Archive for the ‘ Costs ’ Category

The trip to Belgrade

After a mid-trip change of flights and 13 hours in the air I arrived safely (and with all of my luggage) in Belgrade about 24 hours ago. I have slept about 12 of that, lol. I’m adjusting to the time difference but I’m sure I’ll be fine. It takes me a day or two but I usually adjust to the light/dark cycle pretty easily.

I’m in the apartment here in Belgrade and have already met 2 of the surgical team (one of them picked me up at the airport). I will put up photos of the apartment in another post.

Now for the flights. I had booked three flights to get me from the US to Belgrade, Serbia. The second flight was delayed enough to cause a connection issue in Amsterdam so I changed schedules and had a total of 4 flights. I had boarding passes for all but the last flight (Amsterdam to Belgrade).

The international flight to Amsterdam wasn’t bad at all, even to be 7+ hours. I watched two movies and slept for a couple of hours. The meal wasn’t bad either (for airplane food, lol). At the Amsterdam airport the signs were easy to follow as they’re all duplicated in English or otherwise easy to decipher. I used a self-service kiosk to “transfer” to my flight to Belgrade. For this I simply inserted the appropriate page of my passport, confirmed, and received a boarding pass for my flight to Belgrade.

    Just FYI: leaving my arrival gate, getting the boarding pass, and making my way to the next gate could probably have been accomplished in 10 or 15 minutes if I really hussled. As it was, I had four and a half hours.

I looked on the monitor for my flight, found the terminal and gate information (T5 Gate 18), then exchanged US$ for euros. (I purchased euros at home for the apartment in Belgrade but wanted some money for food at the Amsterdam airport. It was almost 9am and I was hungry). Then I found my gate and took a hour-long nap while I waited nearby.

The flight to Belgrade was uneventful. The only interesting thing was that I had to put my bags through an x-ray machine and go through security again at the gate leaving Amsterdam. It wasn’t a big deal, really, just surprising.

    I did have to check my larger carry-on at the gate because the plane was a smaller plane with smaller storage compartments. I had checked one bag at the original airport and carried two with me. A carry-on sized case and a backpack. Be aware that my carry-on suitcase was large. It technically meets the dimensions required by the airlines but when you stuff that thing it bulges a bit, lol. I had to gate check it for the two shorter flights (both on 737s). After the first flight I retrieved the bag at the gate upon arrival (still in the US) but on the flight to Belgrade I picked it up at baggage claim along with my larger suitcase. In retrospect I think I would have been better off to have checked both of those and carried only my backpack. I’ll definitely be doing that on my way home.

Belgrade’s Nikola Tesla airport was easy to navigate. I left the airplane and followed the signs for baggage. I had to go through customs and have my passport stamped before getting to the baggage area. Once I had my bags I followed the crowd to the exit and spotted a bank window for money exchange. I bought US$300 worth of dinar (the local currency) though I’m not sure I’ll need it all. Once I bought the dinar I stepped down the hall and around the corner and was outside at the pick up area. Marta was there with a laminated paper with my name on it. Piece of cake, I tell ya.

We chatted and walked to the car then headed for the apartment. On the way she pointed out the nearest grocery (two blocks away from the apartment) and once we got to the apartment Marta explained everything to me. About ten minutes later Gradimir (the anesthesiologist) showed up and the three of us chatted for a bit until Marta had to leave. I enjoyed talking with both of them. They were warm and friendly and very helpful. Both had a great sense of humor and I think we hit it off from the start.

When Marta left she took my passport with her. She would take it to the police department to check me in as a visitor. I got it back a few days later along with the card that proves I entered the country properly (and legally).

After Marta left Gradimir and I chatted a little more then we reviewed my medical history and the test results I’d sent in advance (some of which they will repeat, such as the basic blood work and the EKG). He also talked to me about pre-op preparations (suppository use and eating/drinking limitations) and and what to expect during the hours leading up to surgery. We chatted a bit more then he left.

I made myself stay up until after 9pm local time then showered and fell into bed.


Euros and compression stockings

I picked up the Euros at the bank yesterday afternoon. I also found out that Walgreen’s carries compression hose so I didn’t need a prescription after all. I’m going to measure my leg and buy those – piece of cake.

That’s about it for now. I’m on a plane two weeks from tomorrow. 🙂

FMLA paperwork and prescriptions

I went to see my primary care doctor yesterday. I got my flu shot, had the FMLA paperwork for HR at work filled out, and got prescriptions for the drugs and stockings I’m supposed to take to Belgrade with me. Today I picked up the medications but I still have to get the stockings.

