Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Birthday Cosmetic Surgery

This year I am hitting a near-milestone birthday. I am not going to type it; to do so would bring it closer to home. Use your imagination if so inclined.

When I turned 25, I was (at the same time, yes) getting out of an abusive relationship and also being dumped by the first guy I ever truly fell for. My bad for dating while otherwise occupied! Oops. Oh, and I was also overcoming a daily battle with anorexia and beginning to like myself for what was inside. Anyway, after all that nonsense ended, I gave myself a piercing for my birthday. I thought it sort of symbolized my newfound freedom and a gaining of self-respect for myself. I still have it, and as much pain as it caused me (physically, not emotionally this time!), I plan on having it go to the grave with me.

Fast forward a few (ahem!) years to last Wednesday, when I was wheeled into the outpatient operating room at CIMA for a minor surgery on my leg. No big deal, though I say it's cosmetic surgery because no insurance company in their right mind would pay for it. Without going into great detail, I had a lump removed from my leg. It was ugly. I was sick of it. It had to go. It just felt like I was ready to make the change, to get rid of it, along with all of the reasons why I hadn't done so previously (like my huge fear of needles and operating rooms and scalpels...). So, obviously, I had to pay for it myself.

You may be wondering, What the hell does any of this have to do with Costa Rica? Well, I'll tell you! It was cheap, that's what. I am writing a top-10-things-I-like about-Costa-Rica list for a friend's book, and the excellent medical care at ridiculously low prices is on it (as is veterinary care -- what a bargain). My doctora is a young Korean woman who reminds me a great deal of Sun on Lost (wow, am I addicted to that show, for entirely perverse reasons, but never mind...). She is kind, a great OB/GYN, and wholly funny to boot. How many doctors are going to make you laugh on the operating table? Talk about putting one's patient at ease! Anyway, with my doc's fees and the hospital's outpatient fees, the entirety of my round of cosmetic surgery came to $250. Can you even believe it? And let me tell you, CIMA is more modern and better equipped than most of the hospitals I've been to in the U.S. And EVERY SINGLE ONE of the nurses (about half of whom were men, interestingly enough) was very kind and just wonderful. (They did, however, make me remove my freedom piercing, which I can't re-insert without a mirror.) I can't say enough good things about them. Or my doc.

When I told my mother about all this (she lives in the state that's high in the middle and round on the ends -- OHIO!), she related a story to me about a minor outpatient procedure she had last year that cost her insurance company something like $12,000. J su christo.

I didn't have insurance when I lived in California because I simply couldn't afford it. I can't really afford it now, which is why I don't have it here either, but since the cost of medical care is so cheap, I can usually pay cash for anything I need done. I could never do that back home. Worst case scenario, I can get emergency treatment for free at any of the government-run hospitals (though I prefer the private ones, like CIMA, for what should be obvious reasons).

Tomorrow, on my real birthday day, I get my stitches out. And start to feel good about the way my leg looks again. Thanks, Dr. Kim!


  1. First things first: Happy birthday!

    Secondly: O my god. Can I just say that a simple wart removal here on one of the ladies just cost $195? It was an office visit of 20 minutes.

    Thirdly: I LOVE LOST. I love it, I love it, I love it.

    Happy birthay again.

  2. Yae for Freedom piercings!!!
    Happies of Birthdays to you sweetie!!!

    You have come SUCH a distance from the wendi you were back at 25 and I still loves ya :)

  3. L7: Thank you! It's been a great b-day so far. Just had a watermelon martini and a bucket o' onion rings at Henry's to start the night off right (hee hee).

    Damn, I just realized if I go out to dinner tonight I'll miss Lost. What's a girl to do? And do you know what totally blows? ABC does not allow you to see the whole episode online if you're outside of the US! How unfair is that?

    Manders: Thank you! Sometimes I feel so far removed from that girl I was back then, so completely different. And I'm really glad. Things just keep getting better!

    BIG LOVE to both of you!! I wish you were here for a little celebratory night out! I shall be sure to toast to you on Friday night during the "real" b-day party.