Game on, Belize

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Rose sits on the Water taxi to Ambergris Caye toward the end of our fact finding tour of Belize.
Rose sits on the Water taxi to Ambergris Caye toward the end of our fact finding tour of Belize.

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?

Nothing.

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.

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22 thoughts on “Game on, Belize

    Karen Kelly said:
    October 16, 2013 at 7:51 pm

    Full speed ahead!

    Like

    perthians said:
    October 16, 2013 at 8:06 pm

    It’s a nightmare. Had the same thing happen to me last week. Found a lump got grilled about cancer in my family history etc Hit the panic button. Went through all the tests and benign – thank god 🙂 Glad Rose is benign too xo

    Like

      robertjhawkins1 responded:
      October 16, 2013 at 9:03 pm

      Great news. It can be scary for sure. Glad you had a good outcome!

      Like

    John East said:
    October 16, 2013 at 8:35 pm

    Fantastic news for both of you. Looking forward to seeing you both in February.

    Like

    Betsy said:
    October 16, 2013 at 9:12 pm

    So happy to hear good news for Rose. She has been in my thoughts and prayers. So have you made the big decision where you will move in Belize?

    Like

      robertjhawkins1 responded:
      October 16, 2013 at 9:20 pm

      Thanks, Betsy! We’ve narrowed our picks to two communities — one in the western rainforest and one on the island of Ambergris Caye. Very very different from each other. I’ll write something very soon on our next steps! Love ya, cuz!

      Like

    Janet and Ian said:
    October 17, 2013 at 4:15 am

    So very relieved for Rose (and you too Bob of course). Thanks for the update, keep them coming 🙂 Love, Jan and Ian

    Like

      robertjhawkins1 responded:
      October 17, 2013 at 10:40 am

      Thanks, Janet and Ian! Now I feel like writing — so much better than waiting!

      Like

    Rose East said:
    October 17, 2013 at 5:15 am

    Hi Bob looking forward to seeing both you and Rose in February. Love to both of you. Rose :0) x

    Like

      robertjhawkins1 responded:
      October 17, 2013 at 10:39 am

      You too! Best of luck with the move into your new Belize home, Rose! So excited for you and John!

      Like

    lifeagain said:
    October 17, 2013 at 9:39 am

    way to go Bob and Rose…..John East has got us all thinking positive and headed in the same direction.

    Like

      robertjhawkins1 responded:
      October 17, 2013 at 10:41 am

      So true, Don. Wish I could be there this weekend to help them move into their new home!

      Like

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