Tuesday, May 5, 2009

No Cookies for Me

The new little cat is in heat. It's made her very chatty. Thankfully, she's not yowling, minx-like or shouting the feline equivalents of "Fuck meeeeeeeeee!" It's more like the patter of a Patpong hostess: "Hey G.I. Five dollar, five dollar?"

The kids are getting fed up.

The Spouse, Cat-O, and I all slept with our hands over our ears last night, huddled in our bedroom as she did cat antics all around the house, commencing around 0300. She had a bead or some little piece-of-plastic-kid-toy and moused it all around the apartment, stopping now and then to chirp, "Five dollar? Five dollar?"

My own gynecological adventures took an interesting turn this morning when I arrived at the clinic across the street for my Annual Look-See.

While I never embrace this event as something great fun, I had as good a time as can be had when I used to visit my doctor in Vienna. That office was feng shui-ed and aromatherapy-ed within an inch of its life. Smelled of oranges. There were always cookies, GOOD cookies, in the waiting room. And the nurse/receptionist, a pretty young woman who embodied all the characteristics of a Great Girlfriend, would offer you tea.

The first time I went there, it was so unexpectedly nice that I cried.

My office of choice here is okay. Mostly it is okay because it is across the street, and they offer not only an OB/GYN, but dentists, an orthodontist, a general practitioner, and now they even have a shrink. It's a French office, although they speak Russian and English there, too.

The GYN I saw there last year was a man, one of the owners. He was professional and competent. But he lacked charm and humor. Charm and humor are qualities I require of people to whom I am about to show my goodies. But maybe that's just me.

So when I called last week to schedule a visit, I was not at all sorry when the receptionist on the phone scheduled me with what sounded like a woman. Although I had had a very Soviet encounter with a woman GYN at another clinic shortly after arriving in Moscow, I was willing to take my chances with this roll of the dice.

Long story short: she was very nice. Sweet. Kind and gentle. My age even (always a plus lately . . . I prefer someone who understands the hormonal roller coaster ride that is the late 40s).

But she doesn't speak a word of English.

She speaks French and Russian.

So I had to mentally thrash around trying to find the words I needed in French. I can do the OB/GYN in Spanish. Skittles was born in Argentina, and my doctor there spoke no English. But I hadn't ever done this in French.

She spoke slowly and clearly. But I couldn't remember how to say things like "worse." (I could only remember "better.") And I got all tangled up in numbers.

Her: "How many days since your last period?"


I finally had to just point at her calendar. I was hopeless.

Everything under the hood checked out, but I didn't even try to cover topics like
"Am I slowly losing my mind?"
"Is it normal to burst into tears without provocation?"
"Is it me? Or is sex not quite as much fun anymore? I'm not doing anything differently."
"Why can't I stop scratching?"

Actually, I did venture into the itchy skin discussion, and we determined that it is not hormonal as I still have plenty of those. But the best we could come up with is maybe I should check with the GP about that. Or just bear with Moscow's famously hard water. Or moisturize more.

The bill for my morning's entertainment? I thought they said "2,000 rubles" at the front desk, so I started to pull out cash. The receptionist, sensing she had not communicated, turned the receipt around for me.

12,375 rubles. That's $375 at today's rate of exchange. Itemized it was as follows:

Consultation: 5,400 rubles/$166
Gynecological ultrasound: 3,600 rubles/$109
Pap test: 2,700 rubles/$82
Some other culture I don't recognize: 675 rubles (and a bargain at that $20.50)

I know it's not fair to compare markets, but I used to pay my Austrian guy 80 euros plus another 12 euros or so for the lab work.

Cookies included.


hka said...

That is actually quite a ridiculous price, even at the EMC they made me pay less!!!
And I also had MAJOR problem with itchy skin the whole winter, all over my upper body, unbearable - if you're ever interested, more in an email.

Margarita said...

Hi Miss Ann. I'm Margo from expat.ru
I'm really shocked with this bill. May be next time you can ask somebody on the forum and even have somebody to help you with translation as I guess all qualities of that gentle woman didn't earn that much for her work.

Margarita said...

Itching is quite normal during winter time as the air is very dry due to heating inside and cold outside. So really use moisturizing creams.

Tina in CT said...

Why don't you go to the European Medical Center? Doesn't your insurance cover those fees?

Are you planning to have a liter of kittens at some point? A suggestion - board the cat while she's in heat this week to escape the noise and antics.

Just checked weather.com and it looks perfect for my visit this week. Bags are packed and my last minute list includes a manicure and dinner from a close friend for my birthday.

The Expatresse said...

Yes, thankfully, my insurance will cover the fees.

I don't go to EMC because it's not across the street. (And I've never been before, so I'm a chicken about new places.)

I did try SOS and hated them. They were even MORE expensive. That's where I had the brute lady GYN. She charged me a fortune, ran all sorts of tests, and then never returned my calls nor contacted me with any results.

Luna said...

Me thinks you got the "Expat Rate." Come to Armenia. It's cheap and exciting! Yikes! Big hairy agressive Armenian doctor who barks at you? You know you want it! No cookies, though.

Nevertheless, even at an "expat rate" think how much cheaper it is than in the States! (If you weren't to have insurance.)

Maybe it's time to take Crooky to the kitty OB/GYN.

The Expatresse said...

Oh, sure it's the "expat rate." This is what they charge for a native speaker (except I should have gotten a discount on that today) and Western decor.

Re: Crooky. Already spoke to vet. I'm to call back in 7-10 days when she's done for immediate "fixing."

The Expatresse said...

I do have to pay and then my insurance reimburses me. Thank goodness for Visa.

Tone said...

Try 22,000 rubles for an ultrasound.........

Susan said...

you are too funny!

valentina said...

Not being up on the European exchange rates this lost a tad in the translation for me but for you to have to have this all done in French is a real nuisance. It is amazing that you can do this in several languages! Glad your insurance will pay for this It seems REALLY expensive but I guess it would cost as much here without insurance...

And the answer to all of those questions about crying, fuzzy mind and sex drive diminishing is yes, welcome to perimenopause as you make the great slide into full fledged menopause. All of these changes are real and annoying as are the hot flashes, interrupted sleep and general moodiness.

So get used to it and warn your family that you maybe "touchy," (was the expression used in my family for hyper sensitive and wont to cry at the word boo...)But it does pass and get better. At least over the next 10 years you'll notice a difference!!!

All of this may come earlier for you as you have born kids. I didn't enter the gate until I was about 52 and am still hovering on the edge at 57. I still have fuzzy brain and night sweats etc... But it is all fading sort of. The fuzzy brain I accept is part of aging in general. My friend Suz calls this CRS syndrome. "Can't Remember Shit."

So welcome to the final stages of the built in obsolescence of our repro system!

And poor poor little Crooky.

Don't you all keep a pack of those little foamy ear plugs in your medicine cabinet?

Brava about the flowers. Mom's Day and Dad's day are the 2nd Sunday of May and 3rd Sun. of June respectively! I am sure it is confusing with the Russian/European changes!

Anyhow your mom got flowers and Ron's mom will soon! You are such good kids! I hope Ron gets you flowers too! xov

The Flip Side. . .Or Maybe Not said...

Holy Cow! That's one expensive doctor's visit! I don't pay even half of that in Manila. And I love my doctor...Great post. I just dread the yearly exams. Reminds me, mine is coming up.

Louise said...

You forgot to mention that the Austrian guy was (according to you) good looking and you didn't mind him poking around in the bushes and massaging your wobbly bits ! You never mentioned the cookies to me.

The Expatresse said...

I cannot tell a lie . . .

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