Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Doctors and Dentists

Prior to leaving Ukraine with the children, it is required that the children have full physical exams, blood work, x-rays, the whole gamut.  Their records were put into sealed envelopes...and when I use the word "sealed", I mean glued shut with a seal where the flaps meet.  Those envelopes were given to the embassy, never to be seen again.

I did receive Ruslan's chest x-ray which was carefully packed and brought home with us along with their immunization records which are, of course, incomplete according to US standards.  There was only his x-ray because he has metal pins in his rib cage.  He was shocked to realize they were there and decided immediately that he was "Bionic Man" since he was made of metal.  We've had a good laugh about that and continue to tease him over his bionic-ness.  He absolutely loves the attention and since he's so skinny and frail compared to his American familial counterpart (strapping young Chris who is now taller than his mother and just about as strong as his dad), it gives him a sense of strength.  :)

I wasn't really happy to know that there would not be any health information coming home with us than just the immunizations and that one x-ray.  However, there is a lot of comfort in the fact that our favorite pediatrician will be the one to give us all of that information now that we're home.  Tomorrow is the day we visit him and Nastia is especially dreading catching up on her immunizations.  Because of Marsh's experience with the healthcare in Russia and Ukraine, we are sure Nastia has more anxiety than is necessary now that she lives in America.  She described having to lie on a table and receive many shots when she arrived at the orphanage.  It was terribly scary for her and without her mother there to comfort her, I'm sure it was that much worse.  We have tried to assure her that it will be better here and tonight she told us she wasn't going to cry when she got her shots.

 (Once again, if you are an adoptive family, don't hesitate on the health insurance.  It is only now that we are able to go see our pediatrician because I waited until the second week to get that ball rolling!)

Marsh wishes we had weighed and measured the kids as soon as we got home so we could see what one month here might have done for them.  I know Nastia has gained weight and Ruslan's bicep actually has muscle and definition now (thanks to carrying water buckets to animals twice a day and working out with his new big brother).  This bicep definition is not something he cares to hide, of course.  Quite often we have received a very proud showing of the weekly improvement.  :)


Yesterday, Chris had his wisdom teeth removed.  This created quite a stir among all the children.  Since then, there has been a lot of focus on teeth and tonight, flashlights were used by younger siblings to check out Chris' battle scars.  He is doing remarkably well, but has still had to recuperate and is careful when he eats his mashed potatoes, ice cream and yogurt.

Nastia has watched with concern as he has been dealing with all of this.  Sometimes the look on her face seems to show that she is hurting for him.

Then, tonight I made a major momma boo-boo. 

She had curled up on the couch and put her head on my lap, happily resting in her PJ's after their first soccer game win.  She was showing off her just-brushed teeth, so I took the opportunity to use one of those handy flashlights to check out what was going on in there...something I hadn't done yet.  As far as I can tell, she has about six cavities, all of which are visible and one that looks like the entire tooth will need to be removed.

Now, I may seem like an irresponsible parent for having waiting so many weeks to take a look inside her mouth and if you feel like it, go ahead and judge me.  But, this is one of those cases where you've got to walk a mile in someones moccasins before you can start passing judgment.  I know that if I were not the one traversing these waters, I'd probably think I was either irresponsible or lazy, so have at it.  It's tempting to go on with my way-too-long list of reasons why I haven't done that yet, but let's just say that if you've never lived on a farm while homeschooling eight children (two of whom don't speak your language) during harvest time while adjusting to two children from another country while they adjust, too, you might want to slip those moccasins on for a minute and come on down...

So, back to my boo-boo.  After taking a good long look all around in her mouth, I made the monstrous mistake of telling her that it looked to me like she had six cavities.  (Honestly, it could be more.)  She curled up in a ball and just burst into tears. 


Chris tried to comfort her by showing her how well he's doing and reminding her that his surgery was just yesterday.  She looked at him and said, "You, four.  Me, six!" and went back to her tears.  We tried to explain that Chris' dental work was totally different from what she would need done and that they would likely let her sleep through the procedure.  She wasn't comforted.  Language barrier, maybe??

Marsh and Ruslan were gone at the time, so I just stroked her hair while we waited for the family translator to come back and clean up my mess.  Not long later, Marsh returned and explained everything.  She calmed down after family prayer.  We reminded her that the Lord promised us His spirit as our comforter and that she can call on Heavenly Father to help her not worry so much about these things.

In a while, all of this will be history.  But, today, we are still dealing with a child who is afraid of the unknown.  All she has to rely on are her memories of life in a country where everything (and I mean pretty much EVERYTHING) is worse than here in the blessed United States of America.

If I had my wits about me (and I share this in hopes that it might get some mental wheels turning in families that are in the process of adopting from a foreign country), I would have taken them on a field trip to the dentist's office or the pediatrician's office before announcing that they were going there for some undesirable activity.  Unlike in Ukraine, the offices here are often colorful, entertaining and inviting.  This kind of environment would immediately comfort a child like Nastia who would be enchanted by the attractiveness that is so absent in her native country.  Nothing seems as scary when there is familiarity and fun attached to it.

After tomorrow, her anxiety will decrease because she will have met our wonderful pediatrician and that hurdle will be cleared.  But, maybe I'll take my own advice and head over to the pediatric dentist's office prior to check ups and such. 

Nothing like a spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down...right?


  1. I was wondering how the wisdom tooth outage went. will hope the best for all of you in the medical experiences!

  2. Alisa, can I just say you amaze me. I stand in awe and would kneel at your feet for instruction if I lived close by. I hope to meet you one day!! (PS... I'm a friend of Grandma Jane's in case she hasn't said so.) :-)