Making Decisions about my Belize Healthcare
When I moved to Belize, I left the USA with no health care coverage, and that was a conscious decision that I made. Prior to moving, my research had told me that Belize healthcare was very inexpensive, and most things could be handled out of pocket.
Something’s Not Quite Right
In August of 2017, I noticed that I was experiencing extreme pain in my thighs after riding my bike only 200 FT. It felt like I had done 100 squats with a Drill Sargent standing over me with a stopwatch! That was unusual, since my bicycle is my mode of transportation, and I routinely bike five miles per day.
Soon, I was unable to ride directly into a headwind, and was forced to walk my bike instead of ride it. My lungs felt like they were on fire, and my legs felt leaden.
At the same time, I found myself waking up to what I thought were panic attacks, and I’d jump out of bed and run out on the veranda gulping for air. I felt like I was smothering! I later found that my brain sensor was going off, telling me that I was oxygen deprived.
I was exhausted to the point of collapse. I was unable to do the simplest of tasks including answering emails. When I came home from the office, I’d walk and feed my dogs, and collapse on the sofa.
Fooling myself by rationalizing my symptoms, didn’t help my situation. Could it be that I was just getting older, and this was part of the aging process?
My final wakeup call was having my ankles and feet swell to twice their size in a matter of hours, and look like they belonged to the Pillsbury Doughboy.
That scared me to the point of Googling my symptoms, and trying to self-diagnose. What I was finding on-line scared me as well, so I made an appointment with renowned physician, Dr. Hildago, at Healthcare Partners in Belize City.
Dr. Hildago and Healthcare Partners
Healthcare Partners is a large facility which is a one-stop shop, having offices for physicians, lab, diagnostic center, and their own hospital. It is a private facility.
I underwent a full diagnostic screening including a chest x-ray, EKG and a full panel of blood work.
I waited impatiently for some news. The EKG and chest x-ray were fine. The answers had to be in the lab work.
I was pulled into Dr. Hildago’s office and was not offered a seat. Instead, he got right to the point, and told me that my hemoglobin level was at an alarming 5. The normal range for a healthy female is 13-18. Hemoglobin are the red blood cells that carry the oxygen throughout your body.
In admitting, the nurse drew a vial of my blood and held it up for me to look at. The top two-thirds of the vial looked like water. The bottom third had some orange matter suspended in the clear liquid. That was my blood! I didn’t fully comprehend what I was seeing at the time, because I was so sick.
I was wheeled up to a private room, much like what you would see in any hospital in the USA.
My stay at Healthcare Partners was twenty-four hours, and I received four units of blood. I was released with a hemoglobin level of 10.5 and was sent home with high potency prescription iron capsules.
The combined cost for the hospital, labs and diagnostics, physician cost, four units of blood, and three good meals (true) was around US $1,000.00. A small price to pay for life saving measures!
I have followed up with lab work and am happy to report that at the end of May, my hemoglobin was at 12.5, nearly at the minimum level. With continued iron supplements, it should continue to climb.
Today, I am healthy, happy, energized and definitely back on track! I thank Dr. Hildago and the staff at Healthcare Partners for their excellent care! I am alive today because of them!