A testing day

A tram journey starting at 7:18 still gave time to drop in at an ancient boulangerie for some baked goods before arriving at the Centre De Sante De Strasbourg. The receptionist was a little ray of sunshine emanating charm and good humour whilst she compiled the paperwork to start our dossier before we were sent into the waiting room to the right of reception. It had yellow walls and an easy-clean, brown lino type floor with black metal chairs connected to each other around the walls and in rows interspersed with some low tables with magazines on them. At a low volume Muzak was playing and a smile crossed my face when I heard Golden Brown by the Stranglers. In the corridor between reception and the waiting are in a little recessed area were two desks with a screen, the same width as the desk, from floor to ceiling next to them. After a wait people were called over to see one of two people behind each desk. It seemed to follow the order in which we had arrived. In turn I was called over and asked questions to check the information in the dossier, to confirm that I had not eaten and I was given a pot and sent to the 4th floor to piss in it.

Into the lift and up to the top of the building on the fourth floor and out  into a room with a wood lined wall with a lino floor. On the right was a waiting area followed by male and female toilets, on the left it was divided into cubicles where blood was taken. In the corner on the left opposite the lift was an office space come reception. I walked into the toilet where there was a notice saying to start peeing then stop and at this point do so into the little jar. I did as instructed then washed my hands and went, with my little jar, and sat down in the waiting area. It became clear that people were also coming into the area to just get a blood test and it seemed there were three, of the about eight cubicle like rooms, being used for testing people having health check and the one by reception for the walk-up tests. Whilst waiting two chaps who had come for the walk-up test, who were also waiting, started talking Elsässisch. It was interesting to listen to them as I had not heard it spoken much in public places apart from my local patisserie. I was called into room and shown to deposit my bag and coat on a chair in the corner and then get into the large chair, sort of like an a sea-green arm-chair except it had raised maneuverable arm rests allowing you to rest you arms, upturned, whilst the blood was taken. The information in my dossier was  checked then asked questions about blood, whether I’ve ever had any surgical operations, blood transfusions etc. There was one question I did not understand and JTO had to be called in from the next room. I had not understood the different pronunciation of hepatitis in French and once I understood was able to answer that I did not want to be tested for it or HIV. A number of small capsules with either cream green or purple lids were got out from a lot that were clearly as they had come from the manufacturer, on a tray with plastic wrapping round them which had been torn to get at the capsules. They were put into a metal holder whilst the device for puncturing my arm was readied and then inserted. In turn each capsule was filled up and each capsule had a couple of things stuck to it which came from a sheet in the dossier. I collected my things up, was handed the dossier back and then went back down in the lift to the first waiting room to be told at 8:55 we could eat.

When JTO was called I noticed that off the waiting area there small rooms with red lights above them. The man who had following me was called into one of the rooms before me grrrr and the young woman who had followed him then overtook me double grrrr added to which I then was experiencing  a sugar rush from my baked goods.

The dossiers had been put in a rack on the wall to the left  of where I was sitting. A woman in a white-coat came out and took a dossier out which was standing up, whereas the others were lying down. At that moment a man in a white-coat  came out with another patient  and the two people in white coats swapped dossiers and  the woman went off with the patient and the man took the dossier before coming back and calling my name and took me off into one of the rooms. I was told to put my stuff in a room off to the right and sit across the desk from him. He said someone would be in for another part of the test. He started with the eye test, using a machine like the one pictured, but had only got onto the second row when his boss appeared and they swapped places. We finished that test then I had to put on headphones and I had to press a button when I heard something. Next I had to go back into the small room and remove my clothes apart from underwear and socks and then come back in. Before going to lie on a medical couch covered with a tissue my height and weight were measured. A tissue was wet and then touched at various places on my legs, arms and chest. It was cold and the first time it happened I started. To these places little suction cups were attached. Not what I was expecting at all, more like what you see in films and TV programmes where metal sensors are attached and then taped on. I was told to close my eyes and relax which I did and then the sensors were taken off and I could dry myself with the towel before going back into the room and clothing myself. In the room I took the picture you see of the mark left on my arm by the suction cup. When I came back in I had to sit back down and was offered a device to blow into. First taking a couple of normal breaths before taking a massive breath and blowing out as hard as I could for as long as I could, This one I found difficult as I hesitated between breathing in and the long hard breath out. I was shown that it meant the result on the computer was worse than it should be but on the third go I got it right.

I collected up my things and went back out into the waiting room. After a short while I was called back to the desks to make an appointment to talk to the doctor about the results. So, we will not know if I am dying, or what other outcome there, is until next Thursday. I left and at 10:15 headed home to buy tickets to see Leonard Cohen in Dublin in September.

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