Now that I have your attention, I have to confess that the procedure was not something cosmetic so that I can look ten years younger, it was quite utilitarian as I had a cyst the size of a golf ball on the back of my neck. It has been slowing growing since I was about 16 and it was time to take it out. As I write this, I realize that I can´t be certain that it was an absolute medical necesity to remove it, but I can admit that I am vain enough to not want a golf ball on its way to becoming a baseball on the back of my neck.
In any case, I was a little nervous. I never had surgery of any kind and certainly not in a country that is not my own. I went to my local clinic where I have my insurance but I wasn´t convinced that I should let the 20-something doctor cut any part of my body. Plus, the insurance company apparently considered this a cosmetic procedure and wasn´t going to cover it anyway, so I decided to seek out the best plastic surgeon for the job.
I found him. A top notch plastic surgeon to the rich and famous, working at the best clinic in Bogota, known for his impeccable track record of fantastic boob jobs, butt jobs and face lifts. He agreed to take out my cyst! And unlike the insurance company, he thought that it was very necessary to do it as soon as possible because if it got any bigger, it would be difficult for me to hold my head up and while yes, it would be considered medically necessary at that point, it would also leave me with a huge scar. I liked this guy right off the bat!
The surgery went perfectly smoothly. The center for the rich and famous is all politeness and smiles and aromaticas (herbal infusions) to drink – very professional, clean, state-of-the art equipment, real surgical room, although this was a relatively minor surgery with local anestisia, a top notch doctor, two nurses, oxygen in my nose, continuous blood pressure monitoring, a kind nurse looking into my eyes and asking if I was OK every five minutes, disgusting golf size growth out and photographed within 35-minutes, pathology testing (all is OK)…. all for $700!!! Now I know this is alot of money for most Colombians but compared to what I would have paid in the US for a similar level of professional service, it was a huge bargain! I could not get my pet´s cyst removed in the US for this amount of money.
I was floating on air telling anybody who would listen how fantastic Colombia´s medical care system is (and I know I have written several blog posts on my positive expereinces here with the medical system) until 5:38 pm that same day when I looked down at my hands and realized that my rings were gone – my wedding band and two anniversary bands.
You see what happened is that I was never told to take off my rings before I went into the operating room. It was in there, while already lying on my side on the operating table with an oxygen tube up my nose, the sugeon just having informed that the six shots of anesthesia he was about to administer were going to hurt and then burn, that the nurse asked me t0 take off my rings. When I expressed concern that I was going to forget them, she responded by saying that she would put them on the table two feet from the operating table, that they would be perfectly safe and that she would give them to me as soon as the surgery was over. They needed to put a pulse monitor on my finger and the rings might interfere with an accurate reading.
Now under most circumstances, one NEVER, EVER hands over one´s jewelery to anybody in Colombia, but this was a place where most clients sport rings the size of large beach rocks and carry purses that cost more than many small homes. This is place where I was told to just leave my purse and all lof my belongings in an unlocked room because “everything will be safe in here”. (In all other medical establishments I have been to here, I have been given a locker with a key to lock up my belongings.) So when lying there on the operating table, vulnerable with the fear of the first time I was going to be cut by a surgeon, I agreed to give up my rings. Big mistake – when I called as soon as I realized they were missing, they were nowhere to be found.
Three days of phone calls politely but firmly insisting they find my rings and three days of apologies on their part and the rings have been found and are back on my finger! To be fair, the staff continued to handle it all very professionally, not only apologizing and keeping me informed of their internal investigation as to what happened but offering right off the bat to compensate me for the cost of the rings. Of course I did not want the money, I wanted the ring that was placed on my finger by my husband on our wedding day. The symbol and its sentimental value is way more important than the money. I am so happy to have them back and have definitely learned to that small inner voice that says, “You might forget them….”