Chinese Medical Exam: Part 3

Station #2 of our Chinese Medical Exam: Bloodwork

To give you a little background, my husband really doesn’t do well with blood. Well, actually just his own blood. He doesn’t really mind it if someone else is bleeding out, just can’t be him. He hasn’t actually passed out from giving blood in several years, but as soon as we walked into the bloodwork room, I knew we were in trouble. If you’ll remember also, we haven’t eaten anything in almost 24 hours. Not a good combination.

First off, you walk into the room and up to a counter. Kind of like at a bank. Above the counter, there is a big glass window running from wall to wall and all the way up to the ceiling. Behind there are the Chinese nurses, in their nice white lab coats with all the little test tubes, cotton swabs, and needles and such laid out on the counter behind the glass. It’s a simple process. You walk up and grab a seat on this little rolling stool. Stick your arm through the little gap between the counter and the glass and the nurse does her thing.

Immediately I’m thinking “Oh no, this is going to be bad.”

I look over at him and he’s already turning pale. Now I start taking stock around the room to figure out where I’m going to put him after he’s laid out. Luckily, in the corner off to the side there is a hospital bed pushed up against the wall.

Good. Only problem is it’s on the other side of the room from the stools and counter. I really hope he makes it that far. The floor did not look particularly clean. Thankfully at this point, including our translator from the visa office, we were the only ones in the room.

I hop up to the counter first hoping they could get me done quickly so I could head over and stand by him at the ready. I was much less worried about him passing out (that was a foregone conclusion in my mind) than I was about him falling off the stool and hitting his head on the floor. Then we’d have to go to the real Chinese hospital and that was not somewhere I wanted to try out on our first day in the country.

They went ahead and took my blood and I got some cotton to hold over the little hole and then headed over to stand next to him. They were just starting to swab his arm. He was as pale as a ghost.

I took his backpack from him and started talking.
“Are you ok?” Trying to distract him as much as possible. I was standing off to the side and behind him so he’d have to look at me and away from her.

“Yeah, I’m ok.” He didn’t really look convincing and we’ve been married long enough for me to tell he was lying through his teeth.

The nurse made quick work and through the translator told him to hold the cotton on tightly to stop the bleeding. He was still just sitting on the stool. Blinking.

“Are you ok?”

“Uhhh.” he said, “I think so.”
In macho male speak, that means “no”.
Grreeaaattt. But at least he’s still upright at this point. And it actually seemed like the color in his face was starting to come back a little.

“Can you please just go over and lay on that bed for a minute?” (…so I don’t have to catch you. You’re heavy.)
I was ignoring our translator at this point, but I kind of had the feeling she was tapping her foot behind us ready to get us moving on to the next room. She had no idea.

“Well, I’m just going to go over there and sit down for a minute.” He stood up slowly and I grabbed his arm and walked with him over to the bed.

Sweet. We made it. The bed was kind of high and he was just sitting on the edge with his legs hanging off the front. I’m still standing in front of him just in case. But at this point, I’m thinking we’re probably home free.

Then he started to get pale again.

He was still sitting on the edge of the bed leaning forward a little and I was still worried he was going to fall

“Please just lay down.”

“I’m just going to scoot back and lean against the wall.”

“Please just lay down.”

He ignores me and starts sliding back toward the wall. His back doesn’t even touch the wall before he’s gone. I caught him as he’s slouched forward. Now, because he didn’t listen to me and lay down like I asked him too, I’m having to try and lay him. Both his legs are hanging off the side of the bed, and I’m still holding both of our backpacks and trying to get him situated.

About this time, I happen to look over at our translator who is obviously freaking out. Her eyes are huge and she’s just staring at us. I had just kind of left him all slumped over, half laying down with his legs all hanging off the side of the bed.

I just kind of waved my hand. “Don’t worry about it. Happens all the time. He’ll come to in a minute.” Did I ever mention what a good wife I am? I’m so sympathetic.

A couple of minutes later this tall Chinese doctor comes in the door carrying a cup of water. LB is just starting to come around and is starting to sit himself up. The doctor just looks at him, says something to Maggie in Chinese, hands the cup to me, and then just turns and walks out. Maggie, still looking a bit confused, reaches over to a bowl of candy on the counter and hands us a couple.

And that my friends, was just the second station.

Actually the rest went pretty smooth comparably. We continued through the rest of the physical, including x-rays and EKGs. Really, if my husband hadn’t managed to make it so exciting all by himself, it really wouldn’t have been that interesting. I will have to say, the Chinese really know how to herd you through. The whole process took less than 2 hours. Way less than it took us in the States. This might be the ONE time since we’ve been in China, that the process has been more efficient here than in the US. Efficiency is not something the Chinese value.

But the thing you just have to remember when you live in China… the process may not be the same, but if you get to the same result, what does it REALLY matter? Just because it’s different, doesn’t mean it’s wrong.


8 thoughts on “Chinese Medical Exam: Part 3

  1. Thanks so much for all the information in your blog. My wife and I will be moving from Austria to Shenyang by the end of February, your blog (and as I´m not too good with giving blood either especially this one:-)) has become a major source of information for us! Please keep them coming! Wolfgang

  2. My husband told me about the medical exam and it’s something I’m not looking forward to. What is the reason for such an extensive exam? I would also think it could just be done here in the US by your family dr.

  3. @Jenny,

    Yes, the medical exam is quite extensive. Not sure of all the reasons for it but it may be just an additional step to limit the number of visitors to China (since the country is heavily overpopulated anyway). All of the tests can be run by your family doctor – the problem is that the Chinese local governments don’t have a way to know if the tests were really done without getting their embassy to notarize the paperwork.

    And Country Fried really is a super wife – even if compassion really isn’t her strong point…

  4. Hi, I just found your blog (from the link on Pioneer Woman). A bit late, but welcome to China!
    I’ve been working and teaching in the Southeast part of the country for the last two years. The transition from the US can be tough, or at least confusing.
    I hope your translator told you that you have to do the medical exam every year (yes, blood letting every year). It’s part of the process for the foreign experts certificate, if you stay for another year, you have to get it renewed so you have to have another medical test done. It’s all paid for by the company sponsoring your visa.
    Looking forward to reading all about Shenyang, never been that far north.

  5. WHy didn’t you have the medical exam done in the US befroe coming over? We did all that stuff and HAD too before coming. Much easier that way!