Monday, November 9, 2009

Cat Diapers and Surgical Thread...

Today when Lyalya was trembling and cold, dirty and soiled, the doctor asked me, "So why didn't you bring any diapers for him?"

EXCUSE ME? They wouldn't provide him with a diaper if he needed it? Lord knows, we've paid for everything else! His care has added up little by little, every day... In seemingly small amounts that now total around $2,000... Don't you think they'd realize "I'd have been good" for the charge for a diaper?!

Had they told Amina to buy some while I was away, she would have done so immediately!

This incident ended up teaching me a whole lot about Russian medical care in general, though. I hadn't thought much about it this morning was I was told to buy a certain medicine for Lyalya and bring it back this evening, along with a certain type of food.

Well, it turns out that this is how things work in both veterinary clinics AND hospitals. The family needs to buy the medicine from pharmacies and bring it back to the hospital. There are Western "upscale" hospitals that are different, but they are the rare exception to the practice. As soon as I brought this up to Russian friends, I was been told the most outrageous stories:

Families having to scrounge for sheets and blankets when a relative ends up in the hospital... At least that way, you know they're clean... (Anyone remember the story about how Olympian Victor Petrenko scrounged for medical supplies and sheets when an American figure skater got injured competing in Russia back in the eighties?)

Having to go all over the city trying to find medications the sick person desperately needs, then rushing back to the hospital.

Having to provide meals for the sick person... Can you imagine being in the waiting room, torn up with worry, and having to also think about what to feed them?

Having to procure supplies necessary for actual surgeries! Our nanny told us how her brother flew from South Ossetia to Moscow and back to buy THREAD and medicine on the black market before their mother could have life-saving surgery back in 1991. Granted, that was during a very difficult time in the country's history, but such cases still do occur. (Well, maybe not for thread, but for other necessities...)

So... It does put the whole "cat diaper" thing into perspective... You wouldn't expect an animal's care to be more streamlined/up to Western standards than a person's... Even when Lyalya's care has cost more than the total price of all four major operations our nanny's mom has had... And if Lyalya's care had been better, if his diaper had just been provided? That might paint an even sadder picture of society these days...


Annie said...

It is so interesting how medical care varies place to place. My friends from Burundi told me that if someone there is in hospital, the family does everything - has to be there to stay with the patient and do all the nursing, provide food, etc. It is just a place to be to be close to the doctor, I guess.

I'd surely never thought to bring cat diapers! Never knew they existed!

Tina in CT said...

Heaven forbid if any of you are seriously ill while you are still living there. Another thing I worry about.

I so remember when Victor helped out the American figure skater and how he would load up with medical supplies to bring back to the USSR when he was outside the country competing or touring.

Nothing beats home in the USA.

Anonymous said...

hope lyalya get better soon.i faced similar thing recently with my cat at PFU veterinar clinic.they charged us too much and keep asking us to come back again for more test that seem useless but they said "life threatening" if didnt do so..typical russian people..try to squeezed out every penny u have.
hang in there!

Jojo, Julz, Julianne said...

Please tell us that if someone in your family required medical attention you would have the option to go to a Western clinic??
I can't imagine but glad you shared this story. (makes me feel less sad that I am not there)

garnet said...

Yes, this sounds familiar. Though I can't say that I know of animal hospitals in Romania (or even if there are any), I remember that when my father-in-law was in the hospital food and other supplies had to be brought to him. And they make you stay so long there.