Well today we got our first look at the medical system in Russia, nothing serious just a medical examination that is required as part of the school enrollment process. I tell you sending kids to school over here is not cheap, just be thankful for the system we have in New Zealand, I'll tell you about the full cost of it in another post, and then there are all the add-ons that are required, like enrollment fee, Parent council contributions and of course the costs of the obligatory medical tests that are required to be undertaken on the kids.
I decided that it would be best to go with the American Medical Centre for this testing as although they are more expensive (approx $250 per child) they are more likely to have all the specialists available on the day and can speak English, which I thought would be a big bonus when they are trying to tell you what unpleasant things they are about to do to your kids.... although in hindsight maybe not knowing would be best...
Anyway we find the clinic no problem at all, thanks to judicious study of Google Maps before hand which enabled me to work out best direction to exit the train and which exit to head for, so it would be easy to find, it can be so confusing at some of these Metro stations with multiple exits even at a station you know, so I always try and research new ones before I hit them.
At the medical centre we fill in all the forms, sign our life away and give them full access to our hard earned cash via our credit card, (as our slack as employers haven't got around to sorting out medical insurance yet...). We take our seat in the waiting room and 5 minutes later a doctor appears, now that never happens in New Zealand.... I was lead to believe that the process for the "Form 026" was about a 10 minute process where we sat down with a doctor answered some questions and they signed our forms took our money and all parties were happy. Well that must have been lost in translation, as this was a full on medical examinaton that required testing done by about 8 -10 different specialists, luckily it seemed the doctor we got could cover all but 2 of those on his own. He explained what was required including a blood test, urine test and stool sample, which promptly sent the kids into a spin as they like all kids have a huge hatred of anyone who tries to stick them with a needle, although luckily we did ascertain that it wasn't a full on suck it out of your arm test but a prick your finger and squeeze test.
So starting with Jimmy, he asks (in a real stero-typical Russian accent), "so Shimmy, do you like Russia?" to which Jimmy replies "No", then in what sounded just like something out of Borat, he says "Russia, good country", now not sure whether he was actually serious here or just taking the p*^% (as I have not heard a single Russian yet speak any good of the Fatherland). He goes through all the ear, nose, blood pressure tests for Jim, then heads out to get a nurse (we presummed) as next thing a nurse in her "Hello Kitty" outfit appears in the room, starts gathering up bits and pieces all with no introduction, then comes over and sits next to Jimmy with what was obviously the gear for the blood test. She grabs his hand chooses a finger washes it and pricks it, at which moment both kids erupt in howling tears, was more the shock of not realising what she was about to do more than anything. She looks at Molly and says "Why you cry ?", which by then Molly realises is stupid so she is laughing, with tears rolling down her face now at poor Jimmy who is still howling. Doctor Borat tries to soften him up by telling him "Shimmy be big man".
Next is Molly, who luckily remembered she had a blood test done at home less than 6 months ago, so she is hoping we can get hold of those results and save her having her finger pricked (thank God neither of them are diabetic....), again she does all the standard tests, then due to her age has to undergo an EKG. Doctor Borat asks her how she finds Russia, to which she replies "Boring", then after explaining to him what boring is, he replies "Russia, fun country" ala Borat, so now I am pretty sure he is just taking the p$^%. Well I am not that accustomed to medical procedures, but the piece of equipment the nurse rolled into the room looked like it was from about 1950, a machine with a whole lot of cords hanging off it 4 with big alligator clip type things and the rest with these suction cups hooked up to them. (I am sure in NZ they just have sticky pads which stick to your chest and they attach the wires to them.....) After finally getting Molly to get on the bed and take her top off, the nurse attaches her to the machine, by which time Molly was in a real state, the machine was going crazy, the nurse was looking concerned , Doctor Borat came back in and he was looking concerned, although they could still make some joke about it, finally Moo calmed down, the machine levelled out, nurse was happy, Doc was happy so they got their printout and let her free. He gives me a prescription for treatment of a throat and nose condition we didn't even know she had, and tells us that we have to come back tomorrow to see the Paediatrician and Opthamologist, as well as bring back the urine samples, (luckily no mention this time of the stool sample...), so an hour after we started we were on our way, about $500 lighter.
While this does seem like a lot to go through to start a school over here, it forms the baseline for their ongoing medical testing carried out regularly throughout their schooling here by the school nurse, now there is something we could pick up on in New Zealand.