Thing #1: Little Known Facts About Costa Rica
Not just in Kentucky, either. YOU probably know this stuff, but I'm continually flabbergasted at the people who don't. Flabbergasted.
1. Costa Rica is NOT an island. If you don't believe me, search "map costa rica" and look really closely. You might need the definition of "island" first.
2. Costa Rica is in CENTRAL America, not South America. Honest.
3. It's COASTa Rica, not CAHSTa Rica. Have I mentioned this? Dare to say it correctly.
Thing #2: Bald
Ok, not quite, but still on the path. I have just enough hair to cover my pate. The other night I was in a restaurant baño under some harsh lighting and, whoa, I saw the shine of my scalp through the sparsely populated forest. I could have gone my entire life without seeing that.
The good news is I think it's slowed. Either that or there's just not enough to come out in clumps anymore. Still too much in the shower (so I rarely shower, heheheh) and the first comb-through after that is shocking. But it does not come out all day anymore. I can often run my fingers through my hair and come away empty handed. I can't tell you how thrilling that is!
The only thing I'm doing differently is taking Iodoral. Don't know if it's doing anything significant for my hair, but my nails look terrific!
Thank you, readers, for alerting me to thyroid and hair loss. It seems to be definitely connected, even with temporary hair loss. I am 100% confident my hair will all grow back. Just curious if I will indeed need to shave it before that happens. That might be kinda cool. For about two seconds. In any event, a comb-over is definitely out.
Thing #3: Hard Decisions
I'm still in KY helping my mom. I would say "taking care" of her but I yelled at her this morning so I don't think what I'm doing qualifies as "taking care." The woman can push my buttons. As wise people say, "Of course she does. She installed them."
But she needs attention. I'm one of those "a nursing home is out for my mom until–if and when–I can no longer take care of her" people, even after this morning's fisticuffs. Besides, Mom can live alone, she can bathe and feed herself just fine. She just can't live without one of us a coupla doors down. She's applied at two HUD subsidized apartments, which are really nice and really cheap in Kentucky. So nice and cheap, there's a two year waiting list. So, till she gets in, I'm her caregiver. Or her tormentor, whatever you'd call me. Just don't call me late for dinner, ba-dump-bump.
She cannot come to Costa Rica to live with us. Been there, done that. We'd have to move to a house with an apartment for her. No way will both of us survive living under the same roof, sharing the same kitchen. Besides, she doesn't like Costa Rica. I'm not even sure she likes me, but she's stuck with me.
In fact, I've noticed in my time in Costa Rica, that it doesn't seem to be a great place for elderly gringos. Plenty of them move back to the home country for medical care late in life. Maybe I'll get flack for lumping everyone over 80 in the same Medicare boat, but that's what I've noticed.
Which leaves us moving here, at least for a year. Maybe more, but I'm only doing one year at a time. As you may have gleaned, moving back to the states for a time is fine with me. That whole "almost dying" thing: I want to be near my family, even my mother. I want to be near lifelong friends. And, darn it, I still want to go to acupuncture school. Why not?
I also want life to be easier for a bit. Familiar. Actually, I want to see if it really is easier in the homeland, or if the grass is just greener. I've already noticed you can hardly take a step in the states without breaking a law and the U.S. has the means to back it up. Or did. Apparently, police officers are being laid off left and right. Fine by me!
So, in between wrestling with mom and designing t-shirts, I'm checking out acupuncture schools and financial aid. Although we will probably land in KY, we probably won't stay here. It snows in KY, you know. Wherever we end up (which will be near the school that gives me the most money), Mom will come along. We'll rent a place with two kitchens and two front doors.
Without that free place to live and with mom, Key West is pretty much out for now. If I get in a Florida school, I can commute. The gulf oil disaster worries me. It ain't over: still got leaking, methane gas, a river of oil under the surface… Wondering when and how much it will affect Key West. Those people on the Louisiana coast are so screwed. Our government is simply ignoring them until they die or just get worn down, meanwhile making sure the banksters get their bonuses. Don't get me started.
If we leave Costa Rica, we hope it will be for a relatively brief stateside adventure. We will sublet our house in Escazú, leaving the Costa Rica door open a crack, and keeping the move simple. All to be considered… Who knows what the future holds? I am so one day at a time right now.
Was that really just three little things? Wonder what a post would look like if I really had something important to discuss…
This has nothing to do with your post, but might give you a laugh. The gym I (sort of) go to has a blog and one member and frequent commenter, Augie, has a gift of writing like yours. Today’s main post is about a class for moms, and here’s his reply: http://www.crossfitpacificcoast.com/2010/08/02/momfit#comment-3283
And here’s another recent one (on the Return on Investment of a membership at our gym):
Thanks, Chuck! The first one made me tear up. I have to go put a band-aid on my nipple because now it hurts. The second one is dead on… ROI for a workout: good concept! Using it in comparison with divorce, that is priceless. P.S. I’ve never seen the Notebook. My sister in law says it’s the best movie ever made. I’m guessing she has not seen the Matrix or Sound of Music.
