Argentine Medical Exams: Unexplained Coins, Angry Clam Chairs and Shin Viewings
by Rease Kirchner
The country of Argentina requires you to jump through a lot of hoops to become a legal employee. Someday, when I am holding my Work Visa in my hands, I will have the energy to write about all of them. For now, however, I’d like to just tell you about the medical exams (examenes preocupacionales), aka, 2 of the weirdest hours in my life.
I was told to fast for 8 hours and show up at a building downtown at 7:00 AM. For the record, 7AM in Argentina is like 5AM in the United States, so basically, as I would describe it, freaking balls early. I showed up at 7 to find a line as if we were all waiting to buy sweet concert tickets or something.
Coins with Secret Powers
Once inside, I was given a clipboard (standard operating procedure) and two silver coins, one roughly the size of a quarter with a groove running across it and one the size of a nickel with an arrow on 1 side and BAV on the other (weird and unfamiliar procedure). No one explained what these coins were for, so throughout my examinations I balanced them on my clipboard, hoping someone would eventually take them from me. Perhaps they activated some sort of machine? Maybe they were for the gum ball dispenser so I could get post-blood work sugar? How the hell was I supposed to know!? I’ll just tell you right now, no one ever explained them or took them so I ended up walking out with them in my pocket. I am now afraid to throw them away because I don’t know what sort of power they hold. [UPDATE: Apparently these coins were for a special vending machine to give me snacks after my blood tests. WTF. Why did no one tell me this?! I starved for nothing!]
The waiting room was set up in an odd fashion. An area full of red chairs was set surrounded by closed doors. These red chairs had backs that seemed to be set at a 60 degree angle instead of the traditional 90, which lead to the sensation of sitting in an angry clam who is desperately trying to clamp down upon you. I was told to sit in the angry clam chairs and wait until my name was called. After a few minutes the doors started opening and names were called. Each time the person disappeared for a few minutes and was sent back to the waiting room. No one had explained to me how this process was supposed to work, so I was pretty confused. Finally, my name was called. “Kirchner?”
As soon as my name was called everyone whipped around looking for the person to whom it belonged. Did I mention my last name is the
same as the current President of Argentina’s? Yeah, it causes issues. My name was called around 6 times that day and each time I felt the eyes of the entire waiting room upon me.
I entered the first room and was told to lay down, lift up my shirt and put my hands underneath my butt. The nurse was pretty insistent on the hand placement, don’t ask me why. She then brought out several suction cup contraptions to clip to my body. Now I know how cartoon characters covered in pinching crabs feel. After a few minutes she removed them and told me to go back to the waiting room.
The next room was pretty self explanatory. Sit down, let me jab you with a needle then pee in a cup. The woman seemed annoyed that I had sleeves and double annoyed that she couldn’t find my vein in my left arm. While the blood drawing was going on several people walked in with their pee cups. When I dropped mine off a few minutes later I couldn’t help but think “who the hell is keeping track of all this urine? There are no names on these cups!”
In the next room I was asked to hug a machine. I believe this was for the purposes of an X-Ray. That one was pretty easy, but I got a little concerned when he asked me for a paper I didn’t have. When I told him no one ever gave me this paper he spoke of, he told me it didn’t matter and sent me back to the waiting room. In my experience, all papers in a doctor’s office are super necessary, right?
May I see your shins?
The next room was an office. The woman behind the desk asked me standard medical questions, for the most part. However, she did ask me if I had any tattoos or piercings and then felt the need to note not just that I did but also note the exact number. After she weighed me we seemed to be done but she stopped me. In what seemed like a complete afterthought she asked me to lift my shirt and show her my stomach. I did so and she simply looked at it and then asked me to show her my legs. I lifted my jeans just enough to show her about half of each of my shins. She looked at them quickly and nodded. She nodded at my shins. Please tell me what medical information could possibly be ascertained by looking at half of my shin?!
Shin-lady took my clipboard away and replaced with with a smaller piece of paper that had several check boxes. She checked off a box and sent me away. I then had my hearing tested in a room that looked fit for a lunatic. The door and walls were all completely decked out in foam, all for a 2 minute hearing test done with closed-ear headphones. This woman also checked off a box.
Now, I still had 2 boxes to check off not to mention those mysterious coins, so I sat and waited, as I was told. However, as much as I was enjoying the quality reading time, I got a little worried when I hadn’t been called for another test. When I asked the front desk they told me I should be called soon. About two minutes later they came over and told me I was finished. Turns out that piece of paper with the check boxes was the one the X-Ray guy had wanted, that’s why I was missing checks. Excellent game plan guys, really organized.
And so, I was finished. Left only to wonder about the shin study and the unexplained coins left in my pocket.