Daily Archives: October 6, 2009

Frozen feet

Montreal is very cold in fall and winter. Frigid. Really really cold. Freeze-your-eyeballs-and-your-snot kind of cold. But the houses are well insulated and are heated 24/7 from October through to end of March, otherwise there is a risk of burst pipes. Inside apartments and houses one dresses very lightly – summer clothes. To go outside one wears layers. It’s a learned behaviour, but not hard to adjust to. It’s all about extremes.

This week in Monsey the nights have been really cold and we have had the heat on a few times. And I have yet to feel the ice melt from my feet. They don’t build the houses here the same way as up north. The insulation is a joke. I am not just talking about my own house – I have visited others. It takes forever for the houses to warm up, and even when the thermostat reaches desired temperature I am still shuffling around like a granny in fuzzy socks and 4 sweaters. I wanted to stay in the hot shower forever this morning. My toes actually pinked up!

The temperatures may be milder here in NY but it feels infinitely colder. Thankfully this house comes with a bonus feature to keep me warm….I’ll let you figure it out.

(and to all you Miami people who were kvitching about the 95 degree heat today on Facebook and twitter – you know who you are – pfffffft!!)

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So last week we had our immigration medicals. This is a necessary step in the immigration process. The two main things they are looking for as grounds to deny entry to the country are Tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS. But they also want to make sure that one is otherwise healthy. Don’t want any drains on the already over burdened medical system, eh?

We cabbed it downtown to the swank offices of the one practice in Quebec that is licensed to perform these medical examinations. I registered us and had the pleasure of filling in more forms, a basic medical history for each of us. As I am filling it in, I had a lot of fun asking the kids if they were pregnant – I needed it for the form!! There was much eye rolling and “Ima, you are sooo not funny”s. BH my kids are all healthy, there have been occasional illnesses and injuries and surgeries – which of course I had to remember for each child, but I think I covered the important stuff. This gave me the opportunity to explain to the kids that they need to be aware of their medical history.

Soon I was called in to do a chest x-ray. The kids, being under 15, were spared this and the blood tests that I had to do later. One does see a different in the private healthcare system – the equipment was state of the art, the techs better dressed. No hospital scrubs here. I guess you get what you pay for.

Went back to the waiting room and waited. And waited. And waited. Finally a nurse called us all in to an examination room, where there were more detailed questions. While I was giving information, another nurse was testing the boys’ eyesight and taking their weight and height and all that kind of stuff. What bothered me the most was that they started asking me questions about my personal medical history in front of the children. I told the nurse that I wasn’t comfortable discussing this in front of the kids, and she accommodated me by waiting till they were out of the room before asking more q’s. She seemed surprised at my comment – I was surprised at their lack of discretion.

I brought the kids vaccination booklets with, and apparently there were some discrepancies. My kids were up to date with every shot. I know this. But somehow two of the kids were missing an entry or two in their booklets, and the US government requires proof of ALL the vaccinations. Mommy knowing it was done doesn’t count. The boys were not happy to learn they had to have needles, especially knowing that they really shouldn’t have needed them. Ima needed a needle too – I could not prove I had my MMR so I needed a booster for that. At no point did the nurse ask if I was pregnant – a big no no for the MMR, and at not point was I told not to become pregnant in the next 3 months, another no no with the MMR. Highly unprofessional. I know this anyway. But they should have said.  In order to minimize the whining I pointed out that we needed to do this in order to move, and that I was less than thrilled too, but it’s not dangerous to us, and is a sacrifice we have to make. They cooperated fully.

As they were taking histories and testing the kids, they prepared to take my blood – in front of the kids. I sent one of them out as he has issues with needles and blood, but really, none of the other kids needed to watch. But I wasn’t a wuss about it – showed them that it was no big deal.

I was laughing a little to myself as the nurses kept talking about what a big family we were. Where I am living, 4 kids is a small family!

We trooped back to the waiting room where we sat for another 30 minutes until the doctor called us in. Again asking me personal medical history in front of my children. I just found that so unprofessional. My kids don’t need to know this stuff at their point in life. We all had medical exams that lasted no more than 2 minutes. She asked more detailed q’s about their illnesses and surgeries, but the hands on exam – really quick.

What I found interesting was that there was no waiver for me to sign, allowing them to contact my personal physician, my medicare number was not taken – I could have given them a ton of false information and they never would have known. The doc told me that all the kids were normal and healthy. BH.

We were at the clinic for 3 long hours. I was presented with a big fat bill at the end of it – just thinking about how I could have better spent that money hurts. I know it’s an investment in our future – and the peace of mind knowing that the kids are healthy is worth every penny!

I am just praying we don’t have to do the medicals again when applying for permanent residency. Once should be enough, right?

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