Costa Rica Cost Of Living Update: 9 Stitches $80. Tetanus Shot $35. No wait time… priceless

It’s not every day your husband flies over his scooter after picking up a stool sample kit. Please, let me explain. Yesterday morning, Rob left to pick up a stool sample kit from the pharmacy to help access why I have been having stomach trouble for the past few weeks.

About an hour after he left, I hear yelling at our front gate.


“Hmm… Is someone outside calling my name? That’s peculiar,” I thought to myself before peering out the window.

If you’ve been following the Pisani chronicles, then you already know that I’ve named our residence the Thunderdome. Thunderdome protocol calls for all gates to be locked while my macho husband is not at home to save me from marauders. There is also a provision that states whenever Rob leaves my side, I will always have the car in order to run over any looting bandits.

“OH MY GOD!” I recalled myself saying before grabbing the keys and rushing outside. Rob didn’t have his helmet on and there was no scooter in sight. I don’t see one evildoer. There was no pillaging.

“Hurry, open the gate!” Rob shouted while keeping pressure on his bleeding hand.

“OH MY GOD!” I said once again. Or twice. Or maybe I just kept repeating it. All I can remember is that he was losing blood all throughout the foyer, then into the kitchen, and ultimately filling the sink.

“Quick, get me paper towels, or some gauze, or anything to help stop the bleeding. Damn it, I’m going to need stitches.”

“You’re going to need stitches?” I yelled. He might as well have said he needed a bone marrow transplant because as long as I’ve known my husband, those words have never left his mouth. It was about then I started to feel woozy. In the past he has handled every emergency with a “grin and bear it” attitude. When a guy whose first aid kit normally consists of duct tape is asking for stitches you know that it’s going to be a long day.

Now in my defense, I tend to be a little hypersensitive in trying situations. I wouldn’t be the first person you would want to call in an emergency. But I’m not the last either. You can certainly count on Nadine Hays Pisani for your blood loss needs.  I may spin in circles while performing  a high pitched scream that is not characteristic of the average paramedic, but this could also be taken as a sign of a take charge attitude.

“Grab me some duct tape,” Rob instructed. This actually helped calm me down since it was exactly what he usually says when large amounts of his plasma are pouring down a sink drain. “This is what I need you to do, go down the road and pick up my helmet and sunglasses. A little further down you will see the scooter. Get the key out of the ignition and take everything out of the hatch. Don’t forget the stool sample kit. I have to sit down for a minute and cool off. And don’t for any reason try to move the scooter. It is too heavy. Just leave it where it is.”

I got in the car and quickly discovered the helmet and sunglasses. As I drove a little further, I spotted the scooter lying sideways in a very deep, dirt rut. I grabbed the key out of the ignition, removed the contents from the hatch, and finally found the stool sample kit. Good thing it was empty.

But then I didn’t know what to do with the scooter. It was right in the middle of the road, and even though it is not a heavily traveled one, I was unsure if someone might run it over. And should I really listen to Rob’s advice? A guy who just split open his hand? On that sound argument, I grabbed hold of the handlebars and slowly lifted it upright. I suppose this would have been a good idea if I had held onto the brake while doing so. Consequently, the scooter careened out of control into a drainage ditch. These were not  pressing details so I didn’t immediately share them with my husband when I returned to the house. His blood loss would definitely make his memories fuzzy and he might not even notice.

“Before we go to an emergency clinic, I want to go get the scooter back to the house,” Rob demanded.

“Are you sure? I mean, why do that now? At the very least, show me your hand so I get an idea of what we are dealing with.” It was then he reluctantly removed the paper towels and showed me the gash. It was deep. I thought I saw China.

After seeing his wound, I proceeded with an impressive period of hyperventilation followed by me driving Rob back to the scooter. He acted like it was a grizzly crime scene, swiftly deciphering that the victim was moved to a second location.

“Why is it in a ditch?” he asked. “Great, now it’s even going to be harder to move. And where did the ignition switch go? It’s in worse shape now than when I crashed it.”

I acted dumb, which is undoubtedly a natural thing for me to accomplish. Sometimes I’m surprised by just how easily I can slip into this roll. It’s as if I am born to play the part.

In some adrenalized, super-Hulk like display of strength, Rob proceeded to walk the scooter back to the house—in the sun and up a hill— while holding one arm intermittently above his head.

