Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A Trip to the Doc

The long, tedious and stressful few month as an illegal migrant worker are coming to an end. The bureaucracy in this country moves at the pace of frozen molasses, but that's a topic for an entirely different day. One of the final steps in the process of proving I'm fit for citizenry in Slovakia is to ensure I don't have any highly communicable diseases.

This late stage medical exam omits the fact that I've been here already for 90 days. If I am in fact unwell, it is most likely because I caught something indigenous to the area. Probably from one of the local "kebab engineers." All of whom fail to use gloves (I'll touch more on glove misuse later) when handling food, money and their burning cigarettes. If though, I was in fact sick when I arrived, I have had three months to cough, spit and sneeze my infection all around the country. Regardless of the obvious faults with the system, such are the hoops I have to jump through.

At 6:50 am I got to where I thought, was the Dr.'s office. I quickly realized I didn't have a clue. I promptly swallowed my pride and asked people for help. No one seemed to know where the address was. The poor quality of the street signs here is impressive. Eventually I got a nurse-looking lady at a nearby hospital to point me in the right direction. She confused "left" with "right" though and added another 20 minutes to my pointless meander around a one block radius.

The waiting room furniture was reminiscent of the Foreman's basement in "That 70's Show." I gave the smiling lady at the desk my passport. She gave me a small bottle I was to fill, with what she called "YOU-REEN!". Her smile, along with the bright, sky-blue walls and matching drapes made me feel weird but comfortable.

Throughout the whole ordeal I didn't see a box, let alone a pair, of latex gloves. I was however, impressed with the speed of the procedures. I guess doctors are able to see more patients when they don't have the hassle of washing their hands or donning those pesky gloves. I bled on the bare hands of the lady who took my blood. I watched her put my used needle into an empty 2L bottle of Sprite. I had to get an X-ray in another building. The X-Ray technician told me to undress. I wondered "What kind of X-Ray is this?." I looked around the dim, eerie room. My shirt was off. The X-ray equipment looked like a torture device that only the Iron Curtain could produce. I started to undo my belt. The technician stopped me. It turns out it was only for my lungs, to see if I have TB. Thank goodness. Nonetheless, two more photos of my lungs and I would probably be on par with those Chernobyl kids, as far as radiation exposure goes, given that dodgy machinery. Was that analogy too far? Don't answer that.

I stepped onto the street an hour later. Despite being 200 Euro less liquid than when I woke up, I felt good. It might have been because of my pristine blood pressure reading of 120/80; but, I think more likely was the sense of autonomy I felt. The prevalence of English here is really low. There is no way I would have found the right building without asking for help. I guess I could have better prepared for the adventure. But in the end I think I floundered and doggy-paddled a bit when I could have sank.

What I'm hearing right now.

UPDATE: I didn't realize the severity of the Chernobyl disaster. Definitely crossed the line. If you're still looking for distractions from work I recommend you educate yourselves.

1 comment:

  1. It's not your fault. You're just really good at taking your pants off.