The strangest thing happened to me when I went to get my health test. I had just arrived in Taipei and was getting an ARC for the company I was just starting at. I teach English, so I had to get a health test.
So, I went to the hospital early in the morning, and even though it wasn’t busy then, I was still a little overwhelmed by the whole ordeal. I am pretty terrified of blood tests to begin with and seeing a few people in a cafeteria style line-up to get a blood test seemed primitive to me (a Canadian used to having private rooms for needles and the like). I feared that I would be injected by a dirty needle or something. But in the end, I got through the whole thing just fine.
What was not fine were the test results. I don’t drink alcohol that often and I am not a big drug user, yet somehow, my test results (urine results only) tested positive for morphine! Can you believe it! Where would a person even get morphine, especially in a new country where even the smallest task seemed difficult.
The only thing I had taken for months was one multi vitamin and 2 vitamin C per day. I didn’t even drink coffee until I got a morning job out here.
Of course, I told my boss that those results couldn’t be right. It was impossible. She believed me right away. Perhaps this was because my outward appearance portrays somewhat of a dull, conservative, honest person whose face can be read like a book (which “sigh” I guess is true). I definitely do not have the face of a party animal or heavy drug user.
So she asked for a sample of each of my vitamins (which was annoying because they were expensive) to take to some test place. In the end, I guess she received no explanation for the problem.
What she did next was sent me back to the hospital to take the whole test over again. But I had to sign up as if it was my first time there and none of the other stuff ever happened. Great, I thought. I feared this place the first time I went through it!
Anyway, my new health test results were clean of any impure conditions and I got my ARC. Who knows what happened to those other records. It’s weird.
I have made a few speculations on what might have happened, though. One is that the hospital simply mixed my samples up with some one else’s or someone was sleeping on the job and checked off the wrong box.
The other was that someone else at the hospital who did have a drug problem, and who was also getting tested, switched the samples. The reason this seems very plausible was because when I went to hand in the samples, only a small light sticker was placed on each vial. The nurse didn’t even stick them on with much force before she hurriedly told me to go for an X-ray and then whisked herself away to attend to other duties. It seemed to be just a temporary solution, like when you place a piece of tape on the end of the table for immediate future use.
Another disturbing factor was that the vials were placed into a tray that rested on the counter against a pillar of wall that divided the left side of the counter from the right side. My samples were arranged closest to the seating area, not that there were many people there that morning, but I didn’t feel too good about my private urine samples being on display like that.
After that, I went to find the X-ray place. I went the wrong way at first and had to walk back past the blood test/urine sample area to go the proper way.
I remember being uncomfortable that there were no hospital personnel looking after the samples. In fact there were no nurses at all on the right side of the counter and the staff on the left side of the counter certainly wouldn’t be able to see what was going on around the tray on the right side of the counter. This of course just added to my present state of unease.
In the end, it turns out that I was right to feel uneasy. But, who knows what really happened there. All I know is that I hate that hospital. The whole place and all of its methodology bothers me. I hope I don’t have to go there again.