American Expat Expecting Colostomy Reversal In "developing" Country – Scared To Death

Hi everyone,

I am a US expat who has lived for the past 14 years in adeveloping “2nd /3rd” world country in Latin America (Costa Rica).  I had an emergency colostomy (Hartmann’s?) in August 2016 (performed at a public hospital here in Costa Rica) after suffering a perforated colon from previously undiagnosed diverticultis.  I am a 37 year old male.

I have no other known health problems besides a nasty 3-pack a day cigarette habit and drinking far more red wine than is healthy.  

At any rate, I am on the (Costa Rican) government waiting list now to have my colostomy reversed. 

Long story short, Costa Rica has a nationalized healthcare system for citizen and legal foreign residents (of which I am and have been for 14 years).  I was born and raised in the US, and maintain US citizenship, but I do not have insurance in the US and basically am not eligable for insurance in the US as I understand it because I have spent so much time away from the US that I am no longer considered a “resident” of my home state in the US (or any other state for that matter).  So basically, I HAVE to get the reversal surgery here in Costa Rica as part of the public health system here.

I had no serious complications following my initial operation in August 2016, so I like to believe that the doctors/surgeons here know what they are doing, but there are things that are ‘disconcerting’ about medical care standards here compared to the US.  (For instance, for my 12 days in ICU recovery following my surgery, it was in a small room with 6 other patients WITHOUT AIR CONDITIONING in 95F heat… another recovering patient next to me who was having blood transfusions or something after suffering a near-fatal machete attack -not kidding- would constantly spill blood all over the floor next to my bed that was rarely cleaned up, restrooms that smelled so bad of urine you literally had to hold your breath in there, etc.).  

So here I am, contemplating having reversal surgery in that same hospital.  

I am hoping to hear from either other people who live in ‘developing’ countries who have had reversal surgery, and/or doctors/medical professionals who can tell me how ‘safe’ it might be to have this procedure done in a public hospital in a developing country (specifically, Costa Rica).  I found out after my first operation that the doctor that operated on me to give me the colostomy in the first place (and who would be the one to do the reversal), literally does everything from extremely minor surgeries (literally from surgically removing growths on people’s skin, to amputating fingers and limbs, to gastro surgery, and who knows what else.  In meeting him, he sometimes comes off as so forgetful, unorganized and just plain medium-IQ and/or goofy that you would think he was a low-dollar car mechanic, yet this was the same guy who operated on me during the emergency in August and everything was fine.  

The bottom line is, to be honest, I have a severe ‘death phobia.’ – I almost don’t care how arduous the recovery might be, as long as I DON’T DIE.  

Can anyone give some feedback?  Does anyone have some realiable statitics on MORTALITY (death) during or following colostomy reversals in developing countries like Costa Rica? (Doesn’t seem this information is readily available here).

Tambien hablo español si alguien de latinoamerica quiere responder en español.

Bottom line is, I’m scared to death.  In general, in most areas, this country tends to run a few decades behind the US in many ways, so I’m also curious historically, say what the mortality rate for a colostomy reversal in the US would have been say, in the 1970’s or 1980’s, because that is probably about what we’re dealing with here.

Thank you all for your stories about having both successful and non-successful reversals, I really appreciate all of you who share your experiences.  I know I am in a sort of unique situation but I imagine I’m not the only one?



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American Expat Expecting Colostomy Reversal In "developing" Country – Scared To Death