital later in need of medical attention…?

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