Thursday, January 13, 2011

Doctors and dentists

We're still getting the hang of the medical and dental care here in the UAE. It takes a little getting used to. We had our first dental appointments a few weeks ago and they were scheduled for 6.30pm. I had forgotten that in the Middle East, dentists (and sometimes doctors) work in the mornings and evenings only, and skip the afternoons - say, 9-1ish and then 5-9pm. It felt so weirdly unwholesome to be going to a dentist appointment when it was dark outside. And yet, it  got the job done. Beyond our expectations, in fact. Jeremy had a small problem with a tooth (part of it, um, fell off) and when he asked the dentist about it I'm sure expected a brief examination and then an additional appointment at a later time to take care of it. Instead, she just shaped it up right then and there. Done.

If that seems a little brusque, that's because it was. And that has been the biggest adjustment: realizing that here, they don't hold you by the hand, so to speak. They don't walk you through procedures or translate the goofy British medicine names into plain (American, ha) English, or even tell you where the in-house lab is when they send you out of their office to get your blood drawn. It's a little abrupt, even when one of my kids is the patient.

There's no stuffed animal taped to the dentist's light. There are no TV screens set into the ceiling to amuse a kid during a dental exam. The room is a chalky green color and the blinds are too and if there are stickers of cartoons on the wall it's the freakier, lesser known ones like My Melody and secondary Winnie the Pooh characters.

I guess the benefit of all this is that it builds character. Sometimes getting a shot means a nurse is going to hold you down and it's going to hurt. There's no way around that, not even through a lollipop or a colored band-aid. Here, you get a plain brown band-aid and a sticker IF you're lucky.

Now, if they could just work on the flavor of their medicines here, that would be fabulous. I never knew how good we had it in the US with our cheery grape- and bubble gum-flavored syrups. Here, all the medicine bottles ominously describe their contents as "pleasantly flavoured." And I believe them every time. And I'm always wrong. The medicines are never pleasantly flavoured. Even the liquid Tylenol syrups (that's "paracetamol" here) are so heinous that my girls have to have something ready to swallow right afterward to get rid of the taste.

Which means that Children's Tylenol and ibuprofen are now going to be added to my list of things to stock up on next time we're in the US.


Crys said...

Funny isn't it. My doctor Sonny Lee is Korean. When my appendix had burst I went in to see her. She felt my tummy and then in one swoop flipped me on my side and did a digital rectal exam. No here is what we are going to do, no walk through, no warming. I sort of hated her for it but lets be honest, a walk through wouldn't have made it easier :)

Liz Johnson said...

Are antibiotics over the counter there? That was the best thing EVER in Mexico.


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