It might have been stress relief or perhaps the disappointing wedding cake, I am not sure but after eating some of the cake my heart started to explode. I sat on a plastic chair and the beating of my heart shook the chair. My first reaction was to find a quiet spot and lie down hoping things would return to normal; they did not.
After some time Elizabeth recommended a trip down the hill to see Dr Chen. As I entered his office he was leaving to another urgent call and my friend Vincent who was driving, Mayra, Mr Daughter and I headed to Hospital Chiriqui.
The infinitely long ride to the emergency room made me wish the road was finished. On arrival I was moved quickly into the ER and a doctor listened and agreed withy diagnosis, Arrhythmia (tachcardia) my heart was racing and out of rhythm.
It was Saturday night, we tried contacting my cardiologist, he was not accessible. The ER called in a Cardiologist who arrived in about an hour, not good. The Cardiologist said they needed me on an IV with some drugs for twenty four hours to normalize my heart and then another twenty four hours for observation.
Considering all things, I was reluctant, still hoping things would stabilize on their own. Finally I relented and was moved to intensive care where I stayed for almost twenty four hours. Then I had about twelve hours in a private room before discharge.
The reason I share this is that is was my first experience with a personal crisis that had the potential to be fatal in Boquete. If this had been a serious heart attack I would have died before ever seeing a doctor.
Since I did make it the hospital without being able to contact a specialist the wait there might have also been lethal. The ER doctor did nothing except confirm the need for a specialist.
Hospital Chiriqui would not admit me without a credit card deposit, despite my International insurance coverage. They prebilled me $2,100.00
The final billing might be of interest to some people, I have no basis to compare it to the US. So here are some raw numbers.
ER charge was $10
Each EKG was $35
The Intensive care unit cost was $800
The Private room was $120
The all the lab charges, hospital charges, medicines etc totalled $1,635.83 less 20% jubilado discount
The Cardiologist charged $100 for the ER visit and another $875 , also less 20% for his services.
In total it cost me $2,106.66 to leave the hospital in thirty six hours.
The patient care was very good, particularly in ICU.
What I do not know is if any ER would have treated this differently. I do not think it was life threatening, if not waiting for the specialist was probably normal procedure. I know a lot of experts read this blog so I would love to hear some reaction to the service and costs.