Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Tuberculosis and Other Medical Wonders

We spent the day before the doctor exams telling the kids how much better it would be here than in Ukraine...nicer doctors, prettier rooms, skinnier needles.  "Oh, it won't be as bad as it was over there!", we assured them.  So the morning of the appointments, off we went...20 minutes late.

See, just before we were to depart, Nastia went into the garage for a while.  I noted that she was out there and wondered what she was up to, but I was racing to get all 8 kids out the door (we were doing flue shots, too...no point in trying to make two trips to the doctor's office, right??) so I didn't go check.  She's responsible and very smart, after all, so I wasn't worried.

After sending the big ones out to get into the car, Ruslan came hurrying back in and said, "Keys.  Car, door, no" and shrugged his shoulders as he gestured that he had tried to open the door to no avail.  Dread set in as I realized I had left my only set of keys IN the car so they would be there when we needed to leave.

I went out to the garage, my mind racing with possible solutions and that hopeful-yet-doubtful thought that maybe, just MAYBE, one of the other doors was unlocked.  Alas, the doors were locked.  ALL of them.  It occurred to me that I had never shown Ruslan and Nastia how automatic door locks work and where the button was that did it.  Oops.

I went back into the house, called Marsh (who was 30 minutes away with the only other key) and then decided I better take matters into my own hands.  I called the police (which was a humorous experience considering we live in a very small town) and then I called the doctor's office to tell them we'd be late.  They were willing to wait through their lunch hour for us!  Sweet people.

All the while, my intellegent children were out in the garage, jimmy-ing open a window that has a lock which doesn't always work very well.  Within a few minutes of me joinging them outside, they had squeezed Ruslan's long, skinny arms through the window.  He had no frame of reference for where the lock was or what it would feel like.  Oh, boy, we were learning so much so fast!

So, Emma reached HER long, skinny arm through and unlocked the door!

Just then, the police officer showed up.  He sat there in his car with a look of either interest or suspicion as all these children were running around, celebrating and piling quickly into the car.  "You got it open?", he said.  "Yes, the kids just broke into the car and unlocked the door!", I said and then realized that I had probably not chosen my words carefully enough considering my audience.  We laughed about it and he pulled away just before we did.


It was a good thing I had notified the office that we would be late, because they were already in the mental mode that they were going to lose their lunch break.  We arrived 20 minutes late and then, it took us two hours to get through both kids' immunizations and physical exams.  It was all the typical stuff, including weighing, measuring height, checking for scoliosis, etc, but it seemed to take a loooong time.

The eye exams were something I hadn't thought through...the choices for the posters the kids are supposed to read are either objects or English letters.  Now, if your child knows the names of the English letters, you're okay.  But, if they don't, you're up an interesting creek.  And don't count on understanding what they are staying when they name the objects, either!

If you're taking your child in, review the names of the letters or find out what objects are on the poster and learn the Russian names for them. :)

Typically, the children from Eastern Europe will be tested for TB.  Their test will most likely come back positive because (as our pediatrician explained to me) they vaccinate for TB over there...we don't do that here.  So, their bodies will naturally react to the test because the vaccination is in there.

Another important note...the TB test is to be read 48 hours after injection.  Make sure you plan on going back for the 48 hour exam...so don't do things like have your appointment on Thursday so the 48 hours falls on Saturday and then forget that the doctor's office is open on Saturdays.  Oh, and taking pictures of their arm at the 48-hour point doesn't cut it...the doctor has to feel the location as well as visually examine it.  They'll just have to retest if you do silly things like this.  Ask me now I know.

The lady who brought in the TB testing stuff had little lollipops in her caddy.  I think every needle-wielding medical person should be armed with lollipops.

To catch up on immunizations, Ruslan had 5 shots and Nastia had 4.  Needless to say, there were tears from Nastia at the reality that she would be shot so many times.  Ruslan also had his blood taken.  Prior to the shots, I requested that they use Emla, or something similar, to numb the injection sites so the children wouldn't have too much pain.  Emla is a topical cream that numbs the skin 20 minutes after application.  The only problem is that they cover the area with a tape-like bandage to hold the Emla on.  Nastia was crying over the removal of the tape before the injections even started.

Lollipop, anyone??

Ruslan tensed up so much during his turn, that the nurse couldn't get the fluid injected into the muscle with one of his shots.  And he was being SO very brave, too...taking it like a man, even with his lollipop hanging out of his mouth.

