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Mon, Jul. 6th, 2009, 01:10 am

I went to the hospital near my house a couple days ago to get a health check. The school that I'm working for wants to have a health certificate that says I'm qualified to work in Vietnam before they give me another contract. I've done these tests twice before at another hospital so I wasn't too worried about passing. It's pretty easy.

One of my Vietnamese friends, one of my former teaching assistants named Han (pronounced like it's short for "honey"), met me at the hospital on Friday morning to make sure I found my way to all the right rooms for all the tests. She told me that this hospital is very professional so we shouldn't have to wait too long. The health check procedure for foreigners is pretty much a joke and the doctors at this hospital seem to be aware of it so they went through the motions much more quickly than the previous times I did this.

The ear exam consisted of sitting on a stool in front of a doctor who asked if I spoke Vietnamese. I answered that I could speak a little bit. She asked if I had any problems with my ears. I said no. She shined a light in the general direction of my ear canals and marked "10/10" on my paperwork. The eye exam was pretty much the same. "Look at the chart. Can you read the row of letters next to the red arrow?" "Yes." "All of them?" "Yes." "Good." My vision is 10/10. In previous health exams, there was a "nervous examination" where they poked and prodded me, looked at my hands to see how steady they were, and asked me to squeeze their hands to check if my grip was firm. This time the doctor just asked "How are you? How about your hands? Everything normal? Good." There's a chest X-ray to check for TB, but I didn't even have to take my shirt off for this one (but they did ask me to take the pen and iPod earphones out of the pocket). I hope there are no shirt buttons on my x-ray. I spent more time waiting for tests than taking them. The heart and pulse exam took less time than it did for me to unbutton my shirt so the doctor to stick the stethoscope on my chest. I was at the hospital for about two and a half hours but the tests took about 15 minutes total.

They spelled my name horribly wrong on the paperwork. They split my middle name into two words and made a typo for my first name. They didn't even put my last name on it. The test results will all have the name "Briaw Chris Topher" on them. When we noticed and asked them to fix it, they just said that I could sign any name I want when I pick up the results. Next time I have to do one of these "health checks", I'm just going to ask if I can write all the "10/10" scores myself and get the results right away instead of wasting time sitting in the hospital or wandering from one exam room to another.