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Hi folks. So, I didn’t die from my strep throat experience, despite what my long absence may have led you to believe. I still think I could have used a proper antibiotic rather than an antibiotic spray, though; it took a long time to get completely better.

I’m finished with the kindergarten forever and ever! And at some point, now that my contract is over and I have all my money, I’m going to write about all the crappy things about it. I really loved the kids, and I really like teaching English, but the administration of that place is evil.

For the summer I’m working at a new language school that seems really nice so far. I’m teaching adults, which is a nice change of pace, and my schedule RULES! No more getting up at 6 a.m. every day. In general I have lessons from 11:00-1:30, and then from 7 p.m. to 9:30. I don’t mind getting home so late since I can sleep in, and I get a big chunk of time in the afternoon to run errands and do important things like study Swedish! Plus, since Kostia is also a language teacher with corporate clients, our schedules are more similar now. When I was working 9-5 and he was working most evenings, we hardly got to spend any waking hours together!

So, next week we’ll find out if our residence permits/student visas for Sweden have been approved. If they are (and we don’t anticipate any problems), in mid-August we will move to the small town of Falun to attend the unknown university of Dalarna. Why would we want to do such a thing, you ask? Because the programs are interesting (I’ll be studying European Political Sociology, Kostia linguistics), education is free (though we have to pay our own living expenses), and it’s a great opportunity to live in Sweden and see if it’s really the utopia we both think it is. So wish us luck on the residence permits.

The White Nights are great. The weather’s been really nice lately, though last week was pretty hot (30C) and Kostia almost died, but I didn’t mind too much. Aunt Kelly was back in town for a week and my Uncle Dennis came to run a half-marathon and to do some sightseeing. So I did some touristy stuff, which is good to do every once in awhile to be reminded of some of the facets of St. Petersburg you can forget when just living day-to-day life. Plus, Aunt Kelly was staying in a nice hotel and I got to take PROPER SHOWERS with HOT WATER. They say ours will be back on today, after three weeks, but I’m not holding my breath.

Contrary to my recent feelings of affection for St. Petersburg, yesterday was definitely an “I hate Russia” sort of a day. For one thing, it’s been cold and rainy for a week now. I mean, it’s June, and kids are wearing snowsuits, and even I’ve been wearing sweaters and knee socks.

For another, I’ve been home sick for several days with a sore throat. I was convinced this was strep throat, and that I just needed to see some kind of doctor so s/he could tell me which antibiotic to buy, since antibiotics are sold over the counter here. I usually go to an expensive private clinic called EuroMed, but it’s in my old neighbourhood and not convenient to get to via metro, and it also seemed silly to shell out thousands of rubles and then file all the claim forms to get partial reimbursement from my international health insurance when I already knew what was wrong and what I needed.

Because my work at the kindergarten is actually pretty much legal (rare for foreigners in the English-teaching field) I have work-sponsored medical insurance as well, which enables me to go to state clinics and hospitals for free – in the neighbourhood in which I am registered to live. For reasons too annoying to get into here, I am registered in a neighbourhood on the complete opposite side of the city. So I decided that in my weakened state, I didn’t want to go to seek out some scary unfamiliar clinic in a sleeping district even grimmer than mine.

I asked Kostia to call his doctor friend Yuri and see if he knew any GPs who make private house calls. He said he didn’t, but that we could come to his hospital and someone could take a look at me for a small unofficial “fee”. So, we took two marshrutkas across town to a scary unfamiliar hospital in a sleeping district even grimmer than mine, where we were greeted by Yuri and a homely but kind young nurse. We waited for a few minutes in an emergency room with several passed-out drunks, then got invited to wait in the staff lounge.

After a bit I got to see the doctor, whose bad enunciation made it even more difficult to understand the unfamiliar medical vocabulary he was using. As I sat down, I noticed a tray of rusty medical instruments, which he proceeded to use to poke around in my mouth. He even “sterilized” one by holding it next to a light bulb.

His determination: not strep throat. He recommended buying some sprays and vitamins that were pretty similar to the ones I’d already been using for several days with no improvement. Then he asked the nurse if I was hard of hearing. She said, “No, she’s American.” “Oh, that’s why she talks like that.”

Outside the hospital, in terrible pain, with a fever, and feeling that I’d been misdiagnosed by an idiot with dirty instruments and was no closer to getting the antibiotics I clearly needed even after this whole ordeal, I broke down crying. Kostia has no patience for this sort of irrational weeping, so it was all very very bad. I just wished for death to come and take me on the spot.

We flagged down a car and went home. To our apartment without any hot water. See, water is centrally heated in each municipality in Russia, and during the summer in big cities they shut the hot water off for several weeks at a time for what they claim is maintenance of the system, though it’s probably just to save money. (In smaller cities they just shut off the water for the whole summer.) And then this morning, we didn’t have ANY water, hot or cold, though the cold water came back on by midday.

Anyway, I do feel better this afternoon, so the doctor was right. Nonetheless, from now on I will ALWAYS go to a private clinic. Period. Even if I have to go broke for the most minor of illnesses. And I look forward to Swedish medical care.

About This Blog

I'm an American who started blogging when I moved to Russia in 2004. Eventually I moved to Sweden, where life is pleasant but uneventful, and stopped blogging for lack of interesting things to say. And then I joined Facebook, which further destroyed any motivation for blogging. Maybe someday I'll start blogging again, but for now, this blog is dormant, an archive of The Russia Years: 2004-2008.

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June 2006