The Random Writings of Rachel: Mandatory Medical Exam (3 Terrifying Words)

Mandatory Medical Exam (3 Terrifying Words)


ShenZhen Port Hospital
 Do not let my smile fool you. Smiling is my automatic reaction to cameras, it is not my automatic reaction to hospitals.
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This was the experience I've dreaded for months. Ever since I first heard that there was a required medical exam for foreign workers in China, I've been nervous about it. I mean, mostly, I tried to pretend it didn't exist. In general, I practice strict hospital avoidance (I only visited Angel at work once during his years as a nurse). It's not that I'm "afraid of blood" or anything specific like that....it's more like I have a strong dislike of hospitals, doctor clothes, stethoscopes, people touching me and asking personal questions, being poked with needles, smelling weird hospital smells...basically, I avoid anything that involves doctors or nurses or examinations at all costs.

But there was a medical exam standing between me and a job teaching English in China. I had to do it.

I was quite glad, actually, that they had us do the medical exam on our very first day in China. I figured if I could face the thing I was dreading the most on the first day, the rest would all seem easy.

This medical exam that's required for a work visa was definitely like nothing I've every experienced. They herded our whole group up to one floor which was dedicated to this sort of exam, gave us papers that listed all the different exams that we had to be signed off on, and then it became a scavenger hunt of sorts as we bounced from one exam room to another, waiting in each line to tick another exam off the list.

All together, we had to get an ultrasound (of what I don't know, it was right under the ribcage, whatever they were looking at), an eye exam, chest X-ray, blood pressure test, blood test, EKG, urine test, and we had to be weighed as well.

It was not particularly fun, at least not for someone with a dread of all things medical. Angel was in his element and was highly amused by the entire event.

Privacy was not a big concern. Every exam room door was open, and you simply lined up outside the doors and could easily watch the procedure been done on the person before you. Results were proclaimed in big numbers, and from outside the room Angel was analyzing and commenting on all of my results (as well as the results of those around us). He inspected my EKG results, noted my blood pressure, and said, after seeing my chest X-ray that it was the best-looking chest X-ray he'd ever seen (I pointed out that probably most of his patients who had had x-rays probably had a more pressing reason for getting those X-rays other than simply to prove than they didn't have tuberculosis. Or maybe he just thinks my lungs are cute.).

Oh--for anyone who has to do this at any point, I highly recommend not wearing a dress. I was pretty well prepared and wore capris, a t-shirt, and a swimsuit-style sports bra, and I was very glad because the nurse was waving me into the ultrasound room while another guy was still lying on the table, and had me on the table with my shirt pulled all the way up and jamming the ultrasound wand up against my ribs before the other guy was even out of the room. As I mentioned...the right to privacy was definitely not practiced. Some of the girls in our group wore sundresses and had cause to regret it.

The hospital seemed quite clean to me, although sheets or papers on the beds weren't changed from one person to the next (which, I do admit, made for a very speedy line because there was no wait in between exams).

Also, we  had to remove our shoes to be weighed on the scale (I was glad that unlike most, I was wearing socks) but we could carry our purses on the scale, so the numbers might not have been entirely accurate.

Angel was very sweet and held onto me while I had not one but two vials of blood drawn.

As for the urine test...I can't really talk about it. I'm not like my husband, I'm not comfortable with this sort of thing, let me just say it involved extremely hot bathrooms with no air-con or ventilation but with squat toilets...and metal trays with 50 or so uncovered (Did you hear that, there were no lids!) full cups just lying around. Angel called them "jello shots"...well, because he's Angel.

The best part about this required medical exam, in my opinion, is that it is now over. The only damage done was a little mental distress on my part and a small bruise on my arm where they stole my blood. Angel still thinks it was awesome that he got to see me go through the whole examination and also got to see all of my results (not because I gave permission or shared my test results with my husband, as might happen in the US), but simply because he was standing outside the exam room while the tests went on.

You all have claimed to be interested in our adventures in China. That's the first big one! I'm thinking, after that, everything else should seem doable, right?

31 comments:

  1. I'm not a fan of the no-privacy thing. I would hate that!

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  2. Whoa! I'm not adverse to hospitals like you, but I guarantee this would not have made me happy or comfortable. The no privacy thing was sort of shocking and the cups of urine just sitting around... gross! Glad you got it over with!

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  3. Eee that sounds stressful, but it's over with now and you have no major medical issues (in case you were wondering).

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  4. That is hilarious! Sort of. Now that it's over!

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  5. Oh yes, that's an adventure indeed. and it is now behind you. Now onto the real fun!

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  6. I hope it gets easier from here! I would totally freak out over all of this so you're a trooper for handling it without having a total meltdown!

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  7. I'm trying not to cringe just reading this. Glad its over for you!

