In the early days of my being in China when I could not keep my blog, I did keep a record of the things that I knew I would forget unless I wrote them down. Then I was able to blog properly again and I forgot about my musings early on. So, I will do a “Early Days” series over the next few weeks and let you know what happened in those silent days… starting with the ominous medical examination for my work permit.
We drove across town for an hour to a facility at which the government would preform a “complete medical examination”. I have since learned that I could have had this examination in Australia. We were photographed, given a sheet of paper and a set of bar coded stickers and told to go visit the 9 stations of the medical check.
The first test I went to (we did not have to stick to a particular order) was an ultrasound of my…well, I don’t know what. She looked at my belly beneath my ribs and then turned me on to one side to look at something. As it turned out when we were all comparing notes, it did not seem to matter which side she examined. Some of us rolled to the left, others to the right. Maybe I just don’t know enough about ultrasounds, but to me that seemed inconsistent.
Then I had a chest x-ray. Fairly standard procedure except for the fact that when he told me to put by bag on the table, I thought he meant for me to lie on the table. That caused a few laughs.
Next, I had to get my eyes checked. The guy gave me what looked awfully like a desert spoon bent to act like opera glasses. I had to put the bowl over my eye and tell him which way the E went. Now, I thought that the chart was the E chart because I could just point with my finger which way it went, which is what I did. This caused a commotion of some sort and suddenly, there were about seven people standing around watching me point in all directions. Eventually they let me stop.
And sent me on to my ear test. Now, I kid you not: a woman sat behind a desk, I sat on the other side. She took out the usual-looking ear examiner thing – you know, black plastic inverted funnel to stick in your ear – and she came no closer to me, pointed the black plastic in the general direction of my ear then asked me to turn around. Repeated this operation, signed my form and sent me on my way.
Next stop – ECG. Except it was an ECG right out of One flew over the Cookoo’s nest. I was bade to lie down on a bed and lift my shirt up. I did, exposing my entire stomach (because at this stage I did not know what I was being tested for). This was not enough for the woman administering this test because she mimed “Pull it up further”, so I did. I was now lying with my bra completely exposed when the woman cam and yanked my bra up. Then she smirked – again, I kid you not. Anyway, she brought out these little green porcelain suction cups and applied them to my chest – curiously though, none to the area exposed by my lifted bra – and then put a silver clamp on my wrist and ankle. Then she left me. I don’t know where she went or why but I was left with a curtain between me and the other people waiting to be similarly tested. She returned, printed out the ECG and spoke to me for the first time. “Blood pressure high.” It was a demand. I shrugged, fighting back gales of laughter. Of course I have high blood pressure in this situation!
So then I went to have my blood pressure and pulse checked. Now, I am on the gargantuan side in China. The large side in Australia, but that doesn’t count anymore. So, the woman at the blood pressure check point put the blood pressure cuff around my arm and it wouldn’t fit. She tried again and got me to hold it closed. I, by this time, could no longer hold in my laughter. There was no way I would be able to hold the cuff closed while she pumped it up to maximum pressure. Anyway, after a couple of goes at this, she finally directs me over to a machine. The machine has a gaping hole facing me. She mimes with her finger that I should put my finger in this great hole. Or at least that is what I thought. So I approached the hole with my finger pointing out, she mimes “keep going” when I get into the entrance, I keep going with my index finger extended and it is not until half my forearm is in the machine that it dawns on me what this is all about. So, there I am, arm stuck in this machine and I cannot stop laughing. The woman tells me off and proceeds to take my blood pressure three times. With three different measurements. I pick the normal one and tell her that that is normal. She agrees with a shrug and sends me on my way.
The next pit stop was to ensure my spine was straight. The white-coated man (they all had white coats on) took my weight then ran his finger down my spine, signed the page and sent me off. What the?
Blood test. Well now, my body does not part with my blood very easily.My veins have never been cooperative and have always been very difficult to find. When they are found, the blood comes out so slowly that it takes about three minutes to fill one vial for a blood test. So I anticipated problems. In fact, I suggested that they just take it from my hand. his suggestion is never taken up by anybody. So, they rootled around both my arms, I say ‘they’ because the first blood collector called over a second blood collector and they deliberated and poked and tied the tourniquet tighter. I suggested again that they take it from my hand and this time, like everybody else, they saw the wisdom in my suggestion. So they had three vials of blood to collect. It was taking the usual amount of time for me, but I became an attraction and all of the blood collectors were standing around watching this procedure. Finally I had donated enough of my blood and I was allowed to go.
Later that evening we compared notes and it became clear that breast exposure in the ECG test was experienced only by those of us with, how shall we say it, magnificent bosoms?
If I had to do this all over again, I would do it in China and not Australia because my goodness, what a laugh we had! And what a story to tell!