Posted in Cali Colombia, Colombia, Colombian healthcare, Colombian life, exercise, expat life, friendship, Healthcare in Colombia, hip surgery, Journal of surgery for hips, Physical therapy, strength, Uncategorized

The Hard Work Begins

I’m 15 days post hip surgery and 3 days into my physical therapy. The cover photo is after my third therapy and as you can see I can stand and also walk without crutches but only for short periods of time. I’m so impressed with my care and the organization at the center for physical therapy at Imbanaco Medical Center in Cali, Colombia. I had my first check up Tuesday by one of the interns who works with my surgeon. He was very pleased with my progress, took out my stitches, and said I could stop taking my medication except Tylenol. He even did a Yoga pose and told me that I would be back to it soon. He made me laugh with his antics. He wrote out my order for physical therapy and said they would send them through email every month, and that I would be able to go back to my Villa soon.

Jazmin and I went over to the physical therapy office to make an appointment. In Colombia all medical centers have every need right in the same area. It is the same in Palmira the main city closest to Villa Migelita Ecolodge. We just had to walk a 1/2 block. We entered and  I was registered and scheduled for an appointment that same afternoon. My doctors know I’m renting in Cali and want to get back to my animals and home. To say they are accommodating is an understatement!

When I arrived that afternoon I had been told by my doctor the first week would be very gentle therapy. I was asked questions about my pain level, they used a ruler type device to measure my range of motion in different positions and had me on ice and then heat. Then I did a few similar exercises to what I had been doing during my rest period after my surgery. I had an appointment Wednesday morning at 9:30 am and everything changed. This was funny to me because there was nothing about my second therapy that was easy. I had balls to hold between my legs while lifting one at a time for many repetitions, they even had me sit with 5 lb weights on my ankles and straighten my leg out and down , then the other leg! Believe it or not I had no pain!

Today was my third therapy and it was different again. I used the ball between my knees while I lifted my hips up and straightened my leg out and held for 10 seconds. I also had a band that I had to use while on my stomach and lift up one leg at a time for a series of repetitions, then sitting doing the same thing. My final exercise was balancing on a tube which was very hard for me because of my vertigo but I did it!

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I finally got a photo after a bit of time getting used to balancing

After my therapy Jazmin and I make fun plans as I am in much better spirits now that I am out and about. Cali is like New York City and we are discovering new things every single day. Today we took a ride on a cable car to a barrio where the citizens of Barrio Seloe used to have to walk up stairs to incredible heights to reach their homes! It was fun and we were so entertained! Perfect for me because I could sit and enjoy the views after doing my physical therapy.

I’m also impressed with how kind every person I encounter are to me. Opening doors , making sure I have a seat, telling me where elevators are, such care from complete strangers. Then there is Jazmin, my person. We are having fun while she takes such great care of me. I don’t know how I could have done this without her. I feel I might be leaving earlier than 30 days because my physical therapist told me today I was doing so great. I have to laugh because this week is supposed to be my easy week. What comes next week, weight lifting with squats? Don’t worry my blogs will keep everyone updated. Stay tuned, and remember no matter the challenge we all have it within ourselves to overcome any obstacle!

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Posted in Colombia, Colombian healthcare, Colombian life, Disappointment, exercise, expat life, hip surgery, Journal of surgery for hips, life lessons, Uncategorized

My Hospital Stay

The  cover picture is a photo of a room at the Imbanaco Medical hospital in Cali, Colombia where I will be having my hip surgery on August 22. My housekeeper will be staying with me and it is included in my health insurance. The couch you see is a pull out bed where Jazmine will sleep. We did everything together alone on Thursday. I drove to Palmira we took a bus to the Cali terminal and then a taxi to the hospital. I do not drive in Cali, it is hectic and very hard to even use a GPS in this city.  Jazmine only speaks Spanish, but she can interpret for me when I do not understand something because we have our own special language of my Spanish and her Spanish that somehow works out well for us both. My appointments had been changed from Friday to Thursday and my friend who was supposed to drive and help interpret could not make it on Thursday. I have become quite adept at sudden changes because Jazmine and I work well as a team. I understand Spanish pretty well now, but medical or complex issues are definitely a challenge for me.

