My Average Day

People ask me a lot of times what I do.  Well, not much really.  I have a normal morning routine that I follow.  My husband usually gets up before me and brings me a cup of coffee while I am still in bed.  He is so sweet.  I take a few sips and hand him the cup back and then put on my sandals and follow him out to the patio.  We have our morning coffee and listen and watch all the birds.  This morning I was listening to the toucans off in the distance and some other small birds in the trees next to the house.  Just a little bit ago I saw a brown Basilisk  lizard running through the yard and our small dog started chasing it.  After about three cups of coffee I make my way inside to change clothes, then I put the dishes away, brush my teeth, and clean the litter box.  Somewhere in there I usually have a bowl of cereal.  I love Fruit Loops, but of course we buy the local brand.  From there I check my e-mail and messages.  Check my Facebook and read a lot of news.  Then I do whatever I want.  Also, through-out the day my husband and I also take turns walking the dog.

I had a friend stop by this morning, she helped me again by calling my private clinic to see how much a biopsy of my tumor would cost; about $250.  I wasn’t expecting it to be that much.  She is going to call around to some other clinics that she knows of to see if she can find it cheaper.  I just really want to know if this thing is cancerous or not.  I went a few days without feeling it at all, but the past two days it has really been bothering me.  It feels like I have something stuck in my throat that just won’t go away.  I can feel pressure on the front of my throat, like someone pushing in on it with their thumb.  Not a good feeling at all.  We are still waiting for the test results of the blood test, hopefully I will have them by next week.

As of right now, the weather is beautiful.  upper 80’s and a nice breeze with sunny skies.  It is a lot better than the rain we had been having.  My husband was actually able to get the gutters cleaned out this morning.  He has gone for his walk, something he loves to do.  It keeps him active and healthy.  The only other thing I have to do today is laundry.  I am conducting an experiment right now with that.  I am trying to figure out if we have a smart meter, some areas do and some don’t.  So, I have been waiting until the afternoon to do all my laundry. If my utility bill goes down, we have a smart meter.  I am hoping that is the case.  Granted my bill is only $32 a month, but I am frugal.  I am thinking of changing all the light bulbs to LED bulbs next.  They use a lot less electricity than the energy efficient ones.

I did get a message from a friend last night in the States, whom I immediately called.  The State of Ohio finally opened up all adoption records that were sealed before.  I had sent off for my original birth certificate to see if I could find out who my biological father was.  Of course he is not listed on it, I am not surprised by this at all.  I have had health problems since the day I was born.  I would like to know if these are hereditary or not for the sake of my child.  I am thinking of doing a DNA test next, see if I can get anywhere with that.

Well, I need to brush the cats and clean up a few things around the house.  We are still planning our wedding for April.  I got confirmation that we can use the property that we want!  And we are planning a day trip  up to Nicaragua soon also with another friend, not sure if we will go or not as we haven’t got all the details yet.  Lots of planning going on.  So, this is my life here.  Not a whole lot to it, but we love it.  Until mañana, Pura Vida!

Renewing Residency

Oh the wonderful process of renewing your residency here.  We are under the pensionado status, so this is the only status I can tell you about.

A few weeks ago we went and made our appointment at immigration to renew.  We asked them what all we needed to have.  They gave us a short list and I even asked if we needed copies of anything, of course they told us no.  (We determined later that this was a lie.)

Earlier this week we went and made our deposits at Banco de Costa Rica, you have to make them at this bank.  We also got a print out of our transactions for the past six months.  They were unable to just print out the deposits that are made into the account so we have to print everything.  Of course they charged us for this.  I made sure that we had our passports, our receipt where we pay our insurance, our insurance cards, and of course our current residency cards.

So today we go to immigration in Ciudad Quesada.  We have always used this office since we first applied and have been using it ever since even though there is one closer to us.  It’s nice to go there and see the same people who originally helped us and they continue to help us with a smile.  Wonderful people there.  We got there early and waited in line for them to open, the line was pretty long by the time they opened the doors.  I don’t know for sure if they do generic appointment times or if they actually try to stick to the appointment times they give you, this is why we got there early.  We were one of the first people called up.

