March 4, 2014

A Dominican Ultrasound

Matt and I have both adapted quite a bit to the Dominican culture and have tried to embrace our surroundings to get a full, well-rounded experience. But beyond the medical clinic on campus at Ross, we haven't had to delve into the local medical care. Well, at least for me, as Matt has attended clinic and such. But being on the receiving end is a bit different.

When we started thinking about getting pregnant and planning our ideal situation, we decided we wanted to be pregnant on the island, and come home with plenty of time to deliver in the States. And, we were lucky enough for our plan and His to match, so here we are.

I was under the impression all of my medical care could be done through the Ross Clinic barring everything was normal and healthy. We had known the clinic just got a new ultrasound machine, so I automatically thought that meant we could be totally taken care of there.


For the most part, yes. That's where I've been going to see the doctor for routine appointments. However, there isn't a designated radiologist at the Ross Clinic to read the ultrasound. It's used for emergency purposes only is what I've been told.

Well, ok. That's fine. Not a big deal to us. The only radiologist on the island has her office in Roseau, the capitol city. But she does come to Portsmouth near us every other Saturday for appointments. So when it came time to schedule my ultrasound, we made the appointment, hired a taxi and drove into town.

Now, I have to say, for my own sanity, it was a good thing Matt and I have been on island and adapted the way we have already. We are familiar with the culture and respect that culture, so we weren't totally freaked out by what was ahead. Just more nervous because it was a different experience. We didn't know what to expect.

So, we drove to the 'office' in Portsmouth. This is the building.

You'll notice there are two blue doors. One says Professional Offices. The other says Apartments. Easy enough. We tried to open the door for the offices, but it was locked. So I called the doctor's office to tell them their door was locked, but they let me know we were actually supposed to go in the door labeled Apartments. Ok, that worked.

The tech came downstairs to meet us to assure we headed in the right place. We walked up the stairs to the second floor and wound around to a teeny tiny apartment. Even smaller than our first apartment here. 

I'm assuming since the radiologist doesn't maintain an office in Portsmouth regularly, it was just easier for her to use this space. Whatever works.

We walk in. The tech puts out some plastic outdoor chairs for Matt and I to sit. Keep in mind this is an apartment, so we were seated in the living room/kitchen. The tech had his laptop out and was sitting at a wooden kitchen table. The kitchen was to our right. And a twin bed was straight ahead. Not exactly what we were expecting, but we can handle that. At least the AC was on.

The tech was very friendly and welcoming. He charged us up front - $150 EC. Which is roughly $40 USD. We pay cash - that's what they accept. No insurance, no credit. So then we waited. Not too long, but they needed to finish getting set up.

I was able to sneak a few pictures while the tech was in the 'bedroom' helping the doctor get ready.

Then it was our turn. We were the first appointment, so we made our way into the bedroom/exam room. This is where the AC unit was held, so it was freezing in here. Not complaining. I should point out that the wall that separated the bedroom from the rest of the apartment didn't quite reach the top, so it gave an outlet to the rest of the space for the AC to circulate. This eliminated all sense of privacy as even though the door was closed, there was still open space for conversations to carry.

The exam table was converted into a exam table from a day bed. There was a protective cover and a paper lining on the mattress. I laid down and Matt got comfortable. Then, our doctor started the ultrasound. She explained what we'd be looking for and took her time to make sure we understood. 

Once it started, this most amazing site was on the screen. It took my breath away. Matt's face lit up, and tears rolled down my face. There it was. That was our baby. It was real. How incredible.

She looked at all the screens, showed us the placement of everything, reassured us there was only one baby, and most importantly, that Baby Wells is healthy.

And then, we got to hear the heartbeat. It was the most wonderful sound I have ever heard. More tears. More overwhelming emotions.

The doctor was wonderful in answering all of my questions, being so patient and explaining it all so clearly. She also explained things in medical terms for Matt, and Lehman's terms for me, which is nice. At the Ross Clinic, they typically see all medical students, so they use the teaching vernacular. I'm not a medical student. I have no idea what most of that means. So it was nice to be able to understand the doctor myself and not have Matt translate. 

And then there was Matt who was so overwhelmed with seeing Baby Wells and fascinated with the medical side of it too, that he kept bouncing back and forth between Daddy Wells and Dr. Wells. It was endearing to watch.

Our appointment came to an end all too quickly. She printed out a few pictures for us, and told us to take a seat back out in the waiting area.

While we were out there digesting the beautiful site we just saw, her and the tech were preparing our report. Not ten minutes later, the brought out our report and photos in a sealed envelope and sent us on the way.

We were so over the moon that day. It's something we will never forget. And it of course gave us another learning experience to cherish here in Dom.

The important thing to take away for our experience is even though the facility wasn't the same as in the States and the procedures may be different, we still received great care. As I was laying on the day bed, I never felt as though the radiologist wasn't competent or incapable of providing quality care. 

Again, I was glad we had been here for awhile so we weren't completely overwhelmed by the physical qualities of the experience. But we were able to fully enjoy meeting our little one. Our Dominican ultrasound will be a memory of a lifetime. 

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