Thursday, August 11, 2005

Mama told me there was a piece on pregnancy in last week's Zerkalo Nedeli, which, she said, I didn't have to read, not really.

"Just remember the main point: pregnancy isn't a disease, so there's no need to waste your time on doctors," she said.

I kept from reading the piece for two days, but today I've given up.

While, overall, I hate the author's style, I feel very grateful to her for tackling the subject I would've loved to tackle myself - but prefer not to. Or don't have the guts to. And feel somewhat jealous as a result. Because this is my type of story - to bitch about how nothing works in this part of the world, including the nominally free health care.

But to write about it, I'd have to subject myself to the system that millions of Russians and Ukrainians are content/discontented with - and I just can't.

I can't because now the situation is different from when I was getting a driver's license. If they yell at me and I yell back, the baby might be affected; if they decide to save money and use someone else's syringe on me, the baby might be affected; if they decide to make some money and tell me I have a condition I don't really have, a condition for which I'd have to buy some medicine from them (and they'd get a commission), the baby might be affected. Et cetera.

So fuck it. I'm totally happy to translate parts of the Zerkalo Nedeli story - and avoid going through hell to be able to pretend I'm still a journalist.

by Yekaterina Shchyotkina

[...] So, a pregnant woman for the first time enters the office of her district gynecologist: she's got joyous news - she's pregnant and intends to give birth to a healthy baby in a few months. But the doctor doesn't share her joy, for some reason, nor does he sympathize. That's life, of course, and he's not being paid for being delighted (in the months to come, you'll hear about his miserable salary more than once).

- I'll examine you, but I won't enter you into the database, - he says with a heavy sigh.

- Why not?

- You haven't got your passport with you, have you?

- No. I've come to a clinic, not police department.

I'll learn that there isn't much difference between the two soon.

- How would I know that it's you, not someone else, who lives at this address?

- Because I'm telling you so. Why would I lie?

The doctor sighs once more [...] and opens a large notebook that contains a list of all those who live in his district.

- But how would I know that you're who you say you are? - he asks.

I shrug and produce my press card that has my photo and last name on it. The police is usually quite content with it. But I'm not at the police department.

- But your address isn't here, - the annoyed doctor says.


He produces a heap of papers out of his desk drawer and gives it to me.

- Here, go make a copy and then run back.

- What's that?

- A medical card.

- Do I have to make a copy of it?

- Yes, what else do you expect? There are many of you, but there's only one card. Hurry up.

- Is there a Xerox machine at the clinic?

[...] - Are you kidding me, woman? Who's gonna bother buying a Xerox for the clinic?


[...] The atmosphere has affected me so much that I tried to answer the doctor's questions briefly and, where possible, negatively. No, it doesn't hurt - no problems, no complaints. [...]

- What, you don't work with a computer?

I admit I almost lied but realized that he wouldn't believe me. I was forced to say the truth.

- Don't do it [use a computer] again, - the doctor barked.

- Why?

[...] - Because.


Turns out that I'll have to take a syphilis blood test three time, HIV - twice, staph infection - twice. These tests take a rather long time, so if you don't hurry, it's easy to give birth before all the test are ready.

- What if I don't take the test three times? - I ask.

- Then you'll be giving birth in one room with various bums and drug addicts.


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