Archive for January, 2014

How We Ended Up as Medical Tourists

So I had a big birthday coming up last fall and told my husband I wanted us to go diving in Costa Rica, AND visit an interesting mission work we knew about there.

Well, it doesn't exactly happen on the beach.

Well, it doesn’t exactly happen on the beach.

Okay, he said.

This simple request is the reason we are now in Costa Rica deep in the Realm of Dental Implants.

Let me explain.

Sam has been putting off serious dental work for years. Recently, as a specialist examined his teeth with great interest, Sam asked what he saw in there. “A BMW,” was the reply.

This launched him on the search for dental work elsewhere. Slovakia. China. Thailand. As you may know, doctors all over the world are getting their training in the U.S., then setting up shop in their home countries and drawing clients from all over the world. The result is “medical tourism” and it is growing at a rate of 15-25% annually.

Sam discovered Doctor Munoz, and his son, Doctor Marco, and their state-of-the-art-dental-implant-specializing clinic in San Jose, Costa Rica. The savings for medical tourists in Costa Rica are between 40-65%.

This would mean spending an older model Chevy instead of a brand-new Beemer.

Sam contacted the clinic, sent scans, and we made plans to leave in mid-November. Sadly, I tweaked a nerve while exercising and we had to postpone our trip until January. We again made plans. Sadly, our length of stay had to be cut in half as he had to be back for a meeting.

This is now a 5-days-at-the-clinic trip and a weekend visit to the mission.

It has been an education, let me tell you.

Our hotel is one recommended by the clinic. “Apartotel Cristina” is a clean, comfortable, airy place with a pleasant staff and a decent breakfast served by the pool. It is filled with Americans, a few Canadians, a couple of Germans, and some Russians.  We assume, since the Russians are here to save money, too, that they are not related to any oligarchs, so we talk to them without fear.

Take good care of them and it's less likely you'll end up a medical tourist in Costa Rica.

Take good care of them and it’s less likely you’ll end up a medical tourist in Costa Rica.

Teeth are the topic of conversation. I mean, REALLY, the topic of conversation. You meet a nice couple at breakfast and instantly launch into how many trips you’ve made or where you are in the process or how many implants or bridges or crowns or bone grafts. It’s astonishing. Who knew that teeth could hold their own in so many conversations?

The clinic is spotless and rather small. Waiting rooms are tucked into corners here and there, with various treatment rooms in between. Televisions are on in each waiting room with the inevitable crime drama with Spanish subtitles. CSI, CSI Miami, CSI New York, Law & Order, Law & Order Terrible Crimes Unit, NCIS, Criminal Minds. I do not know what the Latin obsession is with American crime shows, but I’ve seen Horatio take his cool shades off, then put them on again so many times this week, it’s all I can do not to laugh hysterically when the camera zooms in for the trademark zinger.

We discovered very quickly that if your appointment is at, say, 11 a.m., you may safely assume you will see the doctor within the next 4 hours.

But there is no impatience, no irritation. Not by the staff, not by the patients. The young women assistants with their gloves and masks and the young receptionist with her thick, worn appointment book are calm and smiling. And it is tiring to wait for hours, particularly I’m sure for the many older folks. But wait they do, with very little complaining.                                                                   Patience


  • They are saving thousands of dollars.
  • They are getting an excellent result.

This has been our week so far.

But I must go now. NSIC Ridiculous Crime Plot is starting and I don’t want to miss it.

P.S. Duck Dynasty is here. With Spanish voiceover. It’s a hoot.


Why This is My Year of the Vine

2014There it is. Your brand new calendar for 2014.  All those little squares of pristine days, weeks, months waiting to receive the details of your life.

There’s your journal with its bright, blank pages ready to receive your thoughts on your life.

And if you have read through the One Year Bible, then the fantastic, apocalyptic language and visions of the Revelation are still ringing in your heart:

Come quickly, Lord Jesus. The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come!’

Ah, the New Year. And how fitting that it occurs just as winter has stripped the trees bare and the world stands stark and rather naked. Exposed. It invites us to do the same. Figuratively speaking, of course. (Did I really need to qualify that?) Decumulate, shed, reduce.

Here in Sonoma County, where I live, there are over 50,000 acres planted to vineyards. I became interested in this world some years ago. As a student of the Bible, I was fascinated by the way vineyards and the fruit of the vine appeared in Scripture from Genesis through the Last Supper through the Book of Revelation.

I read, took classes, paid attention to the vineyards flowing over valley floors and hillsides as the seasons changed. I thought about what was taking place in those vines – and why.

I began to understand why Jesus told so many parables using the rich cultural understanding of the common folk about their vineyard plots to convey spiritual truth.

This is the Year of the Vine for me. The beautiful, sometimes heartbreaking, always rewarding world of farming and vineyards and winemaking.

Many of the vines here are already bare of leaves. The floor of the Dry Creek Valley where I drive to work several times a week is a rust-colored carpet. As the vines go to sleep, the leaves of some varietals still cling to the dark vines. But they too will eventually let go.

Dry Creek Valley. Early winter.

Dry Creek Valley. Early winter.

Next? Pruning.

There is, for me, no season when the vineyard is not beautiful. I suspect Jesus thought the same thing, even on those gray, winter Palestine days when dark, twiggy stumps sat in muddy fields.

Here are some ideas for this spanking New Year:

  • Pay attention. Train your eyes to see possibilities.
  • Worry less. It is an utter waste of time.
  • Pray. Pray more. Prayer changes things. This will never not be true.

I hope you will live joyfully and purposefully in 2014. You may hear the footsteps of the pruning crew and the sharpening of the shears. But don’t resist. True joy and purpose will follow.

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