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.