Friday, June 08, 2007

Daniel & Alan's Medical Exam Adventure

Yesterday we went up to Vancouver for our required medical exams. Travel time was about two and a half hours; there were no delays at the border. We were able to have lunch before our appointment.

The following is a very boring account. I'm writing it because if there are any newbies out there (present or future), they may want to know what to expect from the medicals.

After paying our fee in cash, exact change, we filled out a questionnaire -- about twenty yes/no questions about health and health history. If we answered yes to any one of them, we were to give more details in the space provided. Most of the questions were about the patient's condition and history, although their were allusions to family history (usually something like have you had X with a family history of X or Y). The questions were about conditions you are being treated for or have been treated for. Any hospitalizations? Taking any meds? They cover pretty much every category, every body system. Some of them required thought: does this count? (Most of the time no.) One of the questions I left unanswered because both we and the assistant were unsure.

Alan and I both answered affirmatively to a handful of the questions; I wouldn't worry about this -- you need to be honest. At the same time, I would say that this questionnaire is not the time to speculate or question that stiffness in your knees (for example). Just tell them what they ask for. Think about things that you've actually been treated for; don't let your imagination run wild.

A mildly amusing story: I was asking about whether something "counted" for one of the questions. The assistant asked, "was it biopsied?" and I replied that in the States everything is biopsied so that insurance will pay for it and not classify it as cosmetic. She looked horrified. "Welcome to the U.S. insurance game." (This was the unanswered question mentioned earlier; the doctor later said it didn't count; in Canada, it would not have been biopsied.)

They gave us containers for urine samples and sent us to the men's room. Be prepared.

We were then led to the exam room, where we switched our cotton clothes for paper. (What was wonderful was that when the room door was opened, there was a clear line of sight to the waiting area; great design! I love to model the latest in paperwear.)

A nurse took our heights and weights (in cm and kg).

When we met the doctor, he asked follow-up questions to anything we had said yes to and he made notes. He asked about smoking and drinking. The "hands on" part of the exam was so short that if you blinked, you missed it. He listened with a stethoscope three times on the chest, three times on the back. He palpitated the abdomen a few times. THAT WAS IT.

We then travelled to the TB clinic to have x-rays taken; just one picture each.

Completing the circle around the block, we had blood drawn at the lab (two tubes each). I don't know exactly what they test for and neither did the phlebotomist. HIV I'm pretty sure, but I don't know what else. (If anyone knows, please comment.)

At each of these stops we needed to pay in cash. Since this was Canada, it was amazingly cheap.

We did not have to return to the original doctor's office. They will collect all of the results and then express mail them to Ottawa.

That's it folks. It was quick and simple.

Because no part of this process can be hitch-less for us (whine), Alan had a questionable result to one of the lab tests, so we need to do some follow-up, but we're allowed to do it in Seattle at any qualified lab/clinic (doesn't have to be on the CIC list).

Friday, June 01, 2007

Snail's Pace

Well, the FBI clearances arrived finally. What's strange is that the stamp on the fingerprint cards with the "no criminal record" was dated April 13. So they took more than a month to mail the damn things; I don't understand, especially since I included a self-addressed stamped envelope (which they didn't use). Folks, learn from my mistakes and the experience of others: Write a deadline about two weeks out on the outside of the envelope you mail to the FBI and include it in your cover letter. Apparently, it really works. If you don't, you can count on waiting 3 - 4 months.

Still no word from the IRS, although the request was mailed on April 20. In our little family of U.S. to Canada immigrants, we seem to be the only ones who have been asked for certified tax returns.

Our medical exams are scheduled for June 7 in Vancouver. A friend is driving us there and back on the same day. (Of course, that's the day chosen for interviews for a job I really need and want. Still waiting to hear from them to see if they will accommodate me with a different date. At this point, it's too much to reschedule the exams.) We're hoping we won't be asked for any follow-up.

The requesting letter from the CIC gave us three months to comply, which would get us to about July 13. As the days go by, I'm getting more impatient.

Meanwhile, life is interesting in other aspects, but not in ways I feel comfortable discussing.

Best wishes to all!