Sunday, July 4, 2010

Unexpecting the expected

I recently decided to blog once a week on Sundays. Now here I am on Sunday and I'm not sure what to write. It's not that I don't have anything to blog about. I'm just not sure that I have the right words today.

I actually came up with a gimmick for a fun entry last week (which is now postponed), but then came Friday. I went for a jog around 9 PM (it stays light until about 10:30 PM these summer days). I was planning on laying low for the evening. Reading. Maybe watching a movie. I made salad for dinner with the other American, Emma (who is living here until August). Yulya, my hostess, and the two kids - Tanya and Gosha - had already gone to bed.

Then Yulya woke up to use the bathroom and fainted. The subsequent events led to a call to the Moscow paramedics.

I don't want to go into too much detail because 1) it's an invasion of Yulya's privacy and 2) I really just don't feel like recounting the whole evening. But there are nevertheless a few bloggable details.

But first, I should say that Yulya is fine. Whatever happened was a combination of stress, fatigue, and either food poisoning or some kind of stomach bug. The combination of factors just didn't mesh well together Friday night.

I now have an interesting inside perspective on Russian paramedics and medical practices. In Russia you dial 03 for an ambulance or skoraya pomosch 'speedy help'. Well, the 'speedy help' isn't so speedy. They arrived about 40 minutes after receiving the phone call. And it isn't actually an ambulance in the sense we're familiar with, that is: a vehicle that transports sick people to the hospital. Instead people come to treat you in your home (and presumably take you to the hospital if it's severe).

So, about forty minutes after we called 'speedy help', two guys arrived who looked - I kid you not - like mechanics. They strutted in speaking gruff, slang-y Russian (from what I could understand, which is less than I care to admit...), wearing slightly tattered dark blue scrub-like uniforms and plopped down in my room where Yulya was laying on the couch. They proceeded to simultaneously ask questions about Yulya's condition and marvel at the strange Americans in the apartment. I really felt like a bear in a zoo the way they stared at us and asked questions and made inappropriate jokes while poking and prodding at Yulya. I managed to get some questions in myself amidst the barrage of questions directed at us Americans. I found out that Russian paramedics have training at a level between that of doctors and nurses. There's a special designation for them: feldsher, which is borrowed from German and translates as something like 'doctor's assistant' or 'male nurse' (which, in typical Russian fashion, ranks higher than a "female" nurse). The paramedics were here for maybe an hour and in the end prescribed Yulya a series of medications (out of which I only recognized one).

Yulya told us later that the service was stellar in comparison to what is typical for Russian paramedics. Apparently they were putting on a show for the Americans.

So, it wasn't the most pleasant Friday evening, but everything turned out OK, and now I know a bit more about what to expect if there's ever another emergency. Which I hope there's not.

My plan to have an "eyes wide open" frame of mind here in Russia is proving difficult... and necessary.


Christine said...

I'm glad you're plowing through with the blogs. I love them. I found this one particularly enlightening. It also makes me hope you don't need any medical attention while in Moscow. Yikes!

patentexaminer said...

I've tried to comment twice and misentered my info. Here it goes again: WOW! That's unreal! Thank goodness you were there, no? Would her (young???) children have had to deal with it were you not there? I really can't believe it took 40 minutes. Sometimes three minutes is too late. I've saved TWO people from choking (as I love to remind people) and I know if things went wrong, 40 minutes would've been too long.

Julia M. said...

Thanks for commenting! And sorry for following up so slowly. It's hot here. I know it's hot there too. But that's my excuse anyway. I'm sluggish.

Last weekend feels like a million years ago now (which is a good thing, I guess). I agree that it was lucky we were here (we Americans), since her partner Andrey is gone for the month at the dacha 3 hours away from Moscow.

And if I need medical attention, I'm using American facilities. I just need to verify where they're located...