I had a wonderful meeting with the anesthesiologist. He only spoke Spanish but we talked well and he understood my Spanish. I actually didn’t need her for much. I was worried about this meeting because it was for my general health, looking at my blood work and explaining the procedure of the surgery. I found out that they schedule the surgery for about 5 hours and that I will be asleep even though it is arthroscopy. They do not rush, and I am having both of my hips done. We then went down to see my surgeon and he was not available Thursday so I saw the doctor who is his assistant for an explanation of the aftercare part of my recovery. I could not understand a word he said. He had a strange way of talking, slow but his words kind of dropped off. Jazmine helped a lot in this meeting and I left with the knowledge that I will have small spots on both of my hips that will be cleaned with alcohol only, no need for antibiotics and probably medicine for pain. They do not use strong medicine in Colombia. So hopefully my pain will decrease dramatically after the surgery. I will be in the hospital for two or three days. I will rest for ten days doing exercises in my bed twice a day, and will be up on crutches immediately. The bad news was that I could not return to my Villa for the 10 days of rest because the distance is too far and the bumps in the road could damage my hips. I also found out I had to have 20 consecutive days of therapy that is specialized by my surgeon at the Imbanaco Medical Center. This therapy is vital to a great outcome and complete healing. In Colombia they do not have recovery centers and I had to find my own place to stay for one month in Cali. I am upset by this because my Villa is so beautiful and I had thought maybe someone could come to my house for therapy.

The next part of the day was the hospital registration. We went to that area of the medical center and the first person I saw was a nurse who went over what I should do at home the night before and the day of the surgery. My surgery is late in the day so I am allowed a small breakfast of only certain foods and I can drink water until 11 am. Then nothing after that. I have to wash with a special soap the night before and the day of surgery. I understood her perfectly and again Jazmine did not have to help much, then the final part of the day was the actual registration of my surgery date. That part was simple and everything took 4 hours. We left and grabbed a quick-lunch and then a taxi and I was back in Palmira by 4 pm. A long day but very productive.

Yesterday, I worked all day looking on the computer trying to find a place to stay for one month. It is not easy as I cannot have stairs, I didn’t want a room in an apartment with no scenery to look at, and I wanted something in a residential area where I could see birds and nature. I found a wonderful place, and Jazmine will stay with me there too. I will need help with everything from cooking, washing my clothes and bathing at first. I might find out that I am quite capable and can stay alone after the first week.

It is going to be an adventure. An adventure I still am not happy about, but I thank God I have such wonderful insurance and the only costs I have had so far have been two small co-pays and I had to buy two special pillows, one is used in surgery and the other is for my legs after the surgery. I am going today to get my crutches, and the cost of my room in the beautiful home I will staying in is quite reasonable.

I will miss my animals, my hummingbirds, my fresh air and lovely home. I will not like the heat in Cali and most places in Colombia do not have air conditioning. The nights are always cool, but I will need a fan during the day. The water is also not heated in most places, and so I will be having cold showers. I won’t like that, but if it is hot it might not be so bad. The beautiful Air BnB home I am staying in is exquisitely decorated and has a small garden patio where I can sit outside. I will be writing my book, and I will journal for all of you about my experience in the hospital, and then going to my rental place.

I continue to become more and more independent and I hope by writing it down I can show others you can achieve anything you want with determination. I also will show how excellent the healthcare is that I receive in Colombia. My hospital stay, doctors and all the therapy is covered 100%. As are the medications that I need from the surgery. After I  am able to return to my Villa I will continue therapy in Palmira. I should be allowed to drive.  I will do everything exactly as instructed and hopefully will be back to my hiking and Yoga in 3 months. Wish me luck, because I won’t lie and say that I don’t feel anxiety because I do. Exercise is everything to me, I want to have a completely successful outcome. Look for a new blog after my surgery. I am sure it will be interesting and very positive because I have had nothing but professional and very modern care so far. The surgeon is only one of three doctors who perform this surgery in Colombia. I know it is an inconvenience for me to stay for 30 days in Cali, but I sure wouldn’t want to stay in Bogotá for 30 days where the other doctors are located.

So now I am going to get my personal affairs in as much order as I can, I have wonderful friends who are going to help me with many things while I am staying in Cali. I am so blessed to have these people in my life. I have learned that it is not always about the amount of friends we have, but the quality of the friendships. Stay tuned for my next blog, my surgery is on Wednesday. I should be writing about it on Thursday of next week.

Posted in Alternative Lifestyle, Colombia, Colombian life, expat life, Uncategorized

