Work-Required Medical Check-Up

When you live and work in Peru, your company/ organization has the legal obligation to check your health every two years.  It is rather ridiculous.

This morning I arrived Jockey Salud at about 6:50AM and checked in.  The clerk at the counter on the second floor told me to sit down because they were not attending yet.  I sat down.  About five minutes later a different employee told me to go stand in line because they were attending now.  I returned to the first clerk who seemed to not remember telling me to sit down.

First they sent me to get my blood drawn on floor two.  Then they sent me to the sixth floor to have my eyes checked.  The attendant/ doctor/ nurse told me that my glasses are fine for my needs.  I knew this.  What I didn’t know is the name nor title of the person attending me.

Then, still on the 6th floor, I went to be weighed and have my height measured.  This attendant/ doctor/ nurse told me to take off my shoes (very light weight) but keep on the two jackets that I was wearing this chilly morning.  I was told a weight that I have never weighed in my life.  Blood pressure and oxygen saturation also measured, I went to wait in the hall.

The next attendant/ doctor/ nurse listened to my lungs and heart, pressed my stomach, and had me touch my nose with my arms extended.  She made sure I could move my arms and legs.  Then, only looking at the numbers she was handed, told me that my numbers were with in all of the normal ranges.  So far, the only person who looked at me was the eye attendant/ doctor/ nurse.  Ironic?

Then down to the 5th floor to see the psychologist.  I was asked to draw a human figure and copy some figures from another page without erasing.  Before coming to this appointment someone told me to make sure I drew a line for the ground in my picture. Odd.  The psychologist did not tell me his name or title either.  The door said “Psychology.”  When he asked me if I feel stress at work I laughed and said, “I work with 6th graders; it’s part of the job.” He seemed concerned.  We agreed that it was not excessive nor something to be concerned about.

They sent me back to the second floor for a chest X-Ray and told me I could go home.

No names, no titles, very limited eye contact, no explanations about what was going to happen or why we were doing this.

I need to see if I can have my own doctor do this work, look at me, pay attention to me and inform me.   I would be willing to do this on my own time with my own money to not feel like a widget on an assembly line.

The results will be sent to the school.  Will anyone besides me look at the results?  What if I am overweight or need new glasses?  I’m not and I don’t, but what if?  What are the consequences?  Can they fire me for saying no to the tests?  What about for having a fast pulse?  This has never been explained to me.

Maybe we are just going through an assembly line, a legal requirement.

When I returned to school I received an email telling me that I signed in late to work using the fingerprint scanner.  Although that email felt like a real slap in the face from the folks who sent me to this appointment, at least they notice me and noticed I was gone,  unlike the attendants/ doctors/ nurses at Jockey Salud.

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Stress- Who’s to blame?

I am going to think out loud for a bit…

Recently, I heard a definition of stress that is new for me: Stress is “when the resources of the individual are not sufficient to cope with the demands and pressures of the situation.”  I am troubled by this definition.

To begin, let’s go to an extreme situation.  Imagine a concentration camp where people are being murdered every day.  Does the definition mean that, if only the prisoners had more internal resources they would not have felt stress in that situation?  How about an abusive family?  If only the children had more resources they could cope with the situation of abuse.  Perhaps through mindfulness practices such as breathing and meditation they could deal with being whipped with a belt. Ommmmmm.

Obviously, that was facetious.

But do you see where I am going with this?  It seems that the definition above puts the onus on the individual.  It seems that this definition comes from an individualistic perspective, perhaps an individualistic society.   If only the individual had more internal resources he or she would not feel the stress.  Organizations, systems, structures can do what they want, ask what they want of their people, and if the people cannot cope it is their own fault.  The individuals need more mindfulness training.  It is a perfect set-up for abuse.

I do believe in mindfulness and the power of positive thinking.  Yoga, TM, retreats are positive practices, my positive practices.  I also believe that some systems continue demanding more and more and then try to blame the individual who cannot keep up with or does not want to keep up with the new, the changing demands.  Does the individual have a choice when the demands change?  There is mutual responsibility.

Sometimes the system needs to change.  Sometimes the individual.  Sometimes both.  Whatever causes the stress, we cannot blame the victim alone without looking at the system in which the individual operates.  Sometimes less is more.  Sometimes individuals need to say, “No, I can’t do any more,” without fear of retribution.  Often the systems should not ask.