Game on, Belize.
One day a suspect lump in a breast threatens to delay, if not derail entirely, our dream of moving to Belize early next year. And now, a long couple of weeks and numerous tests later, Rose has been given a clean bill of health (literally) from Kaiser Hospital’s enormously efficient Breast Cancer Clinic.
So, like I said, game on.
It was while we were on our scouting trip to Belize last month that Rose detected the very distinct bump.
The immediate response was a quick reordering of priorities.
Do we fly home right away and have it checked out? Do we call a doctor in Belize? Should we even be thinking of moving if there is cancer? Do we panic? Do we stay calm? My god, why is this happening and what do we do next?
Getting the lump checked out was our first order of business upon hitting the ground in California and the Kaiser Hospital Breast Clinic was the right place. In one afternoon they conducted a battery of tests including several sonograms and a mammogram. Then, just to be on the safe side, they scheduled an appointment with a breast surgeon for a biopsy.
In the interim week, between appointments, Rose got a formal letter from the clinic saying that while the source of the growth was a mystery, it was not cancer. She was told to go ahead with the biopsy to eliminate any lingering doubts.
Meanwhile, an odd thing happened. The mysterious lump, once quite prominent and terrifying, began to shrink. By the time Rose and I went to her appointment with the surgeon, it was nearly gone. So much so that he decided to forgo the biopsy for now.
So, just a good old fashioned life and death health scare. But it just didn’t pass without some very real effects.
Health has played a central role in our thinking since before we embarked on this journey. For the longest time, including my last year with the San Diego Union-Tribune, I was without health insurance. I couldn’t afford it, frankly. So I lived a healthy life and hoped.
Last year around this time, my luck ran out. I’ll spare the details but I was essentially disabled from last November until April 10 when I had an operation. The only reason I had the operation is because my son Ryan directed to to the state’s Pre-existing Condition Insurance Program (PCIP), a precursor to Obamacare.
You’ve heard of a “pre-existing condition,” right? In the health insurance industry that is a very long way of saying “No.”
So that’s the past. I’m currently applying for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. But what will that mean in Belize?
The good news is that health care is incredibly affordable there, by American standards. An operation won’t kill you, financially, in Belize.
Is health care as good as it is in the U.S.? Not quite. But good enough. And if you have complicated procedures, there are some excellent facilities just across the border in Mexico.
Meanwhile, were heard numerous good stories about the quality of health care as we traveled around Belize. A San Ignacio woman’s mother had a hip replacement (around $4,000, as I recall) which proved to be a very good experience — but only after insisting on a change of hospitals. (I think of my own mother who went into a first-rate Florida hospital with a broken hip and didn’t make it out alive.)
A friend in San Pedro, who took a bad fall after we left the country, was rushed to an emergency clinic where a gash in her leg was sewn up and other injuries were tended to within 15 minutes of her arrival. Her husband has had a whole mouth’s worth of dental work for the price of a capped tooth in the U.S.
Oh, there are horror stories, just as there are in the U.S., but mostly we heard good things about medical care. We feel that we will be in good hands, medically speaking.
OK, enough for now. There is lots to do before the move.
Get ready, Belize. We’re back on track and bearing down.
- Speed bumps on the road of life got nothing on the roads of Belize (robertjhawkins1.wordpress.com)
- Foot-dragging from village to village through Belize (robertjhawkins1.wordpress.com)
- Monkey Bob bets on Belize (robertjhawkins1.wordpress.com)