When talking to my mom the other day on Skype, she asked me how my trip of a lifetime was going. The interesting part was that she wasn’t asking about traveling around the world. She was asking about Australia – a place that has struck my fancy since I can remember. I made it here; I made it happen. I left Ukraine and am now basking in the perfectly blue skies of Sydney, but it wasn’t an easy task. Let me tell you something about Ukraine – it doesn’t give up without a fight.
I think every attempt I ever made to get out of that place, even just for a quick trip, was made a little more difficult in some way or another. After applying for visa sponsorship and buying my plane ticket to Australia, I was bombarded with the question asking if I had spent more than 3 consecutive months outside my home country, and, if so, to list those countries.
Apparently, the countries I had spent the majority of the previous year living in are considered quite dodgy. Actually, they are considered so dodgy that they weren’t even on the list of dodgy countries to begin with! It just said: “If the country is not listed here, then it is considered Very High Risk.”
D’oh! So, of course I was given yet another difficult task to complete: obtaining a chest x-ray… in Ukraine… by the one certified doctor they would accept the x-ray from. Oi!
Luckily, I was able to get an appointment right away, but I had to frantically search all the money changers in my vicinity to find US dollars to pay for the appointment with. Why, if it is so difficult to find US dollars in Kiev these days, does the place ONLY accept US dollars as payment?!
After that, I had to find my way to the Oil Refinery Hospital on the other side of town in a place where the Metro didn’t run.
Then, I had to deal with the x-ray process in itself, a process I will not soon forget. Picture a typical Soviet style hospital – stark feeling with a bad paint job of the most unappealing colors. The hallway was the waiting room, and it was packed full of Ukrainians waiting for their own exams to take place.
When I was called into the dark x-ray room, I was taken to a section with a metal screen. The woman in there motioned for me to take my sweater off. I hadn’t really thought about the needing to undress for this. After that, she motioned for me to take my undershirt off. As I stood there in my bra, she proceeded to twirl me around until I was facing a large mechanical screen on the wall. She stroked my hair in her hands, eventually tying it up in a ponytail.
“Well this isn’t so bad,” I thought.
Just then she yanked my bra straps down, so suddenly I gasped in shock. I was somehow given a protective shield to hold behind my back while my chest was pressed directly up against the cold screen. My chin rested on top where the smell of saliva and sweat lingered from all the people who did the same just minutes before. “Just great,” I thought. “If I wasn’t sick before, I probably will be now.”
I was told to fill my lungs with air just before the lady ran out of the room. Some lights flashed and then it was over. I put my clothes back on and went into another room to see what the doctor had to say. When she finally arrived with my x-ray, she looked at it for about 30 seconds and then spurted out, “You’re fine. Bye!” in a stern tone.
What was I fine from exactly? I still don’t know. I got over another hurdle and became one step closer to where I am now. Big Sigh Of Relief!
Hey! You probably surfed on in to this page by searching for “chest x-ray”, so if you’re wanting to read more about my chest x-ray adventures: