Friday, October 10, 2008

Over the four terms we have been in Ukraine as North
American Directors we have been in remarkably good
health. This year we both picked up a cold just as we
were leaving the Dnieper Princess cruise ship.

Getting a cold was a small price to pay for a
wonderful tour of Crimea with old and new
acquaintances. We didn’t get sick on the Odessa-bound
train with its gagging washroom and we felt perfectly
healthy during the rough Black Sea crossing to
Sevastopol where one of the lecturers had to cut short
his question-and-answer period. But somehow, on this
river-boat which was scrupulously clean and where we
were fed wonderful, nutritious meals, we picked up
this cold.

Our staff in Molochansk quickly noticed the irony of
the situation—“you never get sick with Ukrainians but
as soon as you are with Canadians you fall ill. Why
would you ever go back to Canada? Didn’t we tell you
to wear heavier clothes in summer (the temperature was
in the high 30’s)? Next year, don’t have the fan
turned on in the summer.” The fan gets blamed for any
illnesses that could occur in the next 4 months!

When Linda didn’t show up for work on Thursday morning
all heaven broke loose! Vitally, our maintenance man
and driver, announced that he was getting the car to
take Linda to the hospital. He quickly phoned Dr.
Irina (whom we fortunately know) and declared that he
was bringing Linda in. Their concerns were somewhat
justified in that Linda would be flying home in two
days and did need to get some decongestants. One of
the German shepherds (missionaries) was seconded to
translate in the hospital. Ben went back to the
apartment and told Linda, who was planning a leisurely
breakfast, that the car was already at the door in
preparation for the trip to the neighbouring city of
Tokmak. The car ran smoothly while Linda coughed.

Now, Vitally is a fine, considerate man. But while
taking Linda down the hospital corridor he had reason
to tell the following joke: apparently a man was on a
stretcher being wheeled down the corridor and he
noticed that at the end of the corridor was the sign
Morgue. He said to his attendants, “I am not dead!
Why are you taking me to the morgue?” They gave the
comforting words, “We are not there yet!”

In previous blogs we have noted that Ukrainians are a
people who like to visit and chat. Many people seem
to enjoy visiting in the hospital corridors. While
the good doctor was looking down Linda’s throat
Vitally walked in unannounced, just to make sure
everything was being done properly. Another, unknown
doctor came in, also to observe the goings-on.
Fortunately this was only a nose/throat illness, not a
“woman’s health issue.” Dr. Irina, who didn’t miss a
beat, asked Linda when she had her tonsils removed.
Linda replied that she has never had them removed. “I
can’t find them,” said Irina. Fortunately she didn’t
spend a lot of time looking! Ben suspects that Linda
had coughed them up earlier…

A good assortment of medications was picked up at a
local Anteka (pharmacy). Linda got a puffer (which is
basically a medicated tire pump) to be applied to the
nostrils and the mouth. How the ears got missed we
haven’t figured out yet. She also has a 5-day supply
of pills as well as nose drops. She bought the most
expensive Kleenex box she could find—apparently this
is 120-grit, which is better than the normal 80-grit
and a great improvement on the 50-grit toilet paper.
Fortunately Linda is taking the cold back to Canada,
where it came from!

Linda’s style of coughing has also evoked considerable
interest. Why do cough into your elbow, not your
hand? No wonder she has to wash her sweater every
other day when she hacks into the sleeve.

Meanwhile, Ben’s cold is rapidly subsiding. He really
hasn’t had a cough and doesn’t need any puffer
gadgets. Every evening he takes a half-glass of
locally made “clear black wine,” coupled with Neo
Citran (called TeraFlu here) and falls asleep. Until
you can shoot wine from a puffer he will stick with
the tried and the true. By the way, Ben is looking
for his tonsils because Dr. Irina will want to see him
on Tuesday.

Ben and Linda


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