On Wednesday, Max, Daddy and Mommy went to the doctor for a visit! Ira, my faithful and wonderful interpreter, met us at 7:30am in the metro. We wanted to get there early so we could try to get ahead of the crowds. I came with my stack of papers, which had the various tests I needed, with their room numbers and times they were open. They were all open in the morning, which worked out nicely for us. I also had with me a syringe that I’d purchased at the pharmacy for about 15 cents, as well as my urine sample, in a plastic sour cream container!
Though Dougle couldn’t go to the doctor appointment with me this time, he came for his test. He was required to get some type of lung x-ray. We are thinking it was to test for TB, but aren’t sure! For his test, he had to step inside a narrow black box, with his chest up against the wall and his chin up. Then, he was asked to hold his breath when they closed the door. He did, for about 5 seconds, and then it was done. Total cost: 50 cents! Of course, then he had to go to a separate place to pay and bring the receipt back. Apparently the test would have been free, but we had gone to a clinic that was outside our region where we live. So, we paid an “out of region” fee for all our tests (all about 50 cents each).
For my tests, we had to go to several different rooms for each test. When we arrived at the room number, instead of having a list you sign your name onto, we just walked up to the crowd waiting around and asked who was next. Ok, WE didn’t ask, Ira did! ? Then we said we were next in line. As people showed up, they just asked who was next and that is how the line went. The first room was just a finger prick, to test for gestational diabetes. It was very interesting, as I watched her squeeze my blood into a glass dropper and then blow it out into a little container for holding blood. She also smeared some blood on two glass slides. After that, we went to another room, getting again in line. Here, I accidentally got confused at whom we were after in line and we went out of turn. Dougle was waiting in the hall at this point and said that someone started yelling at the man who let us in. They were yelling at him for letting us in when it wasn’t our turn, and he said he did because I was pregnant! Then the same lady yelled at us when we came out after they drew my blood for other tests. Oops. That was my mistake!
We went to another room to pay for that test, which was about $3 and our out of region fee. Then we went to get my cardio-gram. I am not sure how they are done in the United States, but this seemed like it might be different! But I am not a doctor and don’t know. I laid on a bed and rolled up my pant legs. She clamped two things on my legs and two clamps on my upper arms. Then she put suction cup things on my chest. After a few minutes, a machine spit out a print out of wavy lines all over it. We had to go to another room where the nurse told me it looked great, then to pay the fee, and then back to the original room to tell her my “normal” diagnosis from the other nurse and turn in my receipt! After that, we went to a different room to turn in my urine sample. Mine was the only one in a sour cream container. All the rest were in glass or plastic jars. Note to self for next time! It took from about 8am to around 10am to get all this done. Then we went to the doctor’s office (in the same building) and waited our turn in line, the same way that we’d done at all the other stops.
The doctor was very nice. Her nurse had all my files out and ready. She went through some paper work, asking about my previous delivery and about some family history, as well as giving us a form to fill out at home and bring back. It is in Ukrainian, which will be a challenge, since we’ve heard it is pretty different from Russian! I had my check-up and then they scheduled me for my next visit, two weeks later. The nurse also filled parts of a registration booklet about my pregnancy and visits so far (from the records in Moscow, as well as those here). So, now I have my official pregnancy registration, that I’ve been instructed to carry with me at all times! On the way out of the clinic, we had to stop by and get it stamped to show it was official!
Ahead of time Ira had called us and told us about customary “tip” that is given to the head doctor and my doctor. It was to say thank you for letting us go to their clinic, since I live out of region and am a foreigner. Ira said that doctors are toward the bottom end of the pay scale and don’t get paid very much here in Ukraine. So, customary tipping helps insure better service. Ira even brought some pink envelopes to put the money into (which was about $45 dollars for each). We gave these to the doctor and then left.
Overall, I had a good experience. The clinic there is pretty worn down; the building is old, 1/3 of the lights in the halls are burnt out, and the heating doesn’t work, so you have to wear your coat in the hallways. However, the exam rooms are warm, with electrical heating, and best of all, the doctors and nurses seem to be very friendly and helpful. We are happy with our pre-natal care so far!
Our next task: finding a doctor and hospital for delivery. We are going to Kiev this weekend (leaving Sunday on a 6 hour express train) to check out two private clinics there: a German clinic and American clinic. Then, we hope to be able to take my pregnancy registration documents I received at my last visit to the hospital here in Kharkov. We’ve heard several good things about it from several people, my OB-Gyn even commenting how it was the best here in the city. So, hopefully we will be able to do more question asking and look around next time we go in to check it out!
Thanks for all your prayers and encouragement as we figure this all out!