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So, you’re moving to China. Lots of things to check off the list:

1. Get kids into schools. (Not so easy when the American school has no room for your children.)

2. Find a house. (Visit at LEAST 30 homes. Some didn’t pass the first sniff test. Lots of mold in Shanghai.)

3. Tour grocery stores (Enough detail there for an entire post!)

4. Tour medical clinic. (Not much to say there. Pretty average.)

5. Have invasive medical exam by strangers who speak no English. With other people. In Johnny Coats.

You must know what a Johnny Coat is. The ubiquitous blue spotted white garment with a variety of snaps designed to cover your body AND allow access to all of it by medical professionals. Anyway, back to my story.

A driver took us to the travel clinic. We arrived and were efficiently checked in by the assistant who was sent by the relocation company. We sat in a normal looking office and filled out normal looking paperwork. We were given a number and waited briefly. I was called in first to an administrative assistant and she input my information. I was then passed on to a uniformed (Military? Police? Not sure.) woman who reviewed my paperwork again and sent me on. Now the fun began…

I was ushered into a changing room and given a Johnny Coat. I was allowed to keep my bottoms on. Johnny Coat on top. I took a sheet of paper from another assistant and she pointed me into a room.  My first room was the general medical exam. A lovely doctor reviewed my paperwork. She asked if my spine had been removed. What?!?  (Some of you may know that I have had spinal surgery, and I listed that on my paperwork.) I assured the doctor (?) that I had NOT had it removed, only repaired. Fixed. Made it better. I tried so many ways to tell her. Finally, she clicked something in Chinese on her computer, gave me a quick physical and sent me to the hallway. 

Other foreigners were milling about – half naked – in the hallways. It was a narrow space, and we quickly made friends. I met a couple of Americans and  British couple. We popped in and out of rooms and compared notes. “Oh, Room 117? I just did that one. Piece of cake.” “Oh no, you’ve got Room 121 next? Good luck.” Just like a Progressive Party – we went from room to room, socializing.

I decided to go to the ENT room next. The doctor there was very professional. He looked up my nose and said “allergies bad”. Yes. Allergies and Shanghai smog. I passed the eye exam and moved on.

Blood draw was the easiest room. She was so quick I hardly felt it. The x-ray room was modern and clean. Quick and easy too. But…the EKG room was like something out of Frankenstein. I’ve had a couple of EKG’s in my life and this was insane. She clipped a metal thing on my toe (to ground me?) Then slapped some metal things on my chest and walked out the door. So crazy!

I met my husband waiting for the ultrasound room. (The Chinese are quite thorough. I don’t know what the US does in terms of medical exams, but ultrasounds? X-rays?) The ultrasound room created quite a log jam. We were all hanging out (some literally in Johnny Coats) chatting. “Where are you from?” “How long will you be here?” “Did you also get electrocuted by the EKG machine? My hair used to be curly before the EKG. Now it’s straight. Is that normal?”

Finally. My turn at the ultrasound. I walk in and lie down on the table. An MD and nurse are there with the machine and a computer. A narrow screen separates me from the other party-goers in the hallway, I can hear them chatting. The MD then scans my heart, abdomen and under my ribs. He jams that thing so hard under my ribs I want to cry. He tells me to hold still, mutters to the nurse and points to the ultrasound. He pokes me again, then lets me go. Nice. What did he see in there? I may never know.

So, the party ended with the removal of the Johnny Coat. My new friends went their separate ways and I met up with my husband again. The doctor also gave him a very thorough ultrasound, so that must he his “thing”. Tough ultrasounds. 

It was an experience I’ll never forget. Anxiety provoking, intriguing, frightening and hysterical all at the same time. Progressive Party in a Johnny Coat. Who knew moving to China would be so much fun?

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