Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Crazy Town

Oh Boy, just when I think Mongolian doctors can't get any stupider, they go and outdo themselves!

After several days of trying, I finally got my chest X-ray. I'm happy to report that I DO NOT have TB. Thanks to all of you who were praying. Please keep praying as I still have somewhat of a cough and now Abi and Kenny are sick with the same thing.

I always get a kick out of the Mongolian medical system, to say the least. Today was a real hoot and I just had to blog about it as it had "blog material" written all over it.

So, I get to the hospital around 10 am and get in line in front of the x-ray room door. Now, for those of you familiar with lines in Mongolia you're already groaning. I don't know why people even bother lining up here; it's not like it means anything.

Anyway, I stood in line for almost an hour, waiting for the dr, as she was off somewhere, probably helping God rule the universe, cause we all know He can't to squat without her help.

Since lines don't mean anything, I worked my way up to the front (first time I've ever done this, btw. I'm way too polite for my own good. But today I was in a hurry and people were cutting in front of me left and right. ) then in true dumb tourist manner started fidgeting with my cell phone, listening to music etc, acting like I had no clue about what was going on. This always fools them because they don't want to argue with someone who can't understand them. Little do they know I can understand everything they say to me and about me. Makes it interesting.

Anyway, the dr came back and about 5 people followed her into the room, including me. She told everyone to get out. Again, I play dumb foreigner and stay in until it's my turn. All the while they're doing X-rays right there. One lady sat next to the X-ray machine the whole time nursing her baby! Now, I'm no expert but, that can't be good, can it?

I finally get a hearing with her majesty and establish that I need a chest X-ray to determine if I have TB. (they don't do the under-the-skin thingy on adults here.)

Let me backtrack a second. Sometimes people here are really mean to me. Sometimes I just take it with a grain of salt and sometimes I just chock it up to racism. But I realized that me being a foreigner was only part of the problem, today. The main problem is that I did not have in my possession, the coveted and much-worshiped "health notebook", that has recorded in it all dr visits since the I was a baby. All Mongolians have them and if you don't have one, you must ...GASP, pay cash for your dr visit. Oh, the scorn, as I have not one of these flimsy little books. They didn't know what to do with me. So finally, after being ignored for about 30 minutes (the communist system was starting to give me hives) I spoke up and told the good doctor (yeah right) that I didn't have a health notebook but I was prepared to pay cash. They motioned me in and told me in hushed tones that it was going to cost 3,000 tugrugs (about $2.50) I paid.

The dr lady (as in dragon lady) barked at me to take off my bra so I move to a part of the room that had fewer people and start to maneuver my way out of my bra underneath my shirt. Thank GOD I was wearing a newish bra and not a old, fugly nursing one.

I was told to come back an hour later for the picture and expert's opinion. I walked home, made a smoothie with the kids then Nate and I walked back to get the results. We got the picture and went into the expert's office. I use that term lightly. Very lightly.

We walked in and there were about 5 male dr's and 3 of them were smoking. I could already tell is was going to be an enlightening experience, as I could also smell some alcohol in the air (not the rubbing kind).

I sat down and the "expert" asked me where my translator was. I told him I'd been living in Darkhan almost 10 years and wouldn't be needing one. He asked where I was from and I told him America. He looked at my x-ray and scribbled something on a piece of paper and shoved it at me and told me nothing was wrong (I could see the x-ray was clear, too). By this time the smoke was getting to me and I was barely able to talk, I just kept choking back coughs. I cleared my throat and said sarcastically, (I can't help it!) "Are you sure it's ok to smoke in a hospital?" That got their attention. The "expert" told me that they were "great doctors", all of them and in Mongolia great doctors did what they wanted. He proceeded to tell me that I knew nothing and I should not criticize them. Now let me tell you, there were posters all over that wing of the hospital showing what smoking did to the lungs. It was a total Napoleon Dynamite moment, where you just wanna go "Gosh, friggin idiot!"

I looked the "expert" square in the eye, crumpled up his note and walked out. I'm still shaking my head.