Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A piece of paper soaked in pee

You just know it's going to be a great day when your school schedule declares it to be "Urine Analysis Day".

Yep, time for the school's annual health check.
While a full medical is not high on my list of fun things to do, I still get one every year in Australia. Unlike the one I'm subjected to at school however, it is done in the privacy of my doctor's office and with someone who has full knowledge of not only my own, but also my family's medical history. The school one is a generic, everyone has the same type of test.

To be honest, I'm not sure why we have to have them. I have asked, but was given an answer along the lines of "just because".

A problem I find with the school health check is that it is supposed to be confidential, and it is for all of the Japanese staff. For us native teachers of English (NTE) however, there are language difficulties. There is no way we can read the questionnaire and so have to sit down to answer the multitude of questions to our boss. Last year, in the staff room, in front of one of my male New Zealander workmate, he asked "Are you menstruating now?".

In my first year at the school, after answering all the questions, we had a blood test (they made a terrible mess of my arm), our weight taken, our heart monitored (and I was left the next day with a chest dotted with bruises), our waist is measured (though not our hips, which hardly gives an accurate waist to hip ratio for this curvy western woman), hearing and sight checked, retina photographed, blood test, blood pressure checked, a chest x-ray and of course the urine test.

Ahh... my personal favourite, today's namesake - the urine test. Bear in mind that all of these tests are not been done in a doctor's office or hospital, but rather within the school. The first couple of years we were handed a plastic cup and a strip of paper and sent off to the girl's toilets. We pee, soak the paper, empty the cup, and then come back, down the school corridors, passing students eager to say hello, with a piece of paper soaked in our own pee. Welcome to Urine Analysis Day. I find it interesting that it's called that rather than "Health Check Day", but maybe everyone else is equally as traumatised by it as myself, so that's the part that sticks out. Honestly, I've been having nightmares about it for the last week!

Another part of the day's fun was the TB x-ray. The machine came in a van which was driven onto school property. Once in the van, I was asked to take off my bra (because of any metal parts that are in it). I tried to wrestle out of it but not given much privacy by the radiologist. All the while I was in front of an open door, screened only by a thin curtain flapping in the wind with the baseball team on the other side.

This year, I'm seeking permission from the school to be excused from the x-ray. For personal reasons that I feel very strongly about, I am avoiding any x-rays unless in an emergency. Even though Japan has low rates of TB, I can understand and admire their reasons for wanting to be cautious. I'm asking if I can instead take a TB skin test. In my own time, at my own expense. I should get the answer on that one tomorrow. Cross your fingers for me.
Today's health check was actually quite quick and painless. I filled out the for with the help of one of the female Japanese teachers with the rest of the NTEs. We kind of just copied answers off each other. My friend laughed at how silly it was to be cheating off a friend on a health test. In the nurses room, our height and weight was measured, eyesight, hearing and blood pressure checked and then could use the bathroom in the nurses office for the pee test. All done!

The last couple of years, I've been given the all clear with just a note telling me that I should "change (my) life". Let's see what I get this year!


Lulu said...

hehe, your take on the health checks here in Japan had me giggling!

I have only ever done 1! When I was a university student here....it was my second or third week in Japan and I had to rely on my foreign friends to translate for me and they were all giggling because they really had no idea either!

I failed the eye check because I didn`t understand the instructions! I passed the urine test though! hehe

billywest said...

I think I'd just pee in a cup and leave it on the nurse's desk for everyone's enjoyment. Maybe I'd make a cup for everybody.

Contamination said...

How selfish!

You are denying these kids the fulfillment of every young boys fantasy. Catching a glimpse of the teachers boobies. Even if it is once a year and the odds aren't good, I would have been waiting for TB day every year!


Make sure you take a couple of multi vitamins first, give it a nice color for the nurse.

Melanie Gray Augustin said...

Hey lulu - Ahhh... they're a joy aren't they? I can't believe you're leaving so soon! It's flown by so fast!

Hey Billy - Well aren't you the sharing one ;)

Hey Cont. - hehehe... well, I hadn't thought of it from that angle ;)

tornados28 said...

I guess privacy is not big in Japan also evidenced by their lack of doors on the public restrooms.

CurlyPops said...

OMG Imagine if they tried that in Australia, there would be a mass walk out! You did make me chuckle though...

Contamination said...

I'm sure those little hormone filled boys have. :-)

Just as long as you don't do a Janet Jackson superbowl, you're fine!

Jamaipanese said...

please tell me. You are joking right?

urine analysis day?!?!?

azumarisan said...

How embarrassment! I would refuse...though can you? I mean ifyou did would you get fired?

Melanie Gray Augustin said...

Hey tornados - yep, the men here seem to not need privacy when they pee, personally, I want doors on the loos so I can get privacy FROM them. I used to go to an event every year for my conversation school, where the beer was free, and all day long I'd get to see my male students relieving themselves. Yuck!

Hey Curlypops - yep, don't think it would fly in Oz. Always glad to make people chuckle though ;)

Hey again Cont. - Personally, I'd rather be ignorant about what my teenage (male) students are thinking....

Hey Jamaipanese - hehehe.... no, totally serious. Though if I was totally honest - Last year's schedule said "Urine Analysis Day", on this year's it was spelt wrong and was instead "Arine Analysis Day". I took a bit of poetic licence ;)

Hey Azumarisan - Well, I know from trying, that if I don't get a TB test I'd lose my job. As for the rest, I'm not certain but with the chain of comand that is observed in Japan, it would cause a lot of fuss for a lot of people. Not worth it really. "How embarrassment!" - I haven't heard that for years!

Anonymous said...

i've been enjoying myself catching up on your posts. i have to agree about the men not needing any privacy when they pee. when i was about in the 3rd grade and living in japan i had the need to take a taxi across town with my two younger sisters (6&7 yrs old). this was the first time i had taken a cab without my parents or older siblings along. when we were about halfway to our destination, the cab driver pulls over, gets out, and pees at the side of the road. it was no big deal to him and it was not an uncommon practice at the time but my sisters and i were mortified which turned into uncontrollable giggling all the way home.

Melanie Gray Augustin said...

Hey Shiborigirl - it's quite a shock the first time you see it, but my, seeing it when you were a girl! Yuck!