Ten Reasons to Visit Colombia and Become an Expat

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/ten/

  1.  Healthcare: If you can obtain a Visa here in Colombia you will get a Cedula which is the country ID in Colombia. The different Visas available in Colombia are listed on the Colombian government website: most are pretty easy to obtain. We have social security cards in the USA and the Cedula is similar : but it shows your blood type and a number that registers you to the country of Colombia. You need this card to get healthcare, you need this card to show your identification anywhere as a person living in Colombia. It is more important than a driver’s license. Colombian healthcare is not socialized, you can shop the different healthcare companies. They make you take a physical and then they rate you by your health. Colombia does not turn people down, but the rating of good health gives you an advantage. I can never emphasize enough how much I love my healthcare here, the peace of mind it gives me. For more information you can write me below in the comments. I want everyone to know the benefits and the care I have received living under the Colombian healthcare system is like nothing I have had in my life. And the price: did I mention I have the prepaid Gold plan for around 120 dollars per month ?
  2. Great Climates for everyone: Colombia offers so much diversity, you can travel the country and look for a department that you feel is perfect for you! The Pacific and Atlantic coasts are warm and humid, the Andes offer cold weather, so does Bogotá. Then you have the Amazon which is hot and humid and the biggest department of Colombia. The Valle del Cauca where I live is quite diverse. The mountainous regions are cool, perfect temperatures, but the cities of Cali and Palmira are hot oftentimes. You just need to decide on what it is you want and you will be able to find the perfect location. Another reason to come and explore Colombia!
  3. Real Estate: Colombia still offers affordable real estate. You can buy for a very reasonable price, or you can rent anywhere for so little you won’t even want to buy. Most places for rent are not furnished. You will most likely have to supply your own refrigerator, washer, dryer, furniture and any electronics. But  you can find a beautiful place in most any department for around 400 to 500$ per month. Furnished places are more expensive. I suggest anyone who wants to try out living in another country to rent for at least a year. Then you will know if you like the area. If you don’t you can try another spot. It is so worth it though, especially for the healthcare. Healthcare alone makes moving to another country worth it.
  4. Learn a New Language: The language barrier. ARGH it still is haunting me, but I can speak Spanish now. It is certainly not perfect, but I can communicate. Learning a new language is an endeavor that is not easy. Especially Spanish: all those damn rules will never be perfect for me. However, I love that I speak two languages. It is an achievement I am quite proud of and I will never understand anyone making fun of someone for an accent or improper verbage when speaking a language not their own. At least they know two languages. Do you?
  5. Cost of Living: You can live really well anywhere in Latin America on a fixed income. You do not have all the variables that you have to put in your budget in the USA. Healthcare is so reasonable and there are no deductibles, you can get a prescription without going to a doctor! Your grocery bill is one-third of the cost in the US. You can buy fresh meat, chicken, fish at the local Galleria. This area of business is in all Colombian cities and they also sell produce and supplies for farms and pets. Also the food is organic. You don’t have all the insurances you pay in the USA. What a big savings that is!
  6. The People: Colombian people have been rated time and again as the happiest in the world. After living here for 6 years I will agree and they also have lovely manners. If you walk into a doctor’s office everyone will look at you and say hello. If you have a favorite restaurant, they will learn your name. The friends you make will be your friends for life. They will also help you learn their language without any snide looks or eye rolls. They will correct you and they will practice with you. They will be your forever friends. I love my friends here, and I respect them more.
  7. Nature: If you love nature, if you love the mountains, if you love the ocean, if you love biodiversity and the perseverance of the animal kingdom, then Colombia is your place to live! I see big construction projects all over my area of the Valle del Cauca: but they leave the trees alone. We have trees that date back over 350 years here. The Colombian people respect that nature is first. I love that and so will you if that is as important to you. We have the most species of butterflies, birds, fruits and flowers in Colombia.
  8. Departments of Colombia: There are 32 departments in Colombia. Departments in Colombia are like what we call States in the USA. If you decide you want to visit Colombia you need to see a few of these departments and enjoy our tourism. I am still traveling and finding new places to visit. My department the Valle del Cauca is known for the agriculture, but also includes Buenaventura where the shipping port is. We have many forests and waterfalls, and a great amount of hummingbirds, bird species and butterflies.We are also famous for Parapente, because we have great wind currents. If you love the beach then you will want to include Cartagena, Choco, and Santa Marta in your travel plans. You can watch whales in Choco, sunbathe and eat great food in Cartagena, hike mountains and see the ocean in Santa Marta. We have a bit of everything to offer in Colombia. We also have rivers that turn colors like Cano Cristales, and then the Amazon which is adventure travel with lots of water and animal life, including pink dolphins.
  9. Peaceful living: If you like to live peacefully without drama then you need to move to another country. I am very happy in my mountain home high in the mountains. I hear frogs at night when I fall asleep, I hear birds when I awake in the morning. I can be down to the city in 25 minutes, but I can stay at my house and never see a crowd. It is about what I want on any particular day. I am at peace in a beautiful home I have remodeled and it is heaven on Earth. Believe me, life is good.
  10. You can start a business without any fuss: I started the business of my Bed and Breakfast. I didn’t do much. I am on Instagram,  Facebook, Twitter, and I have my own blog and website. I don’t do much to advertise my place. I haven’t needed to. You just have to have a small amount of capital and you can do what I have done. It is rewarding, it is fulfilling and it is on your terms.