You are right on CR not being a good place for retired US elders (It’s a cumbersome place to get around unless they are expats who lived in India for 20 years). On the other hand the folks who are 70+ have a very different life in the US. My parents in law always make a point of not getting why it is common to see old folks in the US working at the toll plazas, pushing luggage carts at the airport or working at Walmart. Old folks in CR usually do retire in all the sense of the word and it is expected to relax and being taken care of (although most become defacto nannies). Not that working after retirement is a bad thing if they do it to be active and feel productive but it is kind of sad if they do it to make it to the next month cause they lack a pension…
hey robbie don’t be too 🙁 because maybe I’ll be living with your husband. probably see you more than i do now!!!
Manrique, I see plenty of older people working, like in McDs and Walmart. I hate that but it’s a fact of life today with pensions disappearing and the SS$ not going as far as it ought. I’m resigned to the fact that I’ll be working til I die. the good thing for me is that I have no illusions waiting to be crushed.
Gee, Saratica, I feel sorta like defeat here. I live in CA and want out so badly I can taste it. Have some land up by Tilaran, looking out across the Lake, and want to get there and start building my home for retirement. Your observation about laws and wherewithal to enforce them feels more applicable and REAL every day I live in the U.S. Whoever said we live in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave is either, deaf, dumb, or blind, or all three! This is becoming a very oppressive society. When I was a kid in OKLA a long, long time ago, life was so free. My kids don’t see it (the erosion of our freedoms) so much, because they don’t know what it was like 50 years ago. Or 25 years ago!
Anyway, I wish you soooo1 well in KY or wherever you end up. I’ll bet, though, that you’ll want to go back. Now, that’s comin’ from someone who’s never lived there, but I’ll just bet you’ll be back. The freedoms, the clean air and green mountains and beautiful, unspoiled and uninhabited beaches will be calling you, the siren song of a loving temptress.
Good luck to you and Hal and the Boys — oh, I’m so sorry for the Boys. Growing up in the States will be a pain over time, I’ll bet, and they’ll be asking you to go back. I’ll bet.
Vaya con Dios, my Friend. You’ve become a Friend over the last two+ years of reading your musings, and I wish most of all that you’ll be happy.
You’ll miss the chickens, too!
All my best,
Saratica: There is no other place to be than here now. Heading to the hospital for chemo #4 I’m still bald and loving it!! Some stares. Some questions — “chemo, huh?” Yup.
My mom has never been happier than now, in a nursing home where she is very well cared for. She is everybody’s favorite patient as she is very healthy in the mind and sense of humor, even as her body endures the horror of progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP). She knows all the names as well as the names of the people they talk about. She experiences joy in talking with her nurses and caregivers about their families, their lives, their dramas. Life just moved too slowly for her when she lived with us in Key West. I think when she moved her she thought she was gonna party every day and night, as we did so many years ago when she visited. And then there’s the two women under one roof thing. A real challenge. Our family here is too small. And then came my cancer diagnosis, which is when she moved to the best nursing home we could find, some 140 miles from Key West, in rural southern Miami. Sometimes a nursing home is the answer. My mom no longer worries about anything at all. She is also a hospice patient. She is totally cared for. And loved. And respected. Nothing could make me happier. One day at a time.
I’m shattered that you’re not coming back to this Paradise. Thankfully you are a terrific communicator. Your work is inspiring.
Fred, thank you for your comment. I am going to write more on the subject and will address some of the things you mention!
June: #4 and LAST ONE! Halle-frickin-lujah. The big draw for a school in FL is getting to come back and forth to Key West where I have you, Penny, Sandford, for starters, along with the familiarity… I need to wallow in some of that love. I love you. REAL love, not just the physical kind.
And thanks for sharing about your mom. I love hearing such a success story! We’ll go visit your mom one day. And I want to go to Nova Scotia with you… we’ll see your mom on the drive up, ok?
The biggest problem with my mom and a nursing home is that she’s just not ready. The HUD apartments have assisted living facilities in another building and a nursing home in another… so it’s all right there if she needs it.
And part of the stubbornness is that she hated putting her mom in a nursing home and wouldn’t have done it if her sister and brother didn’t insist. Granny Boo did not want to go in. Once she was in, she fell in love with the people: Little sisters of the Poor in Washington DC. What a great name! So we’ll see… maybe mom really secretly wants to go in one, I can’t tell. Odat… xoxoxo
I’ve gotten behind on reading your blog and still sit here in shock that you, of all the toughest people I know (“when the going gets tough” comes to mind when I think of you).
I totally understand and have wrestle with myself every now and then about why am I here.
It is hard, I don’t care WHAT THEY SAY!
