The Secret to a Young Life


“Men do not quit playing because they grow old; they grow old because they quit playing.” ― Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.

Since returning from the states the end of June, I haven’t felt like playing. Honestly, I haven’t felt like doing anything. We both got Zika, which is like Chikungunya light. But, Zika amplified our ongoing arthritic symptoms from Chikungunya, which we got a year ago. Sigh! I feel so old and exhausted.

On top of our mosquito borne illnesses, the electricity has been horrible this month. Every other day, the power shuts off at six in the evening and blinks on at nine. Some people suspect that the Ferris wheel is the culprit, others say the new Pali grocery store is consuming too much of the electricity.

Whatever the reasons for our unstable power, sometimes I feel like Nicaragua is killing me slowly. I am tired of playing detective. Who hot wired our dune buggy? Who stole my friend’s bicycle, which was chained to her porch? Is it possible to flip a switch and turn off the electricity in our community when there is a big fiesta or bullfight in the next town? Why is my internet so slow? What tropical illness do we have now…parasites, Dengue, Chikungunya, Zika, Swine flu, food poisoning, Cholera, E coli? We’ve had them all.

Is it Nicaragua or is it me?

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Let’s Get Real About Safety in Nicaragua


“I finally figured out that not every crisis can be managed. As much as we want to keep ourselves safe, we can’t protect ourselves from everything. If we want to embrace life, we also have to embrace chaos.”
― Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Our house is surrounded by ornamental iron keeping us safe from unwanted intruders.

Our house is surrounded by ornamental iron keeping us safe from unwanted intruders.

September 2018 Update and December 2019 update: Things are still bad in Nicaragua.

Unfortunately, this post is old. Nicaragua is not safe to visit at the present time. The Ortega regime continues to repress freedom of speech, thousands have left the country, more than 400 people have been murdered, thousands injured, hundreds arrested, imprisoned, and tortured. We left Nicaragua mid July and have no plans to return anytime soon. 😢😢😢

Now, that’s the truth! No matter where we live in this mad, mad world we can’t protect ourselves from everything. Like most expats, I grew up in one country and moved to another country. My idea of safety abroad revolved around; Don’t drink the water. Always shake out your shoes for scorpions. Don’t wear a lot of bling bling in big cities. My learning curve was steep for keeping myself safe the first couple of years living in Nicaragua.

I’ve categorized four main safety concerns in Nicaragua. Unless you are Bubble Boy, you will probably deal with one of these safety issues at one time or another in Nicaragua. We have dealt with safety hazards from all four categories, but we have never considered any of these safety issues life-threatening.

When moving to a new country there can be a host of hidden hazards that aren’t covered in the tourism brochures. Although no one wants to be ruled by fear, it is better to be aware of what’s out there from disease to crime. So…

  Let’s Get Real About Safety in Nicaragua

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Part Two: Let’s Get Real About Expat Health Insurance


“Both terrorism and insurance sell fear — and business is business” ― Liam McCurry, Terminal Policy

IMG_9465The greatest fear of mine is a slow, painful, and expensive death from a catastrophic illness or accident. Living abroad poses many health risks, especially living on a tropical island with limited access to quality health care. After a painful bout with Chikungunya, it became necessary to research our options for international health insurance.

I suppose there are pros to being uninsured in Nicaragua. Health care is cheaper. We don’t have to see a doctor to get antibiotics or other prescription medications. We can usually self-diagnose if the illness is small and uncomplicated. For serious illnesses, Vivian Pellas hospital and the new Militar hospital in Managua offer excellent care. But, without health insurance, a catastrophic illness or accident can be expensive.

I’ve written posts about the need to have emergency medical funds when living abroad. If an expat goes to Vivian Pellas for an emergency medical procedure, before anything happens…anything!  VP swipes your credit card. Do you know what your credit card limit is? How will you afford an emergency $16,000 stent or two?

Therefore, because of my fears and “business is business”…we purchased international health insurance. Part One covered our exploration into the world of international health insurance policies. Now….

             Welcome to the world of two happy, healthy insured expats!

