- Foreigners staying in China for an extended period of time (strangely enough, if you want to stay for 6 months you don't need it, but if it is for one year or more, then you must have it).
- Chinese people leaving the country for holiday or immigration.
- Chinese people coming back to the country after living abroad.
The passport photo I had to have taken for the test (only added because I don't have any another other relevant photographs, and I pledged to add at least one picture per blog post)
In all honesty I hate, absolutely hate this kind of thing. The second I step foot in a hospital I can feel my heart racing and my blood pressure boiling. I think I have inherited it from my mum who is exactly the same. I know the logical reasons for not being worried, but somehow, somewhere in my mind, I allow all logic to be bypassed and worry anyway.
First was the blood test. It was like approaching a box office and buying a ticket for a show, but instead of getting a ticket I got a jab. I had to slide my arm in the space under the perspex glass, a grumpy middle-aged woman tied my arm (just like how heroin users do it in films) and extracted the blood -- and quite a lot of it too.
One thing I had been taught to look out for in China was the syringe. For anybody who has to take the test here, make sure you witness the nurse unwrapping the needle in front of your eyes. If you don't see that then refuse. The reusing of needles does take place in some places, luckily not in Wenzhou.
Second was the urine test. This one slipped my mind, and I had totally forgotten to drink copious amounts of water after getting up in the morning. I didn't need to go at all, so we asked to delay that test until the end.
Third, X-ray. I was taken up a short flight of stairs into a corridor, each room I knew I had to visit. We entered the X-ray room, this time a grumpy man told me to take off my shirt. I pushed myself against a metal slab and the picture was taken. Next....
Fourth, Eye and Lymph node test. The first time I did this test in Hangzhou I forgot to bring my glasses which was difficult to explain when I couldn't speak a word of Chinese. I remembered them this time. An elderly grumpy woman felt my face and throat and opened a page of a colour-blind test book. Then I was signalled to sit on a chair across from elderly grumpy woman and read the large-to-small up, down, left, right directions.
Fifth, ECG. I lied down, had a lot of scary-looking electrodes placed all over my body, and saw a print out of some complicated-looking results emerge from a printer. At this point I asked myself what the point of all this was. I can hardly spread a heart condition to the population of China can I? If anybody knows I would love to know.
Sixth, heart and lung test (I think). A man who looked to be in his mid to late seventies stuck a stethoscope on my heart and moved it around my lungs. Not a word spoken. I wondered if he thought I had a heart condition from the rate it was probably going. Even extended time in the hospital doesn't calm me down, only when I leave will it go back to normal.
Seventh, (will it ever end?) Ultrasound. Not only for expecting mothers, but also for foreigners coming to China. It was getting boring now, but yet another grumpy woman asked me to pull up my shirt as she applied the cold gooey substance to my abdomen. On the monitor I could see some of my organs, although the picture quality was terrible. The nurse threw a couple of pieces of tissue on my stomach and I cleaned off the liquid.
Eighth, blood pressure and height. Grumpy young woman (do they all hate their job or are they attempting to come across as professional?) sat me down on a chair and did the usual blood pressure thing. First time it was too high, she asked me to go out, take a rest and come back. I told her it would be a waste of time, unless you can ship Paul Mckenna over to relax me, then nothing will change. She did it again, and somehow it was better, but still a little higher than normal.
Ninth, urine test part two. I still didn't feel the need to do anything, so I drank a lot of water and had a nice chat with Nancy for a while. Nature called in the end, and I went to what was a very unsanitary toilet. I am glad I didn't need to go before doing the tests otherwise I might have backed out. The cup was filled and taken to another box office counter.
Finally I received a gift from the clinic: a free breakfast. The bag contained a carton of milk and six small bread buns.
Are such detailed tests really needed just for a laowai to live and work in China? From the posters pinned up on the walls it is obvious that Aids is the biggest concern of all for the Chinese government, but what about the rest? Is it relevant to have an ultrasound test? What could possibly be found from an X-ray to cause my visa application to be rejected?
On a positive note, if I do have any problems that need attention, doing these tests on a yearly basis should find them, possibly saving my life. Having a full-body test for this reason should almost be compulsory for everybody -- but something tells me this isn't why the government has put this policy into action. Very confusing, but very glad it's over.