A good day is when I have water (clean), electric, cable t.v., and internet all at the same time.
Reading about you leaving is giving me itchy feet!
I hope you write your book about your slant on Costa Rica. You are one person I feel is qualified!
Kisses for your mom, even though I didn’t meet her, she is special to me.
DO NOT take your site down like most people do when then leave.
You owe it to us (the ones you left behind) to leave it up… there is too much valuable info here that we all use from time to time.
I lived in CR for 3 years, came back to the US (Las Vegas) in March. During those 3 years, I never left central america – going on visa renewal trips to Panama and Nicaragua. I’m 56 years old, with COPD, and after having seen 2 different pulmonolists in CR, one of which thought that my breathing into a plastic “breathing test” thingy would tell him anything useful about my COPD, and having the second one ask me to take a “tomography” test (a high-radiation test not used in the US since WWII), I’m damned glad to be out of there before a real health crisis happened. A CR Vet also tried his best to kill one of my dogs (Cocoanut Joe), urging my friend (with whom Joe was living) to put him down. Instead, my friend took Joe to his house, and within 24 hours Joe began to recover, and he is fully recovered today. It all scared the hell out of me! I truly believe that the main reason elder folks who lived in CR leave, is for health care reasons – not all of them medicare-based. The mere thought of getting ill there and perhaps stuck, really had me freaking out – I couldn’t leave fast enough.
CR is beautiful. The people are generally warm – warmer than any people I’ve met anywhere else. However, that’s *all* it has going for it. Not enough for me to want to stay.
Living there is *hard* for gringos who are used to steady power and internet connections, 24 hour stores, banks witout armed guards, houses without armed guards, bakery items with real sugar in them, QUIET, PRIVACY, and housekeepers that don’t steal from us – need I say more? Spoiled, maybe, but give me civilization over beauty.
I understand that there are a lot of CR fans here, and they’ll likely jump in to defend it. That’s fine and understandable, but just keep in mind that visiting a place (and if you’re there less than 10 years, don’t kid yourself, you’re visiting) is a lot different than living there “the rest of your life.”
(did you know they don’t embalm bodies in CR, and “plant” you within 24 hours for that reason? did being buried alive ever cross your mind? brrrrrr!)
Hi DJ, I wondered where you’d got to, if you were still here. I hear you on all points, all valid. Right now, since I’m leaving, I have on my CR-rose-colored glasses and am sad to leave. But I’m ready and I think we need to come back for the moment. It’s all a crap-shoot, eh?
Don’t worry, Teri, I won’t take it down or shut up. I don’t think I could if I wanted to. Pura vida!
Ironically, I logged in originally because I was checking out support groups. That led me to this blog, and I’ve remained ever since.
A recent AARP article examines 10 cultures where elder ex-pats will find safety, kindness, sunshine, affordable prices, and decent health care.
Imagine my surprise when I check back in here, having again vowed to make it to CR, and Saratica is leaving!
Then I read teenagers, and I read caring for Mom. The teenagers should no doubt be locked up in CR indefinitely, for their own safety. I totally get taking care of your mom, even though living with her is close to impossible.
I wish you and your family the best. I’ve enjoyed the blog too. Just switch the topic to caring for an elderly parent. Or acupuncture school. I agree with those who say leave it up, as I also need the link for said support group meetings if I ever do go to CR now that you’re not there.
Kirie in Washington State and NYC
Lol, I hear you on the teenagers… But I can’t stand making decisions based on fear. Maybe I’m just kidding myself. Been known to happen. With any luck we’ll be back. Hugs back to you, Kirie!
I swore I would never make any comments on your blog after you jumped all over me about the health care thing but I feel I need to a wish you all the best and I will keep reading your blogs. Heres to you kid.
You are a bigger person than I! Thank you. I will keep writing…
I only wish I was half the person you are. We are going through situations something alike. I care for my sister who has MS, heart failure, and legally blind now. It is tough. And Thanks.
God bless you. I figure I’ll only get this chance once in my life. Another excellent example of how God laughs when we are making plans.
This is slightly off topic but do you know or have you heard of people living in Costa Rica that have Multiple Sclerosis? I am looking for some one that is living in CR and want to find out the problems they have while in CR. Also there may be a support group I could contact. Any help will really be appreciated. you have my email address and have my permission to give it to anyone that knows anything about MS. Not doctors but people that have the disease or care for someone with it there. Thanks
Dear A, Why don’t you join Costa Rica Living and ask on there? Go here: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CostaRicaLiving/ and join the group, then start a topic. If there are people living here with MS, they will speak up. It’s a good group, lots of knowledgeable and generous people. Sorry I don’t know anything about MS, or anyone living here with it.
Thanks I just signed on and we will see what responsis I get. This is really helpful. If you can think of any thing else let me know. I know moving is really not fun so I know you are really busy. Keep in touch and good luck