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Getting Covid in Panama

My personal experience with 8 days in Hospital Chiriqui with Covid and pneumonia.

For more than a year, I’ve been so careful. I stayed home most of the time.

I’ve only been out to eat 3 times in the last 18 months and even then I left my mask on until I was actually eating or drinking something.

I only went to the grocery store once a week and always wore a mask. (Wearing masks is required in Panama) The grocery store is always too crowded and it’s impossible to social distance when there are stock people on every aisle plus lots of customers.

One time, I went to an Alumni get-together at an outside venue. I did take my mask off when I sat down to eat and drink.

I was careful to apply a hand sanitizer as soon as I got back in my car after going anywhere.

Yet, I tested positive for Covid on May 13th and was hospitalized because my oxygen level was only 85 and I could barely walk.

I think I got Covid at the grocery store but who knows!

A few days before testing positive, I started feeling that achy all over, weak, cold, flu like symptoms. We’d had cold rain for 3 days straight in Boquete so I thought it was just the seasonal flu. I took over-the-counter medications to help with the symptoms but they did not help much.

I did not have a headache, no lost sense of smell or taste, no coughing, no leg cramps, no shortness of breath. no chest pain, or any of the other Covid symptoms I’d read about so I was not even thinking I had Covid.

On day 3 of flu-like symptoms, I was not getting better, I went to see my doctor in Boquete. She ordered lab work to see what was going on. I’d just had lab work a month prior so we had something to compare it to. The lab work made it look like there was a storm going on inside my body. I’m usually normal, normal. I don’t have any health problems and don’t take any meds. But this time, the labwork showed some things were really high and some things were really low. An example, a month ago, my triglycerides were 140, now they were 390. It was crazy!

The doctor started me on an antibiotic injection for 3 days straight and advised that I get tested for Covid even though I did not have symptoms. The rapid antigen test came back negative.

So what the heck was going on?

When I went in for my second antibiotic injection, the nurse said I looked really pale and suspected I was dehydrated. I was definitely very weak and so cold. She called the doctor who came right in. I had an IV at the doctor’s office. My blood pressure would go way up then go way down. My oxygen level was dropping below 90 so the doctor suggested I go to the hospital in David to get a Covid PCR test (more accurate than the antigen test) and x-ray. I could get the PCR test in Boquete but it takes 2 days to get the results. At the hospital, I could get PCR results in less than 2 hours.

I hired someone to drive me to Hospital Chiriqui in David (a 40-minute drive) because I was too weak to drive myself and I knew it would be much less crowded than going to the public hospital. I was not anticipating getting admitted so I did not take anything with me.

At the hospital, they did an Antigen test (results in 20 minutes) and a PCR test (results in 2 hours). They both came back positive. And because my oxygen level was so low (84-85), they said I really needed to be admitted to the hospital so I could go on oxygen and be treated for Covid with IV’s.

A few hours later, I was in my hospital room. The first night, there were two other women in the room but they were discharged so then I had a huge room all to myself. There were no windows in the room. I was already so cold and it was freezing in the room. The nurses kept bringing me blankets.

The lady next to me got the Covid vaccine in the United States but she still got Covid.

The doctor, who spoke perfect English, explained what he was going to do to make me feel better which included starting Ivermectin and a slew of other medications through IVs. I was also given a lot of pills to take. I was hooked up to a heart monitor, oximeter, automatic blood pressure cuff, and oxygen.

The doctor told me if I had been taking Ivermectin as a preventative, I would probably not have gotten Covid. This is the protocol. I’m surprised that all doctors in Panama were not talking about this. Apparently, it was given to all doctors and nurses working with covid patients in Panama to protect them. I wish I knew about this before I got Covid.

Normally I would ask what is this and what’s it for. But I was feeling so bad I just took whatever they gave me trusting that they knew what they were doing since they worked exclusively at a Covid ward of the hospital

The first 3 days, I could not get out of bed. I was too weak for one thing but every time I tried to get up my oxygen would drop like a rock so the doctor told me I had to stay in bed.

