I wanted to post tonight about our 8-Doctor medical exam in Moscow on trip one, primarily because it was so different from what other families have described, and because I wanted to perhaps prepare people who are headed over in the future who may go through the same process.
First of all, Carol had told us that we needed to take with us our actual chest x-rays (not on a CD or DVD), along with a letter from our doctor stating that they were clear of TB. In addition, we took over copies of the bloodwork results for each of us, with each page signed and the results noted by our doctor. It turned out that it was incredibly helpful that we had all of this with us.
On Friday of trip one (we got to Moscow from Kaluga on Thursday, about 2:00 or so), we were picked up by our Moscow driver and translator and taken to what our translator Katya called the "Presidential Medical Clinic". It was very near Moscow State University. I asked if this is where the president goes for medical care; she told me that she didn't think so, but that his staff and government officials are patients there. We entered what looked to me like a gatehouse (in the picture below)
We had to have special permission to enter--a lady who works to facilitate this process met us there, got us special passes to enter the compound, and then went with us to the exam.
The "exam" itself was in a very large building that looked more like an apartment building or office building than it did a clinic. We entered the main door, and were taken to a small waiting room that was right across the entryway. We took off our coats, were offered a drink of water, and about 10 minutes or so later were ushered into what I can only describe as a "big ol' conference room." This room was BIG. It was paneled in what looked like expensive wood paneling, some interesting art was hanging on the walls, and in the middle of the room was this very large oval wooden table. We were asked to sit down on a small couch on one side of the table. On the other side of the table were at least 9 doctors, all in their white medical coats. Only one of them was male.
The proceedings then seriously resembled my defense of my master's thesis. The doctors asked us questions, and our translator translated the questions and our answers. We were asked about our childhood diseases, if we had ever had surgery or a blood transfusion, if we had any chronic medical condtions, etc. One of the doctors asked how we handled stress. It would have been like any other meeting with a doctor except there were ALL of them on one side of a table and we were on the other. It was incredibly intimidating. They went through our bloodwork reports with the proverbial fine toothed comb. Steve had a reaction to his TB test, and they asked about the size of the reaction--and then noted it was mentioned on his paperwork. They looked at our chest x-rays (there was a lightbox on the wall behind them). No one smiled. Holy cow.
They then asked us if, one at a time, we would have our actual physical exams. There was an alcove at the side of this large room, and there was a standing screen in front of an exam table. Steve went first, and about 5-6 of the doctors took turns examining him. Nothing was invasive, but they did ask him to strip down to his underwear and checked him for skin cancer, they checked his heart and lungs, the neurologist tested his reflexes and balance, and another doctor checked his eyes, ears, throat, and abdomen. After he was done, I did the same thing. At this point, the doctors did loosen up a bit, and the neurologist actually smiled and told me "relax, it's ok!" (I think that was right before my bracelet fell on the floor and rolled away and they chased it down for me!) There was nothing invasive, but the oncologist doctor did do a breast exam. I will say that there was nothing that hasn't happened in a regular yearly checkup with our own doctor at home. No needles, no speculum, and I kept on my underwear. By the time my exam happened, the male doctor was gone.
At this point, the doctors began to drift away. We just had to wait for them to sign all of the documents, and put their stamp on them. Some of them then actually smiled at us, used their cell phones, and a couple even told us good luck. We paid for the exams, and got back a receipt saying that we were registered with the clinic, and that we could use the clinic for the next 3 months if we needed it (part of the contract, I think). The whole process lasted only about an hour and a half. Katya (our translator) said that this is a new method for doing the medical exams, and that it was quite a bit quicker than in the past. It was nice that it was quick, but it was a bit of a surprise!
The best news of all--we passed!