One of the things we had to do just before we left was visit our doctors to have them complete a 2-pager on our health, pretty much detailing our every bodily function. Fortunately for me, I had had an ECG last year when I fainted and hit my head, so the doc was able to fill in that detail. But she insisted that I have a chest ex-ray and have my blood typed, as required on the form. Geoff had similar details to attend to so we ran around and got it all down in an afternoon and scanned the info to the fellow organizing our visas. Imagine our excitement, then, to be told that we had to have a physical two days after our arrival and that we would be taken to the hospital early Friday morning to do so. Imagine our enthusiasm when we discovered that they would be testing us to fill in the identical 2-page form. No amount of protest helped: it had to be done. I was not a happy camper. I was particularly incensed at the need for another chest ex-ray. Please, could you give me another round of radiation? Anyway…it turned out to be an incredible picture of life in China.
The hospital was huge, massive…and we visited each of 4 floors several times as we were sent from department to department. Initially it was frightening: what do we know of Chinese doctors? What do we know of how they do things? However, as time went on, it became strangely fascinating.
I was told by a nurse that one of the main problems facing hospital staff in Canada is that the Chinese don’t have their own doctors in clinics; they are used to going to the hospital for all their ailments, small or large. In a hospital the size of this one, there were MANY people needing attention and no hope of personalized or private service. You take a number and become a body in line. It is the only time in my life that I had an ex-ray, an ultrasound and an ECG without disrobing! My hair was still perfect when it was all over. Geoff ran into a little trouble with the ECG—too hairy for a good connection. Poor David—he struggled for the right words to tell us that we had to pee in a cup then bring it to one particular desk. Only about 60 people watching us approach the counter.
Did I say doctors ran these tests? Girls who looked to be about 16 were wiring us up with unsophisticated machinery; technicians still wet behind the ears ran the ex-rays. In one test area, a young girl asked a few questions about the state of our elbows and sent us on our way. The most fun we had was while waiting for our ECG results. The police escorted a person who had been picked up for theft and was being brought in for a strip search.
After 3 hours, we returned to the station where we started where they collected our stamped forms. We found out that within one week, that area was going to be transformed into a full-service area specifically for visa candidates such as ourselves. Good to know the next batch won’t have to travel to 8 different departments getting the bill of approval.