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  8. That's pretty awesome! Glad you were able to get over it and live to talk about it :P That no privacy thing sucks, it's good you wore jeans and a shirt, came prepared - I get very paranoid and hyper vigilante when scenarios like that arise.. usually causes a spike in my BP too. I will forever think of urine cups as jello-shorts, thanks Angel! Lol Have a great one guys and enjoy your new journey! -Iva

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  9. You're right; that doesn't sound fun at all...in fact, it sounds miserable. lol. But at least it's over now! Did y'all have to get any vaccines. By the way, I HATE hospitals too. I'll go visit friends who just had babies and that's about it. I go straight to the labor/delivery floor and make sure there are no accidental detours...but hey at least if I passed by a room here, the doors would be shut. No privacy? CRAZY!!!

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  10. My goodness, that is a lot to go through with no privacy...even WITH privacy that sounds like a bit of a nightmare! Too bad they don't let you get your exams in the US and then just provide the paperwork when you get there!

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  11. Oh man that's crazy! At least their efficient right? Can't wait to hear more about China!

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  12. You are awesome! I couldn't do it...but, I admit, I was happy enough to read about it. That sounds bad, like I enjoy seeing you in discomfort. :( Which, I don't! But, I DO like reading about this excellent adventure of yours, the good, and the scary.

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  13. Wow! How unpleasant?!? Glad you passed. Rachel xo http://garaytreasures.wordpress.com/2014/08/03/the-day-i-met-a-boy/

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  14. Yikes... at least it's over though!

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  15. Oh my gosh, I feel so sorry for the poor girls in sun dresses! I'm glad for you that it is over and that you passed! Hopefully everything else will be better. :)

    http://howtomakehome.blogspot.com

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  16. what an experience! i would be glad it's over too!!

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  17. aww rachel, i can totally relate to this! i absolutely hate hospitals - blood, urine - all of it. let's be thankful you had Angel and the next adventure will be a happier one :)

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  18. Oh, heck no! I need my privacy. Fine, strangers can watch me get blood taken, weighed, and attempt to pass an eye exam, but NO WAY do strangers get to see me lift up my shirt. Awkward! Congrats on making it through the medical exam, I don't think I would have.

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  19. Oh my! I would have either passed out during or after such an ordeal. I have a tendency to become nauseous w/ needles unintentionally. Yay for sweet husbands! Justin would probably have been as interested as Angel w/ the whole thing. Uh, boys!

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  20. It sounds like not much has changed in the 14 years since we first went to China, haha! Thankfully my sister and I never had to undergo the tests because we weren't actually teachers. But this is pretty much exactly what happened with my parents. Ah, good times...

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  21. It sounds like Angel really loves medical stuff. Do you think he will ever work in the medical field again? --P.S. Your blog just got 1000% more interesting with this move to China!

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    1. Well I think I have to agree that my life in Michigan may not have been particularly interesting--though I did always attempt to write in an interest-inducing way...
      Angel's keeping his nursing license up, so we're definitely keeping our options open about him going back into nursing at some point. He really like the idea of working as a school nurse at an international school somewhere over here in Asia, so we'll see!

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    2. Oh, don't worry, your blog was very fun and interesting before - it's just even better now!

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  22. Oh my gosh that's scary! I heard some countries did medical exams when you go live there but I'm so glad I've never had that! Especially the whole lack of privacy thing! But like you said, at least it's done and your trip can only get better from there :)

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  23. I am sending this link to my sister who is graduating from nursing school this year, and has plans to work as a travel nurse for awhile. While the idea of this makes me shiver, she'll definitely find it interesting!!

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  24. Oh my, I just got some flashbacks. There's nothing more invasive and awkward than the medical exam. Especially in China where it felt like you were a product on an assembly line going to different stations and having no idea what was coming next.

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  25. We have to get medicals done every year for our adoption. I'm like you, in the fact that I'd rather avoid those kinds of things and places. Though I do think it is hilarious that you being that way married a nurse.

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  26. Ok, I'm not supposed to laugh but how you wrote this was hilarious to me! LOL. I mean.. like you, I totally hate hospitals and everything about it I guess especially the food and smell. Just imagine when I gave birth, I practically wanted to be home right away! And I try to avoid medical exams too. In fact, one of the reasons I don't want to work in another company again is because I know I had to go through another medical exam. Ugh.

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  27. haha! i can just see it...as someone living in SE Asia, yes, privacy is just not even on people's radar here...sounds like they have the factory-line idea down pat. :)

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  28. That doesn't sound like much fun! I'm looking forward to reading about your adventures in China.

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  29. I read a book a few months back about a group of teachers who were teaching at a Chinese school. It was called Pretty Woman Spitting or something like that. I found it fascinating (I am completely obsessed with other cultures), but they got into some very specific details about the bathrooms and such that cured me for a lifetime of wanting to ever go to China. But it was a heart-warming story and I loved how close they became with their students and with each other. Good luck on your adventures. #SITSSharefest

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