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Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Toilet Tuesdays: At the Doctor's Office

A few weeks ago I visited a general practitioner for a routine preventative exam.

I have learned after living in another country for a few years that routine can involve many unknowns as you try to figure out what is "normal" in your new context.

After a few visits to various doctors, I have managed to work out some of the basic ways that they function:

1. The doctor has "ordinating" hours (which sounds like a thing in Slovak, but is boringly translated into English as "office hours") and these are determined by each individual doctor.  They are usually only half of any given day, either morning or afternoon.
2. You do not have an appointment. (Certain offices have the option for you to pay a fee in order to have a specific appointment time)
3. You arrive to the waiting area and ask "Who is the last person?" in order to determine your place in line.  I'm still not entirely sure what the correct phrasing of this question is in Slovak.
4. You do not knock on the door of the doctor's office.  You wait for the nurse to make an appearance at her leisure.
5. Usually the nurse will emerge and ask for insurance cards of the waiting patients.
6. When the nurse eventually calls your name, you can enter the revered doctor's office.
7.  When a patient leaves, they say "Dovidenia" (Goodbye) to the remaining waiting patients.  I think it's kind of a nice, communal gesture.

Anyway, since today involves a toilet story, I will get back to the task at hand.

As part of my routine preventative exam, I needed to give a urine sample.  My experience in the US with this involved a bathroom located within the doctor's office that did not require a key to open and that locked simply with a push button from the inside.

Here in the clinics of Slovakia, you are handed a key to the patient bathroom (which is off down the hall somewhere) as well as your test tube (or strip of paper) and sent off the procure your sample.

This particular day, a kind, friendly, older lady patient informed me that the lock on the bathroom door was quite tricky and required a bit of finagling to get it to open (no, I do not know the word "finagle" in Slovak, I am using loose translation and creative license).

I head off in what I hope appears to be a confident manner toward the bathrooms.

I see 4 doors and with a quick look, ascertain that the two doors on the outsides are bathrooms (WC) for patients.  As there are doctors' offices along the hallway on the left as well as the right, my ever-helpful brain tells me that I should probably use the door on the right as my doctor's office is on the right hallway.

Which door would you choose?

Based on this rapid deduction, I march toward the door and attempt to insert the key.

It IS quite a sticky lock.  I push and grunt (quietly) and attempt to turn that key.  "Wow, that lady wasn't joking" I think to myself. I pull the key out and begin my second attempt.  This time I manage to get it about halfway in and then discover that I am unable to coax it to go any further.  What is worse, I am now unable to coax it out of the lock.

WC for employees
An employee arrives and goes into one of the middle doors (for employees).  I ask if she has any secret insider knowledge about the extremely difficult lock I am grappling with.  With a simple shrug of her shoulders, she says "Probably the key is for the bathroom on the other side."

Well, that certainly might explain things.

I leave the key in the lock and return to the waiting area where my long-suffering husband is waiting.  I attempt to get his attention as quietly as possible and confess that I have managed to get the key stuck in the lock. (Note above where I mention that routine rarely means routine).



He comes with me to the troublesome lock and sighs.  He uses his super awesome pulling keys out of locks skills and manages to convince the key to slide out.

Success!!

WC for patients, specifically those who are men.
It is at this point that I realize I neglected to fully read all the words located on the door of this bathroom.

"Mens".

Aha.

Sigh.

In my "I-am-a-foreigner-and-I-feel-really-uncertain-what-the-norm-is-here-and-I-don't-understand-Slovak-as-well-as-I-would-like" nervousness (which accompanies me to most of my "new" experiences in this country), I managed to miss a very basic word which I actually do understand.

Add to that the sweet lady's advice about the difficulty of getting the key to work.

Add that to my experience in Slovakia that things often don't work as easily as I would expect them to.

And the grand total is me doggedly and determinedly attempting to fit a key into a lock where it doesn't belong.

After that, the key seemed to fit like a glove into the lock on the women's bathroom. ;)

And a plus: there was toilet paper, soap and paper towels. (Unfortunately, not always a given, but that's another story for another post.)