Sunday, May 10, 2009

Home sweet home!

Well, I'm back from my 3 week trip to the states. I was very excited about going, and was sad to say my "see you laters" to my kids and friends, but was so happy to see my pups again. There is nothing like a trip to make you happy to get back to your own space/bed again. Seeing everyone was wonderful, had not been back in 2 years, so it was fun renewing old friendships. Even saw a couple of ole bows... I did a crash course in gaining a few pounds also. Eating out as often as I could, and at my favorite places. One of the things I miss the most as I live in Costa Rica! My favorite pizza place, Alfonzo's...still as good as I remember it. It was a delightful time with friends!! Meeting several friends for lunch was great also! St. Louis Bread Company (Panara's elsewere) has the best Forest Mushroom Soup, and sandwiches that are truly delicious! Don't know how long it will be before I get another sandwich, so good! All breads are not created equal. Coffee and bagels at Carabu Cafe's in MN was wonderful also. My daughter has a diner near her house, where the meals are as close to homemade as you can get, and someone else is cooking them. And I must not forget, "all you can eat" fried chicken at Fisher's, and liver and onions at the Happy Cow. Cute name don't you think. Really inexpensive too. Had a couple of Chinese meals, a couple of Italian, and steak at the best steak house on the east side also.

And then there was the shopping... I shopped until I dropped, only thing is, I am droppng a lot sooner now. Can't go for the long hauls anymore, got to rest! I was so surprised at the new WalMarts... I remember when WalMart was the place to go for lower prices, and you had to work your way to what you wanted, past the other carts which were pretty banged up from the whole process. Then there were the super stores, with food, and anything you really needed in them. Now, the stores are even bigger, even more stuff, and much you would not imagine in one place. And Targets are the same...perhaps a little more high end, but the prices are not bad either.

The thing that amazed me the most, was driving! I had forgotten that there was a place where the road rules, and conditions were anything but equivalent to bumper cars. I could get in a car, point it down the road, and step on the gas. And for some miles, not have to pay any attention to the ruts, bumps, or vehicles which were not, in this case, in my lane. But I did have to pump my own gas. Forgot about that too. I could get across town, without blaring horns, black smoke or much time spent doing it. Only had one J-walker give me a piece of her mind (can't imagine she has much left anyway), and one upset driver give me his horn, when I did not know which side of the road the entrance ramp was on. Infrastructure work is in full swing everywhere. The need for more highway lanes for more cars, has everyone squeezed down to the minimum in many places, but the new portions which are finished, are a dream. And to drive for miles without much other traffic...amazing!

I am just going to have to remember to do this more often, so I don't suffer culture shock so bad, and so I can appreciate home when I return. Think I am a better snow bird than an expat. Will see as time goes by. Having a good ole America fix, gave me something to look forward to next time.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Just a quick photo and off to do chores!

Peaches and Sunni

My two little ones, Peaches and Sunni play during the day, and the two girls play in the evening. I have to separate Ginger and Peaches after an hour of play, or Ginger gets to rough with Peaches, which ever comes first. Ginger stays outside all day, and when she comes in the race is on, through the house, across the sofa, rolling end over end, and then, it starts all over again. They move almost to fast to be captured with my camera. They are either my evening entertainment, or carry it too far and I have to be the bad guy. They know when I have had it, and 2 heads come up for air so fast, I still have to laugh. So hard to be firm, when they look at you with those eyes.

Peaches and Ginger

Monday, March 09, 2009

Basta with this WINTER thing!!!!

Note: You may want to see the new pictures of my pups...go to the right boarder, in Flickr.

I know you all think this is the tropics, but...let me tell you it has not been tropics since September! I miss the nice sunrises, and warm days. As I write this at 7 a.m. (8 if you are on CDST) it is 62 degrees, and still foggy up to my patio...which is the worst part of it. The wind has been awful, and we are all feeling the ware of it on us. We have had nice days, here and there, and I run out and soak up the rays as I am afraid it will only last a minute or two. I think we have England weather now, and the tropics have moved farther south. We are about 3 or 4 months into the dry season now, and have not seen it yet. The rainy season will start...continue, pardon me, next month, and we will not feel like we got a break. I can only hope that the rainy season brings clear skies, and sunshine for 10 hours or so a day, like it does to start with. Or, we may all loose our minds. Everyone is feeling this...had dinner with friends last night, and I'd have to say, the weather was the main topic. Oh, and we did some "remember when" about it also.

