I learned that the school did not register me as an employee, so I had no right to go to the doctor or to get L4 (sick leave). Every “sick day” was deducted from my already meager pay.
I learned that a thermometer handed to you from the table by a doctor should go under your armpit and not in your mouth.
I learned treatment of a bladder infection po polsku is warm underwear and not antibiotics.
I learned that at the pharmacy all medicine (OTC and prescription) and anything else you want to buy is behind the counter and has to be given to you by the pharmacist.
I learned from a friend that vodka kills germs ;)
I learned that when you get a physical exam you should bring your urine with you.
Ok, that one requires a bit more explanation.
To work as a teacher (anywhere I guess, in the US and in Poland) you have to undergo a medical exam every so many years. My school figured out that I, too, should undergo the same tests after I had already been working there a couple of months. Knowing that it was not something I could manage myself, the principal (the one married to the student he got pregnant) asked Misiu to take me. Not the most obvious choice, but the female English teacher who had been responsible for me was on a 2 or 3 month sick leave. Misiu explained that he’d take me to the doctor for a blood test, a urine test and a chest x-ray. The chest x-ray was supposed to check for TB. I had brought my latest TB test results with me just in case (we need them to student-teach in the US), thus, getting myself out out of a quite unnecessary dose of radiation.
Misiu picked me up from PZU as planned (in case you are just joining us, I lived at PZU) and walked with me to the doctor’s. When we arrived, I saw that there was a long line of people waiting to talk to the lady in the window, the kind of window like in the post office where you have to bend down so the lady can hear you. I supposed she was the receptionist. Actually it was a lab, not a doctor’s office.
We went to the end of the line and waited. Finally, it was our turn and Misiu explained why we were there. Misiu turned to me and asked, “Where’s your urine?” How rude, I thought. Well, I don’t know where you keep your urine in Poland, but mine is in my bladder. “Uh, inside me. Why?” I answered. “You have to bring it with you,” Misiu explained. I explained that in my lab in the US, they give you a container so you can give a “fresh” sample, so to speak. After some explanation, the nurse handed me a container, “organized” me a container would be a better description, and directed me to the WC.
I fought my way past the disgruntled folks waiting in line until I found the WC. I got in there, locked the door, took my pants down and then looked at the container. It was a small glass jar with a cork top, the opening of which had the diameter of about 1/2 centimeter. It looked like it should hold magic potion not urine samples. I am a whole lot of talented, but even I didn’t attempt to fill it. I pulled up my pants and reported back to the nurse that my urine sample was a no-go. That’s when I noticed the other people waiting in line with their samples in little jars, jars like from jam or some other food product. There was even one ambitious young man who had filled a pretty big pickle jar. It was so big it didn’t fit through the opening in the receptionist’s window and she had to come out to retrieve it. The nurse advised me to buy some jam in a jar, empty it, clean and boil the jar and lid and deliver it full of urine, my urine, back to her.
After my blood test, Misiu and I walked to the store, bought some mustard, returned to PZU, emptied the mustard, and washed and boiled the jar. I did my business, labeled the jar and Misiu took it back to the lab for me which then I took as a small glimmer of affection for me, but was probably just his wanting to get away from me for the rest of the day.
PS We have urine sample containers now in Poland widely available at every pharmacy for about 1.50 PLN.
PS2 To “organize” something czyli organizować means to arrange something. In this case, it means to arrange something with a little difficulty.