I’ve been using my lifesaving bio-identical hormone cream every night for 10 years now. Lately it feels a little off and, since I’ve never had any blood work done to see if the dosage was just right, I thought, "Why not have it done in Costa Rica?" You know, where’s it’s cheap.

My doctora [doke-TORE-ah, female doctor] told me to have the tests done and bring in the results. She recommended a lab, said I should request the Anti-Aging Workup. I’m liking the sound of this already. I go to the lab, the clerk prints up the Anti-Aging Workup with prices, tells me not to eat for 12 hours before the test and she’ll see me in the morning.

This is all in Spanish, by the way. Oh yeah, I’m practically fluent. Ok, not quite. Actually, when I know the topic, if I can catch a couple of words in the sentences coming at me, I can usually work it out.

It’s not until you are finally comfortable going into any store, vet, bank, wherever, that you realize just how intimidated you used to be by not knowing the language. There were days in the beginning when we didn’t even leave the house because it was all just too hard. We couldn’t ask directions. We couldn’t read the signs. We’d get into a store and realize we didn’t know the word for fingernail clippers…

But not now. Cortauñas (fingernail clippers in Spanish). Now it’s fun: I know I’ll eventually be understood. Or not. If I get lost, I’ll find my way back. If all else fails, I can call Ryan who IS practically fluent and he tells me what to say in his beautiful tico accent. But, today, so far, I’m doing good here in the lab…

So good, I can understand the price. I almost faint. HA. Seems I’ve stumbled onto the area of Costa Rica medical care that is not that cheap. The 20 different anti-aging tests I need cost a whopping $450. Wow. I’m so old I need expensive blood tests. Like:

I thought $450 was a bit much so I spent a week going to four different labs, comparing prices. The first one, Laboratorios Labin, was the $450. The second was a tiny little lab in the village of old Escazú. Very unassuming, not that clean-looking, totally NOT impressive at all. But cheap: $300 and if I paid cash, I’d get a 15% discount. A friend of mine uses this lab and swears by them, but they couldn’t do the IGF-1… I’m sorta relieved.

NOTE: Always ask for a discount for cash. You’ll always get 5% and most often 10%. Always ask. Even my dentist gives it.

Clinica Biblica was the most expensive at $512 – I thought they’d be less. I settled on Echandi Labs for $400 with a 10% discount on top of that, so $360. They are a chain, very modern office, efficient, knowledgeable, came highly recommended. I went this morning, will get the results Monday, see la doctora Tuesday ($50), all fixed up by Wednesday night, sane for Thanksgiving. The boys will be grateful.

I’d like to know how much this blood work-up costs in the states so I can either gloat or cry. But it’s not that easy to find out. In the states you don’t just walk into a lab and say "How much to measure my estrogen?" They’ll need to see a prescription first, and you don’t get to see the results. Oh no. Those are private and complicated.

Here, you get all the test results and you are actually trusted to take them to your doctor. Or not. We have a whole stack of x-ray film and photos of our colons with our fingerprints all over them. In fact, I can call any lab or doctor and have any test I want. Just for fun. I could waltz in tomorrow to CIMA Hospital and have an MRI for $400. I won’t… I’ve already spent my $400 this week (blood tests and some bagels). But I could. Thatsa nice.

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