Then, as a topping on the evening, the guests at the B&B broke the key off in the door, and no one was getting in the rest of the night. They had to stay the night in San Ramon...and I will have to get a locksmith today. Drats! Another day in paradise! Just glad my dogs were not there, or I'd have had to do a "breaking and entering" thanks. And I was so cold trying to get the key out, etc. that I was shivering.

Sure hope nice days come back soon. Now I am really getting excited about my trip back to the USA. I never considered myself a "shopper", more of a hunter...find what I need and drag it home. But, I can honestly say, I am totally going to enjoy WalMart. A friend of mine said "...felt like kissing the floor when they visited WalMart on their last visit to the States. I can totally agree! I even liked the smell of WalMart! And book stores, OMG; all those books in English! Grocery stores….I am totally in awe of all the food products! I actually gasp while travelling through the isles much to the embarrassment of my sisters!"...and I am sure I will have that moment also. (I'm sure she won't mind me quoting her) I belong to an online knitting group, Ravelry, and there is an expat group on it. Gals from all over the world write about their experiences, and most echo the same frane, the things we miss are about the same. Living abroad can have it's advantages, and most would not trade the broadening of experiences they have had, but most miss the good old USA. Modern, well kept, and variety seem to be the biggest themes, no matter whether it is food, clothing, or lifestyle, one is talking about. Some of my biggest reasons for moving here, cost of living, for one, is disappearing in the cost of the global resession/depression we are all feeling. The cost of food and utilities have doubled and tripled just in the two years I have been here. I am now paying the same for electricity, alone as I was for my electricity/air/heat in the states when I left to come down here. I do not leave anything on, nor do I run a lot of elec. items. Dehumidifiers take the bulk of it, to start with. must really consider the cost versus advantages, in more than the money it takes to live where one chooses to live.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

BHRT Email I wrote to my CR friends....

Though I had written some of this before...if you have not seen it, read for info.

I wanted to let you know about my Bioidentical experience, so far, and to let you know that I am doing well. Whether you have heard of BHRT, or not, you may want to know about the great doctors and services I have used during my search. Never know when you may need a good doctor.

I had not heard, or not paid any attention to BHRT until I saw 3 Oprah shows, this past month, and decided to do the research. There are a great many sources on the internet, and several great books available also. When I sent emails to several of you, you let me know about resources here in Costa Rica. The rest of you may want the information also. All doctors, etc. info is listed at the bottom.

I first interviewed the Pharmist in San Jose, Dra. Ana Violeta Ovares. at the compound pharmasy. I spent 2 hours with her, we went through my history, and she did an evaluation. Several days later, I received a copy of her evaluation, and suggestions, via email, $70. Her recommendation for a great antiaging doctor was the Dra. Livia Oruno. I interviewed with her, and set up an appointment to do all the tests. First, blood work, after fasting, $200, then back to Dra. Ortuno's for a pap and examination, which included an ultrasound (never had one during a pap before), $100, and she made appointments for me to go directly to the offices for a mammeogram, and bone density tests. I took cab to the Centro de Mamografia La California, directly from Dra. Ortuno's, and both mammeogram and bone density were in the same complex. When the mameogram was finished, I went into the next room where the Doctor was looking at the test, and dictating to the tecnician, who was typing into the computer as he spoke. I could see the tests on the computer screens. He then had me lay down on a table, and did an ultrasound on my entire upper torso, $80. So now I had been looked at, internally, entirely. The next stop was for my bone density, which was a state of the art (which each office was), equipment for making pictures of my hips, and spine., $40. I received test results, receipts, and faxes of most tests were made directly to my doctor's office. Dra. Ortuno also faxed a script to Dra. Ovares, to make the individualized compound cream, BHRT, $40, after evaluating all my tests. A couple days later, I was able to pick up my script at the bus depot here in San Ramon. It was sent, well protected, and I started using it on Friday.

I have applied the creme, to the insides of my arms for fast delivery right into my blood system, four days now, and I already feel a difference. Most of the literature says you should start getting relief almost immediately, and I am. I can only wait to see what diffence long term use will make in my life. I'll keep each of you posted.

Note: This is not normal hormone treatments, it is not pharmsuticals, they are all natural herbs and plants. Many have had great success with it. I hope to be one of them.

(Both doctors below are USA educated and speak excellent English)

Dra. Ana Violeta Ovares, M.F.I.
Premafarma (Compound Pharmacy)

Dra. Livia Ortuno
OB/GYN Antiaging Specialist

Centro de Mamografia La California

Centro Diagnostico de Osteoporosis

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Bioidentical HRT

Well, doctor appointments, blood work, bone density, mammogram....all out of the way for another year. And now I hope to get my BHRT cream soon. The pharmacist in San Jose will have it delivered to a pharmacy closer to me and then I am smearing that stuff on! Can't wait.