Everything for my husband went through perfect!  Not one little problem.  We had everything we needed for him.  Then we get to me.  Well, they needed a copy of my husbands residency card for my file.  He ran across the street and got one; while he was gone I found a copy in my folder.  Oh well.  Then they tell me that they need a copy of my entire passport.  So, the husband must go across the street again and pay for more copies.  I did tell the lady that I had asked when we made the appointment if we needed copies of anything and I was told no.  She seemed to sympathize with me.  Now, I have four entry stamps in my passport from where I went to the States and came back.  Every time you leave your passport is SUPPOSED to be scanned showing that you are exiting the country.  Then it is scanned and stamped for when you come back in.  I have four entry stamps, but it only shows that I left Costa Rica twice.  I was never scanned out when I left this past November.  This caused a hiccup in the process.  The lady even printed out the document showing me every time my passport was scanned.  Someone at the airport here in Costa Rica didn’t do their job.  After several minutes of patiently waiting she returned with my passport and told me that everything was fine.  There were a couple of people there who knew us from before and probably put in a good word for us.  So here is my word of advice for you all.  When you leave Costa Rica and go back to your home country; ask them when you enter to stamp your passport and date it.  It is not something that they normally do, but it can be done.  This way, if you have the same problem that I had you will be covered.

But we got it all done, got our pictures taken, got our paperwork, and went on our way.  Our next stop was the post office.  The last time we renewed our residency it took us 8 days to get our new cards back, now they are telling us it is going to take 22 days!  I am hoping that this is not going to be a problem for us.  Our current cards expire at the beginning of March and we won’t have the new ones until the middle of March.  We will have our paperwork showing that we are approved and waiting on new cards, but it also means that we cannot renew our insurance cards.  I guess we play the waiting game and hope for the best.

Step by step on how to renew your pensionado residency:

  1. Make appointment with immigration, or you can do it at a Banco de Costa Rica (But not all BCR’s offer this service)
  2. Make your deposits, $98 and $25 at BCR per person and take those receipts with you.
  3. Bring your current residency card (Cedula), your current insurance card (carnet), your passport, and your receipt showing that you are paying the insurance (CAJA).
  4. Make sure you have proof of your income being deposited into a Costa Rica bank.
For the dependent you must also have:
      1. A copy of your spouses residency card (Cedula)
      2. Copy of your entire passport.
Also, don’t forget to smile and be friendly.  That goes a very long way here.  Even if things are looking bad, keep a smile on your face and remain calm; seriously.  You want these people on your side!  Until mañana, Pura Vida!

Update 2: February 16, 2016

Yesterday was my birthday but I still managed to crawl out of bed early to go to the clinic and see the doctor.  I gave her the results of the ultrasound which actually contained some semi-good news.  There is a tumor, but it does show cancerous characteristics.  I spoke with my sister last Saturday afternoon and she told me that my biological mother did have a non-cancerous tumor on her thyroid as well.  Here’s hoping for the best.  I still need to get it biopsied though to be sure.  I got up early today also to go to the other clinic for my blood work.  I get cranky without coffee in the morning too.  Luckily we got there early before the long line formed and I was in and out without a long wait.  I do like how they take pregnant women and the elderly first here.  If you are over the age of 65 and have a “carnet de oro”, you go first just about anywhere.  That is like a golden insurance card.  They also take disabled persons first too.

I don’t know when my biopsy will be yet.  I have to wait for them to give me an appointment for that.  But I did speak to my neighbor this morning, who is always getting me to buy Tupperware from her.  She did have thyroid cancer three years ago.  I never noticed the scare before today until she pointed it out.  They had to operate on hers to remove the cancer and then she took the radiation iodine tablets and she has been cancer free since!  She told me that she went to a private doctor for the biopsy and had the results in three days, the cost was under $100.  I might just go that route to speed things up.  If I go to a private doctor I can always take the results back to my public doctor and go from there.  I like being able to use the two systems together.  Our monthly premium here is around $100 a month.  When we left the States about five years ago we were paying $524 a month plus all the co-pays.  Here, I don’t have any co-pays for my prescriptions because I get them through the public system that we pay into.

