My Hospital Experience

I’ve had ongoing issues with the mesh that I had implanted many years ago.  My US doctor ignored my complaints for years and denied that the pain was from the mesh he implanted.  For over 4 years the pain got worse and he continued to deny that it was from the mesh that, by now, was getting a lot of media attention.  He gave me lots of drugs and finally left me with Vicodin, which I am allergic to.

I gave up running and most activities at the gym.  The pain on some days prevented me from even walking more than a few blocks.  That’s when I went to our local Boquete internist, Dra. Digna.  A quick exam confirmed what I had thought for years.  Parts of the mesh had rippled and others were pulling on my internal tissue.  No wonder it hurt.  She recommended a specialist, Dra. Roxana in David.  Dr. Roxana advised me to visit Dra. Hernandez in PC.  This is so unusual to me.  In the US, doctors seldom refer patients to other doctors.  Not true here.  They really want you to have all the information you need to make a good decision.

My surgery was the past Monday.  All of my pre-op tests were done last week, including a visit to a cardiologist.  The total cost was less than $100.  I asked for a private room at Hospital Chiriquí.  Dra. Roxana asked to have a plastic surgeon to assist since the tissue she was dealing with is so delicate.  I was told to get to admitting at 10 AM.  By 10:30, I was in my room with IV attached.  Amazing!

At 2 PM I was wheeled into the operating room, got my jugo de felicidad (Happy Juice) and I woke up back in my room.  Dra. Roxana was right behind me explaining everything she did and handed me a vile of the nasty mesh that caused me so much grief.  I need the contents to help in my lawsuit against the manufacturer.

For the rest of my stay I was given great care.  The nurses came in for their usual blood pressure, temperature, etc. I am really glad that I have a working knowledge of Spanish however.

The next morning I was released.  My total bill for everything including the surgery and specialists?  $2600.

People ask about health care in Panama.  I tell them I have never had better care.  Better than that, it’s affordable.  I have my doctor’s cell phone number and she answers my texts almost immediately. I can see a doctor, even a specialist, usually within 24 hours if I need it.  None of my doctors have ever rushed me through an appointment.   I am very comfortable with all of them.  I feel that I am getting more competent care here than in Florida.

Anyone who is considering moving here should do their own research to make sure they have doctors here that meet their individual needs.  Our needs have been rather simple and we have been very happy.

 

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I recommend that future expats visit the links below.

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Boquete’s newest B&B – Highly Recommended

 

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BLOOD

Twelve years ago my husband had Stage 3 Non-Hogkins Lymphoma.  There was a good probability that he would not live.  He went through horrible chemotherapy for months.  My 6 foot tall husband weighed less than 145 pounds and could barely walk from the living room to the kitchen.  Obviously he lost all his hair.  He looked more like a grandfather than a recent Lt. Commander in the Navy.

Our oncologist gave him a cocktail every three weeks that would ravage his already fragile body.  I would frequently check that he was still breathing he was so sick.  In the last few months of treatment, his blood count went dangerously low and he needed several transfusions.  Because he was so sick, the doctors wanted people we knew to donate.  We were lucky that we had some wonderful friends who had the same blood type and donated pints and pints of blood.

THAT BLOOD SAVED DAVID’S LIFE.  If you see him now, you would never know he had been sick.

There have been many calls for blood donation in David.  There are many requirements that make many of us ineligible.  But there are also many young and healthy people in Chiriquí that can save many lives.  High school kids are eligible.  One pint of blood can help four children.  If you have a rare blood type, you are even more needed.

If you are under 62 (65 at one hospital) and healthy, I urge you to donate.  Five generous people saved David’s life and I can never repay them.  With just a little time, you too can save a life.

It’s a simple process for you that means the world to others.  Email andreainparadise@gmail.com  If you know your blood type and cannot donate now, let Andrea know your type so she can contact you if someone desperately needs your type.

If you are visiting Chiriquí, you too are eligible to donate to the local community.

 

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I recommend that future expats visit the links below.

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First Doctor Visit in Panama

David and I had our first doctor visit, a dermatologist. We visited Hospital Chiriquí last week to find the office and made the appointment then. That was when I was pleasantly surprised and today just continued the good feeling.

First, I have been going to US dermatologists for 25+ years. Raised in Florida + loving the tan = skin cancer. This is a brief description of my dealings with US dermatologists. Call for an appointment and wait at least 3 months to get one. Arrive on time and fill out page after page of redundant information. Wait so long that I talk to other people in the waiting room and find that many have the exact same appointment time as me. Finally get called into a room to wait again. Doctor comes in for no more than 2 minutes and ASK ME where the problems are. Aren’t they the ones who went to medical school? Zap, zap, and maybe a biopsy and the doctor is gone for another 3-4 months. I’m willing to bet they don’t even know my name.

Today was completely different. David and I had appointments scheduled 20 minutes apart. No one was scheduled at the same time or between our appointments. Twenty whole minutes of undivided attention. Dra. Rodriguez came to get us and took our basic information. Without asking, she examined my entire body – including my scalp which is never done – and found several spots needing attention.

Liquid Nitrogen canister Dra. Rodriguez did not have a nurse in the office. She needed to fill the liquid nitrogen canister and did it herself in the office. She attacked several spots and then took a biopsy. She explained the care of my treatment, wrote a prescription and asked if I had any questions. They she explained about when I would hear about my biopsy results. David was also seen, treated and given a prescription. We entered her office on time and left 40 minutes later. At no time did I feel rushed.

This treatment cost $35 each, just $5 more than my deductible in the US. This is the first time I feel like I was actually ‘seen’ by a dermatologist. My friends say the same things about all the doctors they have seen in Chiriquí. Not only is it affordable but pleasant too.

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