Greetings! It’s been a while. Life sort of took over for a few months, but we’re back at it and things are going to progress once again. I’m going to start with a story I’ve been hoping to have time to tell for a long time now, as it’s about a person who may have been more responsible for all of this working out with our boys than anyone else. Her name is Dr. Irina, and we consider her our Angel of Kyiv.
It seems relatively common that crazy, intense stories with even temporary diabolical possibilities involve a random, unforeseen person coming along and making all the difference. My wife and I don’t think of Dr. Irina in the ‘traditional’ sense as most religions think of angles. She was more of a doctor wearing the proverbial superhero’s cape.
As I’ve mentioned before, there as a time during all of this when it started to seem possible that all could be lost with Mickey. He was fighting for his life, and we didn’t understand why or how. We had no idea what was going to happen or what we could do to help. We had help from people we already knew, as we’ve covered.
We needed help on an ongoing basis at the hospital after we got our initial diagnosis, and we weren’t getting it. No one spoke English, no one had time to try to communicate with us and no one seemed to be overly concerned about keeping us informed. It was torturous. Was he getting better? What was happening? Were there any setbacks? How soon until we could hold him?
As my psychological dyke was about to spring too many leaks to plug with fingers, as my countenance became evermore dour and as my tone became increasingly confrontational with the unresponsive staff, I felt a light tap on my shoulder one afternoon and turned around to see a soft, friendly face, wearing a polite, slight smile.
It was Dr. Irina. She spoke no English, but she made sure to have a translator with her every time we spoke., as she did that time. She was the head of NICU, and she came in before she was scheduled to help us out. It seemed, according to her, that word of my rantings had gotten around.
Dr. Irina proceeded to meet with me and my wife and to tell us exactly what was happening with Mickey. She listened to my wife’s explanations of how she had been poorly treated by the nurses. As soon as my wife finished, she called the head nurse over to her, spoke to her in a seemingly stern tone in Ukrainian, and then calmly turned to us and assured us that not only would Tiffany be treated with the proper respect going forward, but that I would be welcome in the unit to see my sons, as that had been hit-or-miss to that point. About half the time, they had kicked me out for unknown reasons.
She wasn’t kidding. The way they treated us changed not only immediately, but dramatically, and we made sure to respond in-kind. We smiled at them, we tried to sign our way through polite conversations and we even bought some booties and hats that one of the nurses had knitted. Our entire experience there turned on its ear.
We also really needed to figure out how we were going to get Mickey to the US Embassy for his DNA test, as there was no way the American government would allow that test to be administered at the hospital, despite my pleas. She assured us that we could make our appointment with the embassy, and that barring any setbacks she’d make sure we kept it.
We made the appointment. There weren’t any setbacks. She made sure we kept it. You know how? She came with us. She told us a couple of days ahead of time that she would be accompanying us to the embassy in order to meet the care protocols of the hospital. This was the head of the department, going herself - we couldn’t believe it.
What was funny was that we couldn’t even understand her full name, which we obviously had to provide to the embassy so they’d let her in with us. Finally, we asked her to write it down, and I took a photo of it and emailed it to the embassy. That was good enough for them.
Finally, after all was said and done, and we were ready to leave the hospital, she sat with us and walked us through the final billing and paperwork process. That eliminated any sort of holdups that we had heard were somewhat common there.
Even after we left the hospital, she made sure to come in for our required follow-up checkup that we needed to pass in order to be able to officially be discharged. She oversaw the exams and made sure that every word she said was properly explained.
She didn’t have to do any of this. To this day, we’re not sure why she took all of this on. All we know is that of all the people we encountered over there, interesting and otherwise, she was easily the kindest, gentlest and most genuinely caring person with whom we crossed paths. Without her, I have no idea how things would’ve played out.
She was our Angel of Kyiv. Thank you, Dr. Irina.