“Are you finally going to tell me what happened?” I asked when we were driving to find an emergency clinic.

“It’s really quite incredible. If I wasn’t such a good driver, I’m sure I would be in worse shape.”

“Okay, I get it. You’re a hero. But can you fill me in on what just occurred one hundred yards from our house?”

“It was so ridiculous. I was driving up the hill and saw a big rut in the road. I know not to get the wheel caught in one, but I was going so slow I thought that if I started to slip I could easily bail. I had it all planned in my head, neatly tucking myself and rolling with the momentum as I have a dozen times before. I’m really quite good when there is an emergency.”

“So then what happened to your hand?”

“It was the only part of my plan that didn’t quite work out. I outstretched my palm, using minimal force as I went into the roll, but I guess it got cut on the rocks. When I stood up I thought I was fine until I saw the blood and immediately started running toward the house. Once I realized I could pass out as a result of the heat or blood loss, I tried to remain calm and began walking quickly instead. I didn’t even take the house keys because they were covered in gas in the hatch and I thought it would take too long. Half way in I realized I should take off my helmet. I probably should have done that sooner. When I made it to the house, I got down on my knees in order to conserve energy. I knew I would need it to bust open the gate in the event that you could not hear my screams.”

“I can’t believe this. I hope we don’t have to take you to San Jose. If your muscles or nerves are damaged, we are in big trouble.”

“Let’s not jump the gun. With my superior tuck-and-roll technique, I’m sure there can’t be that much damage. This is just a flesh wound.”

I have to agree with my husband. He does have some mad skills when faced with adversity. I know this because while he was getting stitched up by a doctor in town (luckily no fractures, muscle, ligament, or tendon damage) he turned a color that Sherwin-Williams might call Cottage Whitewash. Apparently, his blood pressure dropped quicker than our careening scooter into a ditch. But with a little bit of leg elevation and a cold compress to his head, his face returned to a rosy glow. And I have to admit, he took it all with a smile on his face.

“See that honey, I’m like Rocky,” he said while making a fist with his newly stitched Frankenstein hand. “Do you mind stopping by the grocery story? I could use some ice cream. And make sure we have enough food in the house because you will have to do all the cooking, I can’t get my hand dirty.”

I can’t say this was the worst day in Costa Rica, but I wouldn’t want to repeat it either. To think, a quest for a stool sample kit started this whole chain of events. Who knew a stomach bug would cause this much trouble?

About Nadine Hays Pisani

Nadine is the author of the best-selling series, Happier Than A Billionaire. Join her as she navigates living as an expat in the sometimes confusing, always beautiful, country of Costa Rica.
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  1. lisa says:

    Hi Nadine greetings from Brooklyn New York. I just thought you’d like to know that you made me laugh and cry today. You are so very funny. I just bought your book on Kindle and started reading it. I’m also a nature lover her and teared Up like a baby after watching the turtle Video on your blog. Just thought you’d want to know what a difference you just made in my day!

    • Nadine says:

      Brooklyn??? Home of the best pizza ever??? What I would do right now for a slice, or a warm everything bagel with cream cheese. Or some great Chinese food….

      • Anonymous says:

        hey Nadine. my fav pizza is in Staten Island actually and ill buy you a pie the next time you guys are in town! I’m in Sheepshead Bay and have a BnB on a houseboat. If you guys need a place to stay next time you visit I’d love to host you! Just finished your first book and on to the next! Ill keep buying them as long as you keep writing them! You have a great gift for
        writing a funny story :-) Stay well in CR!

  2. Colette says:

    Love your stories and vignettes ! How is Costa Rica medicine for someone with many age and life style related ailments but nothing serious ie arthritis, lupus.
    And can you get a steady internet signal to catch up on American tv?


    Love my guilty pleasures…..

    • Nadine says:

      I know that many people down here have said their arthritis is not that bad anymore. Possibly it’s the climate and the active lifestyle that has helped.

      You can get all sorts of tv here. With todays technology, and slingbox, you don’t have to miss a thing.