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Part One: Let’s Get Real about Health Insurance in Nicaragua


Ron in our tiny Moyogalpa hospital

Ron in our tiny Moyogalpa hospital

I was in the U.S. visiting my mother when I received a picture of Ron in our tiny Moyogalpa hospital. Robinson said, “Don’t worry, Debbie. We are all helping Ron.” What??? I was frantic with worry. See my post, Love in the Time of Cholera

Chances are greater if you live in Nicaragua, or are visiting for long-term, that you will contact a tropical disease. We have had Dengue, food poisoning, Chikungunya, and maybe Cholera ( it wasn’t specifically identified, but Ron had all of the symptoms). I had a severe UTI infection that could be resolved with antibiotics without a visit to the doctor or a need for a prescription. This is where Dr. Google comes in handy for self-diagnosis, but what about a catastrophic accident or a life-threatening illness?

This is going to be a long post and I will take you through our search for health insurance options in Nicaragua and/or worldwide. So, let’s get started.

Let’s Get Real About Health Insurance in Nicaragua

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You Know You Have Chikungunya When…. ( check out my update)


Update: Yesterday ( Wednesday) we couldn’t take the pain anymore. It was our 24th day with our second relapse. All of our local friends told us to get Valerpan injections, a type of steroid. They have been almost pain-free since their injections for months after the injections. I have been nursing my aches with natural teas, vitamins, and Aleve at night…to no avail. Nothing relieved our pains.

So, we sucked it up and went to the pharmacy to buy the Valerpan and the syringes. I laughed at the display case in the front of the pharmacy because it contained every drug known to man that would help to alleviate Chikungunya symptoms.

We purchased two vials of Valerpan, after googling the adverse side-effects, which by the way are few. We also purchased syringes and Meloxicam pills, an effective drug that can enter the small joints where the virus is trapped and release the toxins. For $18 total, we were stocked up and ready to experiment with our new medications. No doctor’s appointment or prescriptions were needed.

Our expat nurse friend, Theresa, administered our injections. She took the Valerpan about a month ago, and is almost symptom-free.  She told us to expect relief in 2-4 hours. I was exhausted after our trip into town, so I fell asleep on the couch when we returned home. Three hours later, Ron and I both began to notice less arthritic pain. This morning we are almost pain-free.

I have been born again. Hallelujah! I have so much energy from the steroid, but I’m going to take it easy and not overdo. I decided to take the Valerpan injections during the full moon phase, because that’s when my body rids itself of lots of water. I am a Cancer and greatly affected by the full moon.

So far, so GREAT! I am saving the Meloxicam pills for a time when I may need them to reduce additional inflammation and arthritic pain. I will be sure to keep you updated on our progress.

 

I feel like my life is spiraling out of control…
IMG_0556and I blame Chikungunya. Ron and I have had extremely painful relapses and it doesn’t seem to be getting any better. If you’ve never experienced chronic pain, I will try to describe what it feels like with my pictures of our Chikungunya vacation to Guatemala.

                            You Know You Have Chikungunya When…

…you’ve mastered the walk like a zombie
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Weekly Photo Challenge: Carefully Climbing with Chikungunya


The Weekly Photo Challenge is Careful.
 Ron and I planned a 40th wedding anniversary trip to Guatemala. The morning before we left, we both had a relapse of Chikungunya. I won’t go into all the debilitating details. You can read my post on Chikun…What? However, let me say that we both mastered the ‘walk like a zombie’ for Halloween. We tried to change our airline tickets, but it was prohibitively expensive. So, we sucked it up and hobbled to the airport with delicate painful baby steps.

Guatemala, is not a place to visit with Chikungunya. The cobblestone streets of Antigua were painfully difficult for our swollen ankles. We calculated every step carefully.
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Chikun…What?


“It is astonishing how much worse one mosquito can be than a swarm. A swarm can be prepared against, but one mosquito takes on a personality—a hatefulness, a sinister quality of the struggle to the death.”
― F. Scott Fitzgerald

Marina tenderly wrapped her feverish two-year old grandson in a sheet and Gloria rushed him to the hospital on her motorcycle. Braydon, unable to walk, suffering from a high fever and severe joint pain is one of the youngest victims of the mosquito transmitted virus, Chikungunya.

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