AUTh Lab, Thessaloniki

I don’t have tuberculosis which is good to know, and apparently I don’t have anything unusual showing up on my chest x-ray either. This week I was fortunate enough to get a first hand peak at the greek medical system. I guess the whole story started last week on Wednesday when I went to the hospital to make an appointment. This wasn’t a process that could be done over the phone so a few of us went and managed to get appointments for the next week. The appointment process took around an hour and a half by the time all of us managed to get out of there.

So Tuesday was my big day so I went down to the hospital from school (which thankfully isn’t that far). I had an appointment for 11:00, as did a couple of others. We decided to go down early because rumor was that we might have to wait. Getting there 20 minutes early, we eventually found the outbuilding where they were doing the initial part of our tests. We piled in to discover that we had to take a number. We had to wait until the doctor was finished with a patient to even get this number. And then we waited. And waited. The waiting room, if you could call it that, was filled with other people there to get the same tests as we were. Eventually I got into the treatment room and was told to sit in a chair where a doctor injected something into my arm. At this point, I wasn’t even really sure what tests they needed from us, but went along because that was why I was there. Paperwork. After getting the form I needed, I headed out with my colleagues to pay 10€. Back to the guy who made our appointment last week, this time we give him the arm injection paper and the money and he gives us a receipt and the paper back. Take both of these things to another part of the hospital – requiring a third trip outside – where we get to wait again. This time it isn’t so long and we are getting chest x-rays done. I go in only to tell them that I don’t have a small photo.

One thing I left out is that when I left the university for the hospital I realized that I didn’t have my photo that I had made a point to get out of my collection the previous week. It was in my business card holder, which for reasons that aren’t important, I had left at home. They had told us we needed one, but I had no idea why. Well… now I do. They attach it to your x-ray and stamp it. When I told the technician “no photo”, she said that she’d take the x-ray anyway and I could bring a photo later. Bonus.

After pressing my bare chest against cold metal for a few seconds I was able to redress and join my friends. Those who had photos were able to get their results from the x-ray, and that was it for Tuesday. Back to class.

On Thursday we had to go back and show the doctor that whatever he injected into our arm didn’t kill us and that we didn’t have anything particularly dangerous embedded in our chest cavity. Show that and we could get a paper in Greek that may very well say we are a threat to national safety for all that I can tell. Of course I had to get my x-rays back, but fortunately the wait to get the doctor’s note was so long that I had time to navigate to the x-ray place and convince someone that I was there two days ago and I just needed to drop off my photo. Five minutes later I’m on my way back to what turns out to be a 45 minute wait. And now I have an x-ray to hang on my wall and a note that I think I need to get translated if I want to use it.

All told, besides all the waiting, the process was pretty painless. Never mind the fact that we were in a building that was likely built before WWII and equipped from an era probably not long after that.