I have to tell you about my tests here in CR though! I was impressed! Never had such a good check up by any doctor, probably since I was born. The GYN is my Aging Doctor too, and I was surprised to get not only a pap, and a quick check, but an extensive breast exam, and an ultrasound checking out my lower GI, basically. It was quite comforting to know immediately, that all my parts are still there, and looking good. She called to make my mammogram and bone density appointments, for the same day, so I could just take a taxi and get it all done in one day in San Jose. And you would not believe the inexpensive price of all of it! I will file with my insurance company to get reimbursed. If I did not have insurance, I would have been elated to realize that it was so little.

I caught a bus from the airport parking, because I had dropped off a couple going back to Canada from the B&B. Between buses, and taxis, I got to my appointments and back to the bus for the airport, in record time. Much better than trying to find places on my own, and drive in that awful traffic! There was a finder binder on one of the streets, tieing up traffic, and my cabby, just drove right around the accident...while no one else was even trying it. These cabbies have nerves of steel, and are not afraid of anything! The only thing somewhat un-nerving is, none of the seatbelts, in the backseat, work. Parts are there, but not a whole belt. So you just say your "hail Mary's" and hold on for dear life. The sun was still shining when I arrived home.

Did I say the sun is shining? Well, finally! We may have 2 months of summer on the hill here, before the rainy season starts. I can't believe it! There has not been much sun until this last week, after the awful storm has finally gone. I thought everyone was going to kill themselves or someone else before it broke. A week of 90 mile/hr winds, roofs gone, sofets gone, and most things nailed down were no longer in place either. Rain/wind/rain/wind/rain/wind!!! How tiring!! But at last, sun! We still have the wind, not 90 mph, but pretty strong, but at least the sun is here. And I thought winter was long in STL! This is the tropics, isn't it? Someone said...on the high side...meaning in the mountains, not really tropics.

I took Fred and Leiann to the beach, Pacific, one day last week. It was so nice to have a sunny day, and it did feel good to walk at the edge of the ocean. I am not a beach person, but the sun felt so good, and I did not even mind the humidity on my skin for one day. The drive was long, and the food at the little soda was awful, though the fruit drinks and coffee were great. If you just drink, CR is a great place to be. Food sucks!! I prefer cooking at home, and even pop corn, to eatting out here. That is one thing I am looking forward to on my trip to the states soon...eatting out! I want some good seafood, and even Red Lobster will do. Also, Farmer's is a great homemade dinner kind of place we alway love going to, will be high on my list. And some good MX food. Not wanting fast food, as we have Mc D's and several others here...okay when you must eat something, and Tico will not do. And Nona's homemade pies and cakes...thinking about them too. After doing so much cooking here, for myself and friends/guests, I wonder if it will taste as good as I remember, but at least someone else is cooking. The one thing here that is really so much fun is, getting together with friends and sharing meals. I have a couple of friends who really are good cooks. We had a neighborhood baking party the end of January, and prepared and baked French style bread. Even made some starter...too much for me...always needing you to make it up. I love baking bread, but I do it the easy way...throw it in the bread maker, when I want to, and wha-la...great bread in a few hours. I usually take it out and let it do the final rise and bake it in the oven.

Another day in paradise!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Peaches has grown so much!

Peaches is 7 lbs/3.4K now, and is cute as a button. The puppy fur is about to blow away, so I had to take a few of her before then. This picture was taken on a cool day, needs a bath, and I finally gave her one yesterday. Matters not, she is clean now, but the hair still stands on end. She gives Sunni such a hard time, and even chases Ginger/35lbs. around the house. They are both so gentle with her, that I think they take a pretty good beating before they stop her. Life is so much fuller with these little fur balls to make me laugh.

Friday, February 06, 2009

More about BHRT & a STORM

Some of you may wonder why I am writing about this on my blog, which is mostly about Costa Rica, but this is so much a part of my life here, and I am trying to find some solutions to my ill health, and this, I hope will be a help to you as well as myself.

I had an interview with Ana Violeta Ovares, the pharmacist at the compound pharmacy on Wednesday, and found her very knowledgeable. And the fact that she speaks such good English is very helpful also. Doctor Octuno, came highly recommended by Ana, and I will make an appointment to see her as soon as possible. Almost everyone I speak to, is anxious to hear more, and find out more about BHRT. Dra. Ovares, does a thoughal interview and then makes recommendations to ones regular Doctor as to the composition of the bhrt. She also gave me the book by Suzanne Somers "Ageless", which I am reading now.

