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. Ivermectin is readily available over the counter in Panama. You can buy it without a prescription.
Normally I would ask the nurse or doctor what is this and what’s it for before I take a pill or get an IV. 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 because I pay into the Social Security system in Panama. But I would have been in a room with a lot of other people.
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!
PART TWO: FULL DISCLOSURE
I stayed in quarantine for two weeks after getting out of the hospital but was still having problems with my oxygen level going down, tired and weak all-over feeling, shortness of breath, chest pain and it felt like there was something in my lungs.
Covid attacks your respiratory system but it can also cause problems with your heart and nervous system.
The doctor who treated me in the hospital wanted me to come into his office so he could do some tests or he told me to see my primary care doctor in Boquete. I could not get an appointment with the hospital doctor at his office for 10 days. When it comes to Covid, things can’t wait that long. And, unfortunately, my regular primary care doctor was on leave so I saw a different doctor in Boquete.
I told the primary care doctor about all the symptoms I was still having and was SHOCKED that she did not even listen to my chest. She prescribed cough syrup. Not good! It was obvious that she had absolutely NO CLUE on how to treat Covid.
I knew that I needed to get professional help from a Covid specialist if I wanted to get better and avoid being put in the hospital again. So, I started searching the internet and watching interviews with Covid doctors.
Luckily, I found a telemedicine Covid specialist who has treated 6,000 Covid patients. He is sharp as a tack!
He gave me a list of lab work to get done. I had a lab come to my house to do the bloodwork. They sent me the results 2 hours later via Whatsapp.
Once the doctor saw my labwork, he knew exactly what medications I needed to take to get over the lingering symptoms. In Panama, you can buy most medications over the counter with no prescription. Within 48 hours of taking the medication, I felt so much better.
He also had me get a CT Scan at Hospital Chiriqui. It showed that I had lung damage from Covid and a high CT score which indicated blood clotting. So he added a daily injection of an anti-blood-clotting medication.
Thanks to the Covid specialist, within a week, I was able to stop using an oxygen machine and all symptoms have gone away.
If you get Covid, reach out to a Covid specialist with a LOT of experience. If you contact them as soon as you have symptoms, they can prescribe medications to stop the spread of the virus in your body so you can avoid being admitted to the hospital.
A Covid specialist can prescribe a PREVENTATIVE PROTOCOL to help you avoid getting Covid without taking a vaccine.
Absolutely DO NOT rely on your primary care doctor to know what to do when it comes to Covid!