So, waiting for the blood test results and need a biopsy.  Then we go from there.  Until mañana, Pura Vida!

update 1: Feb 2, 2016

So, I went and had my ultrasound done today at a wonderful clinic in Guapiles.  I walked in and there was basically a hostess.  She greeted me and asked what I was there for and then directed me where to go.  The lady who checked me in was extremely nice to me and giggled when I told her that my Spanish wasn’t that great.  She said I did fine with it.  I paid in advance for the ultrasound, just under $70.  I did not have any private insurance for this.  My husband comes in after parking the car and I sit next to him.  The lady who originally greeted me walked over and asked if we would like any coffee or water.  I forgot my water bottle at home so I definitely needed some.  She brought it to me with a smile.  She was one of those people that had a contagious smile.  I didn’t wait very long and they called my name, always mutilating it here, and took me back to another waiting area.  I sat there for a little while, maybe 30 minutes, and got to go in.  The appointment was set between 11am and 1pm and was a first come first serve basis.  I think I actually got in before 11.

The technician was very nice.  He spoke great English, better than he thinks.  He got me to relax and told me everything that he was doing and when he was doing it.  I did let him know that I do have a medical degree so I am not going to be too surprised by anything he finds.  He did find a couple of things.  There is a tumor that is on the big size and it will have to be biopsied.  He also found a cyst, which I have had a cyst removed in my throat before when I was a teenager.  I asked him straight up on what the chances are on the tumor being cancerous and he told me 50/50.  I can deal with that.  Thyroid cancer is normally a very easy cancer to cure.  There are several different types and if it is cancer we just need to figure out which one it is and go from there.  Tuesday I go for my blood work, I hope I get the same phlebotomist that I had last time, she was great.  I guess I will take the ultrasound results to my doctor either Wednesday or Thursday as I don’t want to go on Monday…that’s my birthday.

On a good note, for those of you that have been following, I found a wedding cake today!  My husband and I are having a wedding here in Costa Rica to renew our vows and to have a marriage certificate for here.  It is a beautiful cake that they can make with purple roses, purple is my favorite color, three tier and under $70.  It’s gorgeous.

I take the good with bad.  I try not to dwell on the bad and I try to celebrate the good.  Until mañana, Pura Vida!

 

This is the ultrasound machine, made by GE.  Excellent equipment.

ultrasound

Nervous

It probably started a long time ago, but noticeable symptoms just popped up last week.  Not thinking much of the original symptoms, after all I am getting older.  It started off with my hormones being whacky.  That can be normal for a woman in her early 40’s.  I went to my gynecologist and had some tests done.  He put me on some light hormone therapy and it helped.  Thinking this was all it was I continued on with normal everyday life.  Then a few weeks ago I developed a cough.  I had gotten bronchitis after my trip to the US and just thought it might be that coming back.  Plus, I do smoke.  But then it felt like I had something stuck in my throat that wouldn’t go away and my voice started getting hoarse.  I needed to get in to see the doctor.  You know, sometimes I think it was a mistake getting a medical degree because I know what these symptoms can point to.

I get up early and the power is out.  I sat there for a minute wondering if I should go down to the clinic or not with the power out.  Well, it’s Costa Rica and they will work with or without electricity.  So, I roll out of bed, brush my teeth, get dressed, and head out the door.  I get down to the clinic and there is almost no one there.  Very unusual.  I guess everyone slept in with there being no electricity.  I get inside and am trying to dig everything I need out of my purse and wallet to make my appointment, in the dark.  The receptionist was nice enough to shine her flashlight over to me so I could see better.  I finally found all of my documents and got my appointment for 7am.  I have never had one that early.  It was already 20 till 7 so there was no point in leaving and going back home, so I just sat and waited.

