Ok, so I bit the bullet and reported for my biopsy. I had a tico friend come with me, as required, and I knew he would go to bat for me if they pulled any bureaucratic nonsense. Gracias a Dios, they didn’t. At least not at first.
I was ushered into a room where a pleasant young fellow asked me some questions and told me to switch into the ubiquitous blue “gown.” There was no place to put my street clothes, so I just piled them on the floor. Once I was in position, another fellow came in to actually do the procedure. He spoke English and told me what to expect. He and the technician who originally greeted me had a robust conversation about Oktoberfest in Germany, which the tech was planning to attend. As my face was to the wall, I couldn’t tell if the urologist was, in fact, looking at what he was doing or at the tech. I noticed that this time the procedure was more painful than my previous biopsies.
When it was over, I went back to the waiting room until the secretary issued further instructions; I had to go downstairs to schedule my follow-up visit with the urologist. My friend and I searched for and found the window where the appointments were made. I politely asked that the appointment not be before 10:00 in the morning, due to the amount of travel required. She gave me an 8:00 appointment sometime in October. Now I know it’s a big no-no to make requests; ticos in the public system accept what they get. The bigger issue was the month. I remembered that someone had told me I could pick up my results two months after the procedure. I mentioned this to my friend, and we got back in line. I thought it might go better for me if he asked the young woman if and where I could pick up my results prior to October. She told him that we could do so upstairs. He then, without my prodding, mentioned that I had requested a later time; she nodded and asked if 12:00 noon was OK. I said yes, and she gave us a new appointment card. For an appointment in 2020. Now THAT’s the passive–aggressive bureaucratic tico behavior I’ve come to know and not love.
It’s OK. I’ll pick up results in April and see my private doc. The urologist warned me to watch out for two things: fever and excessive bleeding. All went well for the first week, and then I thought I was bleeding; it turned out it was the result of eating a bunch of dried cranberries in some trail mix I bought. I mention this only because, when I was considering going to an emergency room, I checked prices at a very nice private facility which caters to gringos. I was told the visit itself would be $100. Good to know for future reference. Also, my research into my own insurance, which is not accepted outside the United States, is that the Anthem supplemental plan for LAUSD retirees is a Medigap policy. It covers us for emergencies (only) while traveling outside the US, and we need to pay or charge it and get reimbursed. The great news is that it covers 100% of costs. FYI to my fellow retirees on that plan.
There is a new guard for the property. He is a 23 year-old law student from Nicaragua who had to leave the country one semester before completing his degree. We had a chat about his native country, where Daniel Ortega (remember him?) has gone in 40 years from a communist man-of-the-people (and thorn is the US’s side) to a greedy despot. And his wife is known simply as “la bruja” (the witch). When I mentioned that I remembered when Ortega was a good man committed to his people, my new friend growled that Ortega was never a good man and never cared about his people. I simply replied “Oh, I didn’t know that,” and changed the subject. Oops! I need to be more aware of my cultural context.
I picked up a couple of new English students: an emergency room doctor at a nearby hospital and a clinical psychologist from Venezuela whose office is right next to a Starbucks and a restaurant I really like. I also learned that, among my neighbors to my right and to my left, there are three emergency room docs. I feel much better about dropping to the floor in need of urgent care- as long as I do it in the driveway.
Oh, and my neighbors who live behind my house, and whose dog barks non-stop, were the owners of Mas por Menos, a national supermarket chain which they recently sold to WalMart. We’re talking mucha plata (a lot of bucks), which explains the huge property in this expensive part of town. Unfortunately, there is no correlation between being very rich and knowing (or caring) about training the family pet. As I’ve mentioned before, ticos may love their dogs but they don’t train (or, in many cases, vaccinate) them. It wouldn’t even occur to a local to tell a dog to stop barking. That’s gringo bullshit. The reason this is the happiest country on earth (evidenced by multiple studies) is that people don’t expect or even try to control their environment. Or ask for late-morning appointments. Or expect prompt and courteous service. Or demand to speak to supervisors. Etc., etc.
Like I said: That’s gringo bullshit.