Thursday, October 05, 2006

Life Lesson #143

If you find your bottle of anxiety meds. running low, fight the urge to go to your local German military hospital.

If in Sarajevo, that would be Rajlovac. R-A-J-L-O-V-A-C.

Foolishly (hindsight being 20-20), I thought I could slip into a first world hospital (or so I thought) and grab me a brand spanking-new refill of my drug of choice. FYI: If you go overseas to a place like, say, BOSNIA, understand you will need to come armed with a truckload of your own medication OR be prepared to go blackmarket and order online from Canada OR search for a Bosnian doctor that has knowledge of western medication. Certain drugs are not yet found in Bosnia or have funky Slovenian equivalents. Oh, add to that, the field of mental health is still in its infancy. Please take this into consideration.

But, I repeat, DO NOT go to RAJLOVAC.

Anyhoo. I had high expectations as we drove up to base that fateful morn, not so long ago. I readied myself for the thorough inspection of the Albanian guards at the front gate. They take their work seriously (and how). My hub and I sailed through with our very own German escort, and we soon found ourselves sitting in a crowded waiting room full of internationals: embassy folk, soldiers, various and assorted NATO/EUFOR personnel. You see, apart from the Bosnian hospital, Kosevo, they're the only game in town. So. I sat down with my book (I am Charlotte Simmons--underrated, I think) and prepared for the hour-long wait. When I heard my name called 30 minutes later, I cheerily toodled off to the doctor's office, singing I'm getting my refill, my refill, la-la-la-la-la.

For privacy's sake, I won't go into extended detail, but here is a snapshot of the horror that was to come.

Doctor: So, you are, eh, ze manic?
Me: Oh, no. No! I'm not manic.
Doctor: Aha...
Me: You see, I have a bottle of Celexa. I forgot to bring it, wouldn't you know...I was just hoping for a refill.
Doctor: (Look of great consternation. Sound of crickets).
Me: Okay...Maybe, you don't have Celexa. Perhaps, there is an equivalent? Something German? I probably should have just got the refill when I was back in the States, but I thought I could get it here...
Doctor: Eh, are you, eh, suicidal?
Me: No! No. I just want a refill.
Doctor: You are not suicidal. This is good. I will call the psychologist.
Me: Um, sure.
Doctor: You wait outside. I call you.

Now, I'm back in the waiting room, utterly shaken, and and I'm trying to convey all of this to hubby with a minimal shaking of hands and raised voices. "They think I'm crazy! Let's blow this joint." It was at this precise moment that a large, very imposing, German military officer with a huge PSYCHOLOGIST patch on his uniform strides into the waiting room and says, "I am the psychologist. You need to see me, I think." Hello, discretion? It was internationally embarrassing. Greek, Italian, and German soldiers look up, the people from the American embassy look over, united in looks of pity and curiosity.

And when you think things can't get worse. Imagine being escorted by this person into a conference room. Imagine big windows and no curtains (perfect for privacy). Imagine this person leaving the door open. Imagine being told that, if you're even on this medication in the first place, you are SICK. Imagine being told that a person is either SICK or NOT SICK and that you (me) are definitely NOT WELL.


I am sure there was a lot lost in translation, and he wasn't a bad man. Of course, for the sake of speeding-things-along, I left out the comforting words and the genuinely well-meant advice. This is what stayed with me, though. The well/not well dichotomy. I have never defined myself as "sick" and to suddenly have that, that label, thrust upon me. Well. Well. No fucking way, mister.

Oh, and I didn't get my refill.


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