The nurses were very attentive. Some spoke some English and some did not. Between my Spanish and their English, we were able to communicate with no problems.

The food was ok. The cook called me every day to tell me what my choices were (in English) or ask if I wanted her to make something else. I did not have much of an appetite.

It was SO COLD in the hospital room. They could not change the temperature but they did bring me more blankets. My neighbors also brought me a heating pad and some warm socks which helped tremendously.

Day 3 I started having trouble breathing and chest pain so the doctor ordered x-rays. I had pneumonia on top of having Covid. The doctor added additional pneumonia meds to my IV regiment.

Day 5 I was feeling much better and the doctor let me sit up in a chair next to my bed for 4 hours. I was allowed to take a real shower (no sponge bath in bed) but I almost passed out. Luckily, the nurse was right there to catch me and get me back in bed.

Day 6 I was still very weak but allowed to sit up for 5 hours a day.

Day 7 I felt much better and could sit in a chair as long as I wanted to. I had to have the heating pad in my lap and several blankets to avoid frostbite (just kidding).

On day 8, at 5pm, the doctor said I could go home IF I was taken in an ambulance so I could stay on oxygen. He sent home an oxygen machine for me to use 24/7. It was $175 for the 45-minute ambulance ride. Besides the driver, there was also an emergency room nurse in the ambulance. They helped me set up the oxygen machine next to my bed.

The doctor has called every day to check on me. MINSA (the health department) also calls every day to ask what my temperature, oxygen level is and ask how I feel.

The doctor ordered additional lab work to check vitamin levels. The lab came to my house to take blood then sent the results via Whatsapp a few hours later. He recommended that I take additional vitamins, especially 10,000IU of D3. I had a lot of labwork in the hospital but the information was changing often.

The total bill for the 8 days in the private hospital, doctors, nurses, and medications was $15,000. If I had gone to the public hospital it would have been free.

I’m glad I have insurance to cover the expense to have a private room at a private hospital with a group of nurses and doctors who were very attentive and only taking care of 3 other people who have Covid. At the public hospital, they would have been taking care of a lot of people with Covid and I could not have a private room. The private hospital was a much better healing environment.

I’ve been home a week. I need to quarantine for another week. Even then, I will limit leaving my property to once a week or just get things delivered. Friends have picked up groceries for me. They leave them on my patio and I leave cash (sprayed with a disinfectant) in a baggy on my front door so no one needs to come into contact with me.

I had some prepared meals delivered until I got strong enough to cook. I much prefer to cook especially with all those fresh organic veggies in my greenhouse.

I’m still on oxygen but I’m getting stronger every day.

Thanks so much for your prayers! They really helped!

Jackie Lange

Jackie Lange is the founder of Panama Relocation Tours and lives in the highlands of Boquete Panama. She has helped thousands of people relocate to Panama.

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Ellen Zucker says

    Hi Jackie,
    Although we don’t know each other, I’m a subscriber to your newsletter and have listened in on some of your calls.
    Thank you for sharing your experiences with Covid. I’m glad to hear you received such good care and are on the mend. I send my fervent wishes for a speedy and complete recovery.

    • Jackie Lange says

      Thanks for your well wishes!

  2. Rich says

    Sorry to hear that contracted COVID Jackie, but very happy to hear that you are well on your way to recovery. I hope to meet you one day in Panama!

  3. Jenny L McLellan says

    Hi Jackie,
    This is Jenny from Phoenix, AZ. I’ve been watching and listening on your calls for months. Sending prayers for your complete recovery. My fiance is from Panama and I’m making my first trip to Panama in December. He wants to retire back home in about 4 years. I’ll keep listening to your calls and plan to get your book in the future.
    Take care!

    • Jackie Lange says

      Thanks Jenny. I hope to get the calls started again in June. I’m getting stronger every day.