The Compound Pharmacy is a members of PCCA (Pharmaceutical Compounding Centers of America) and is the only one south of the Rio Grand. So, I feel fortunate to be this close. It is an hour+ for me, but she does ship, so it will not involve an all day trip via bus/taxis too frequently, once I see the doctor and get the process started.

The STORM...will it ever end!!??? The winds started Tuesday, and have been so violent, I am surprised my roof is still on my house. It is very cool, 50's at night and early morning, and low 60's during the day, and believe is very cold. With no heat, I have several layers of clothing, and hat to hold my body heat. My fingers are so cold. Hot tea, and hot chocolate are my friends. Sleep is hard to catch, as the steel roof, sounds like a semi, each time it belches and pops. The doors and sky lights rattle, constantly, and keeping the items on the porches is a major feat. I have almost given up and decided that if it is gone, I'll buy a new....whatever it is. If it were not for the parchal covering around the front patio, the furniture would be in the next county also. This is the storm that came down from Canada, and gave Kentucky so much ice and took out the electricity for some many people, last week. After 3 days, we are ready for it to stop, anytime now, and the sun to come back out. So much for living in the tropics, never thought they would get such violent storms.

Monday, January 26, 2009

2009 & Bioidentical HRT

Some of you, like me, may never have heard of bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy, until recently. I am doing research on it now, and decided to write an email to many of my female friends, and the following is what I wrote:

I am writing this to all my female friends both pre-, or perimenopausal/menopausal women, to do some networking among those of you who are familiar or have done some research on the subject. You may have seen the airing on Oprah, on Thursday and Friday, with many guest, some famous and some not. I am reading the books by Dr. Northrup, and Robin McGraw (Dr. Phil's wife), and am researching online to find more information about this 'more natural' way of hormone replacement. I would like to hear from any of you who are using this method, and what you are experiencing with the use of it. As I consider the possibility of using this myself, I am curious that no one I know has ever mentioned it to me, why, and other than we just never talk about anything more than the hot flashes we "live" with. There are many more symptoms that we just chalk off to 'getting older', that may possibly be ones we can ease or even eliminate by using or doing something different in our lives.

I have listed a google link, where there are many different sites, pros and cons, about this subject.

Also, this is Oprah's link to many menopause articles. Her site has a great deal of information on bioidentical HRT and the Feb issue of "O" is about it also.

I thought there may be some of you who may be interested in feeling better, and this may be help for you also.

As I receive answers, I will put them at the end of this post also.

It seems that winter is so prolonged here, this year, and that I am feeling the effects of it more than ever. Because I have felt so blah, and not myself, I decided I needed to figure out why, other than the weather, and I suffer from SAD (seasonal affected disorder). When I saw the 2 programs on Oprah, I found a clear description, in many ways of I feel I am going through. No doubt this affects so many women, that at sometime, someone was going to deal with these issues in the media. It is amazing that we can suffer for so long, and all our doctors (men mostly) can write it off to "that age", and prescribe medicines for fourteen different things, and never hit the right cord in our lives. When I came to Costa Rica, I was taking nine medications for all my different aliments. I, a faithful and diligent patient, went regularly every 3 months to my MD, and hardly ever missed my pap or mammogram. Because my mother had had surgery for breast cancer, I knew to make my regular appointments and monthly personal exams. Hoping to change and possibly, eradicate my "normal" body aches and pains, and hoping the sunshine (Vit D) and better weather would help, I came to the tropics. I can say that many of my aliments have disappeared, and I have been able to cut out most of the medications I was on. Some symptoms have returned with the extendeed very cool winter we have had this year. SAD has been just as much of a problem, with the fog, and not so plesant days this winter. Along with that comes depression, and then the Lupus gives me more problems when it is very cool also. I found a wonderful doctor who practises alternative medicine, and does acupuncture. It helps return flexability to my spine, and makes movement much easier. I never thought that at 58 years old, I'd have so many parts that could hurt. I am going to continue my search for relief, and have high hopes that perhaps some relief can be found, like others have, in bioidentical HRT. Aging is too hard to do cold turkey! If you are reading this, perhaps you may have some insights, or comments that you may like to make about your experiences also. Please, write to me, so we can share our experiences.

