Saturday, February 25, 2012

Medical Examination- Oh Boy!

In order to get my i.d. card, I had to get a medical examination from a Saudi doctor. Never mind, that I just had the EXACT same medical test, along with various tests performed in the U.S., just so that I could enter the country. I'm not sure of the logic, and, after the visit today, I'm not really convinced that a Saudi doctor is better qualified than an American doctor to determine that I am healthy and am not a carrier of infectious diseases.
We had a bit of trouble finding a clinic that would do the exam. We braved the crazy roads and traffic to get to the clinic only to discover that they didn't do the exam I needed. They directed us to another clinic which accepted me as a patient.
I was ushered into a less than clean examining room where I spoke briefly to the doctor and then he directed me to go behind the curtain and wait on the table. At that point, I asked if I should remove my abaya, but was told to leave it on. He gave me the briefest of examinations and then sent me up to the lab to get some tests done.
When I walked into the lab, I was a bit confused. At a desk sat a large, forbidding African woman, fully dressed in a voluminious abaya with a small child screaming on her lap. The woman perfunctorily shushed her child and then looked at me expectantly. I thought the lady was another patient, but evidently, she was the phlebotomist and the technician. The little girl looked at me quizzically, and went touched my very white skin. Her nose was running profusely. At this point, I wanted to make a desperate run for the exit. I wasn't all that keen on getting poked by a needle in that room. I was directed to another room, with a very old chair that was badly peeling and told to wait.
Because of my lupus, I'm kind of an expert on getting my blood drawn. So I asked if they had a butterfly needle because my veins are small and they move. Getting my blood is difficult. But the phlebotomist said she didn't have that kind of needle. I looked away, gearing myself up for a lot of arm digging. I was pleasantly surprised at how smoothly she executed the move, drawing my blood quickly and efficiently. And she did sanitize my arm before poking the needle in my arm.
Then the directed me to the bathroom to collect a urine and stool sample. I was already prepared with my stool sample and I'm so glad. The bathroom was spartan, no toilet paper, no soap, just a toilet, and a sink. I'm very grateful that I had my own hand sanitizer, but I'm thinking I should start carrying toilet paper with me all the time. (I really should write a post about the bathroom conditions in this country.)
Nothing was overtly bad at the clinic, but I still felt a little uncomfortable with the less than pristine conditions there.


  1. Ugh! and I'm the same way with my veins, but I think it can depend on the person drawing the blood. I've had some where they hurt immensely and others where I didn't even feel it at all.

  2. Patients often ask for a butterfly needle. I guess it sounds like something gentle. Actually butterfly needles range in size like any other type so they are not all small. Why we call them a butterfly is because they have plastic tabs (that look like wings)to hold onto during insertion. It does help to have someone skillful drawing blood but it also helps if the patient doesn't stiffen up or move around. (Naturally that isn't easy to do if you are a small child.) Some people are very tough to stick and in my 34 years in the medical field I've never known anyone who is 100% perfect in this skill.

  3. I am glad you survived this new experience. I do not envy you in this area.