My Russian Medical Exam

Moscow, Russia

Part of the process for obtaining a work permit in Russia is undergoing a local medical exam.  You have to get tested for all sorts of odd things including SARs, TB, drug addiction and leprosy.  Really? Leprosy?

I went to the American Medical Center, and was expecting it to be, well, American.  But just like the ‘American Bar’, it wasn’t really American.  The only thing American-like was the logo in English, “We Care”, which was clearly demonstrated by the two hour wait.  It was by far the weirdest exam I’ve ever had, and a tad uncomfortable. When I’m uncomfortable, I laugh.  And me laughing made the doctor behave even more strangely.

First, he pushed on my face (kind of hard) and asks if it hurt.  Then he took out a toothpick (yes, a toothpick) and asked me to close my eyes and started poking me in the face and arms with the toothpick.  Since I could feel this, I passed this test.  I could hardly control my laughter.  The really difficult test was standing with my eyes closed and raising my arms in front of me.  At first I thought it was a sobriety test, so I touched my nose.  Nope.  I simply had to be able to raise my arms up while standing on two feet.

Then the nurse leaves and he says “take your clothes off”.  Long silence as I stand there looking around.  “um.  What? All of them?”  More silence.  “Ok, just your shirt.”  More silence while I wait for him to leave or something.  Ok, he’s not leaving.  In fact he just locked the door.  Crap.  Why did he lock the door?  Silence while I look around for a robe or gown or something.  No robe, and now he’s looking at me funny.  The nurse is trying to get in but the door is locked.  This is too weird.  I don’t see any alternatives (arguing might make it worse), so off comes the shirt.  More awkward silence while I stand there topless and he listens to me breath with his stethoscope.  Um…Yeah.  I think he could have done that with my shirt on.

Then I go and get an x-ray (my shirt is back on).  I come back 15 minutes later and he starts speaking to me in Russian, and acts surprised that I don’t speak Russian.  What?  Seriously?  Do you not remember seeing me 15 minutes ago??  You strange little man.

And this is supposed to be my best option for medical care in Russia… Sigh.


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