One friend wrote: "... i have been on bioident. hormones since age 48. ...below is my gyno doctor here in cr. she speaks perfect english. her receptionist does not speak english. she is a beautiful women with a huge ego but i have grown to like her enough and she knows about bioident. hormones. the compound pharmacy, only one is in Los Yoses: Dr. Ana Violeta Ovares speaks English 2-225-3774, she knows about using the bus system to deliver your meds to you. her email is: Ana Violeta Ovares ..." There is a website with more info about the compound here

Another wrote: "
You should look for Suzanne Somers' (the actress from Three's Company, etc.) books - she is very enthusiastic about bio-identical hormones. Check this site you can probably find them inexpensively. ...Oh, another thing - if you're interested in Energy Medicine - check out Donna Eden's book Energy Medicine for Women, she talks alot about PMS, menopause, etc. She uses meridian therapy (tracing or flushing meridians using your hands), energy testing, sedating meridians, etc. Very cool information, I have that book & her earlier Energy Medicine book. She has DVDs too. Look at (will redirect you to her regular site)."

Another wrote: "
For those of you who i forwarded this to, please read the email further below sent to me by Mae, then my response ....this is a very important subject that we should familiarize ourselves with in case our doctors do not....we will have the ability to ask the "right" questions....for those of you already familiar you may pick up a few new resourses for info...

I am reading a book entitled "HRT: The Answers: A Concise Guide for Solving the Hormone Replacement Therapy Puzzle" by Pamela Wartian Smith, MD, MPH. Not light reading but very "enlightening". It was suggested to me by my OBGYN after she placed me on what is known as "bio-identical hormone therapy" (versus synthetic hormone that is usually given).....I take a "natural" progesterone and what is known as armour thyroid...(the most widely prescribed synthetic thyroid medication is synthroid and levoxyl. ) This thyroid med has been around since before the 1970's but then people made the synthetics in the lab and so thought they were "safer".... Bio identical are more closely matched to the natural hormone structure in the body and have many less side effects than the synthetic forms.....for example, the progesterone cream i use is made from an extract of soy beans or yams. The compounded formulation adds a natural enzyme to convert diosgenin in the yam to progesterone.

I am very lucky to have a doctor who is well-versed in this field of women's hormone replacement and she knew to do appropriate lab tests when I continued to complain about fatigue, severe almost debilitating PMS, irritability, inability to sleep.....the list of symptoms listed in the book stemming from hormonal imbalances is mind-boggling! My doc said that many doctors try and fit women into a "category" ...meaning, they will check the labs and you have to "fall below" a certain level before they think about placing you on any medication...that would have been the case with me b/c my thyroid levels were in the "acceptable" range but still very low......i cannot tell you the improvement i had after just a few weeks! The only side effects from taking my armour thyroid and progesterone has been better sleep and renewed energy!! :)

The unfortunate thing is that the insurance companies have become the "doctors" by means of dictating what will be a covered expense. My Dr told me that legislators are trying to pass laws making it impossible to get natural hormones through "compounding pharmacists" (natural hormone replacement meds are dispensed from what is known as "compounding pharmacies"...there are several in the US and I just order my meds online from It wouldnt be that way if they were the ones who were taking them and feeling better...i also think that sometimes physicians just dont give the patient the information we need to make the best decision for ourselves ...they get so used to just "writing a prescription" for this or that and we trust the doctors and dont even know there is another are we to ask questions ??

Another example my doc was mentioning related to insurance regulating our treatment is that of the Thermogram. Have any of you heard of a Thermogram? I hadnt. We always go for Mammograms, which the insurance pays for. A Thermogram is able to detect breast cancer 5-7 YEARS BEFORE it shows on a mammogram!!! ?????!!!!!! Why are they not routinely done, I asked? Because they cost $150 and insurance will not cover them. BTW, my doctor's office does have this technology and she usually will recommend to anyone with family history of breast cancer...of course, it is out of pocket but I would think well worth $150!!"

It is up to us to educate each other!"

I answered:"Thank you, Julie!!! I can't say enough about how wonderful it is to have others answer my email, with raving reviews on bioidentical HRT. It is amazing to me that so little has been said, until now about this. I feel fortunate that here in CR, there is a
compound pharmacy, I found out from one of my friends who I had no idea was using this method. We need to shout it from the roof tops, so others can "wake up" and hear that there is an answer to our pain."

Another friend wrote: "...I am of course a huge fan of bhrt.
I've used it for about 10 years, maybe more, with no ill effects and I wish
I'd been on at least progesterone since my first period!!! PMS allowed me
one week a month of sane behavior. The rest of the time, I was either
becoming a raving lunatic or subsiding from it...

Ana, the compounding pharmacist here, is excellent! And Dra. Ortuno is very
good, too."