Two weekends ago, I spent the weekend in the Ukrainian children’s hospital #8. Andre had been waking up in the night with a weird barky cough, and I thought it’d just go away because during the day he was fine, save for a stuffed nose.
Not so. So Saturday-into-Sunday-am night, he woke up in the night with that cough, a high fever, and fast, loud breathing. We decided to call the ambulance-doctor.
A lot of people use that here because the medical service is free (the medicines are not). The doctor came and said he had “stenosis” which is stricture of the breathing ways (or something like that) and was in the first stage of pneumonia. He gave him a shot and that helped, and called the ambulance to take us to the children’s hospital.
I decided that I would stay with Andre and take Una, too, as Vitaliy had a baptism that morning. The doctor also said Una sounded bronchitis-y, too, so she also should be treated.
The ambulance personnel came, got us down into the ambulance, put Andre on a stretcher in the back and I sat back there with Una, too, and one ambulance guy. We road to the hospital. It was dark and cool. A long drive, too.
We stood outside the door in the night, the guys ringing or knocking, and someone came to let us in.
Then I sat with them both in the receiving room where a doctor checked them both again. Weighed them, looked in their throats, listened to their breathing. This all took maybe an hour.
They then took us in the ancient, huge elevator up to the fourth floor (infections).
We were put in a room with 2 other mom-baby pairs. One baby was 2 months, the other 5 months. The moms were really nice and chatty and helpful, not overly so, as everyone in the room also needed sleep and stuff.
Here are some day-time pictures.
There was a sink in the room. The toilet was out in the hall, for everyone. The furniture was 4 adult beds, 4 cribs, 4 nightstands, and a general table (in the photo below).
Then we had Sunday, our first day. I was pretty tired from the night action. But hey, nothing like a 3yo and curious 1yo to keep someone awake :)
I decided to let Una crawl around on the floor in the room. I think this was a bit shocking maybe, culturally, but the alternative was trying to keep her up on the bed when she was constantly trying to get off the bed. It was OK.
I was given this list of meds to buy (see photo below), so Sunday am, while Andre was still sleeping, I slinged Una on, and the nurses told me to walk down the street a bit to find the pharmacy. And they told me that the second one (they are side by side) was much cheaper, so try there first.
Very helpful personnel! In the photo, the top half is stuff for Una and dosages/times to give, and the bottom half is the same for Andre. I later went to talk to a nurse to make sure I understood when to give everything. It was rather mind-boggling. One thing a half hour before food for Andre, then 15 minutes before food, then 10 minutes after food. Then some it didn’t matter. Then some 2 x’s a day for Una and 3 x’s a day for Andre. Wow. I later understood that this list was to hold us through the weekend until the main doctors got there.
The janitor lady also showed me around–the toilet, food (a little kitchen on the small floor where you got your breakfast and lunch (they didn’t have dinner). It was cream of wheat or soup usually.
I realized we were all waiting for Monday. Monday is when the 2 main doctors came in and they did all the analyses (blood, urine, stool, ultrasounds).
Then there was the regime of the hospital. They gave each child shots in the bottom morning and evening. As we were leaving Monday, we figured out they’d been giving Una the antibiotic shots that should’ve been for Andre … but oh well! “It’s because of Russia,” the doctor joked.)
Sunday afternoon, Vitaliy came with the girls and we went out for a walk and dinner with all the kids just on our street. Vitaliy asked if we could go home because it was kinda crazy trying to keep two little kids in that room. They said we could sign the papers rejecting their care and go to a private clinic for all the tests, or if I wanted to wait there, they’d do all the testing for free on Monday morning. So we decided to wait.
Sunday evening, we (all the moms) were given plastic jars to collect the test specimens for Monday lab–anal swab, urine, and stool. I didn’t get stool for either or urine for Una, but by that time, I didn’t really care and figured they’d have enough to work with, with their blood tests.
By the end of Monday morning, the children were traumatized: We did shots, then blood draws, then ultrasounds of their internal organs, and nebulizer breathing.
Then the doctors came around. The head doctor and other guy. They were both fairly gregarious and looked over all the kids in the room, chatting with the moms, etc. One gave a small lecture about feeding children, and that was interesting.
(Did you know that the profession of pediatrics was developed in response to the invention of formula feeding in the 1800s? They helped determine food dosages.)
Then we all waited for analyses to talk to the doctors again.
Vitaliy came early afternoon, we talked to the guy, and he told us what antibiotics to buy, deleted most of what the first list had said, and just to give them a make-you-cough syrup on there.
So we were driving home, and deciding to give antibiotics or not. And all things considered (test results, chat with the doctor, the kids’ conditions), we decided not, but we immediately started nebulizer treatments and 2 syrups, modified diet. And they were well in about 3 days.
The hospital was a fine experience. I got the feel of that soviet, being-in-the-system feel, and I also got to get out of it when it didn’t serve me any more(American? assertive husband? confident in giving care myself?).
The personnel were nice to me (and mostly pretty nice to the Ukrainians, too).