Is that my urine test?
I went to the hospital today and I’m worried that my test results will show that I have chlamydia or that I’ve been smoking too much weed. How much is a bribe to avoid deportation? And will the believe me if I say it wasn’t really my urine? We’ll get to that in a second, though.
I went with two other new teachers for the medical check required in order to get a work permit. First, there were no appointments. Linh, the school’s intern who is paid to
tamper with the evidence shepherd foreign teachers through their medical exam, shoved us through doors and into operation rooms to meet with doctors. It was comprehensive in that I saw all sorts of specialists I’ve never seen before. Quality, however…let’s just say I’ll be going to L’Hopital Francaise or Family Medical if I ever get sick.
The first doctor, a GP with dirty fingernails, listened to my heart and asked if I’d ever had an operation. By listened to my heart, I mean he tapped the stethoscope against my chest twice. Then there was the dentist, for whom I opened my mouth. “Yep, she’s got teeth,” the dentist said in Vietnamese to the woman taking notes. (At least I think that was the conclusion drawn). The eye doctor made me read letters, which I couldn’t do because I didn’t have my glasses on but yes, I do know red from green. Don’t worry, Vietnam, I’m not going to drive blind. I may even stop at the stoplights. An ENT glanced in my nose, noticed that I do indeed have ears and may have taken note of the fact that I have two tonsils and a uvula.
Finally, a chest xray. There was no orderly line of people waiting to go into the radiology room. Oh wait, there’s never an orderly line of people in Vietnam. And by radiology room, I mean the hallway in which I was enclosed for my xray. No one wears protective anything. The doctors stand outside the thin, wooden door pushing it open a crack when they’re ready for the next patient to enter and the old patient to exit. The electric lights flicker every time the xray machine goes off. The hallways didn’t look as if they’d been scrubbed in a decade. The tiles were dirty, the walls clammy with humidity.
But all that was quite routine. The real trouble was this urine test. To put it bluntly, I could not produce the urine. I would have gladly waited until just before leaving but, honestly, downing a bottle of water wouldn’t have helped because it’s so damn hot that my body just soaks up the water and there is no excess. So, Linh took the vial from me and said, “I know what to do.” I followed her back into the lab, over to the table holding the tray of specimen vials. My eyes popped as she unscrewed the lid off a full one, and poured half of it into mine.