I love tests.
I love them because I delight in my ability to pass them. I was always that weird kid in class who loved when we were forced to take standardized tests. I can’t think of a single final in college I didn’t ace. Even my driving test, which caused me over a decade of agita, was just one more set of objective criteria for which I could learn the correct answers.
Ultimately, tests are no different than playing a song in front of an audience – all it takes to pass them is rehearsal. Plus, with most tests there’s not the subjective grading level of the audience rejecting you because of how you look or because you’re playing the wrong kind of guitar.
(But, seriously, Flying V guitars are lame and Gina and I will judge you.)
It’s only the tests you can’t rehearse for that give me any unease, which is why I was very nervous last week as we embarked on a two hour drive to northern New Jersey to one of the only three doctors in driving distance who may conduct a physical for our New Zealand visas. (There are presently only 34 Immigration New Zealand panel physicians in America – you’re screwed if you live in the Midwest, or even parts of the Pacific Northwest!)
Objectively, I knew the questions with which this test was concerned. New Zealand’s health care system isn’t socialized single-payer, but it’s government-subsidized enough that the “good health” of their potential residents is paramount to them granting a working visa.
What’s “good health” in this instance? They make it sound so simple on their friendly immigration site…
- unlikely to be a danger to the health of the people already in New Zealand
- unlikely to cost New Zealand’s health or special education services a lot of money
- able to work or study if this the reason for your visa.
Simple, yes? Yet, getting there while over the age of 55 isn’t easy, and you can be rejected in one fell swoop for having certain medical conditions “deemed to impose significant costs and/or demands,” which include HIV and M.S.. In all of those cases, you can certainly be in “good health,” but it might take more state dollars to keep you there.
I’m not that old nor do I have any of the conditions in question. I’m in decent physical shape and quite limber. I have near-perfect eyesight. I wasn’t feeling congested enough to be anxious that my chest X-ray would give a false positive that I had tuberculosis.
The only unknowns were a urine sample and a blood test, but I would be fine. As for “preparing” for these tests, they only had three suggestions – which of course I studied carefully:
How do I prepare for my immigration medical examination?
- If you are mildly unwell or on a short course of antibiotics, wait until you are better before having your immigration medical examination.
- Do not have alcohol or high fat meals 48 hours before your blood tests.
- Do not consume kava for 48 hours before your blood tests.
Except, in that most Peter of Peter decisions, 24 hours before the test I did something very inadvisable (see also: shaving off my guitar callouses before a big gig; not sleeping the night before my driving test).
Here’s the inadvisable thing:
Yes, that is a Friendly’s Wattamelon roll.
I had convinced myself that these wedges of artificial watermelon goodness no longer existed in retail grocery stores. When I off-handledly lamented about it the day before our Very Special Doctor’s Appointment to a friendly employee at our local GIANT during our weekly grocery trip, she replied, “Oh, it’s just that they’re in with the popsicles – people can never find them!” with great cheer.
The cheerful woman conducted me to the popsicle freezer, rooted around in the bottom shelf (who even looks on the bottom shelf of the popsicle freezer?!), and came away bearing the box you see above. I told her she had made that day one of the happiest days of my life. EV and I returned home with a Wattamelon Roll.
Let me tell you something about this particular confection, other than that it is not contained within any kind of wrapper or freshness seal so it at first tastes like cardboard and the air inside of GIANT.
What was I saying? Oh, right, telling you a thing.
As a whole, the Wattamelon consists of 2,400 calories and 350 grams of sugar, and try as I might to deny it as we checked out at the grocery store there was an absolute certainty that I would consume the entire thing within 24 hours of it arriving at our house.
In my defense, it’s made of watermelon and lemon sherbert! Plus, it gives you all of the annoying realness of eating an actual watermelon when you have to keep spitting out the gross, sour chocolate chips masquerading as seeds.
Ugh, I hate them. I’d rather have the actual seeds.
In any event, the not-seeds didn’t slow me down appreciably, because by about 2 a.m. that evening I finished said not-ermelon (it turns out it only took me 12 hours) before heading to bed.
Thus, my agita during the car ride was both metaphorical and literal. I was legitimately afraid that my blood and urine would appear to be made entirely of sugar and that we would lose our shot at immigration because of my apparently untreated diabetes.
(Note that diabetes is not actually a reason to be summarily dismissed from the immigration process; I’m just that paranoid.)
Making matters worse, I woke up late and we leapt into the car without my eating any breakfast or making a morning trip to the bathroom. Not to get too graphic for you, but the content of your bladder tends to settle a bit overnight, which means it was very likely the sugar content of the first drips out of the tap would indicate that my bladder was filled with something more akin to maple syrup than urine.
Seriously, I don’t think I have even been so nervous while peeing in my entire life.
Our exceedingly-rare Immigration New Zealand panel-approved doctor was a charming but unbelievably dry round old man wearing a yarmulka with a one-room office who drew blood so well that I wasn’t even sure he had stuck me with a needle. Aside from the unspoken potential that I had simple syrup flowing through my veins, the most remarkable part of his examination of me was probably his incredulity that I just don’t drink alcohol, consume caffeine, or take medication.
(Him: “Really? Not ever on the liquor or the caffeine?”
Me: “Well, not since 2013.”
Him: “Not even a coffee?”
Me: “Oh, certainly not.”
Him: “Are you a Mormon?”
Me: “No, sir. Not a fan of the fashion.”
Him: “Are you in some sort of a program?”
Me: “Yes, it was called two hours of sleep a night while working at a start-up and also having a baby.”
Not even a smirk.)
EV6 also had to submit herself for an examination. Previously she had been only to a single pediatrician’s office where she has mostly seen one relatively-young, quite-silly doctor, so E and I were a little nervous about this new encounter. EV6 easily aced her tests, excep, for when she told the doctor that her daily vitamin was a “butt butt vitamin” and he started inquiring after her digestive health, but that’s a whole other story for a whole other time.
E received her medical clearance within 24hrs of the appointment, which just lead me to freak out even more that I had OD’d on sugar and would be rejected by New Zealand as undesirable.
Thus, I was greatly relieved to open my email the next day to read this sentence:
Your health examination results show no abnormal or significant findings.
We were well on our way to clearing our first New Zealand hurdle (after E getting a job offer, of course), assuming the FBI didn’t turn up anything remarkable on our background checks (certainly nothing that you couldn’t read about here, anyhow).
Now all we have to do is figure out how to ship a four-bedroom house of belongings including a recording studio and a 25,000 issue comic book collection halfway around the globe.
If the blood test turns out to have been the most anxiety-inducing part of this process, it’ll be a great relief.