Archive | February, 2013

Additional Tips and a Link

28 Feb

I’ve blogging (mostly) daily for the past four weeks at  I so enjoyed our cyber time while I was in Russia and I’d be happy to see you over at my other cyber haunt.

(I will just keep adding tips to this post from here on out.  Feel free to leave questions on this post and I will answer them for everyone.)

14.  Don’t drink the tap water from anywhere in Russia except for in your isolation room where the water and air are very well filtered.  Buy water from the local store.

15.  Ladies, bring your own sanitary items from home.  You can get them in Russia, but you will find that most store visits include a game of charades.  Skip the game.

16.  Bring your own Tylenol  or whatever you prefer for mild to moderate pain relief.  They can provide some from the pharmacy there, but it is just as simple to bring something from home that you are more familiar with.

17.  What to wear: I was comfortable wearing cotton camisole undershirts, yoga pants, wool socks, and long sleeved t-shirts.  I had fantastic long underwear that I wore any time we left the hospital, though I don’t know if that matters as much for a spring stay.  I experienced a good deal of night sweats, so breathable should be your aim when packing.  During the 7-10 when you are in the thick of isolation and aseptic cleaning, you will be made to wear a regular change of hospital issued gowns.  Good news!  The back is sewed closed.  (I did not have a robe with me and likely would not have used one as the rooms are kept quite warm.)

18.  To be more precise:  My Crocs were one piece of material with no straps or fasteners.  Crocs are made out of rubber and are not very porous.  I am not promoting the brand, though they do provide a pretty perfect shoe for the aseptic process. I would assume you can find another brand that is non porous and is made of one continuous piece of material.   (click the link to see some similar to my pair.  Dr. Fedorenko wears purple Crocs.  Confidence.)

19.  The hospital does provide masks for you to use when you are discharged.  I brought my own from home and found that they were more comfortable than the hospital issued masks, though I don’t think bringing them with is a necessity.

20.  Taxi from airport to hotel/hospital cost is about or under 3,000 rubles ($100 USD.)  Taxi from hotel to hospital should be around 500 rubles ($18-$20 USD.)

21.  I ate the plane food.  On the plane I wore the mask, washed my hands, drank lots of water and generally paid attention to what I was touching with my hands.  Your bald head and face mask are like neon signs that beg people to stay away from you.  Use it.  😉

22.  No food restrictions upon my return home.

23.  We found that every where we went in Russia was almost kept too warm for my liking.  This included my hospital room.  There is no way to adjust the temperature  so I advise keeping cool with layers of clothing.

24.  (LOOK AWAY FELLOWS!!)  I used disposable pads during my period.  There was no discussion regarding a hospital preference, though I did read about some concerns of tampon use and toxic shock syndrome when used with a low immune system.  Could be wrong about it, so you may as well bring what you want and ask when the time comes.

25.  Deodorant is used very rarely by the Russians we met.  We both learned to embrace this piece of their culture.

26.  The hospital does have a laundry service, though this is not a routine thing for them.  I used them once for my own laundry and then just washed in the sink and hung in the bathroom after that.  Their service is fine, I just found it more convenient to do it myself.

A Slight Update and Tips for the Patient Traveler

28 Feb

I keep thinking that I will make an update as soon as something happens. The thing is, it doesn’t feel as though anything is happening. It is difficult to notice certain things. For instance, I did not go from walking downstairs with my white knuckles on the rail and my eyes glued to my feet to jogging lightly downstairs while talking on the phone and looking off to the distance over night. I do jog lightly down short flights of steps with nary a concern now, but I could not tell you when that started. Recovery really does sneak up on a person.
I know that there are a good number of patients who followed Phoebe and I while we were in Moscow, and are now planning their own trips in the coming weeks and months. I wanted to make a quick update with some tips Eric and I discovered along the way.
1. We initially purchased an internet card from a company called “Beeline.” The card worked fine, until I went into isolation and the signal grew weak. Eric switched it out for one from a company called “MegaFon” and the signal was much better. You can find kiosks for both at area malls and some hotel lobbies.
2. In isolation, I was allowed to keep my shoes because they were Croc brand shoes, made with only rubber and no complicated detailing. Because of their form, the nurse tech could wash them easily each day. Any other shoes would have been packed away.
3. I packed too many yoga pants, t-shirts, and socks. Because I was not doing much more than just laying around, my clothes were easily washed in the sink and hung to dry in the bathroom. If you don’t mind doing similar, you can easily get by packing quite light.
4. I was gifted with tea bags before I left and I am so happy I had them. The hospital provides a tea kettle in each room, but you only get so many tea bags a day. Having some from home kept me in tea bliss.
5. You will want to discuss with Dr.Fedorenko options for a taxi from the airport. Do not go with whoever is sitting around waiting. Dr. Fedorenko has a service that he likes and he will likely be able to help you arrange a pick up. We arranged our own pick up from the airport and found that a slight accent confusion landed us at the hotel “Bega” instead of the hotel “Vega.” There was a pretty huge difference between the two establishments. Find a Russian to help you make taxi plans.
6. The nurses speak literally no English, but their level of care is among the best of the best. Dr. Fedorenko will give you a list of symptoms and their translations. This list is gold.
7. I am terrified of new, weird, or otherwise odd looking/smelling food. It’s an issue that is easy to hide stateside, but I was really nervous about Russian food, Russian HOSPITAL food, no less. As it turned out, I was able to happily eat everything brought my way, with the exception of the cow’s tongue and borscht. I lost just a few kilos during treatment and gained them all back before discharge, so I am happy to say that the food was a pleasant surprise.
8. Learn how tall you are in centimeters and how much you weigh in kilos before you go. I was saved by a doctor with a smart phone, but I would have preferred to not show my poor math skill hand. Do better than I did. Make your math teacher proud.
9. Don’t shave your head until the hair starts to fall out. I had mine shaved 10 days before it fell out and ended up needing a second shave.
10. Get out and walk as much as you can. You are not in tourist-y Moscow. You are in blue collar Moscow and this is probably the best chance you will get to see the city for all its unvarnished charm. There are shops that line the streets by the hospital, as well as several restaurants.
11. There is a hole in the wall restaurant right beside the back entrance of the hospital. Try it out if you want stories to tell, but not if you are really hungry.
12. I do not know from personal experience, but a friend of mine strongly suggests you avoid the Russian vodka.
13. Above all, if you ordinarily get stressed out when you are not in control of scary situations, get over that before the plane lands. Your body will be in a constant state of stressed out until you give up the reigns. You are in very good, kind, and compassionate hands. Please give them all my love and deepest gratitude.