Today I had two doctor's appointments back-to-back, since they were both in the same area of town. It takes me about an hour to get there, so I figured that I'd try to knock them both out on the same day to avoid an extra two hours of traveling later in the week.
My first doctor's appointment was scheduled for 10:00 with a doctor who specializes in cardiac ultrasounds on babies in utero. My regular doctor gives me an ultrasound at every appointment and said that she trusts herself to detect any defects in the brain, lungs, liver, etc., but she says that there are so many things that can be wrong with the heart that she likes her patients to see a specialist between 20-22 weeks for an ultrasound of the baby's heart. No problem.
So, I left my apartment at 8:45 this morning. Out the front door and walk up this (killer) hill:
Up the hill and through the gate at the back.
Turn left behind the post office and walk up some more stairs.
This is only half the flight of stairs...
And then through a big parking lot.
About seven minutes after leaving my front door I reach the main road, where I catch a minibus to Kadiköy. 15ish minutes later, I reach this insanity:
One of the bus depots in Kadiköy.
Here, I walk another 10 or so minutes
getting views like this
until I find the correct dolmuș.
A dolmuș: a shared taxi. You pay a set amount for up to a certain distance, and they only go on set routes (like a bus, but less crowded).
The dolmuș takes me another 10-15 minutes and I get off near Göztepe Park. My doctors are on Bağdat Caddesi, which is a one-way street going the opposite direction than the direction the dolmuşes go. So I get out and walk through the park.
Ahh, greenery in the middle of 18 million people!
I turn right up Bağdat Caddesi, walk about 10 more minutes, and I've reached doctor #1. Total time: 1 hour, 10 minutes.
I arrive just in time. I look at the board to see which floor my doctor is on, since I've never seen this doctor before. I don't see his name so I ask at the information desk, which floor is he on? "He's not working here today." "Huh? I have an appointment." "You have an appointment?" "Yes. Today is Tuesday, August 16th, right?" "What's your name?" And she proceeds to confirm that I do not have an appointment, that the doctor is not working today at this hospital or at the other one I was told he worked at. Now I'm wondering if I have an appointment anywhere today, and why I don't have an appointment here. Plus, I'm thinking that I'm going to have to travel the 1 hour, 10 minutes again later this week, since I'm almost to 23 weeks and will be out of the window of time that this doctor does ultrasounds. Sigh.
I ask to use their phone and call the call center where I made my appointment (in English, by the way, so there was no misunderstanding on my part, at least, the first time around). I explain the situation to them and they say they'll call back once they know something. Five minutes later they call and confirm that I don't have an appointment. Thank you. I figured that much out. Why not? What happened? Do I have an appointment somewhere else? "We'll call you back."
Meanwhile, the receptionist disappears. She reappears 20 minutes later and informs me that there's another doctor there who can do an ultrasound. Ok. But I don't want to pay for any ole' ultrasound. Is it a specialist? So I call my doctor on my cell phone while talking to the call center on the hospital's phone (trying to make an appointment for tomorrow with the original doctor) and ask her to talk to the receptionist, since by now my brain is fried and my Turkish is definitely not good enough to handle this. I hang up with the call center and tell them I'll call back later if I need a new appointment.
My doctor confirms that this doctor can indeed do this special ultrasound. Great. So I go and have the ultrasound done. But Baby Girl doesn't want to cooperate. She won't show the doctor her face, and he wants to make sure she's not blind and doesn't have a cleft palate. I get up and walk around, drink a cup of hot chocolate. Go back in. Nothing. They make me eat cookies and tell me to drink some coffee. Walk around some more. I call my doctor and make sure it's ok that I'm going to be super late. No problem. I walk around. Eat some cookies. Drink two cappuccinos from the machine. Finally she cooperates. No blindness. No cleft palate. Thank goodness.
I try to leave but they need to process my insurance claim. It takes forever. I finally leave. It's 11:45. I'm already 45 minutes late and I haven't even left yet! I leave, turn right down Bağdat Caddesi, and walk about 15 minutes until I come to my doctor's building.
Finally! Only an hour late...
I go up the elevator, get the doorbell to work for the first time ever, and tell them I'm there to see my doctor. They tell me to sit and wait. A lady comes and asks me my name (in Turkish). I tell her. She asks again, in English. I tell her again. She laughs. Brings me some initial paperwork to fill out. I'm confused because I've been here before...why am I filling out this paperwork again? I fill it out anyways to the best of my ability and read Turkish magazines while waiting. Finally, at 12:30 I get to see my doctor. She looks at the report from the first doctor, says all looks fine. Gets me weighed and is happy that I've finally gained weight: FIVE kilos in a month. She is happy at my weight gain but warns me not to gain five kilos (eleven pounds) each month from here on out! Takes my blood pressure. Prescribes me some iron pills. And lets me leave without even paying, since she didn't do much (ha, like THAT would ever happen in America!).
Out the door. Try to catch a dolmuş, but they're all full and passing me. Walk to the bus stop. Catch a normal bus.
Ride the bus 10-15 minutes. Nobody gives me a seat, because my belly isn't big enough yet.
I get out near the train station. Walk about seven minutes. Grab a döner kebap from a street vendor because it's after 1:00 and I'm pregnant and starving. I eat it while walking down the street, not caring that it's Ramazan and I'm being rude by eating in front of everyone who's fasting. I am pregnant, after all. Stop staring. I walk another 10ish minutes, up another hill. Catch another minibus.
Minibuses. Their only redeeming quality is that they'll drop you off anywhere on their route, not just at bus stops.
Ride the bus 10 or so minutes. Get off and walk back through that parking lot, down all the steps, down the big hill. And I get home right in time for my by-then-postponed-twice Turkish lesson.
I was so glad when this morning was over.