by the Geneva Observer
Being invited for the first time to your mother-in-law can be a traumatic experience for some. It is especially so when neither speaks the other’s mother tongue. We compromised and decided we would converse in German (she tutors German). Two days before her bathroom light had given up its ghost. The lady had been in darkness for two days, waiting for enlightenment when I came to the rescue. The fixture was from the Soviet times. They must have made good light bulbs in those days, as the fixture was almost impossible to unscrew. I am sure the light bulb had been installed many years ago. Mine never seem to last at home for more than twelve months.
I eagerly accepted the task, postponing tea and chocolates to mount on a stool and try to remove the glass fitting. It simply would not budge. This should have been a warning, to at least wrap it in a rag or towel, my big mistake. I twisted again with more force, and suddenly it came loose, shattering into the sink. The cascading pieces cut into my pinkie which suddenly was no longer rosy, but red, like the red army flag.
I quickly stepped down, and rushed into the kitchen, squeezing hard my finger to prevent losing consciousness from excessive blood loss. Here I was trying to tell two Russian women what to do for first aid in case I collapsed on the floor (I have a weakness looking at my own blood). If it is yours I will be fine.
There were no ice-cubes in the freezer, so two pieces of frozen meat had to do the job. Our host could not understand my pale look and why it was so tragic for me, but she called the ambulance anyway.
In ten minutes the ambulance was at the front door, the blue uniformed doctor and assistant arrived. They told me it was just a small cut and nothing serious. They measured my blood pressure, which like the weather had hit a low. After a bit of cleanup and gauze wrapping, it was time to put on the coat and head off to the emergency clinic, half way across the city.
I think the ambulance people are religious. None of them wore their seat belts. I guess in God they trust, never mind which one.
I got my first Russian ambulance ride!
The ambulance was clean inside, with two suitcases of equipment, some valves, probably for oxygen and a drip stand attached to the ceiling. The stretcher was bare, without sheets or blanket, but I was sitting up in a seat anyways with my hand up in the air as if to hail a cab. I was so happy and smiling, that the nurse looked at me incredulously. She probably never had anyone so happy to ride in her ambulance with her. Little did she know that if I had to be on the stretcher, with the bumps in the road, I would not have been smiling.
At the clinic, as you enter, there are overshoes to put on. They are made of thin plastic, with an elastic to keep the clinic clean. The building itself was spotless. None of the staff spoke a foreign language that I did, so Natasha had accompanied me to fill out the forms and translate the questions and answers. She was not allowed into the operating room, but stood in the open doorway.
The doctor did ask if I had any allergies. She did a thorough cleanup, I must admit I winced on several occasions. Then came the choice to be or not to be jabbed in the back. We did not understand with what or why. I agreed and signed a document, completely illegible to me, just like most software licenses. It was poke and pray instead of plug and play. Sure enough, Stohlbnyack turned out to be tetanus when we later checked on the internet.
I offered my medical insurance card, but they declined. I seem to have left a positive impression with them, and so it was free of charge, for the sake of keeping good international relations.
If I was still single, this would be a great way to meet women. All the staff were female. They were very competent and pleasant to be with but I must say I was happy to leave to return to tea and chocolates.