I'm not very good with needles. But I'm also not very good with phone calls, and I had to call first to confirm that they had the vaccinations available that I needed. So I had been putting this off for some time.
When I called ahead, the receptionist was very friendly and informative. So that was a good sign. When I found the medical center and entered it, a child came out of a room crying hysterically. "That one hurt MORE!" I almost turned around and ran.
So here's what happens when you go to the doctor in a foreign country and don't know all the medical words...
I went up to the reception desk and mumbled something about Africa, so they told me to have a seat and wait for the doctor to be available for a consultation. After a few minutes, the doctor, a youngish-looking woman with long curly hair, emerged and led me to another room. She and a nurse started discussing which immunizations I needed, but I had a list with me and piped up about what advice had been given me. I didn't want to get stuck with any unnecessary needles! To my surprise they agreed to my suggestions and didn't try to argue or give advice. I expected a Russian scolding, but this was a European clinic, after all.
Armed with my paperwork, I headed back to the reception area to wait for my turn. The doctor had said it would take 10-15 minutes to prepare the vaccines since they're special ones. Meanwhile, I paid my bill and tried not to think about needles.
A group of teenagers was there, getting a vaccine for something all together. Maybe they were going on a trip. Then the nurse appeared and said, "Who wanted the Yellow Fever?" And everyone stopped talking and stared as I got up and followed the nurse to my doom.
Once in the room, the nurse said, "Have a seat on the ______." The what? I don't know that Russian word. I looked around. There were only two possible types of furniture: a chair, or a low examination table. "Excuse me, the what?" I inquired. She repeated what she had said and I guessed she meant the table, so I headed over.
"You wanted the Yellow Fever?" she asked. "Yes, and two others..." I stumbled over the names and had to give her the sheet so she could look. "And you haven't had any of them yet?" "Ummm....today? No...."
She got the vaccines ready and was already heading at me with a needle, and I had no idea where she was going to stick me or whether or not it was going to hurt! That one was in the upper arm. The second one was in my other upper arm. Then she said, "Take off your undershirt, because this one goes in the __________." The what? I had no clue. Somewhere above the waist, not in my arm?
It ended up being somewhere in my back. Miraculously none of the shots hurt much. I guess I had been expecting worse because my last needle encounter had been getting blood drawn. Ewwww.
I didn't know the check-out procedure, so I wandered out to the reception area waving my paperwork, and they told me it was my copy to keep. So I left.
I managed to not get lost on the way back, but I did pass the Trinity Cathedral, which had been damaged in a fire last year.