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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

The Mystery of the Missing Medicals

A funny thing happened on our way through life with stacks upon stacks of legal documents from Russia. One went missing, I think through no fault of our own.

The particular item of interest is Sashenka’s “Appendix B” medical form for U.S. Immigration. This is the medical form that recaps in English all of the immunizations, diseases, and/or dosages in a child’s orphanage history.

We know that we had this form when arriving in the U.S. It was presented to the pediatrician at the same time for both sisters. Back in the spring, when we started obtaining doctor’s physicals in order for the kids to go to camp, the doctor declared that Sashenka needed a chicken pox vaccination.

How could this be, we wondered, sure that she had received all immunizations either before or after arrival in America. Only three years home, she could not be due for a booster. The pediatrician did not have a copy of this document that we had provided for both girls for their initial exam, three years previous. Had the doctor’s office lost it?

We went home and searched for our copy from Dr. B. in Moscow.

Gone. Nada. Zippo. No cigar.

Now if you just think this thing through rationally, you will come to a rational conclusion. Both girls received any shots lacking when they first arrived home, namely a final Hepatitus shot. They did not get a chicken pox vaccination because they either had a history of the disease, or they had been immunized in Russia. To say that she was missing the vaccine, now, three years later, was ludicrous. That’s why we took them to the doctor in the first place: to make up any deficits right away.

So how to get a copy of the missing form? Here are my options:

1. I can call the Filibusterovsky Clinic in Moscow and ask for Dr. B. Trying online in English, Russian, and Swahili, the number is found to be top-secret. I find several numbers, and am given several phone numbers by kind souls… all of which are incorrect. (And yes, I know how to dial from abroad, as well as inside a country.)

2. I can ask my Russian family members to call for me and endure their incessant questioning, “How did you lose such an important form? You don’t check to make sure that your pediatrician returns every. single. piece. of. paper? What time do you want me to call? You mean you want me to stay up half the night just to make the call?” Thanks, but no, thanks.

3. I can ask a friend to call, a Russian-speaking acquaintance who will be more dispassionate. Reimbursing for time and expense, my friend needs to leave our country… and has even a harder time calling “locally”, once in Eastern Europe-? She reports that the main switchboard number at the clinic just rings and rings. This is becoming stranger and stranger. Weeks are passing.

4. I request someone else to call, who ferrets out the fact that Dr. B. is on holiday until mid-July, a few weeks away.

Wednesday, July 11th – He calls and the secretary reports that the doctor only works on Monday mornings. I agree that our appointments were always in the 8:00 am vicinity, and he decides to call the next week at that appointed hour.

Monday, 8:00 am – This time, the normally “dead” phone in his office answers, yet only with an answering machine-! My guy calls non-stop until 8:37 am on the direct line to Dr. B. at the Filibusterovsky Clinic.

9:23 am – He finally gets through, reporting: “A person answered said Dr. B. is very busy and cannot answer the phone now. I told her I have been calling for almost one month. Then she gave me another phone number – ‘Maybe he will answer’.

“I tried the new number – only fax machine answers. While typing this, someone finally answered and I asked for Dr. B. They replied – ‘Call again in 10 minutes’ and hung up immediately.”

He will try in 10 minutes.

9:35 am – This time, the hundredth time, he spoke with Dr. B., who said they keep the documents only for 6 months.

Whether or not we believe this statement or not is open to speculation. However, I then contacted USCIS at the American Embassy in Moscow to ask about “Appendix B” and should we file the G-884 “Return of Original Documents”, if the mysterious medical form might be included in the packet of documents once needed to obtain our children’s American visas.

Being the mysterious matter that it was, the embassy answered that we “may be able to obtain the form through the G-884 or you could file a Freedom of Information Act request to get the contents of the file but that would not get you the original. Please refer to our website at www.uscis.gov for more instructions and clarifications on what may or may not be obtained through the G-884 or the FOIA request. USCIS Moscow does not handle these requests so the website would be a better source of information on this particular subject.”

In other words, they have no idea, and they make no promises. Given our results so far, that didn’t sound so terrible. I do believe this may be the first time that a gobbledy-gook, governmental form answer actually gave me hope.

Meanwhile, we go through the other kids’ medicals with a fine-toothed comb, reading what we can in Russian medical scrawl and piecing together things that we never had the time nor the interest to figure out.

It appears that Petya was immunized for chicken pox upon arrival in the US. When every pediatric visit took upwards of four hours in the waiting room for a “well visit” and another one hour wait in the examining room, and the top teaching hospital with an international adoption clinic insisted on giving him zillions of immunizations that he had already received in Russia, stating, “You can never be sure that their dosages or supplies are verifiable,” we decided to switch pediatricians.

The first university hospital then would not send his medical records to the second doctor, resulting in his being immunized again, a few years later, for chicken pox-! Never had I seen this on his chart. If they said X, Y, and Z, we generally agreed with them. Theoretically, this could have been his third time being immunized.

Thus, Sashenka headed to camp “without” a chicken pox shot, though it’s my opinion that she probably had a case of chicken pox in Russia, just like her sister, otherwise she most definitely would have received this innoculation immediately upon arrival in the U.S. Not one person at camp who checked over her medical noticed it. There was no outbreak of death, disease, nor plague at camp, nor did I expect one.

Enough is enough. We’ll get to the bottom of this, and hopefully, without a needle involved. Here’s believing that an obscure governmental form may help solve the Mystery of the Missing Medicals.


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2 Comments : Leave a Reply

  1. avatar sarah says:

    Alexandra, have you tried just getting titters done for her? when my kids came home the IA Dr runs titer blood tests to see what they actually have immunity to? That way you know what they actually have immunity to vs. what immunisation may have expired before it was administered , etc. One more idea, maybe have the doctors office look in your other daughter’s file in the office. Did they mistakenly put them in one file instead of each girls since it is highly unlikely they threw them away?

    • avatar admin says:

      Ooh, I like the idea to check the other file, Sarah. Thanks for mentioning that. It’s so strange. We suggested the titers in the very beginning with our first son and they outright refused, basically saying to just have the shots and be done with it. Very strange. He received zillions of shots (in his thighs-?!) and they took vial after vial of blood. I nearly passed out. We should have simply walked out. When we switched doctors, this one was very used to internationals and accepted all of the other children’s Russian immunizations at face value. So at this point, if she eventually needs one shot, we can do that. But you’re right: titers would be the way to go for anyone starting out.

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