Tuesday, August 08, 2006

If my mother could blog, she'd probably blog about this now:

There are two night-shift nurses for 50 or so people in the neurology department. Two nurses for fifty or so elderly people recovering from strokes and other such things.

This is a busy summer. Normally, they don't have so many people at this time of the year.

There's a bunch of women staying at the hospital overnight - Dekabristki, as my mother calls them, because they're staying with their husbands - for no other reason but to accompany them to the bathroom for a pee during the night - because the stupid men wouldn't do it into a banochka, a can next to their bed, and there are only two nurses on duty at night.

My mother doesn't know where Dekabristki sleep during the night, whether there're couches for them somewhere or something, but she thinks it's a good thing they are allowed to, because it was different in the Soviet times - like, once, when I was 2 and got sick, they only let her stay at the hospital with me after she threw a major fit.

My mother takes meals to my father twice a day. Kontraktova Ploshcha, two or three subway stops from us, still the center of Kyiv, no problem, she tells me.

Since yesterday, father's appetite is back, thank God. She made fish soup for him today, but when she got to the hospital, he wasn't hungry anymore, because they'd given him some mannaya kasha (oh boy, how do I translate that?..) - but she'll take the fish soup with her tomorrow again; she can't leave it at the hospital because there's no way to warm it up there.

She buys all medication herself - everyone does. She oversees all the injections they administer to my father - many people do. Today, she missed both of his antibiotics shots, though, and is very nervous: if you don't stand over the nurse, she may steal the medicine and resell it to someone else later. Inject water instead. This particular drug is considered expensive, my mother told me: 8 hryvnias ($1.6) per capsule. So she does have reasons to be nervous. She is not paranoid, no: even the nurses understand her - they would've done the same, a few have already told her.

Nurses get 5 hryvnias ($1) after each shot from my mother. When she had to ask the night-shift nurses to keep checking on my father, she entered their room and gave each one 10 hryvnias ($2) - placed the bills into their pockets. She did the same with the ambulance doctor and his assistant on Friday - 20 hryvnias to each one ($4), into the pockets of their white gowns, as they were helping my father into the elevator. This was gratitude, though, not a request.


  1. If I remember mannaya kasha, it's exactly the same as the english/american "cream of wheat".

  2. You and your family are in my thoughts. It wasn't so long ago when I stood watch in the hospital feeling helpless. I'll send a prayer up.

  3. In British English I think they call it semolina porridge (learned that from working in the British Kindergarten), but yeah, to me it's Cream of Wheat.

    Reading about medical experiences in former Soviet countries always makes me sad and angry. I don't know about Ukraine, but Russia could certainly afford to put some of its oil money toward the disaster that is public health care here.

    Best wishes to your dad and mom.

    (BTW, Marta looks cuter than ever!)

  4. as someone who just got out of the hospital with her young son, I am so sorry you guys have to go though all this and live with that kind of dread.

    In America, we just live in dread of the bills and collections agencies that will be after us after every hospital visit! Even though we are insured, we have to remind some people of that and basically do their jobs for them. But at least he gets good care at the time from very professional doctors and nurses...

  5. Very sorry to hear about your dad. And pray for the best - good news about getting his appetite back. Have no G rated words to say about the medical /social support system in Ukraine. Pets get better treatment in Western vet hospitals. It sucks royally.