I imagine there are uncountable ways in which other countries successfully overshadow England, however at the time of writing this, I have lived in China for a whole three days. To not share my first attempt at the medical examination would be foolish, as it’s been the most intriguing trip so far.
Furthermore, for anyone planning to visit, I know that having been prepared with an understanding of the overall procedure soothed my concerns significantly.
As part of being an ESL teacher in the Fujian province, you need to undertake a full medical check to ensure that you are not posing a risk to the health of your students by carrying any undetected medical illnesses. Carried out in the international medical centre, the entire process is both incredibly efficient, and nothing that you could ever find in the UK.
Having been checked in, I went onto the 2nd floor with the York school admin who kindly provides translation for these otherwise confusing appointments.
Handed a form with 6 different health checks listed, much like a treasure hunt, I had to go to the room of each doctor and have them sign me off. There is one room per doctor, and much like the hunger games, albeit a less violent version, you are left battling past the large crowd of other people who are all there carrying out the same task. No one specified that it had to be as quickly as possible, but given the efficiency of the concept and the large volume of other people there, I followed this belief throughout my visit.
Step one. Blood test.
Much like the set-up of a bank tellers, three hospital employees sat behind glass with tubes and needles ready to conduct the test through the gap in the glass. I joined the back of one, and straight away witnessed a Fuijian national wincing at the needle going into his arm as his friends all filmed and laughed at him. I turned to our admin in horror, but he seemed unfazed. As my turn arrived, I closed my eyes and placed my arm through the wall.
The whole process was over in a matter of minutes, and was surprisingly less painful than any blood test I’ve ever experienced in the UK.
Apart from the ultrasound which is booked into a set time – roughly an hour after you start – the tests do not have an order, and you choose your poison depending on which doctor has the shortest queues.
Step two. Eye test
The eye doctor was incredibly… efficient, if a little less thorough.
“No glasses?” She asked.
I shook my head and she signed the form to confirm that I was not blind (I’d like to think I had a creeping suspicion beforehand that I wasn’t) and continued with my quest of collecting the signatures.
Step three. Urine test.
The urine test was surprisingly easier than in a UK hospital, given that the toilets here are all squat holes. You are given a smaller equivalent of a plastic measuring jug used for cooking, with no lid attached or a clear outline of how much to fill it. Combined with the lack of available soap present, it was possibly the most unenjoyable test.
My blood pressure was measured with ease, but in the next room, the ECG didn’t run nearly as smoothly for me.
Step four. ECG test.
Having multiple suction pads stuck over my chest and clamps placed on my arms and legs, I uncomfortably waited for the doctor to finish measuring my heart rate. Unhooked and ready to go, the doctor shook his head, showing me the information printed out.
Most of the lines recorded did not move, from which, the admin explained, we can infer either that I am in fact dead, or that the machine had malfunctioned. The doctor chose to believe the latter, and once again I jumped onto the bed ready to be hooked up. This time I had a different nurse, who forcefully pulled up my bra yet pushed the suction pads so slowly onto me that each pad made a farting noise. Finding it impossible to keep a straight face, I laughed hysterically through the entire second test, much to the displeasure of the nurse I was with. This time however, I successfully passed, confirming my status as living.
Step five. X Ray.
I went on to have an x-ray, still clad with my watch and various jewellery items including piercings and a necklace. To my knowledge, in the UK it is compulsory to remove everything prior to entering the room, however, in my eagerness to complete the quest I complied. In hindsight, what can a little radiation do to a girl anyway?
Finally, I entered the fourth floor ready for an ultrasound, and enthralled by the idea that I might discover that despite all the odds, I was pregnant. Alas, it was not so. The man laughed at my poorly drawn tattoo on my ribs, and with that, I was on my way.
We concluded the trip with some food at a local Japanese restaurant. (Japanese food when in China, I’m still struggling to come up with a pun to highlight the hilarity of this sentiment).
To summarise the experience, I stand by my belief that the UK could learn a few things from Chinese medicine. The competitive nature of the check-up mixed with how speedy the trip was (it didn’t take me two weeks just to book in an appointment for one… despite the country boasting a significantly higher population!)
Ces is a British teacher at our Da Ru branch. Check out her other blog post here.