  3. sean mcnally says:

    “just a flesh wound…” too funny. the scene from “Monty Python’s Holy Grail” is all I could think of http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zKhEw7nD9C4

    my wife is reading book 2 right now (and I’m next on the waiting list…) the similarities between Rob and me and frightening… a few days ago she came out with her coffee, shaking her head and said… “he painted a car with a roller!” i just finished up a major front end repair on our truck a few weeks ago by painting the new (from a junk yard) hood and fender with rustoleum and a roller! truly kindred spirits.

  4. venta ropa says:

    Your style is so unique compared to other
    folks I have read stuff from. Thank you for posting when you’ve
    got the opportunity, Guess I will just bookmark
    this site.

  5. Greg Pasden says:

    Did you see this post on Yahoo.com?
    It’s about medical tourism in Costa Rica, and why it makes sense for many people from the USA to do this.

    • Nadine says:

      I’ve met a few people who have come here for all sorts of procedures. The prices are certainly cheaper, and from what I’ve seen, they received excellent care.

  6. Tay says:

    Hi Nadine,

    Agree with Julie above about your writing; you’ve really got a flair. And you and Rob are kind of like Lucy and Ricky from “I Love Lucy.” Except it’s always Rob whose schemes get him into trouble! lol


  7. Greg Pasden says:

    Aren’t both of you doctors?
    Stitches don’t look that difficult to put in. hehe

    Life is Fun!
    Greg Pasden

  8. “Quick, get me paper towels, or some gauze, or anything to help stop the bleeding. Damn it, I’m going to need stitches” this is the part more hurt! xD Regards

  9. Bryan says:

    Well, we just took the plunge and I’m posting this from our little rental cottage in Puriscal. Hope we get the chance to thank you guys in person some day.

    • Nadine says:

      So happy for you and what a nice area. You must be so excited! I’m sure you’ve already been to some farmers’ markets and enjoying all that great fresh fruit. It’s hard to imagine my life without fresh pineapple, mango, and papaya everyday.

  10. tamara says:

    My husband and I enjoyed both books. I read them aloud this summer as we travelled for work on long drives. Now every night or so he’ll say at bedtime, have we got any new news from Costa Rica? Wondering if I’ve checked your blog. Thanks for the laughs, we are saving up for a vacation now that we have an empty nest, keep writing!

    Tamara and Cris from springfield, mo

    • Nadine says:

      Thanks Tamara! You know my husband is always up to something. We’ve been having a lot of fun this year, and I’m working on the Escape Manual as well. Now it’s the rainy season so we are staying inside a lot more. But we still get those incredible sunsets, and I’m enjoying them as much as the first time I step foot in Costa Rica.

  11. Lon Humphries says:

    Hi Nadine
    I plan on moving to Jaco in December from Atlanta Georgia. Do you guys ever get to Jaco?
    by the way, I loved your book. It told me some things to look out for. And to expect the unexpected.
    I would love to meet you guys someday.

    Lon Humphries

    • Nadine says:

      Jaco is pretty far and haven’t been there in a while. Would love to meet you as well. And as long as you keep expecting the unexpected, you will have the time of your life.

  12. David says:

    You two are living my dream my lady friend and I spent 10 days in Costa Rica. I did not want to leave. I would love to sell everything and move there in 12 years when I retire. The ticos are so friendly the fresh fruit in the morning the views the wild life. I don’t think she would ever make the move I would in a heart beat thank you for sharing

    • Nadine says:

      You are welcome David. It’s been such a blessig that I get to tell others about our journey. We’ve been having so much fun, I can’t imagine going back to my stressful life in the states. This was the perfect move for us, and I don’t regret a second of it!

  13. Sandra says:

    Forget the Kardashians! If anyone ever needed a reality show, it’s you and Rob. I would love to see your life played out on television. I am glad that Rob didn’t suffer any major damage and that both of you are okay. You could have hurt yourself trying to move that scooter. You two are a riot! The reality show titled “Happier than a Billionaire” alone would attract many viewers. Seriously, you should contact Ryan Seacrest.

    • Nadine says:

      Thanks Sandra. Heaven knows Rob always keeps me busy. Hasn’t ridden the scooter since the accident, but I see him eyeing it. It’s just a matter of time before he’s ready to use it again!

  14. Mary Leedy says:

    Lol great story! I do the same thing, spin in circles, i might be screaming, and get woozy at the sight of blood. I hope he heals quickly and you heal from your stomach bug. :-) you wrote it so well it felt like i was a bystander doing nothing, lol.