  4. Joseph Bauer says

    Sorry to hear about your Covid experience, but glad you are getting better.
    I wish you a quick recovery.
    Joseph

  5. Debbi Klappa says

    Thank you, Jackie, for the in-depth report of everything you’ve gone thru with Covid. Very glad you’re slowly recovering at home & taking it easy. It’s a bit concerning you tested negative with the first test. In your opinion, what was the incubation period (how long do you think you had Covid before it was finally properly diagnosed)? Please continue to take it slow for awhile & let us know if you need anything.

    • Jackie Lange says

      HI Debbi, from what I’ve read, the incubation period can be 3-14 days that you can have it but test negative. That’s a big variance. What’s even more crazy is that you can have NO SYMPTOMS at all, feel fine, during that entire time so you could be infecting others and not even know it. Covid is a mean virus.

  6. sornord@gmail.com says

    Last November, my son and his wife and kids were about to go spend Thanksgiving weekend with my 85-year-old mom, his grandma, the kids’ great-grandma, in Ocala, FL. The Wednesday before Thanksgiving day he lost his sense of smell and taste and, fortunately, decided against it. He, his wife, who was also feeling poorly, and their oldest daughter all tested positive. He said he was sick as a dog over the weekend. His wife was sick and in bed over a week. Their oldest daughter never had ANY symptoms but was still likely contagious. I think my son and his wife are both fully vaccinated now (VERY good since they are both involved in child-protective services and go out to all sorts of environments rescuing abused and neglected kids.) My SO and I, and all in our household, are also fully vaccinated. DiL worked from home due Covid and was still too weak to do even that for almost a month. All seem fine again now. Here’s hoping you have no residuals. There is still a lot unknown about the residuals. Reading about the 1918 “Spanish Flu” pandemic, similar to THIS pandemic, there were a lot of long lasting effects among folks who recovered from it then too.

    • Jackie Lange says

      Wow! I’ve read about so many people who got Covid. It’s no picnic for sure.

    • Jackie Lange says

      Covid is a scary virus.

  7. Jenny says

    God bless you Jackie. I cried reading about your experience and I will pray for your perfect health right now. Be well friend!

  8. Susan Bickel says

    Hi Jackie,
    During my tour, which started May 14, I learned of your hospitalization due to covid. I am so sorry that happened to you, and that you were so sick. Ellen and Steve were great hosts, though I know that they were very worried about you. I gave them 3 boxes of Ivermectin, for each of them and one for you, and told them how to research it on FLCCC.net.
    It is great news that you are recovering at home. And I want to thank you for putting the PRT together. It was a lot of fun, I enjoyed Ellen and Steve very much and met some great, interesting people on my trip. Meeting the ex-pats was also a lot of fun and very informative. You provide a great service, and I will continue to tell people about Panama Relocation Tours.
    Much love,
    Susan Bickel

    • Jackie Lange says

      HI Susan

      I’m so glad you enjoyed your tour and we sincerely appreciate your kind words about Panama Relocation Tours. Thanks for the Ivermectin. I’m reading that it’s a good idea to take it for awhile during recovery.

    • Jackie Lange says

      Thanks Susan. I apprecite you bring some Ivermectin for Steve, Ellen and me. I’ll get it from them this week. I’m reading that it’s a good ide ato take if during recovery too. I’m so glad you enjoyed your tour!

  9. Mark Taylor says

    Hi Jackie: I’m so glad you’re okay. I listen often and am grateful for all your kind help and consideration. Best of luck to you in recovery.

  10. Karen Berger says

    Jackie…thank you for the update. You’ve been through the worst of it, but everything will soon be back to normal. Godspeed.

  11. Dee Bramhall says

    Jackie, Eve and Dee (2019 tour) are so very happy that you are doing better. Phew, what an ordeal. We are still working toward getting back to Panama. Please take the best of care and hope to see you again soon.

  12. joanne allen says

    Jackie, I’m glad to hear that you are on the road to recovery. I’ve been reading your site for at least a couple of years, so kinda feel like you are someone I know. Sending warm thoughts and best wishes for a speedy recovery.

