Friday, August 29, 2008

We Mainly Cursed (But Maybe Writing This Post Will Help Me Laugh)

So we got off the Te Liu . The bus let us off in a small commercial strip, teeming with private cars wanting us to hire them to take us some place. (Where would anyone want to go, out here past the edge of Beijing city?) Xiusha, Desi, and I started walking, all three of us (it turns out) unsure of precisely where the infamous Bureau is actually located. Along the way, I unsuccessfully tried to take some cash out of a bank ATM (I wanted to make sure we had enough kuai on hand, on the assumption the Bureau would not accept either my American or Chinese debit cards).

Once we left the strip, the surroundings quickly became rural. Could it really be the case that every foreigner who is living in Beijing has to come out to this remote location for a health exam? Xiusha asked for directions a couple of times. There was this laobaixing who took the job really, really seriously, and spent what seemed like forever gesturing and giving out instructions in the typical Beijing way (not using left and right, but using north, south, east, and west).

Eventually, we centered our trek upon this gray building in the distance, coming up out of the sparsely developed landscape. I was skeptical the whole way. After all, this was the only place in Beijing where there were extremely few people to be found. But, sure enough, when we finally walked up (in a brief rain shower, for good measure), the first thing we spotted were tons of waiguoren hanging outside the building. Many of these folks (from all around the world by their accents) were saying the same kinds of things we were thinking. "This place is waaay out there." "My cabbie didn't even know how to get here." (One young woman was being scolded by several others for having hired a private car to take her out on her own.)

Final confirmation of our arrival came in a sign that directed us to a specific entry for "Physical examination for aliens." Ladies and gentlemen, I present you Desi and Steve, two aliens from the distant planet of Washington, DC...

Once inside, it was kind of like going to Six Flags...except rather than being rewarded for standing on long lines with a cool roller-coaster ride, our payoff was some sort of pseudo-medical procedure. There were six doors. Behind each door was a person or persons charged with performing some kind of check on each alien who walked in. The six doors were labeled like this...

Internal Medicine (What are they going to do to our innards?)

Surgery (Yikes!)




Taking blood

Each room had a line of winding waiguoren coming out from it. So we joined the queue. As far as the blood test goes, they seemed to be really interested in giving us an HIV test. Radiology involved a chest x-ray (ours came back, "no abnormal findings in lungs or diaphragm"...well, that's good news...).

The E.C.G. essentially involved taking your top off and getting all of these little "probes" attached to your chest and various other body parts (now I was really starting to feel like an alien). Much more of an issue for Desi and other women than for a guy like me. The payoff was a cool print out of one's heartbeat, just like in all of those doctor shows on TV. Desi and I spent the wait on the next line arguing over whose picture was prettier and indicative of better cardiac health...

E.NT. was really bizarre. We had to do the color blind test, as well read letters off a chart on the wall with one eye covered (by a device that had not been sanitized since the last person used it!). Why on earth does the Chinese government care about my eyesight? Am I now eligible to drive a car?

Surgery, despite its moniker, entailed getting our height and weight measured by this contraption that looked like something out of the Jetsons. (I really wish I could have taken a picture of it.) Inside this room, there was an yishen (I'm calling him a doctor, but I really have my suspicions...) whose job it was to have person after person stand on the scale and then record their information. Assembly line health care at its finest...

That leaves internal medicine. In this room, there were a couple of people working on the deepest insides of our taking our pulse and blood pressure. These people were so good that they were able get a definitive read on Desi through this hoodie she was wearing. (No need to roll up your sleeve or anything like that.) I guess that's the skill you can develop when, hour after hour, you do not nothing but listen to blood pulse through aliens' bodies...

Did I mention that, after all of this, we had the option to come back in three days to pick up the results? Well, we opted to give the Chinese government yet another 30 kuai of our money to have the paperwork delivered right to Beida, where Xiusha would know what to do with it. (You can imagine what Desi and I would like to do with it!) Between all of the various fees we had to pay, we were out about 1400 kuai, real money even for us rich meiguoren like us. All in all, it was the kind of experience that really makes you wonder why it was that you wanted to come all the way around the world in the first place...



At 9:36 PM, Blogger Macefamily said...

Hi Desi, thankfully thay didn't require a mammogram, who knows how that would have went. lol. love Donna

At 8:34 PM, Blogger The Balla Family said...

No mammogram, but there was significant exposure during the ECG!



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