It is only recently that they require a health check as part of the residence permit process.

I understood it to be a half day task.  We scheduled our appointment at a State hospital.  And it was on the day before we were to submit our application for a residence permit.  I really believed it to be a half day task.  Our helpers in this task did not suggest otherwise.

Alas, if only it were so.

For our health checks we chose a large teaching hospital near Kozyatağı in Istanbul.  We had to commute to the hospital as it was not near to our lodgings.

To make things more trying, the various departments are spread out over the campus; each building standing independent and on its own.  While at the hospital we observed various patients, being wheeled down the roads.  They travelled not only in wheelchairs but also in their hospital beds.

The health report is not like visiting your local GP.   Over the course of our time, we visited; x-ray, EKG, Ear Nose Throat, Eyes, Internal Medicine, Heart, Psychiatry, Infectious Diseases, Neurology, and general surgeon.  Too many to remember; I’ve lost count.  The process means we need to visit all the appointed doctors.  And we must also complete all the referrals that crop up in our visits.  Once we complete all this, the Medical Panel coordinator will assemble the file.  After this he passes the file to the medical panel for assessment.

Hence we must visit every department.

At this sprawling complex, there is a system.   Notably, the doctors and support staff are all working according to the system.   My only problem is, I lack an overview of the system.  I am ignorant of where I need to go or even in which building the office is.  I am unfamiliar with the order I need to visit.  Nor am I cognisant of when various departments are open and when they are closed.  Importantly, I am not au fait what we must do first and what is dependent on another test.  And I am unaware when the results of the various tests are posted.  This is essential as without the results we can not go to the next stage.  And I do not know if I needed to collect the results and then carry them to the doctor; which we did sometimes.  Finally, I am oblivious when the results will appear on the computer for the doctor to peruse.

Hence I was relieved when our helper said they would go with us for the first day.  Of course, at this point, I thought it was just a ½ day job.

Our first appointment was at nine o’clock.  We met up with our Turkish helper at the hospital.  With its myriads of buildings, I didn’t have a clue as to where to begin.  But, not so our helper.  Following her instincts, she led us to a small, nondescript building.

Once we identified the starting point, we attended the office of the coordinator for the medical panel.  He said because we lack a residence permit, we would need to pay ₺1,800.  This was to be paid at the hospital cashiers office.  Only then could we begin the process.  I had heard there were two different potential costs for these health checks; one ₺200 and the other ₺900 per person.  I prepared for the worst-case scenario.  It was a good thing I did.

Once paid, the chap printed off a whole stream of tickets.  There was a set for me and another set for T.  These declared who we were, what department and which doctor we were to see.

In former days, people would go to the hospital and queue early in the morning.  Often they would arrive well before the hospital opened to get a number.  Later that day they would see the doctor in number order.  No longer; now people make their appointments by phone before they get to the hospital.  This is a grand system.

However, the new system is appointment based and if there were only appointments, the system would work well.   But, throughout the day, ad hoc referrals are set up within the hospital.  These exist outside of the appointment system.

I found it strange that although we ‘had appointments’, at the same time we didn’t.  It was because we were doing a Medical Panel health check that there were no assigned times.  So, we began with first finding the appropriate building.  Upon entering the building we saw a long ‘waiting corridor’, clogged with people.  Along the length of the corridor, doctors’ offices were on either side.  Next we strove to discover which doctors’ office we needed.  There were clusters of people gathered around every door.  In these groups there were those with appointments and those with referrals.  We were numbered in the latter group.  Whenever a patient left the office, it was a scrum to discern who was next to go in; one with an appointment or one with a referral.

Sometimes, we slipped in, our helper working the system.  At other times the doctor instructed us to wait in the corridor giving precedence to those with appointments.

This health check was not merely a bureaucratic function.  For example, after the EKGs were done, T commented that our printouts were different.  Well, the doctor also noted that.  He sent T to a cardiologist.  There, he did an echograph of her heart.   It seems she has an enlarged aorta.

After the blood tests, and the results were posted we saw another doctor.  She told T she had an infection and there was blood in her urine!

The ear doctor examined both our ears, and we left, believing all was done.  However, it seems he said we both needed hearing tests – but, alas; we did not hear him.

Later, in preparing T’s file, the coordinator discovered her failure to have a hearing test.  Consequently, he sent her for a hearing test.  But, in order for this referral hearing test to be done, she had to see the doctor again.  After that she went for the test.  Then she returned to the doctor with the results.