  13. Lee Maynard says

    We really appreciate everything you say about living in Panama and more about your experiences. This is so scary and your insight is invaluable. Rick and I are hoping to be ready to move my year’s end… wish it were now. Our hope is to see you at some point after our move. We cannot say enough… how much knowing you, Phil and Gloria have meant to our feeling welcomed to starting our next chapter.

    Rest…Heal….and know you have a mountain of friends. ❤️👬

    • Jackie Lange says

      Lee, thank you! You will love living in Panama!

  14. Jackie Lange says

    no, vaccines were not available in Boquete until the day I was hospitalized.

  15. The Laughing Parrots says

    I’ve been out of the loop so I was shocked to hear you were in the hospital with Covid! So glad you got quality medical care and are on the mend!

  16. Robert says

    Jackie so glad for your recovery…I’m assuming that you hadn’t been vaccinated before contracting covid.

    • Jackie Lange says

      I’m feeling better every day. They were not offering the vaccine in Boquete until after I was in the hospital

  17. Siria and Peter Nigro says

    Dear Jackie,

    Thank you for sharing your experience with COVID-19 and the hospital. May the Universe bring you back to the normal, healthy Jackie you are, real soon.

    • Jackie Lange says

      Thanks everyone. I’m getting stronger every day!

  18. verhonda says

    Jackie, I’m glad to hear that you are recovering from your ordeal. I hope you feel better very soon. Take your time and heal properly so that you can rebuild your immune system. I look forward to hearing from you again. I am preparing for the August 20th tour and I can’t wait!

  19. Jim Spigutz says

    I’m glad you’re feeling better. I meet you on the first May tour last month. I’m coming back this month to work on my Visa. Hopefully your better

  20. David Bennett says

    I am glad to hear that your getting better and that you shared your experience with the private hospital. I think it demonstrates the competency of the medical care available in Panama.

    I will be in Panama this coming week for my Panama Relocation Tour. Hopefully, you will be recovered enough to say hello to the group in Boquete but regardless I am confident that your people will answer all of our questions and give us a great exposure to Panama.

  21. Cindy Keiser says

    Jackie – I’m glad to know that you’re feeling better and so sorry you’ve had to go through all of that. I’ll continue to pray for you and for total healing – no residual C-19 issues. We so appreciate your willingness to keep us informed – even though you’re still not feeling 100% yet.

  22. Virgil Bowe says

    Hello Jackie, this is Virgil & Diana for Nassau, Bahamas, I’ve just read your story. OMG,I am sorry for what you went through, but extremely happy that you’re coming around. It’s been a while since I’ve tune in due to trying to get back to work. However, it look and sound like you’ve been out also. We Thank God for your recovery. We just want to say take it easy, build up your strength and for God sake stay clear of everyone until. We look forward to hearing your voice on Saturday. If I get a chance I’ll call in to send out a shot. God bless.

    • Jackie Lange says

      Thanks Virgil. I’m staying home even though I’m out of quarantine.

  23. M. Conner says

    Jackie, I’m so glad to hear you are feeling better and eating good organic homegrown veggies.

    I really appreciate your sharing your experience. It must’ve been a very challenging ordeal for you. So glad you were able to reach out for help right away and receive support and help from those around you, along with such good hospital care. A blessing indeed.
    And warm socks!! I could really relate to that!

    I do hope you rebound well and recover fully, but please take it slow and take extra good care of yourself! It will pay off in the long run.

    Forgive the unsolicited advice, but if you haven’t already, perhaps you may want to consider some lung strengthening support supplements and or/ Vitamin Mineral IV treatment if available, to help rebuild the immune system and body.

    Sending love and much gratitude for all you do for so many,
    MaryAnne in Phoenix

  24. Eunice B says

    Jackie, I am glad that your doing much better and that your help has progressed everyday. May God continue to heal you completely. Keep drinking your hot tea with ginger, cloves, thyme and lemon. Great for your immune system. Thanks for the good information. Eunice

    • Jackie Lange says

      Hi Eunice, I am drinking ginger Lime every day. I’ll try adding cloves and thyme — sounds yummy

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