Tuesday, November 25, 2008

doctor, doctor, gimme the news

We are home safe and sound . . . the house is freezing and the snow is deep. The boys were so excited to hear how things went and to see pictures and video.

This is a very detailed description of what happened Monday morning when we went for our required medical exam, which cost 500€ per person. I don't know if you can appreciate how ridiculous it was, but we can't help but laugh at the series of events (in fact, Stefan was laughing through his EKG). At the same time, I know I need to be respectful of the people who work at the facility, and I don't mean to show any disrespect to them as people, at all. Here it goes . . .

This morning the alarm went off at 05:45 . . . After a mostly cold shower, and the regular morning routine, we were ready for our 7:15 pick up (Vlad). We got to the medical centre just in time for our 8am appointments . . . Both couples were together. At reception, we checked our coats and, in return, we got paper booties to wear over our shoes. The foyer looked quite nice . . . New tiles on the floor, nice leather couches along the walls and the records room looked new and well-organized. Our representative led the four of us, along with our translator, through the foyer to the director of the facility’s office. All of a sudden, the surroundings were completely different. While her office was nice, the ward was old and run down - the linoleum in the corridors was bumpy, the lights were not all working, the wallpaper was peeling and pipes and wires were visible.

I was completely confused at first by the situation in the director’s office - there were 3 people sitting on the couch eating cake and drinking tea {we were fasting for our blood tests:)}, there was a man and a woman sitting on chairs in front of the desk and the director was sitting behind her desk (with a mink coat hanging on the back of her chair). While chairs were being organized for us, another man came in without booties and left again. After the director explained the purpose of the facility and the day’s visit, we quickly began our first medical examination, with the man in front of the desk - turns out he was the doctor for contagious diseases. He began with the other couple, asking them questions about childhood diseases, etc. We had the same battery of questions (childhood diseases, if we work with blood and if we’ve traveled to tropical destinations, or Africa) and then he deemed us healthy. Then we began our exam with the doctor for respiratory diseases - the woman in front of the desk. She asked questions of both couples about breathing issues, coughing, bronchitis, pneumonia, TB, if we’ve had TB tests, etc. During the exam, we found out that she had an aunt who lived in Jakobstad (moved there around the time of the Revolution) so she had many Swedish-speaking relatives, and understood our Swedish but couldn’t speak it. If you’ve been paying close attention, you will have noticed that the 3 strangers were sitting on the couch this whole time (I thought they were maybe other doctors but later on we realized they were an American couple with their translator. Btw, I later found this family's blog on the internet - they were from the DC/Virginia area), and both couples were examined together - so much for privacy!!

Next stop - blood work. The other couple had already been taken there by our representative, so we were following our translator, who got us lost. During our wandering around the facility, we quickly realized that they were in the process of renovating the building. Some parts were new and pristine, while others were falling apart. The lab took 6 vials of blood from each of us and most of them were the big ones (you’ll be happy to know it was announced publicly that we’re all HIV and Hepatitis free - again, so much for privacy). Then we were taken back to the director’s office to eat and drink a bit of tea. Next, we had our chest x-rays. Interesting situation. It is difficult enough to disrobe in an unfamiliar medical facility, but imagine that the people are not all medical professionals - one of them is your male translator! At least we got to go in one at a time, not the 4 of us together! The Russian equipment is a little different - the part you stand against is taller than a person, so once you are shoved up against it, your chin is forced up as well because there’s no place else for it to go. While we were waiting in the hall to get the all clear that the pictures were okay, a lady came walking down the hall in a bathrobe and slippers. Was there a spa here, too? At the EKG, we had to wait in the corridor for quite some time - not so sure if it was coffee time or . . .? Anyways, as a side note, we began to notice that the same old man kept showing up at the same location as us - bad luck for him he always had to wait for us. The EKG was exactly as had been described to us by another couple who had been here in July - first, 4 things that looked like jumper cables were attached to the ankles and wrists, then a set of 5 or 6 suction cups with blue “ping pong” balls on top were attached to the skin along the chest - of course, one is bare-chested for this, and the translator is there too, to help. “Breathe deep. Hold it. Breathe out. You’re done.” And that was it. 30 seconds.

