Medical Care in Belize: My Dermatologist Appointment in Belize City
Yesterday I traveled on the water taxi from San Pedro to Belize City for an appointment with a dermatologist who was highly recommended by friends: Dr. Julitta Bradley.
I am SO glad I went.
I have written before about what I call “expat denial”. You live on an island where the sun is almost always shining, surrounded by freewheelers on vacation, eating and drinking and enjoying…you feel younger than you did in the States. You’re 50 and wearing a tee shirt and flip-flops! Routine doctors’ appointments don’t seem so routine – I’m on island time!
Perhaps you are uninsured – like I am…it’s easy to put things off.
That may sound crazy. Uninsured in Belize should mean that you want to detect things EARLY. Medical care in Belize has some great pros: you can get appointments the same or the next day, doctors have time to talk to you and understand your issues, and the price is much lower than in the USA. It can also be free at the local polyclinic. But it also has some HUGE cons.
Cons like: There is not a lot of information online – much of it is word-of-mouth. There is not a wide range of specialized, serious care, medications, testing, and treatments for more serious illnesses and more complex diagnoses. Have an oddly broken bone or a cancer diagnosis, many seek treatment in Mexico, Guatemala, or elsewhere.
So I want to be as transparent about my medical care as possible – and my boyfriend Jeff’s. NOT as a playbook on how to do things – good grief no – but just to share information. Because early diagnosis is EVERYTHING.
- My 49 Year Old Boyfriend Had a Heart Attack in Belize (2018)
- My Mammogram, Ultrasound Check up in Belize City in 2021
- Ultrasound and Pre-Diagnosis of My Thyroid Condition (2021)
- Diagnosis of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis
- My (Free) Medical Examination and Testing for Belizean Citizenship (2022) at the San Pedro Polyclinic
Now let’s get to my visit yesterday. I called her office on Monday morning to get an appointment and was offered one the next morning. We made the appointment for Wednesday morning at my request. I told them I would be on the 8:30am water taxi from San Pedro, arriving in Belize City at 10am. And that I would be at the appointment by 10:30am.
I hopped in a $10bzd taxi at the water taxi and we were there in less than 10 minutes.
My Appointment with Dr. Julitta Bradley
My main reason for going: I wish I could tell you that I was seeing a dermatologist because I am smart. That I am a 50-year old Caucasian woman who gets a lot of sun living in Belize. Most of it driving in the golf cart, walking around town, inadvertently. And…please don’t judge…I don’t wear sunblock every day. I sweat too much. It’s sooo greasy!
I was going to have a mole examined – on my chest. One that has been growing too quickly for my liking and is itchy.
But while seeing the lovely, personable, warm and open Dr Bradley, I got much more. I got a new “primary care” doctor. HOORAY!
I arrived at her office, at the front desk, and was called in by the doctor who apologized for keeping me waiting less than 10 minutes.
We sat down by her desk and talked about my entire history, my family history, my issues and concerns. Talking about everything from menstruation to broken bones to last doctors’ appointments to heart issues in my family. She was taking copious notes.
We then did a full body scan area by area. (No standing nude in the middle of cold room under a fluorescent light – that’s how I pictured it worked) Behind ears, scalp, back of neck and my mole/growth.
I have a small fungus patch on my scalp (this is not the first fungi that’s visited me in Belize) – she wrote me a prescription for a medicated oil (that I picked up later for $25bzd) – and we talked about the removal of my Seborrhoeic Keratosis.
A benign tumor or growth that is most likely hereditary. One might call it a beauty mark – one might call it a brown wart. It would be a HUGE problem if it was on the tip of my nose.
Not necessary to remove but since it is in an area that rubs on my clothing and itches, I liked the idea of removal.
We removed it with cryotherapy. About 10 minutes – no pain…just felt a little itchy…and it will remove itself/fall off over the next few weeks.
She also gave me a prescription for what she recommends I do before I see her next – in 4-6 weeks.
- A mammogram
- A routine pap smear (HPVDNA if I can)
- And full labs – blood, urine, stool and thyroid profile
We talked about diet, exercise, my thyroid, medications, sun protection, and menopause…I was there for well over an hour. No rush. It was an amazing, positive experience. I left with a list of sunblocks she recommended – including powdered protection for my face.
Total price: $200bzd – the consultant alone is $65bzd
I HIGHLY recommend Dr Bradley. And I am going to be niggling Jeff to go see her too. A white guy with a shaved head who spends many hours a day outside – on a boat? I mean..COME ON!
I headed out the door feeling VERY adult…very in charge of my life. It’s a way better feeling than denial.
Out to do some errands in Belize City – I’ll let you know about that – and the details of my transportation to and from Belize City tomorrow.
Let me know if you have any questions, doctor recommendations or information in the comments below.