I paid for my Doctor degree yesterday and today...
...in 14 test-tubes of blood (testing for AIDS/HIV/STDS/nourishment/iron, etc.), a chest x-ray, TB test, EKG, sonogram, eye exam, hearing exam, and pee test.
My "foreigner physical exam" is almost complete.
You see, I needed to turn in the "foreigner physical exam" with my paperwork to Zhejiang University back in January. But I forged it.
Plagued with memories of the exam 2 years ago on my very first day in Chi.na (literally, 2 hours after landing on the ground), I googled what blood tests and EKG's should look like and filled out the form, left it without a signature, and turned it in.
As ridiculous as that sounds (my mother can't believe I did that) I don't regret it for a second.
ha. I'm even proud enough to blog about it. I feel like I won. Because I forged the form, I am able to get it filled out in Amer.ica rather than Chi.na.
The exam in Ch.ina is an incredibly invasive, non-private, intrusive, obnoxious, more negative adjectives, experience.
It is basically a series of rooms that you bounce around to, wait in line, and then get whatever test is in that room. It's like a bunch of magic doors with surprises behind them in the form of awkward experiences.
When a woman weighed me, she yelled out my weight to the other workers in another room and made clicking sounds at me. (I would later learn this is a sign of disapproval). When another woman was placing my EKG bits over my chest, she pulled up my bra in front of a line of middle-eastern business men. The sonogram lady smacked my stomach and laughed after applying a generous lump of cold goo. And the x-ray technician somehow forgot to give me a lead jacket (because they didn't have any). I was on my period and had to answer to my male boss when he asked me if it was my, "lady time" during the pee test. And they couldn't find my veins to take my blood because my arm was, "too skin".
Now, 2 years later, the small incidents of that day are small and funny. Little blips in an eventful two years. Almost forgettable except for their humor factor. But on that day - I was shattered.
Many other expats have similiar physical exam stories. It is a bonding tool. If you're meeting a new person who just moved to Chi.na you can ask..."So, how's the exam go?" and expect to bond over 20 minutes of lamentation concerning no privacy concerns, overflowing pee cups and exposed body parts.
In January, I was faced with the awful task of re-visiting that foreigner exam center because my visa was changing from a work visa to a student visa and therefore needed an updated test. My money was super low at the time from my trip to Thaila.nd/Mala.ysia/Sing.apore and the test costs about $120 USD (a week of work). The price was the icing on the cake, my grand excuse to not go through with it.
So, here I am. In happy Amer.ica getting my forms filled out honestly and with integrity and for an affordable $10 co-pay. I'm making it right, getting it done. In a hospital that is clean - with clean needles, nurses that speak english and don't freak when I step on a scale, people who don't poke and prod and laugh, my own room at the doctors office to change in, and magazines in the waiting room. It's so nice here, strangers even make conversation in the waiting rooms.
There's just so many things every day that I come in contact with that make me proud to be Amer.ican. Today it was the beautiful interior and comfortable atmosphere of the Trinity Health Center, the friendly nurses and front desk helpers, and the jovial octogenarians waiting in the blood lab. Preciousness all around.
Because I was an overzealous photographer in my early months as an expat - here's some photos from that fateful day in August, 2008:
Oh, the things that once were tragic that are filed under "slightly amusing" now.
Funny how that happens, huh? :) But I'm still not going back there - no, sir-ee. I'm happy it's over. :)
Walk Slow. xoxo.