Later, when Marsh talked with them about their experience, Ruslan said that in Ukraine they inject directly into the vein rather than being shot right into the muscle of the arm.  He prefers the Ukrainian way, apparently.  So much for it being better in America...even with the Emla.  Hey, at least we have lollipops and nice, bright colors on the wall, right? 

As Dr. Peterson talked about the use of flouride for Nastia, I told him I thought maybe it was a little late for that.  He turned and looked in her mouth with his flashlight and said with a wry, big-brother-like smile, "Yeah, you'll be wanting a dentist."

Next, he referred us to a pediatric surgeon that would examine Ruslan for a physical abnormality he has.  He wanted to make sure it wasn't going to affect his future life, so he suggested we visit a specialist.  He described the surgery that would fix the problem and said we were going to be very grateful that we had insurance.

At that point, I started to cry.  Just a little.  Just the "Oh my goodness I am totally overwhelmed with what just happened and what is going to happen and I just can't do anythign but cry about it" kind of cry.  I laughed and said, through my unwelcome tears, "Anyone know an investor who would like to help the Morfords??"

And then I suddenly realized how totally unfaithful I was being at that moment.  Why should I worry about where the money would come from to take care of these children when the Lord provided the entire means to get them here in the first place?  He didn't bring them here to not receive the care they need.  He brought them here for His purposes and He would see to it that they were cared for properly.  And anyway, He had just provided extra income that would cover the expense of our other son having his wisdom teeth removed and there were other blessings to note.  Why would I question Him now?

I apologized and choked back my tears and said, "I do have faith, really I do!  The Lord will provide!" to which Dr. Peterson said, "Yes, He will.  And, actually, I have a brother-in-law who is a dentist.  Let me see what I can do."

Whether or not that specific help actually pans out, doesn't really matter.  I needed the moment of realization that I was not exercising my faith and that I needed to trust the Lord to follow through as He had so many times before.  Lately, He has taken care of so many things.  There are miracles and blessings happening all around us all the time.  We just need to open our eyes to see His hand.


Now, one thing that is better than Ukraine is that we have cool stickers at the door of most doctor offices.  Dr. Peterson's is no different.  We left with neat-o stickers and tasty lollipops and smiles on our faces.  They may have been smiles for "glad that's over" rather than "that wasn't so bad", but at least they were smiles.

We saw the pedatric surgeon today and he doesn't believe Ruslan's condition is life-threatening, but we will do a few more tests to make sure he won't end up with problems later in life before we toss the idea completely out the window. 

As Marsh and I sat alone today with Ruslan waiting for the surgeon to come in, Ruslan asked why this was happening when he was perfectly fine.  We were able to explain to him that this condition has been something he has dealt with his whole life and he may not even realize that it's causing him problems.  We also told him that we are his parents and we want him to be all he can be and do all God wants him to do in this life.  We assured him that we loved him and wanted him to have a happy, full life.  If that appointment was only for that conversation, it was worth it.

In the meantime, both kids won their soccer games tonight and are now resting comfortably as some of the big hurdles are over and life is rolling along.  Their English is improving and they are healthy and happy.

Really, we couldn't ask for anything more...cavities, physical abnormalities, shots and all.


  1. Just another dull day in the life of the Alisa Morfords!
    I really do NOT know how you do it! The locked door would have thrown me!
    So where was Nastia found?
    Keep us posted!

  2. Yes what WAS N doing in the garage?

  3. Apparently, I wasn't quite clear in my delivery of the story! Nastia was in the car, playing around probably, and locked the doors prior to leaving it. She was one of the ones who came in all wound up about the car being locked so I assumed she had no idea what she'd done. The thought did occur to me that she had done it purposefully to avoid going to the doctor, but I didn't think she had enough understanding to have planned and carried out such a scheme. If it happens again when some other undesirable circustance is looming, we'll know what's really going on! :)

  4. Got to meet your kiddos at the park the other night. We were at the Mexican party for the migrant Head Start (Dallin works there sometimes). A familiar looking boy walked up to each of my big boys and gave them a high five. They were looking a little puzzled when it clicked where I'd seen that face before. "Ruslan?" I said. He turned around looking puzzled himself. I said, you don't know me, but I know your mom. He said something like, "Mom? Where?" and I pointed him in the direction of the party happening at the other end of the park. I brought the girls down to meet Nastia but since you weren't there we were all a little shy about it. Fun to see them, though!