Let’s Talk Chinese Medical

Okay, this afternoon was the new teacher medical exam.  I am just going to say that it was strange, a tad uncomfortable, and well, very China.  One thing I am learning about China is there is a lot of hurry up and wait. It’s almost like there is a flair for the dramatic here that I wasn’t expecting.  But I digress-back to the ‘exam’.

Please keep in mind that before getting my Visa to work here, I had to get a several tests and a physical exam; it’s standard for a foreigner that wants to live and work in China.  So I was a bit surprised when I had to go through it again, but it’s required so on the bus we go.

We get to the hospital, and it’s essentially a bunch of side rooms with people waiting in line to get in.  Our group was rushed into a room, where we were painstakingly processed, one by one, so that we were officially enrolled into the Chinese medical system.  Once there, we then enter a tiny room with three ‘doctors’ that take our blood pressure -104/74 baby – check our eyesight – left eye not as good as the right one, get on a scale with large numbers that yells, yes yells out your weight in Chinese.  Guess I can’t tell you mine since you don’t speak Chinese…  Then there is blood drawn and we all checked to make sure these were of course, all okay and it was.

We then head to another room and while we were waiting in line, an orderly of sorts drags a yellow bag down the hall that is leaking some sort of yellowish liquid.  Now, in my mind I would like to think that it’s nothing serious.  Like, maybe the nurses just had a birthday celebration with lemonade and cake!  Much better than thinking of it as an unidentified liquid leaking from a hospital bag… As a side note, the orderly was in no hurry to clean that up.  We just stepped over it.

In the next room, there was an EKG and a sonogram.  Several ‘nurses’ walked in and out while I was getting mine.  Privacy is really not an option but then I thought that maybe they were avoiding the ‘lemonade’ in the hallway too.

After that, it was time for a chest ex-ray from a kid looked like he should be on The Real World and whose lab coat was buttoned up incorrectly. Interestingly enough, those sorts of details don’t inspire a lot of confidence.  Then we had to hurry up and wait.  And wait until the last thing we have to do which is a urine test.

I am not sure if you have ever had to do one of these in the States, but if you have, you’ll know that the US nurse, wearing gloves, will give you a sterile cup wrapped in a plastic container that is then passed though a cupboard in the wall after you are done to make sure everything stays clean and sanitary.  Now imagine a plastic cup that looks like a it should be used in the a playroom – one that is not wrapped in plastic – one that is in no way sterile because it has been handled by so many people before it got to you.  Throw in a squat toilet with no toilet paper or soap. Afterwards, imagine carrying your cup out in front of everyone to be placed onto a cookie sheet by you, along with everyone else’s samples with no nurse in sight, just out there in the open hallway.  Did I mention that it’s about 94 degrees outside with 99% humidity?

Ah, now I am in the system and have apparently gone through this ritual of sorts that every teacher here must go through.  Several of us went out for dinner afterwards.  We needed a treat after that.  And yes, we washed our hands.


  1. Sounds crazy, glad your blood pressure is low after all this adventure. I cant wait to see photos of your new place. Love the photos, please keep them coming.

  2. Claire, your description of the medical clinic and lemonade on the floor had me in stitches!! Ha ha, a little pun for you! And good thing we don’t know Chinese numbers – even though that scale was screaming! So funny! Anyway, we all miss you lots and we live vicariously through your grand adventures! Love you!

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