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Brian and Michèle's Immigration Site
The Medical Exam

June 1, 2002
In Brian's own words:

We got to the appointment a few minutes early and found the waiting room almost empty.  We approached the desk and the nurse asked for my name, address, birth date, any inoculation records I might have, and my passport.  The only inoculation record I had (neither province I lived in as a child had any of my records on file) was for my small pox booster from *several* years ago and was irrelevant anyway.  She had already started filling out the required forms so the ones the INS officer had given us were redundant.  We gave them to her so she could use them for other patients.

I was called in to the initial examining area quite quickly and was measured, weighed, and had my blood pressure and temperature taken.  The nurse asked if I had any inoculation records, whether I had had chicken pox as a child (I hadn't - I had them as an adult 3 or 4 years ago), what, if any, medications I'm currently taking, and whether I have any drug allergies.  She determined, based on an INS-provided chart, that the only inoculations a person of my age requires are for tetanus and diphtheria, and for mumps, measles and rubella along with a skin test for TB.  She gave me an information page for each inoculation that detailed what side effects I might expect to see and what to do should I experience any of them.

The INS 'age/required inoculations' chart is an interesting thing.  It would be a handy thing for an applicant to have.  It makes a whole lot more sense than the laundry list of inoculations on the INS-provided form.  That list is quite frightening in that one of the required inoculations would take 6 months to complete where we were only given 3 months to get the medical results back to the INS.  While it's a stressful thing to look at the requirements and realize that there isn't enough time to complete the requirements, I suppose it's in keeping with the INS' position and strategy to make the process as difficult, stressful, and expensive as possible.

The next stop was in the Doctor's examining room.  I was given time to read the inoculation information sheets, then the Dr. came in and did the examination.  It was a very cursory examination - she listened to my breathing and my heart, checked my eyes and throat, palpated my abdomen, asked about the medication I take, any other conditions, and whether or not I had been hospitalized recently.  At no time did I have to remove my clothes in spite of what we had been led to believe before going for the examination.  Quite painless.

Very shortly after the Doctor left the examining room, another nurse came in to give me the inoculations.  First up was the TB skin test which consisted of a very small injection just under the skin of my forearm.  Next was the tetanus and diphtheria inoculation - it was an intramuscular injection in my shoulder muscle - no worries there.  The third was the mumps-measles-rubella injection which was put into the fatty (relatively speaking) portion on the back of my upper arm.  That's the only one that's sore at all.  [They also took blood to test for HIV and syphilis.]

The follow-up required is simple.  I go back to the clinic a few days from now to have the TB test checked and I can pick up my results at the time.  Once we have the results in hand, we need to either mail or hand-deliver them to the INS office in downtown SF.

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