Join me for yet another trip down memory lane. I know, it’s pretty impressive that I’m able to retain multiple memories from the past (like, at least 5). But my amazing brain is not why we’re here today. We’re here to talk about the time I went through an army medical exam in Ukraine. Let’s go.
At some point during my university studies (in Denmark) Ukraine started handing out so-called “identification numbers” to all its citizens. I believe it was the data-gathering stage of a worldwide inter-governmental program to install microchips in our brains. But I’m also the guy with traumatic memories of a psycho ex-flatmate, so take my words with a grain of salt.
The catch was that all men of conscription age had to go through an army medical exam, or else they couldn’t get their identification numbers. This included me, even though I was exempt from being enlisted due to being a student abroad.
So, during one of my trips back home, my brother accompanied me to a medical examination. He explained to the staff how in my case this examination was really just a formality. The staff insisted that I had to get proper “army ready” or “disqualified” stamps from the different doctors. However, this took place during summer vacation and therefore a naturally slow period for examinations. So this is how my “medical examination” went.
A lady called me over and said the following:
“Well, you’re supposed to see a dentist first, but we have no power in the building. How about I just tick the ‘army ready’ box right here?”
She scribbled a few notes on my examination documents and continued:
“Next is the optometrist, but he’s on holiday for over a month, so I’ll just go right ahead and say you’re ‘army ready’ here as well.”
Yeah, it’s not like you need to see anything when you’re a soldier. A functioning eyesight is really one of those “nice to have” things when you’re facing an enemy.
After that I was sent to a general therapist for a physical check up. As soon as I walked in he asked me to take my shirt off, put a stethoscope to my chest, then asked me to breathe in and breathe out. Following a few seconds of contemplation he turned to me and asked:
“So, do you pee yourself at night?”
Was that a standard question during medical exams or did my breathing pattern fit the profile of a chronic bed-wetter? After my “no” he ticked the “army ready” box and sent me on my way. He asked no other questions and performed no further check-ups of any kind. I guess being able to breathe and having control of your bladder are the two primary signs of good health!
Last on the agenda was photofluorography. I went up to the lady registering people’s names and signed up for a fluorography session. The next available time-slot was in three weeks. I explained to her that I’d be returning to Denmark within two weeks and asked whether she could do anything to speed things up. She shook her head and told me I should have scheduled it in advance.
After ten minutes of futile attempts to convince her I gave up. Just as I turned around to leave she stopped me with:
“Wait a second! Gniazdo? I know your grandparents! Your grandfather fixed my teeth a couple of times!”
She asked how my grandparents were doing and what they were up to. We chatted for a while. When we were finally done she said:
“About that fluorography. Why unnecessarily expose your body to all those nasty X-rays? How about I just put a little ‘army ready’ tick right here?”…
…and that’s how I became fully qualified for army service after essentially no examination whatsoever. Anyone want me in their platoon?