I let the doctor know what was going on and she checked out my throat. (I don’t like people touching my neck at all, my husband doesn’t even touch my neck.  It brings up too many bad memories of a situation that happened over 16 years ago.  That is another story though.)  She said my thyroid is definitely enlarged right now.  Something is definitely going on.  I gave her as much of a family history that I could, I only know half.   I have no idea who my biological father is so I have no information about his side of the family.  Thyroid cancer can be genetic.  I also informed her that I used to live close to a uranium processing plant.  The doctor gave me a couple of prescriptions for cough medicine and some acetaminophen, these prescriptions cost me nothing out of pocket.  There was no co-pay to see the doctor either.  She wrote me up an order to have blood work done, I go on Tuesday for that.  She also wants me to get an ultrasound done.  There is no out of pocket expense for the blood work.  For the ultrasound I am going to go to a private doctor because it is much closer to where I live.  If I went to the hospital to have it done there would be no extra cost either.  The out of pocket expense for the ultrasound at the private clinic I go to, and I don’t have private insurance either so this is the full cost of it, is just under $70.  I go tomorrow for that.

After the blood work is completed I will go back to my doctor with the ultrasound results and find out what is going on.  It will probably take about a week.  I am worried and nervous, but I am not scared.  I am not writing this for a pity party or for you to feel sorry for me.  I like to discuss things that I have personally experienced and pass that knowledge on to others.  We do have a one payer healthcare system here, what you pay is based on your income.  You can still go to a private doctor if you like.  You can still purchase private health insurance if you want.  I use both systems together and it has worked so far for me really well.  I will post updates on what is going on and let you know the results of the tests.  But please, if you think something is wrong with your body, or that something just isn’t right, get yourself checked out.  If I do have thyroid cancer it is usually very easy to treat.  If it is just a benign tumor, I will just have to have it removed.  I am not letting this get me down at all.  I live in a beautiful place with wonderful friends and a very supportive husband.  Until mañana.  Pura Vida!

New Law

Laws are constantly changing in the country, especially when it comes to immigration.  The new one they have now is about the stupidest one I have seen yet.  This one even effects those of us who already have our residency.

When you are a temporary resident, like we are for the next year, you have to renew your residency every two years.  You also must pay into the medical system here for your medical insurance.  You may still purchase private health insurance if you want, but you are required to pay into the public system.  The amount you pay will vary based on your income.  My husband is a pensioner and I am his dependent, so for the both of us we pay around $100 a month.  Those of us here refer to the system as the CAJA, pronounced Ca-ha.  It can take a little while to get used to using the public system and it can be frustrating at times.  But when you have no co-pays or deductibles, I don’t complain.

OK, back to the law.  When your residency expires so does your CAJA, you have to renew your residency and then go to your local office to renew your CAJA, which is basically just getting a new insurance card.  The law that they have passed here states that you must produce a new marriage certificate for every time you renew your CAJA.  The marriage certificate must be notarized, apostled, and not more than 30 days old.  For many of us this is impossible.  My husband and I got married in Las Vegas, we eloped.  For us to get a new marriage certificate we must order it from Nevada, then have it mailed to a friend of ours in another state.  She would then have to fill out a form and send it to the state of Nevada to be apostled with a self addressed stamped envelope to be mailed to us here.  This can easily take more than 30 days considering how slow the mail is here.

Who ever wrote this law only had locals in mind.  Because there are people from over 100 different countries living here and for many of them this is impossible.  This law is going to be contested at the Supreme Court here in Costa Rica.  But in the meantime…what do we do?  We get re-married here in Costa Rica!  I spoke with my attorney here where I live, he did some digging for me to find out how he can do this legally.  Because it is technically illegal to marry someone who is already married.  But he finally found out how to get around that since we are already married to each other.  So, I finally get to have a wedding!  My husband and I got married in April and that is when we are getting married again.  I bought a simple and cute dress today, nothing very fancy.  We have a small list of friends that we want there.  And we are going to fire up the BBQ.  I am feeling young again!  Our attorney is charging us $200 to preform the ceremony, he is giving us a discount, plus we are feeding him.  I am really looking forward to this.  I still have to pick out a cake though.  Really nervous and excited at the same time.  I love my husband so much that I want to marry him again.

So, a word of advice.  Do your research before moving here.  Remember that the laws are always changing and always try to keep up on them; especially when the new year rolls in.  There is always a way around something, legally.  Don’t do anything illegal.  Go with the flow and roll with the punches.  It will be OK.  Don’t let something stress you out too much, it’s bad for your health.  Until mañana, Pura Vida!