Checking in, checking up, cleaning up
During every Peace Corps Volunteer’s service (assuming the PCV puts in the full two years), every PCV has to fulfill certain requirements. Reporting requirements, work requirements, and what has to be the least favorite, the mid-service medical exam. During this time, we undergo a thorough exam, including a dental exam and cleaning, to ensure that we are still healthy and fit.
Granted, some people end up seeing the doctors more often than merely once during their service. In my opinion, wonderful as the doctors are, the less contact I have with them, the better. But alas, as we are expected to report each cold we experince in addition to more serious ailments, we end up speaking with them more often that we may want.
So is the reason that I arrived in Kiev yesterday afternoon – today was my mid-service exam. First thing to report – I am still healthy, and still rather stable in weight. I actually weigh about ten pounds less than I did when I arrived, but when I arrived I was ten pounds over my “ideal” weight, where I had been for the past 15 years. I have no major health issues or concerns (other than the hair issue, but I am told when I return to the U.S. it will all come back. Something about the water here…).
However, as this time I am getting a check up I am 40 years old, there’s that milestone again, I get to have what every woman over 40 dreads – a mammogram. In fact, I think the doctor forgot about it until I opened up my big mouth and reminded him of my age. He was doing an exam that was related to something that I had found and experienced 10 years ago (had my first mammogram then – FUN) and he said “well, you should get one, since it it standard medical care” and the like. So I get to come back for a TB test and my mammogram. Oh, the joys that come with being 40 years old!
However, the fun was yet to come. The dentist. Now, I have not been to the dentist in two years, I am sorry to say, since I had my medical and dental exams to clear me for Peace Corps service. So I was a bit worried. I mean, I take care of my teeth, always have but…not only the dentist but the dentist in a foreign country and language. I was told a bit about what was going to happen but that was not quite the same as experiencing it.
When I arrived and was brought into the office, it was similar to dentists in the U.S. However, once they did my exam and started what I thought was the cleaning, I thought “hmm, this ‘sand-blasting’ technique others told me about isn’t so bad at all. ” Well, it turns out that was only the preview…pretty soon they finished that part of the exam and brought out what I thought was going to be the cleaning instrument – you know, the ones with the whirring heads like we have in the U.S. The assistant puts on the polishing cream and off they go.
Well, not quite. It turns out that they use a cleaning system whereby they blast your teeth (and any tartar build-up) with a combination of air and salt water. Yep, salt water. It was interesting. Because I have sensitive teeth, it was not terribly comfortable, but since when is going to the dentist a comfortable experience? However, after they finished (and I had salt water all over my face), they told me I could rinse. I went to the sink and spit out…a mouthful of blood. Nice…I was even more disconcerted when I looked in the mirror and saw my gums. The dentist told me I should floss (which I d0) but seriously, were things that bad? Maybe after two years…
Later I met R and took him for his first experience with Indian food. Remember, Ukraine in general does not have a lot of ethnic food, and I had wanted Indian food for quite a while, so I splurged and we went to an Indian restaurant here in Kiev. He is such a trouper – he loved it, even though he was sweating and his face was red because of it. Afterward we went for a walk on Khreschatik Boulevard and were in front of the metro station, where there was a street musician, and he proceeded to grab me and start dancing. It was rather fun, and entertaining to see how people looked at us as they passed by.