Do you have Ebola?

After months of working endlessly to try and prove that I am ‘good enough’ for this school, and then another few weeks of reminding people and asking when exactly I was going to sign a contract, last week the day came. FINALLY. After a few questions about it and hesitation before signing it, I did. I have finally signed a contract to work here, until the end of May.

Now things are never all good, of that I’m sure. I was delighted to finally be signing it and to know that I am not about to be slung out of the door by my ear, however, there’s a list of things that have to happen in very close proximity in the few days after signing a contract. And I’m going to tell you all about them. It’s actually quite funny. I have been disgusted to the point of retching but also laughing to the point of tears (and, actually, tears in the other extreme) during these past few days.

So the first thing I had to do after signing the contract was to get a full medical check (for the work permit) at a local hospital. I know what these things are like from past experiences, so to check, I asked if I would need to take my passport for ID. I was laughed at. Well, I’d rather know and have it with me if I’m going to need it. Of course I wouldn’t need it, I was told.
Naturally, the first thing they asked for when we arrived at the hospital was my passport. The member of staff who went with us asked me why I didn’t take it! The cheek! “Because you told me not to,” I replied. “Really? I don’t think so,” was the response. I don’t care if you were wrong but just admit it instead of point blank denying it, yeah?! Someone from school brought my passport over in the car, delaying my process about half an hour.

I was seen by ENT, dental, eye specialists, skin specialists, internal and external medicine, neurologists, cardiologists, I had bloods taken, had a top naked chest X-Ray in front of a room full of men and gave a urine sample into THE smallest sample bottle on earth. I didn’t need to pee, so the very tiny bit I could manage pretty much missed the minuscule tube altogether.

The ENT (ears, nose and throat) specialist had this huge long rod and came walking towards me with it. “Where are you putting that?” I asked. No response. I asked again. Then she stuck the thing in my ear. No exaggeration the thing was about a foot long. Luckily she didn’t stick it all the way in or it might’ve come out the other side! She stuck it in the other ear too. Then up each nostril in turn. THEN she produced something that looked like a sanitary towel and held it under my mouth. She proceeded to stick the same rod (turns out it was a camera) which she hadn’t cleaned or wiped or anything into my mouth to see down my throat. Oh the sweet taste of earwax and bogies. Queue retching from me and laughing from my colleague!

The Dental specialist sat me on a rickety upright wooden chair. “Open now” I was instructed. From a rusty metal box she produced a dental tool which had clearly been in many mouths before mine, and yes, THEN mine. Lovely. Later, Stef (a colleague) asked if I’d seen the dentist and if they had taken the tool from a rusty box, unwashed and unsterilised. I replied that it had and was used on me before him!

The last thing at the hospital to laugh/not laugh at, was my final stop in the massive maze of a hospital. I don’t even know what room it was, he just scribbled ‘normal’ onto my forms and then started talking to me… in not even-that-bad-a English! I was surprised. He was asking where I’m from. When I told him Scotland he said that it belonged to the UK. I was impressed. Most people here haven’t even heard of it. He was asking about how long I’m going to be Vietnam for and that kind of thing. The nice chit-chat you would normally have with someone who speaks the same language as you. He then asked if I have Ebola. No joke. Those exact words. I thought I misheard him. So I said I didn’t understand.

“Do you have Ebola?”

I couldn’t help but laugh. Seriously. Of course I don’t have it. Then he explained to Men (the girl from school who came with us) that in the hospital they are afraid of all foreigners because of the outbreak of Ebola. I said that it isn’t in the UK. He said it was. Maybe I should keep up to date with the news from home then!!

So, that was the hospital. I will never know if I’m healthy or not because they write normal under every category otherwise “it looks bad”. When I asked about asthma and low iron levels they said that it shouldn’t go on my medical form because it doesn’t look good. Okaaaaaay then. So I could’ve made a medical certificate myself really without wasting a morning of lessons and valuable planning time! Awesome.

**Another new post coming soon about the next step in my work permit application!**


4 thoughts on “Do you have Ebola?

  1. I liked the “ear wax and bogies” part best. Sounds like a delicacy to me.
    By the way, you’re anything BUT “normal” !!


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