It’s almost midnight. All is calm. Mr H and lil Zoe are both passed out. It was vaccination day today. I had planned my entire day around Zoe’s vaccination. There are those days when everything goes according to plan and you accomplish everything that you set out to do. Such days, at the end of it; you sit back, hark back and smile to yourself. Content.
Well… today was not one of days…
I did not plan on writing about something as mundane as getting vaccinations. I did however plan a detailed post on the immunisation schedule here, differences between schedules in different countries and where to get them in Doha- because quite a few expats here seem to be looking for such information (just like I was). That post will come (non Doha-ites can skip it if uninterested). But for now I want to marvel at the unpredictable adventure that life is.
Okay. Enough with the meaningless rant. Now let us get with the program.
3:30 pm- The H family leaves home. To Mesiameer Health Center (as planned)- their specified primary health center (as they have a government health card). Simple task- Get Z her 4 month vaccinations. Estimated time for entire task (including transit)- 1 hour.
4:00 pm- Enter Mesiameer Health center and find the “Well- baby clinic”
4:05 pm- Locate receptionist in black abaya, J whips out all of Z’s cards and documents (hospital records) and say she is due for her 4 month shots. Abaya aunty redirects J to not so friendly looking nurse- lady in pink
4:10 pm- Nurse lady in pink hears J out, shakes her head and says “ Sooory Madaaam, nu appointment for 3 months, kindly speak to reception”. Does not specify which reception (there are reception counters in every corridor and J had just spoken to the one in the clinic that they were in). Nurse leaves as she speaks.
4:15 pm- J stares at the wall in front of her. So lil Z will be atleast 7 months old when she gets her 4 months’ vaccinations. Okay. Information processed. Now, locate above mentioned “reception”.
4:15 pm to 4: 25 pm – J meanders along corridors looking for aforementioned elusive reception while Mr H and Z hang out at the “well baby” reception. J talks to help desk…is re –directed to another reception which actually turns out to be the “well baby reception”. How poetic. Life came full circle.
4:30 pm- Another nurse in pink- this time smiley and friendly looking, enters clinic. Mr H nudges J to follow her and explain predicament. J does so. Smiley nurse is kind. Speaks to J and explains politely that this is how things work in highly back-logged government health centers. Gives J the next earliest appointment. Writes it down on Z’s immunisation card. J thanks her in delight. Looks at the card. Appointment on 07/10/14. Blink. Blink. J has another open mouthed stare at the wall moment.
4:40 pm- J finally gets it. Z cannot get another appointment. Best shot- get the 4 month shots elsewhere (at a private clinic- people living here would know the significance of that) and get the 6 month ones at eight months (07/10/14).
4:45 pm- J explains situation to Mr H who is not as dim- witted as J and therefore quickly understands. Says “Yallah, lets leave”
5:05 pm- J, Z and Mr H enter private medical centre no. 1. Smartly dressed dude in lobby smiles and welcomes them. The H family mention vaccines. He smiles some more. Says “ No sir, we don’t have them here”. Family re-directed to another centre down the road.
5:40 pm- Reaching “down the road’ took some time… too many landcruisers in the way you see. This time only J and lil Z enter private medical center no. 2. Another reception. Another smarty pants. “Yes mam, we have, we have, welcome, welcome”. “Do you have insurance?”. J is confused. Says no. “Oh, no problem mam only 2300 rials for 4 month baby”. J has open mouthed stare at the wall (OMSATW) moment no. 3. Over 35000 rupees!…………………………. Okay. Yallah…Escaaaaape…..
6:00 pm- J,Z, and Mr H now in battle mode.Head home for reconnaissance. Mission vaccination. Weapon- The mighty internet. Google. Tea. Note hospitals that offer immunisation.
6:30 pm- J and Mr H sprawled on floor. Galaxies and iPads strewn on the floor. Dejected. Calls made to medical center nos. 3,4,5 and 6 unanswered or answered by weird people. Mr. H thinks J and Z should board a flight to India the next day, meet Mr H’s bro (who is a perdiatrician) at airport, take shots and head back. Would be cheaper and better.
7:00 pm- Rest and recuperation clears heads. Mr H calls medical centre no. 7. They say it will cost roughly 1800 Rial. J and Mr H decide to go ahead. It’s for princess Z after all.
7:15 pm- Medical center no. 7 looks forlorn and empty. Not a great sign. Nurse at reception smiles and shakes her head at query. “Sir, we give vaccinations but not here, at our centre at D- ring road”. Cool. Nothing fazes the H family anymore. Decide to head home and live to fight another day.
7:45 pm- On the way home- H family see’s fancy schmancy medical center no. 8. J admires the building and wonders aloud “wonder how much they charge in there?” . Mr H in game mode. Brakes. Reverses into compound. Runs into building. Z and J wait in car. Mr H hops out a few mins later, with a spring in his step. J slides the window down. “750 QAR plus doctor’s and nurse’s charges”. J has OMSATW moment no. 4. Good going, fancy schmancy medical centre no. 8 — not bad!
8:45 pm- The H family strides out of the FS MC no 8. J and Mr H elated. Proud. Z in tears (thinking…”Damn it… I almost made it today without getting pricked).
9:15 pm- Back to base.Task completion time- 5 hours 45 minutes.
Mission accomplished successfully, albeit differently than anticipated.
Aaah! Sometimes I really, really miss India. It might not always be true, but one always feels that things would have gone better there. Most times it’s just a mirage though. But this time- things WOULD have been easier back home. They used the exact same brands of drugs that I gave her back home when she was 2 months old. Even with the steep consultation charges (went the fanciest Doc possible, stupid, pretentious me!), it had then come upto Rs. 7600. It cost me 1000 QAR here. You do the math. I am not complaining, just voicing my observations.
Things did not go as planned today. But you know what- WE HAD FUN! Yes. Fun. We have been in worse situations before. As expats and as parents. Every day is an adventure. We enter every situation here with almost no information on hand (even after scouring the internet). No issues. At the end of the day, we can still sit back, hark back and SMILE! As long as the deed is done……