Prenatal Doctor in Istanbul Turkey
“Are you two relatives?” the doctor asked Chaya and I at a prenatal checkup in Istanbul.
“I am the father,” I replied, thinking that I properly answered his question.
“Yes, but are you relatives?” the doctor continued. “It is very common in Turkey for relatives to have children together.”
Chaya and I suppressed our chuckles.
“Are you two cousins?” the doctor pressed with an added degree of urgency.
“No, we are not related, we are not cousins,” I answered, “I am just the father.”
Wade from Vagabond Journey.com
in Istanbul, Turkey- February 22, 2009
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Chaya and I were at our second prenatal visit, and our first in Turkey. We went directly to a normal Turkish hospital for care.
Our first prenatal visit was in Budapest at a clinic that catered to foreigners. We were soaked for $400. I suppose having a link from the US embassy website meant that this clinic could suck us dry, as if we were a couple of rich Americans on vacation. But Chaya just wanted the best care possible for her first pregnancy checkup, and the price was only a secondary concern.
In Budapest, we had been through the whole foreigner clinic charade, and came out of it a touch unamused. In Turkey, I was able to convince Chaya that the care given out to a foreigner at a regular Turkish hospital would be comparable to that in an expensive foreigner clinic. In fact, I have found that Westerners are often treated as guest of honor in regular hospitals abroad, and are given the best care available. Whereas in foreigner clinics you are treated like some kind of rich sucker.
We opted for a cheaper alternative for this prenatal visit in Istanbul, and we were treated like royalty. Chaya previously arranged for an OBGYN hookup in Istanbul through the Couchsurfing database. She posted a request for a doctor on the Istanbul message board, and an entire flood of people responded. A few doctors even offered to give us introductions to their OBGYN doctor friends. We took one of them up on his offer.
So we strode into the Istanbul University hospital, and made way for the gynecology ward. The hospital was large and consisted of many buildings, and we, of course, had little clue where we were going.
“Gynecology? Gynecology?” we inquired of every passerby we saw.
They just looked at us funny.
Finally Chaya got the great idea of writing what she thought was the Turkish word for gynecology down on a piece of paper. It worked. Now provisioned with a scrap of paper that read “Jinocology” we were lead from person to person, building to building, until we finally found ourselves beneath a big sign that read “JINOCOLOGY.”
We made it.
After a quick text message to the doctor we were suppose to meet, a nurse came running out from a back room and hustled us into a registration office. After a quick show of her passport, Chaya and I were again rushed off into a waiting room.
The nurse ran in front of us, and we tried hard to keep up. “Wait here,” the nurse said before she disappeared behind a door. We waited.
In a flash she returned and dragged us inside. The pace of hospital corridors is ironically breakneck. It is good fun running an obstacle course behind nurses in foreign hospitals.
I take my privileges when I can get them. As we were grabbed by the nurse and shoved into an examination room, a long line of Turksih women, who appeared to have been waiting to go into this very examination room for decades, looked at us a little askance as we were admitted before them. I shrugged my shoulders and followed Chaya inside.
After a round of questioning, during which we proved that we were not relatives, and an initial ultrasound, Chaya and I were directed to to upstairs for a more thorough inspection.
When we arrived at the ultrasound lab we were met square on by two receptionists who we could not really communicate with. They pantomimed that we could not see a doctor today, and tried to reschedule us for Monday.
“But our doctor said that we NEEDED this test today,” Chaya and I pleaded.
The receptionists were not empathetic. “No, doctor,” they said, “Monday come here.”
This was not acceptable. We were told that there were vital test that we needed done prior to the 14th week of pregnancy, and we were drawing perilously near this point. We were not going to budge.
“How can there not be any doctors here,” Chaya scoffed in disbelief.
In travel, if you need something, sometimes you must refuse to be moved in order to get it. Chaya and I stood in front of the receptionists and would accept nothing other than being examined immediately.
Finally, the brick wall broke down before us, and a doctor came out to us from behind the iron curtain of receptionists. This doctor spoke good English and we told him our problems. He said that all of the ultrasound doctors were at a seminar but he would do what he could to drag one out for us. He then disappeared around a corner.
He did, in fact, spring loose an ultrasound specialist. Within an hour a fresh faced man in a white frock coat went speeding passed us into the examination room. The doctor who foud the ultrasound specialist for us returned to say that everything was ready. He then kindly lead us into the examination room.
This doctor was something different. He was from Tehran, and had kind eyes and warm gestures. When the baby appeared on the ultrasound screen, this doctor exclaimed with delight, “There is your baby!” and gave me a pat on the back. It became apparent that behind this fellow’s white smock, was a real person.
I am unsure if I have met many doctors who could claim this atribute.
The doctor from Tehran laughed and joked with Chaya and I while the Turkish ultrasound specialist counted fingers and toes.
There were 10 of each.
But no sign of a penis.
“What did you want?” the Iranian doctor chided me.
“I don’t care,” I spoke without much hesitation.
“Ah, you are not like a Turkish man!” the Iranian doctor said with a belly full of laughter. “Turkish men only want boys!”
The ultrasound specialist seemed to be concentrating hard as he counted, measured, pointed, and prodded his way through an examination that seemed very thorough. In the end, he wrote out a script for some tests, shook my hand, and rushed back to his seminar.
The doctor from Tehran filled us in on the details and provided us with a piece of paper that said in Turkish the building and laboratory in which we were to receive our tests.
“Just show people this paper and you will get to the lab,” he told us with a smile.
It worked, Chaya recived her tests.
Total bill: 40 Lira for two ultrasounds and a full prenatal examination
15 Lira hospital registration fee
$37 was the total cost for medical care that would have cost hundreds of dollars if we went to a foreigner clinic. It is my impression that the care we received in the ordinary Turkish hospital was comparable, and perhaps even superior, to that which we received in Hungary. The only real difference was the price.
Prenatal Doctor in Istanbul Turkey