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Are you positive?

“So you’d like to enter out great country then would you?”

“Ummm, yes please.”

“Well we’re going to have to put you through a whole series of tests including a medical exam, take your finger prints, hell we’d probably implant a GPS tracking device into all our citizens if we could legally get away with it so that we knew what they were doing at all times, but in the meantime a medical grilling all paid for by you is the best than we can do, so that’ll be a three figure sum of dollars please”

“Ummm, ok then”.

And so it was that I found myself at a civil surgeons today in downtown Charleston, being poked, proded, questioned, and having my wallet lightened by a considerable sum, all as part of the process of gaining legal entry into the good ol’ US of A.

The freaky part : It involved an HIV test. Which I’ve never had in my life before, and I never thought I would have to, so just to see the letters ‘HIV‘ on an official looking form which also had my name printed on it today was a bit weird.

They also test you for Syphillis – or RPR (Rapid Plasma Reagin), as they call it. Why? Well because out of all the veneral diseases, it’s the one which if you wait until the symptoms start to show naturally, then it’s at the stage/state where it’s too late to do anything about it.

I also got shots all down my left arm for Measles, Mumphs & Rubella (MMR), and because I couldn’t prove I’d had one in the last ten years, in went a tetanus jab as well. Ouch! Then, just to completely make my arm go sore and numb, they did a Tuberculosis skin test as well, which has made a nice bump on my arm, and I’ve got to go back next week to get the all clear on that one.

The surgery waiting room had maps of the world all over it, including a singular map of the world with a red sticker for every location that someone had come in from and had their tests done here.

They also proudly displayed the number of tests that they’d done, and which country in the world that person had come from. I was rather disappointed to see that England only came in sixth, but not as disappointed as the friendly Bulgarian chap that I got chatting to .. since 1994, only 38 Bulgarians have come Charlestons way to be tested.

So if I think I’m having a hard time adjusting, at least I should be thankful that my first language is also that of the rest of the ‘states.

The receptionist (male), did go into extraordinary lengths though to chat to me, even to the point of telling me about his daughter who had come in the top 10 out of a year of 300 people in her college. Really? That’s great – but what’s that got to do with my medical? Nothing. I have no idea why he decided to tell me this.

I also couldn’t work out when I actually got examined by the doctor (his wife) whether she was being nosey, or just southern friendly as she proceeded to ask me all sorts of personal questions about me, my family, Leigh – how I’d met her, what she did, how long I’d been here, and what work was I doing?

A part of me wanted to scan her office for camera as if this was some form of initial screening, and not just a medical exam.

The whole thing took an hour, and as I entered from the air conditioned waiting room into the bright South Carolinan sunshine. “Oooh!” I muttered to myself, as I raised both my arms to put my sunglasses on, and my upper left arm complained with pain.

I reflected how the most amusing part had actually been when I first went in, and the receptionist had asked “Did you find our free parking lot across the street ok?”, to which I answered “Umm… I walked here actually”, and he gave me a look which suggested that I might just have been the first ever person not to have driven there. Oh, to be delightfully British!

(And it’s because of this, that some argue is why the UK has got a lower rate than of the USA in Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, Heart Disease, Cancer, Strokes and Heart Attacks.

I get the results back on Monday. I’m still wondering though if I’m going to wake up tomorrow morning though with my arm completely numb.

Shoreditch closes“Things that help make me think that I’m not actually 4,000 miles away from home”.

Just a quicky … is my copy of a Harry Beck 1933 London Underground map, which is now hanging above the toilet in the bathroom. So everytime I go for a wee I can be reminded of it.

Talking of which, it becomes one station less tomorrow as Shoreditch station closes permamently tomorrow on the East London Line.

Last time a station closed on the tube (Aldwych) back in 1994, I missed it – and I told myself I would definetely not miss the closing of the next one, wherever it was, and wherever I was … Oh … bugger, I can’t make it.

This does of course, throw up fun conotations as people now set out to get a brand new world record for doing the tube.

So will I be flying/popping back to do it at somepoint?


Because New York is much closer … 🙂

16 responses to “Are you positive?”

  1. Rob(Geoff's brother-in-law) says:

    Ha!…Got a 1st comment in! Glad to see you have cheered up, & have started going on about the things, you used to go on about……..

  2. Hey, that is the same map that was in your shower in Epsom!! I suppose you just don’t fear humidity harming it? Why is it considered bathroom decor?

