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Archive for August, 2009

Hippocrates has a lot to answer for. One generally credits him with being the father of the medieval muddle that is modern medicine. And that goes to show that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Leeches are back, so are various weeds and grasses; euthanasia- practised as economy by the Spartans- is now legitimized as sympathy. And every medical medium overlooks the beam in its own eye to pick at the mote in its neighbor’s.
Let me start by saying that contrary to popular opinion, Russian medicine is no more barbaric than American. Granted, that’s not saying much… But the medical situation falls in line with my general theory about countries and places of living: which is that every country has its own advantages and disadvantages, the choice lies in which problems one is ready to live with. In general, Russian doctors are more human… have less of a god complex… are more ready to accept or even suggest natural healing techniques… and are a thousand times cheaper. On the downside, some practised theories are ancient, equipment often more so, and medicine in general is way over-specialized.
My own experiences have been varied: after passing a required medical exam prior to working in a day camp 5 years ago, I vowed never again- much too painful and humiliating. In my opinion, gynecologists are the world’s curse. But I found an excellent doctor who got my thyroid in order (after the American doctor almost gave me a heart attack with a dose 4 times higher than necessary) and cleaned my gall bladder and liver. That is, pretty much par for the course: one man’s quack is another man’s guru.
But when it comes to children- that’s another story altogether. The circus that is children’s medicine has got to be seen to be believed. After suffering the indignities of the birthing process, surviving five days in a ghastly boring hospital room you bring your bundled child home- only to be visited every week by the doctor, and twice a week by the nurse, culminating in a series of check-ups at a month: the neurologist, orthopedist, surgeon, occulist, and an ultrasound of the hips and soft spots (oh, well, fontanels, whatever). Further monthly check-ups are complicated by a urine and blood analysis at 3 months (try getting a urine sample from a 3 month old- it’s a real barrel of laughs), along with another visit to the neurologist (can’t stand her, terribly brusque, totally non-communicative- and likes to make elephants out of flies, as the saying goes); a visit to the dentist at 8 months, a visit to the surgeon at 9 months, an EKG, visit to the dentist, the neurologist, the orthopedist, the surgeon, the occulist and the ear-nose-throat fellow at 11 months- and of course, one’s garden variety of vaccinations- or not, if one has prudently decided to skip them till a year.
These are the basics. Then come the complications. Massage and exercise from one month of age- every day. Walks, in any weather, beginning at an hour, and reaching 3 hours a day by the age of 3 months; in summer, the child is supposed to be out of doors no less than 4 hours a day. (One wonders where one is supposed to find those three hours a day, in between housework et al. «Well, you don’t have to do three hours at a stretch, you can go out three times a day, for an hour each.» Oh. That helps.) The temperature in the house should be 22 degrees, gradually working it down to 18. (That’s Celcius.) Bathwater must be measured, because you’re supposed to lower the temperature of the water by one degree each week till you reach 22 degrees. What does the child say at 6 months? Well, she’s not reading Dostoevsky just yet… They’re not amused.
I think that’s the main problem. They’re not amused. At all. At anything. Ever. No sense of humor. Ghastly people have no sense of humor. They take everything too seriously. When the neurologist told me that my one month old had a catastrophic lack of oxygen (say what?) and prescribed suppositories (WHAT? To improve her oxygen intake?) she was really taking herself much too seriously. Little did she know that the improvement she noticed at 3 months was due to me doing- NOTHING.
And somehow one has the feeling that these mini-Hippocrates are ever so slightly hypocritical; an ever so wee suspicion that someone is trying to keep himself busy and save his job….
Regardless, I now know that my maternity leave pay is not «Pass Go, collect $200». It’s a job as a minor official in a major burocracy.

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The more it rains tiddly-pum
the more it rains tiddly-pum
the more the waves tiddly-pum
are growing.
The water’s fine tiddly-pum
at half-past nine tiddly-pum
but not so fine tiddly-pum
when nooning.
One grows distressed tiddly-pum
when one’s well-dressed tiddly-pum
and rain is puddling tiddly-pum
one’s ankles
But what’s to do tiddly-pum
when you’re with Pooh tiddly-pum
And Foodle too tiddly-pum
en pocket.

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