Just when you think it can’t possibly get any better . . We go see the shrink. Thankfully, a little discretion was used, and we got to be one couple at a time. We were first. Stefan was his first victim. He asked lots of strange questions, but was mostly concerned about our siblings! Oh yeah, when he started grilling me, I nearly began to cry because he asked such a strange question that took me by surprise that I couldn’t answer in Swedish - my words were getting all mixed up. So, from then on, I spoke English, Stefan translated to Swedish for the translator who then relayed it to the shrink (who had no booties on). Of course, the near tears was just more material for him to work with . . . Our exam went on for quite some time, during which he also answered a call on his cell phone. In the end, he signed off that we were mentally healthy. The other couple’s exam lasted 5 minutes . . .

From there, we went down the hall to an office where there were 3 doctors - an oncologist, a dermatologist and an internist. The internist (who must’ve been 10 years past retirement) took our BP, listened to our chests, and had us lay on the couch while she probed and prodded our unclothed torsos. The dermatologist asked if we had skin problems or family history of skin problems and the oncologist asked if we had a family history of cancer or any history ourselves with it. Then she performed a breast exam. Afterwards, Stefan said that our translator must have the best job - he gets to see lots of boobies.

Our last exam was the neurologist who deemed us healthy after testing our reflexes, watching us move our eyebrows, smile big, touch our nose and stick out our tongue. She also asked about headaches, but I was too afraid to tell her that my head felt as if it was going to explode at that moment.

Back in the director’s office, we got more tea and cakes as well as chocolate bars. We signed papers that said we believed everything the doctor’s wrote about us and then it was time to go. Earlier, we had been given our chest x-rays to take home as souvenirs.

We left the medical facility shortly after 11. Court was scheduled for 12.


Anonymous said...

I'm so proud that you made it through all that! I expecially loved seeing the "2 days since we last saw Sophia"!on your blog page! Enjoy the snow and the last preparations before you go back and bring your beautiful daughter home! Welcome to the "Family of 6" world!
love Andrea, Mark, Clay, Quinn, Hayley and Sarah

Eric & Becky said...

Sound like quite a day. Glad to see you made it through all that. How long will you be there at the Vlad Inn? We will Be arriving in Vlad on Dec. 3rd with court on the 5th what is the weather like much snow on the ground? Hope we get a chance to meet your family.

Kim Abraham said...

Oh my word!!! I am shaking in my boots now (or I would be if I was actually wearing boots :0)

Glad you got through it! Our medicals are on Monday. I will be so embarrassed, but I guess it is still more private than giving birth which I survived 4xs.

Looking forward to your next posts about court!!!

Anonymous said...

I am absolutely estatic to have another niece... I am so very happy for you all!!
Lots of love and an abundance of hugs to you!!

Cheri said...

I forgot to sign our names to the previous comment!

It should read... lots of love and an abundance of hugs from,
Auntie Cheri, Uncle Frank, Travis and Stephanie

Jackie said...

Barb- I just popped over here to see your blog after you left a comment on mine. What a medical exam!! Yikes! You described that with some great humor... :-)

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Saint Petersburg: Sankt-Peterburg, Russian pronunciation: is a city and a federal subject of Russia located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea. The city's other names were Petrograd (1914–1924) and Leningrad (1924–1991). Founded by Tsar Peter I of Russia on 27 May, 1703, it was the capital of the Russian Empire for more than two hundred years (1713–1728, 1732–1918). Saint Petersburg is home to more than two hundred museums, many of them hosted in historic buildings. The largest of the museums is the Hermitage Museum, featuring interiors of the former imperial residence and a vast collection of art. Celebrating the 300th anniversary of its foundation, Saint Petersburg was selected as the main motif in a recent Finnish commemorative coin, the €10 Mannerheim and Saint Petersburg commemorative coin, minted in 2003. The reverse of the coin features a view of Saint Petersburg, with the Peter and Paul Fortress and its three turrets. In the coin the words "St. Petersburg 1703-2003" can be seen.