I had a good chuckle.  For, despite my difficulties in hearing, they sent T for a hearing test.

However, later, on examining my file, it was clear I had failed to have my hearing test.  So, he sent me as well back to the doctor – hearing test – doctor to complete my file.

The results are enlightening and unexpected.

The last doctor on the list, was “dahiliye”, which I am translating as ‘internal medicine’.  When asked what medicines I take, the doctor, hearing I have diabetes, ordered up another blood test.  But, I could not get it done then, as it must be a ‘fasting blood test’.  This added another day to the process.  But, due to the weekend, it was three more days.

This meant we began the process on Tuesday, carried on Wednesday, on Thursday, and Friday.  Because of my blood test we returned on Monday.

Our first task on Monday was collecting the blood test results.  And then I took them to the doctor.

Sometimes you knock on the door, and the doctor is with a patient.  I always feel bad when we do that.  This time, we thought we would wait before barging in.  Whilst patiently waiting a woman strode up, knocked and entered.  Ah, there was no patient in there.

When she came out, we went in.

It seems my diabetes is higher than normal, but acceptable.  That was not a serious concern.  However, it was my triglycerides count that caused concern.  It caused a great deal of concern.  They were really, shockingly high!  I did not expect that.  This is in stark contrast to my blood results from January this year done in the UK.  Then they were high, and a challenge to improve.  But it was not deemed time to change prescription or a serious intervention type of concern.

Therefore, I take this result with a pinch of salt.  This is serious and needs follow up.  But maybe we should also have confirmation.

We had seen the last doctor.  We returned to the co-ordinating office and all the paperwork was collated and stapled together.  Then the chap informed us we needed to be there at 14:00 to see the Medical Panel.   Evidently, we must present ourselves to the Medical Panel.

Now, we were unaware of this requirement.  It is no biggie, just we were not expecting that.

Therefore, before 14:00 we arrived in the crowded waiting corridor.  There we assembled with all the others gathered to see the Medical Panel.  After 14:00 they called people in, one by one.

I was called and directed into a room where eight doctors were seated around a conference table.  The head of the panel greeted me in English and I replied in like manner.  Only later did he twig I speak Turkish, and we switched to Turkish.

He cautioned me in no uncertain terms that my triglycerides needed to be dealt with!  And he added ‘especially with your heart condition’.  Now, I did not understand this reference in the slightest.  I confessed to the panel I was still in shock over the blood test results.  Nevertheless, as I take my responsibilities towards my health seriously, I said I would do whatever I could.  I did not address my confusion over his reference to ‘heart condition’.  I thought he said it because diabetics are susceptible to heart disease.

Next, T was called, and knowing I spoke Turkish, they spoke Turkish with her.  At the end of the interview the head of the panel asked if there were any objections.  There were none.  And then he told her to be back after 16:00.  He told me the same.

At 16:00 we were once again in the waiting corridor with the assembled ensemble.  There we waited for them to call our names one more time.

This time they called T first.  So she had to learn what we needed to write on the back of the form.  It need to be in Turkish and written by our hand.  This made it much easier for me.

Once we had the report, we had time to read it.  There I learned they have stated that I have ischaemic heart problems.  How do they know?  And, they specifically referenced that the existing treatment was a stent.

Well, this was news for me!  I mean, at the least I should know if I have a stent or not.  This then was what the head of the panel was referring to.  To say the least, I do not understand.  But, I know I have not had a stent applied, or is it installed?  I do not even know the terminology connected with a stent.

This is something I will address with my British doctor.

Nevertheless, we still have some outstanding tasks.  We had to send our criminal records checks to the UK to have an apostille affixed.  And we need to have our birth certificates translated and notarised.  Oh, and we need to produce the title deed of the home we are officially living at.  Oh, and a statement from the local Council that the property is still being lived in.

When all of this is ready, the next task is to pay the application fee.  And the final step is to submit all the documentation and health reports.  At the end, we will have done everything that was in our hands to do.

I believe the local office will send the completed application forms to Ankara.

In spite of all the effort and expense, there remains no guarantee of a residence permit.  They may or may not issue the permit.  And, if they issue a residence permit, there is no idea of how long it could be.  Recently some people have been given just five months.  In our case it is looking very much like just one year.

Ah, the Health Reports, which I thought was a half day task, has taken five days.  But it is done.

In all these things, we face them with patience and grace.  It is our first calling is to be Light and Salt in all our comings and goings.  This is especially so in times like these.  And, once again, our trust, our rest, our peace and our patience is all in the Lord.

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