    • Nadine says:

      Thanks Mary. It was a little scary but happy it all worked out. Well, mostly worked out since I banged up the scooter pretty bad when I tried to move it. I was really hoping he wouldn’t have noticed that, but apparently he still had enough oxygen going to his brain to deciper his dopey wife relocated the scooter.

  15. Ann Ellison says:

    What a story – shouldn’t laugh at his being hurt but I couldn’t help it. I have the same reaction to the presence of blood. Glad he is o.k. and it wasn’t any worse. My hubby put his hand through some window glass on time when he was trying to hang curtain rods and he slipped and feel. I wouldn’t go in the bedroom until he would tell me if he was bleeding or not. Bad wife!

    • Nadine says:

      Believe me, I didn’t want to see it. But when I did, I truly thought about passing out. It was really gross, but I am happy there was an emergency doctor in town that stitched him up. The thing that was the most annoying was I got stuck doing all the dishes, laundry, cooking, etc for two weeks.

      I swear, I think he’s going to use the stitches card to get out of most of his responsibilites for at least a few more weeks.

  16. Denio says:

    In the clinic picture I couldn’t tell if Rob was laughing or crying but knowing him I am sure he was laughing it off. Nadine, as usual I was laughing out loud as I was reading the narrative. Only you can put this kind of twist on a stool sample! Another chapter in the ongoing saga of “Husband In Paradise”. I’m sorry he got hurt. Hope he’s feeling better.

    • Nadine says:

      He was laughing, until he almost passed out. But once he got his color back, he started smiling again.

      The chapter “Husband in Paradise” would end up being as thick as War and Peace. I’m hoping we can stay stitches-free until at least next year.

  17. Paul says:

    If anyone could make bleeding out a funny story it’s you Nadine. I’m glad Mr. He-man is doing just fine. How’s the stomach bug? I hope it’s on the mend. Please keep writing these stories, I can never stop laughing.

    • Barbara says:

      I agree. Your comments are so like something I would say! I hope all is well now. Thanks for the posting – it is so funny to read.

      • Nadine says:

        He’s doing so much better Barbara. It was a close call, so really happy it just ended up getting stitches. I’m so grateful he is okay, and also grateful he lets me write about these calamities. I don’t think I’ll ever run out of stories with him around!

    • Nadine says:

      Thanks Paul, he has totally recovered and already looking for something to get into. Today he is outside with a weedwacker and a machete. I’m keeping my fingers crossed!

  18. Cynthia says:

    OMG! I laughed and laughed as I read this feeling all the while soooo bad for Rob! That had to hurt and I’m sure it was a bit of a blow to his . . . ahem . . . ego!

    I’m also glad it was not terribly expensive to get treated. I’m also assuming the scooter is mostly alright.

    You sure have a way with words . . . especially when describing . . . ahem . . . situations of adversity or calamity! *grin*

    • Nadine says:

      Rob definitely gives me good material. Just when I start having writer’s block, Rob comes through and splits open his hand. But I wouldn’t trade him in for the world. He keeps me laughing, even when he is losing large amounts of blood.

  19. Karen says:

    Just finished reading both of your books. I love the stories. For comparison, stitches in California run $250 each. In the process of cutting cherry tomatoes in half, I sliced my left index finger pretty good. Only my husband was at work. Since I’d never had the need to see a doctor without an appointment, I didn’t even know where the ER was so I had to call a friend. Anyway, for reference, after my $100 deductible, 6 stitches fixed me up. Lucky for insurance, the ER visit for 45 minutes (30 waiting) tab was over $1500.

    • Nadine says:

      Wow, I don’t feel so bad know paying what I did. We are lucky we have a doctor like this in town that can do a small procedure like this. Overall, we are happy with the healthcare we’ve encountered so far. It has it’s problems, but I doubt there are any perfect systems anywhere.

  20. Julie says:

    Nadine, you have some serious writing talent. You consistently can make me laugh out loud and that’s not an easy task! Will be making my way back to Costa Rica in January and sincerely hope our paths will cross there one day so we can share our journey there. Hope your other half is back to feeling 100% soon.

    • Nadine says:

      Thanks Julie. Rob is doing much better, I can already see him eyeing the scooter again. It’s just a matter of time before he is putt-putting away again!

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