interpreter and driver picked us up at 0800 to go to Ussyrisk to see Sweet Pea for the Tuesday morning we woke up bright and early to get ready and eat breakfast. The first time in 5 months. It is a 2-hour drive, longer depending on traffic and if your driver will only drive the speed limit.
When we arrived we met with Tatiana, the chief medical director for the baby home and another doctor who also works there. We were able to ask them any questions about Sweet pea. We had asked pretty much everything on our first trip, so I asked if there were any changes. There were. Sweet pea had had pneumonia and was hospitalized for 2 weeks in July. WHAT!?!? When she returned, they said she had lost some of her abilities, the things she could do. WHAT!?!? They said she was given breathing treatments and medicine at the baby home when she returned and some sort of electric therapy. WWWWHHAATTTT!?!? All I could think of is ECT given to psych patients. I usually do not play the “I’ve been a nurse for 20 years” card, but today was the day and followed it with WTF did you do to my baby? Ok, I said it in a nice way, technically she is still theirs, not ours yet. I said I was curious and asked to see the treatment. I could tell they thought this was odd, but agreed. So, we took a little walk back to 1974 and they showed me the nurse’s office. Turns out it is more of chest percussion with heat sort of thing to loosen up secretions. They also showed me an “antibacterial” machine that they sprayed stuff into the kids noses and throats- I know, I know all of these technical terms…I guess something was lost in translation. Our interpreter was pretty good, but I think some of the medical stuff stumped her.
Anyway, on to see Sweet pea. The baby home was being renovated, so the music room we used to visit with Sweet pea on the first trip was being used for childcare. We got to go to her gruppa. We got to see all of the babies and they were very interested in seeing some new faces come into the room. But, we only wanted to see one face, and there she was up front. I waved to her and she just looked at me. I think she somewhat remembered, but wasn’t quite sure. They picked her up and brought her over to us. She is so tiny. They claim she gained a kg and grew 5 cm. I don’t see it. Such a little peanut! I was also relieved to see she looked much better than I expected. They had also said she “would fall asleep while playing”. But she was alert when she was with us. She seemed to catch on after a few minutes…these are the people who tickled me and brought the good toys! They let us take her outside after we dressed her in another layer of clothes. Right, it’s only 72 degrees outside (Fahrenheit of course!). We pushed her around the grounds in a stroller for a little while before we took her out of it. We wanted to get our hands on her! The 3 of us, Clarisse, Joe and I took turns fighting over her…I mean holding her. She seemed much more comfortable. I brought out her favorite book from our first trip, a plastic bath book with big bird on it –from the dollar section at Target. What a deal!
We only got to stay for an hour and a half. Joe and I had to go to downtown Vladivostok to get our medicals. Even though we went and saw our own doctors twice in the past year to get all kinds of tests we did not need, you still have to repeat it here. They will at least accept our X-ray CD and copies of blood work results. Once we got downtown, just before we went into the building for the medical, the interpreter asked us if we had 30,000 rubles. From where? The ruble fairy? We just arrived in town yesterday. We did not have enough rubles. Luckily we did have enough money on us to exchange. We started running (literally) around looking for a bank. At this point I realized, I’m not really in such great shape anymore. I vaguely wondered if I had a heart attack on the street—would I flunk the medical? I made a pact with myself to start exercising more.
We found a bank, exchanged the money after waiting for 20 minutes and returned to the building the medical was in. As we were walking in, one of the doctors was walking out, she told us to hurry; they were getting ready to leave, as we were very late. We ran up the stairs (only 1 flight thank goodness) and into a large room, like a ballroom. It had a couple tables with people only at one of them- the doctors. They ushered us into the next room and there was one screen with a bed in front of it (for Joe) and behind it (for me). The interpreter told me to go behind and some guy followed me. He was talking in Russian and indicating to me to take off my shirt. Well, I almost did, but it occurred to me, I have no idea who this guy is or what he is saying. I was in a private exam area and I was reasonably sure he was a doctor, but you never know. The interpreter came over and confirmed it was ok. He did a quick exam, had me touch my fingers to my nose and looked at my back. He asked if I had scoliosis. No, I didn’t. I have had back pain and went to see my doctor about it last year. She took x-rays and said I was fine. She suggested getting a new mattress and doing back exercises (there’s that word again). I didn’t do either…but I might. I didn’t mention this to this doctor, but I did consider asking him if I could develop scoliosis by walking around airports for two days carrying a 25# carry-on bag and sleeping sitting up.
We headed back to the hotel after that and had dinner at the Vlad Inn. They have pretty good food. Then we crashed! We have not conquered the time change yet, asleep by 6:30pm. The best part about that is, you’re up and wide-awake at 3:30am. We really only have 2 channels here, the British BBC and an Australian one. Sometimes there are others, depends on the satellite, it makes for a long night.