Medical Exam


One of my favorite experience so far has been our medical exam. It was conducted while we were in GZ in April for our look-see/house hunting trip. It’s a requirement for all who apply for a residence visa and it is so Chinese. I’m shaking my head as I’m writing this because it’s just so darn funny. I have heard from others  that they didn’t like it, they thought it was too personal but it is what it is and one has to do it if they want to live in China.

I must first tell you about our relocation rep. that lead us through the maze of the exam. Think of the Tasmanian Devil in full tornadic form, toss in Speedy Gonzalez, add a splash of the Energizer Bunny and you have K. I’m not sure the experience would have been the same without him frantically herding us. He really was part of the entertainment. I was exhausted just watching him and as soon as we were done, he was the epitome of calm. Unbelievable.

So we arrived at the ITHC (International Travel Health Center) right on time at 8AM. We were ushered to seats while K did whatever he had to do. We filled out a very brief paper and then were led to our first desk where the only question was, “Are you pregnant? ” I answered, “NO!!!!!” and Anders answered, “I hope not!!!!!!” Not sure what happens if the answer is yes, but we obviously gave the right one. Then we were allowed to fill out a full registration form and K paid way too much money I’m sure.  Need I say that we had about 10 photos and 3 copies of our passports to hand over?  We were then given some papers that we had to carry with us and on the front of those was one photo so we know they don’t all go to waste.

We then walked across the street where the real action began. This building was probably built in 1950 and hasn’t seen a whole lot of renovating. We were to put our papers in a basket outside each door, wait, and then go when called. K did a very good job of making sure we did not lose our place in line and would frantically wave us in if we hesitated for more than a second. Honestly, sometimes it was hard to understand the name the nurses and doctors were calling and before  I could even process that it was me they wanted, he’d be picking my papers out of the basket, shaking them at me, and calling forward.

1) Height, weight, and blood pressure  It was a bit like being in high school again as there were other people in the room and the nurse said your weight out loud! Come on, not even Anders knows my weight but  4 other Chinese do now.  

2) Blood station  I thought I was at a bank. There were 4 teller windows, you step up, sit down, present your arm, she ties the band on, and draws your blood.

3) General Health  I was given a questionnaire in English and I learned too late that the answer is always no. I answered yes to surgery, just broken bones, but I knew as soon as I said it I should have lied.  The doctor started to ask me questions and between her very limited English and my pointing she determined it wasn’t a deal breaker. After some general prodding and breathing in and out, I was done. No big deal.

4) EKG  It was my first EKG and I actually found it kind of comforting that I wasn’t sent off in an ambulance because I had an irregular heartbeat or anything.

5) Chest X-ray  This was a little disconcerting. I’ve had X-rays before but you’re not usually aware when they’re actually taking the picture. You hear something but nothing that makes you think , “Oh they got the x-ray.” Not in China… it was a loud whooshing sound and I do mean loud and I do mean whooshing and you know when it begins and when it’s done.  I also put the protective apron on wrong but fortunately Anders was there to interpret the hand signals I was getting from the technician.

6) Ear, nose, and throat  Just your basic ENT exam.

7) Vision test  This was the only doctor that spoke good English and he was a CREEPER. He also spoke a little Italian and I think he fancied himself a Latin Lover. I’m surprised it wasn’t a bra off exam 😉 He also kept talking about how good- looking Anders was. I know he is but he waxed on a little too long about that.

8) Ultrasound  Not my first but definitely a first for Anders. It was funny to hear him describe the feel of the jelly, how the technician just squished it all over the place, and how disgusting it was to clean it off  himself. Yeah, man up!

9) Urine   What medical exam would be complete without peeing in a cup? Ah but the difference  here is that you do it over a squatter (I’m sure there will be a future post about squatters). Veni, vidi, vici the squatter!!!!

That was it, done and dusted. One hour and according to K, the fattest. That is not a typo, he said fattest. Having lived with Swiss precision for 5 years I believe that the Swiss would have dropped their jaws at how efficient it was. We received our invitation letters from the Chinese government to apply for our permits so we can only assume they did not find anything terribly wrong. It’s kind of comforting because it was probably the most thorough exam I’ve had since I applied to college. Thank you government of China for giving me peace of mind.

4PM – 88 degrees


About vikarenously

I am an ex-pat living in Guangzhou, China. I am married to the man of my dreams who has indulged my love of travel by working hard enough to snag two international assignments. Oh yes, I also have two amazing children who accompanied us on our first one to Switzerland and are now mature and responsible adults which makes it so easy for us to experience this adventure as empty-nesters. Experience it vicariously with Karen.

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