19 August 2005

Health Check

I had my pictures, had my bag, out the door to go to get my medical check for my work permit. I sat back in the car and let the a/c dry the sweat. Crap! No passport. Back to the house, down the alley, up 4 flights of stairs, got the passport and back out.

We went to what I am told is one of the better, private hospitals. The first stop is in an open-on-three-sides reception area covered by a roof. I stand behind my colleague as she enlightens them about what I need. I smile, the nurses smile, then start indicating my nose and giggling.

What are they saying? I ask.
“You have a high nose and we think it is beautiful”. A high nose. I had heard that before in Asia, and I guess it means that the bridge sits farther away form the face. I keep looking at their noses to see what the big deal is, and I can’t quite understand. Never used to really like my nose, always thought it was a little large. I no longer bother to think such thoughts – dang, it’s just my nose, but I would never label it beautiful.

After a bit of paper work, the nurse hands me a little plastic bottle. No need for translation, I know the routine. I walk over to the bathroom. UCK! Old, nasty, doors that don’t close, and no toilet paper. I manage to pee all over my hand. There is a sink, with illustrated signs about the necessity to wash ones hands, but no soap.
I am beyond grossed out. I take the container back to the nurse’s station and she points to the floor. I set it down. She picks it up with a piece of paper for protection.

She will be our guide for the next few stops on the road of a medical check. Apparently, it was jam-packed in the morning, but almost empty at 2pm. We follow her across an open area, to check stop # 1: blood.

I look at the building. It is all barren looking concrete floors and walls that have seen better days. However, it does look sort of clean. I am lead into the blood-letting room. This is no way clean and sparkle and antiseptic-smelling like a US hospital. I start to get nervous. But I look at the techs and nurses and they are wearing spotless, white, pressed uniforms. I peek into the back room where they are handling the blood. Everyone is wearing gloves and I can see banks of brand-new hospital cabinets and equipment, all looking very modern. Still not at all like I am used to, mind you, but I have hope. The tech comes out and I am pleased to note a box of disposable syringes and that she is wearing gloves. Then I look at the gloves. They are covered in blood and with holes. I desperately try to ask for clean gloves, but before I can even get started, she has stripped them off and grabbed a new needle. I look away as she cinches me up. I do not even feel the needle going in! This has to be the best blood-drawer in the know world! I know there will be no bruising.

Next on our list of chores is the x-ray. My protests go unheard. I get radi-ized fully clothed. I mention my under wire bra but that doesn’t seem to be a problem.

We are marching through at a remarkable speed. We go up a flight of stairs and sit in the waiting area. It is an impressive example of tropical architecture. I sit in a long, wide, covered corridor, with an outside wall that is built of open-holed, lattice-type concrete. Air flows through, the sun is kept away. The germs have no chance of hanging around. Opposite the ventilation wall are door after door, leading into examining rooms.

I wait about ten minutes for the doctor. I enter and see that this is an ear/nose check. The doc has me sit down, grabs my shoulders, and pulls me towards him. I nearly fall off the chair. Mouth right up against my left ear, he says, “What’s you name?” I passed the hearing test. Then he looks down my throat, looks up my nose, and signs me off.

Two doors down, it’s the eye check. I cover my right, then my left, and read the chart. Perfect vision, on to the ophthalmologist in an adjoining room. He pries open my eye and uses a giant prism to direct a beam of 1000 watts into it. I can’t keep my eye open, but make it through the exam. Singed off on that, and on to my last stop.

We go back downstairs and into a large room with a group of nurses seated around an old desk, working on patient files. An older doctor sits at a desk to the rear of the room. We walk in.

“Take off your shoes”, he says. Oh dear! I thought I had forgotten the rule about taking off one’s shoes when entering a house or some places of business. But everyone else was wearing shoes. I obliged.
“Get on the scale”. Now I got it.
“Lean against the wall”. He read my height out in centimeters and I calculated it when I got home. I am 2 inches shorten than in the US.
“Lie on the bed.” Oh GROSS!!! There was a nasty, dirty sheet on it. What were they going to do? I would die if I had to get a pelvic exam! He pulled out his stethoscope and listened to my heart. Then the nurse took my blood pressure.

I was done. The results would be ready in a few days, but it looks as though I am 100% healthy. It truly was fast, efficient, and everyone involved was most helpful and pleasant. When I got home, I ripped off my clothes, threw them in the hamper, and jumped in the shower. I am such a wimp when it comes to the thought of germs.

Good Health to All,