    What a cheery health office you visited!! I am certain you’ll get the all-clear on your health tests. I can still recall the nerv-wracking few days I waited for my HIV test (given standard for pregnant moms) to come back negative (whew).. (is anyone in a so-called low risk group these days?)

    You are right– Americans don’t walk nearly as much as they should. I noticed that in England, even though everyone took Tube & Train everywhere, they still walked briskly to get from one stop to the next.

  3. If us Brits have lower rates of all those things, presumably there must be something that we have a higher rate of that is killing us instead, as I haven’t noticed any 200 year old people in the post office. Any ideas?

  4. Neil says:

    Geoff – all the geeks at Shoreditch tonight will be thinking of you as we leave on the last train.

  5. Smudger says:

    Does this mean that your world record will be retired and a new one will have to be started? You could have the world record forever now!!!

  6. Ciaran Byrne says:

    Geoff, have they inoculated you against saying… “…but…but….but…but…but…but”,
    becasue if they haven’t I suggest you get back down the quacks sharpish and sort it out.
    As for Shoreditch its a kahrzi anyway so closing the station is probably a good move.

    For Sure.

  7. Jono says:

    Have you never been to Aldwych since it’s closed? I’ve been a couple of times now — corporate events and the like.

  8. Anthony says:

    Fool of a Took!! New York subway record is far inferior to the Tube one.

    Well, OK, I’m just jealous I can’t come over and join in. It would be super-fun.

    Still waiting on Guinness for a proper treatment of the Shoreditch closure. I can’t believe they’re so useless. It’s fair enough if they don’t care about the record any more, but they could at least just tell everyone if they didn’t.

  9. geofftech says:

    #1 – Rob, are you feeling ok? That’s got to be the least negative comment you’ve ever left me.

    #2 = Kris. Er, that’s the whole point! I brought the map I had hanging in my bathroom from home with me, and hung it in the bathroom here. Hence: “The home from home….” theme.

    Any new attempt made on the tube now would set a new time for it in that configuration. We’re were waiting to see what Guinness World Records say… Send me a photo from tonight Neil!

  10. Peter Miller says:

    bring on NYC!

  11. Tower Block Tina says:

    Re the link between tube/toilet, last night on T.V. it showed the pumps keeping water out of the Tube system which if weren’t working 24hrs, would result in flooded stations. At Victoria there is a new scheme to use the pumped cool
    water with a fan to cool the station down, or something. Explain to Kris that there are miles of underground rivers in London which need to be kept continually at bay. So if we didn’t have the pumps we’d be knee deep in water, bit
    like a leaky toilet.

  12. sam says:

    I should probably go back and read thorugh all my healthforms again, i cant remeber jabs being mentioned. Not good. The worst experience i had was when i had Japenese encephalitis and Rabbis done on the same day but in different arms. The Japenese arm was numb for 3 days and wouldnt move and eveytime i moved the other arm i screamed in pain. This had to be repeated on three seperate occasions becasue they wouldnt give me the big dose. The worst thing was i then found out the i didnt actually need the Japenese one. I feel your pain.

  13. CV says:

    Shoreditch. Not quite on the last train, but did visit it last night. Didn’t know it’s closure was so imminent (Actually thought it had already closed) so, lucky one, that! Also took a spin on the newest bit, namely the DLR City Airport branch (not quite finished – it’s supposed to cross the river to Woolwich Arsenal, but they haven’t built the tunnel yet, so it ends in a dodgy council estate at a station called King George V).

  14. CV says:

    ..and before anyone replies, yes, I know DLR’s not part of the tube. It’s part of the general London transport infrastructure – I’m not a tube purist…

  15. Paul says:

    Nice bathroom Geoff although I can’t help but notice how far the toilet roll holder is from the seat … do you and Leigh have really long arms or something?! LOL!

  16. I missed Shoreditch shutting too.

    I do feel better, though, that I’m not the only one who seems to have needed a TB skin test at our age. Hint, make sure you take good care of that nasty blob of yuck that will appear from the skin test, and try not to burst it. It’ll heal much smaller if you leave it alone. Yes, yes, I know they say that the scar is supposed to prove your immunity, but the immunity from a BCG lasts all of 15 years, so no-one really recognises the scar anymore, and the USA doesn’t recognise BCG anyhow. No point in adding to scars….

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