I went for my first health assessment in 3 years and it is when I was telling folks about it that I realized, gone are the days where we refer to health assessment as “body check-up.” When I slipped and used this now archaic expression, I was greeted with funny looks. Isn’t it interesting to observe how our language is also changing with times?
As I had not done this in quite a while, I was not sure how long the fast should be. Surprisingly, when I tried to find this pertinent information on the clinic website, I took close to 10-min of persistent searching to find it. That was a first minus point. It was also then that I recalled the clinic did not send a reminder with key information such as what to bring and how long to fast via SMS or a phone call. As such, I was not sure if I should be there 15 minutes earlier for registration as some clinics have preciously requested. In the end, I did not manage to as I got lost finding the clinic – which was to be accessed via a carpark. Thankfully, the reception gave pretty clear instructions and coupled with good signs, I managed to locate the clinic.
When I arrived around 10 am for my appointment, the clinic was packed with people and I expected a long wait. However, I was pleasantly surprised that this was not the case. I was very quickly ushered to a consultation room for various checks and blood test by a friendly staff member. As I was getting my breakfast, the reception quickly sent my file to the doctor, which helped to speed things up. Dr Anna Song was clear in her instructions which helped to put me at ease, particularly the part where she was required to do some rather sensitive checks, which we both agreed were the unglamorous parts of being a doctor. And that was about all that was nice about this visit.
At the last section where I was required to do two scans, one of which required a full bladder, I was left all alone to wait without instruction. After 10 minutes, I went to the counter to enquire and I was told to fill up my bladder and that I would now be put in the queue for the scan. When I asked why I had to wait so long, the staff claim my file only just got to her. This can only mean it does not quite matter where I was, what was most important was where the file was. Not wanting to waste time arguing, I started downing water like there was no tomorrow and continued waiting, for another 20 over minutes.
During this period, something happened that made me really upset. A person (I shall not mention gender or race) came into this section of the clinic and was ushered to do the scan first. When that person was done, I was still waiting! Of course I was fuming mad. I tried to calm myself down before heading over to the counter to enquire and I was told I would be next in line. Finally when I was ushered into a room for both scans, there was no explanation, merely curt instructions on what to do. It was a most unpleasant experience.
As I reflected all that transpired at the clinic, I am aware that It wasn’t that the staff were being unkind, they kind of forgot that their clients might not familiar with the procedures like they were. Furthermore, while the staff spend the entire day working in the clinic, the rest of us need to get back to our work elsewhere. I really don’t have all day to wile away at the clinic. Therefore, even though this morning’s visit started out well enough, it ended sufficiently badly for me to give the clinic a negative rating.
One observation, not unique to this clinic, is the service staff’s tendency to switch to another language to talk about me, assuming that I am unable to understand. This morning for instance, as I was speaking to them in English, they were passing information about me to each other in Mandarin. And when I speak in other occasions in Mandarin, they will do the same using Cantonese. I would think the polite thing to do if u want to talk about my case when I am around is to do it in a language that I can obviously understand? And in all these instances, nothing bad was being said.
At the end of the day, I am writing this as part-rant and part-reflection. When I left the clinic, my first instinct was to write a nasty comment about the clinic on Facebook, which I did and later deleted. As I started writing this post, I realized that the experience was not all bad, which was partly why I deleted the status update. However, the last experience sort of undid all the earlier good experienced, and left a bitter taste that will for a long time color my impression of this clinic. This episode reminded me again how important it is to finish well; it also reminded me to process my own thoughts and feelings before saying anything about them, because they can sometimes be inaccurate reflections of reality.
Oh well, what a morning!