Tuesday, September 29, 2009

my annual check up

So that just happened. Every year all of the people in the University must go for a health check up. However, you don't get to do this on your own terms, rather, they set aside a two week period in September, split the days up between males and females and assign various departments a few days from which to choose. Prior to the session, there was an uncomfortable encounter where my boss and I filled out my health questionnaire together --line by line-- with the help of her electronic dictionary for any unsavory terms, such as what to do with that complicated sample cup thing. After a restless night filled with nightmares of sample cups with hundreds of pieces and moving parts, I got up this morning, skipped breakfast as instructed, figured out the cup and rode to school. At fifteen minutes before the start, there was already a line of women (holding questionnaires and discreet paper bags) snaking out the door of the health center and around the building. The line moved pretty quickly, at least, and for the next hour I made my way through the building (following the bright red arrows) standing in one line after the next. First I waited to check-in, then I got in a longer line that travelled the length of the staircase in order to turn in my sample. Then I made my way around a blind corner and stood in another line that turned out to be for my blood pressure. The front 4 places of this line were spots on a blue pleather couch that faced the 10 nurses. As the line progressed, everyone on the couch silently nudged over one perfectly spaced spot. Blood pressure taken and thumbs up received, I moved down the hall to two young men at a table with vials. One handed me my three vials while the other (bless his heart) filled in my name (in katakana) on the form to match the numbers on the vials. A brief rest on another blue couch was followed by the fastest blood test I have ever received. I was then motioned to the next room, where, behind some screens, I waited in line to receive a very heavy blanket, which told me the X-ray must be next. But first I had to fill in my own name and the kanji that represents the Earthquake Research Institute (copied from my form). This is pretty complicated Kanji and I was going really slowly, so the line started backing up. Finally the woman at the table just waved me to move on, I guess I had gotten the essence of Earthquake down and that was close enough. Baskets in cubbies on the side indicated to me that I needed to remove some of my clothing, but apparently not enough, because the X-ray attendant yanked at my sports bra and wouldn't stop until I took it off, at which point I was smashed into the wall and the image taken. After that I sort of lost the thread and couldn't find any more red arrows so I just stood there in the hallway with this lead blanket, looking lost. Help came quickly and I was ushered up the stairs to the hearing and vision exams - lots of charades involved here - and finally to my consultation with the doctor. While I waited, I started to panic and took out my guidebook with helpful phrases for when one is at the hospital, but thankfully the doc spoke English. Turns out I'm quite "genki" (healthy). Phew! Glad I don't have to go through all of that for another year.

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