It’s our turn!
Today we went to the health clinic to have our blood drawn. They do a couple blood tests when they issue the residency permit or iqama. So Stephen picked us up, drove us there, and waited for us in the car. He couldn’t come with us because most of the places I went while inside the clinic were ‘women only’ areas.
First I went to the women’s reception area. This desk is behind a curtain – for privacy I suppose. They told me to go to a different room (the ‘computer room’) to start my new file. The first thing the guy in the computer room asks me is, “Where is your husband?” Then he wanted to know what Stephen’s mobile number was, only I didn’t understand the ‘mobile’ part of what he was saying for a while. Even when I did know what he was asking it didn’t really matter because I don’t know Any of Stephen’s numbers: not his phone number, his iqama number, visa…nothing. I said I would go out to get Stephen, but instead he used something from the copy of Stephen’s passport that was in our paperwork. Eventually, he assigned each of us a number, and I was sent back to the women’s reception area. They took the paperwork with the new file numbers, and send me to the women’s waiting area.
This all actually sounds simpler than it was. Each transaction is full of me saying ‘what?’ or ‘where do I go?’ or ‘where is that?’ and lots of just waiting.
In the women’s waiting area we become the entertainment for the morning. Have we mentioned being blond haired and blue eyed makes us…um….stand out? And having Babies with blond hair and blue eyes means photos must be taken. We are a rarity here! Poor Emery’s cheeks were pinched so much! And they loved his dimples. At one point there were about eight nurses in the waiting room with us. One wanted pictures and then another nurse joined her. It took some work to get Myka comfortable with standing beside them for a photo, but they were around long enough for her to warm up. Eventually, they all went back to work, and we waited alone for a while with an occasional ‘hello’ from a nurse walking by. Then we went into the ‘nurses room’ to have our vitals checked: blood pressure, temperature..I think that’s all. TINY room, the three of us, plus at least six nurses. And I counted; I’m not exaggerating. They were happy and busy and didn’t seem to mind the tight quarters.
Then we went to an ‘examination and testing’ room where there was a lady at a desk. The nurse who wanted lots of pictures was also there. We didn’t do anything; they just filled out the forms for the tests to be done on the drawn blood. When the forms were done they sent me to the lab (another room in the clinic), and I was sure to ask for directions.
I found ‘the laboratory’ with out much wandering around, and was directed to an area for women behind another curtain. As we went in I warned Myka that she was going to get a shot. Not a good idea? She started getting sad and upset. I got my blood drawn. It was really quick. (When Stephen went for his blood work they drew a lot. Taking kids with you has some benefits!) Myka was next, and she starts Freaking Out. She’s sitting on my lap, I’m holding one arm and her head, and the nurse has the other arm. The nurse can’t draw the blood while she is also holding Myka’s arm, so she calls out, “Sandi! Sandi! Come here. Sandi!” A man who I suppose is the men’s nurse comes in and helps. I noticed he didn’t wear gloves, just like Stephen noticed when he had his blood work done. All of the female nurses have worn gloves. So he’s drawing Myka’s blood and she’s crying and it’s taking a moment. She says to me, “is it done yet?” poor girl! While this is going on, Emery is standing at my knees crying heartily as well. Wow. And then it was over. Her next question: “Can I have a bandaid?” And with the bandaid she is calm again, happy, and ready to encourage Emery. “It’s ok, Emery. Be brave!” We go through the same thing with Emery. He fusses, Sandi is called, blood is drawn, bandaid, and everyone is fine. He hated having his arm held still, but once she let go Emery was back to normal.
And we could leave! Stephen will go back next week to get the results. All in all it took an hour and a half or so. Soon we’ll be official with our iqamas!