I’m a little nervous and I’ll be glad when this is over. I’m usually not nervous over surgery but I think the distance I’m traveling (alone) combined with the money I’m spending has me anxious. I’m accustomed to traveling alone so I think it’s more about the money.

I’ll be getting on a plane in a little more than three weeks.

Euros ordered

Well, I ordered the Euros I need for the apartment in Belgrade. I’m staying a total of 19 nights at 60 euros per night plus 14% tax. I added an extra 100 Euros just in case. At the current rate, 1400 euros cost me US$2053.62.
I should have them by Friday.

4 weeks to go, payment wired

I just wired 9000 euros to the account designated by Marta in Belgrade. Damn, I hate to see that kind of money disappear from my account.

I also asked the teller about ordering euros since I’ll need to take some to pay for the apartment. It only takes a few days to get them so I’ll do that next week.

I’ll also see my doc next week to get him to fill out the FMLA papers for work.

We’re getting closer…

Medical supplies I am to bring

As requested by Marta, I will be taking some medication and supplies with me to Belgrade. I can only assume I would be charged for these items if I didn’t bring them along.

This is what I received a few days ago via email:

Also you need to stop with the Testosterone three weeks before the surgery.

I hope that you are using the penile pump, which you need to use until
the surgery.

Here is the reminder about the things that you need to bring to Belgrade:

1. antiembolism stockings up to your thighs (groins)

2. Antibiotics: Augmentin a 1 g for twice a day usage, for 7 days and then
one tablet per day until having the suprapubic drainage [removed?]

3. Antibiotics: Levofloxacine tablets a 250mg for twice a day use for 7 days

4. Testosterone shot, we will give it to you few days after the surgery.

5. If you have some favorite pain killers bring them as well but inform Dr
Korac [anesthesiologist] about those.

6. Bring some boxer briefs and some of them that are loose, I don’t know
which you like more, but slips are not suitable. Also, bring some loose
trousers because you will feel more comfortable in them, especially when
going outside of the hospital.

Info they requested and costs

NOTE: This information (fees, tests, etc) will certainly change at some point. Do not assume that my costs or requirements will be the same as yours.

Back in the Spring of this year I contacted Dr Miro. Of course, the first thing Miro wanted was photos. I emailed the photos then we briefly discussed the procedures and the fees. (There was no need to go into great detail about the procedures as that information is available on his website ).

He said I should use a pump as well as testosterone cream (applied directly to the tissue) for 3 months prior to surgery – each done 2 or 3 times per day.

The fees:

10,000 euros for –
Metoidioplasty (release), scrotoplasty, vaginectomy, and urethral lengthening

750 euros for –
Testicular implants

Hospital fees are included.
Lodging after hospital is not.

I then began exchanging emails with Marta (to make arrangements) and the anesthesiologist.

The anesthesiologist requested the following information:

Age, weight and height

A report from my physician stating general status of my health, especially of respiratory and cardiovascular systems, with basic clinical examination.

A list of all medications (incl. hormonal support) that I am taking (generic names)

The following test results:
– Urea & Electrolytes (incl. blood sugar, liver function tests, thyroid function tests)
– Hepatitis B and C
– HIV test
– Chest X-Ray

These should be done at least a month before surgery and reports sent as soon as they are available (via e-mail is quite o.k.)

1. any known allergies of any kind (food, drugs, etc)
2. any problems regarding your nervous system (epilepsy,
depression, etc)
3. any problems regarding your cardiovascular system (heart problems,
incl. arrhythmias, murmurs, legs varicose veins, etc.), as well as if there
is a history of heart disease in your family
4. any problems regarding your respiratory system (childhood
bronchiolitis, asthma or laryngitis, current problems like chronic
obstructive disease or asthma, smoking, etc.)
5. any problems regarding your gastrointestinal system (stomach
ulcer, problems with small or large bowel, diabetes, problems regarding
liver, etc)
6. any other problems (eye sight, anemia, skin problems, alcohol
or drug abuse, etc)
7. are you regularly taking any other medications such as aspirin,
vitamins or other supplements, or alternative medications
8. when did you have, how many and what type of general or regional
anesthesia and what was your experience
9. have you ever had blood transfusion or transfusion of any blood

As of ten days ago, all of this information has been supplied to the anesthesiologist via emails from myself and my primary care physician.

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