My final physical…hopefully!

Finally, I have been able to see specialists for my “medical conditions”: scoliosis and pectus excavatum. I am hoping that the letters and results from these two specialists will be enough for the hospital in Saudi to approve my work visa. Then, the agency will send in my visa application to the Saudi embassy in Washington D.C., when it resumes operations. I still need to wait for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to allow frontline workers to fly into the country! I heard they are allowing expats that have been stuck in the country since March to finally leave. I am crossing my fingers now that I can start in July!

I last posted about the hospital requiring me to see a specialist and that I found an appointment. I drove 40 minutes to see this orthopedic surgeon, only to have his physician assistant tell me that the doctor does not see patients for spinal issues nor the sternum. I was a bit frustrated because when I made the appointment, I specifically stated the medical conditions! Also, she recommended I see a pulmonologist about the pectus excavatum instead of an orthopedist.

I checked my insurance when I got home and and found two doctors for each specialty. I made sure the receptionist verified that I could be seen by each for each condition.

First appointment was the orthopedic surgeon. He was closer than the first one I saw. He pulled up my previous chest x-ray but was not able to determine the degree of scoliosis by the image. So I had to go get spinal x-rays done. I returned to his office later that same day. And yes, there on the x-ray, I could see the slight curvature of my thoracic spine. Wow. I never knew. I do not have any problems from it and he said it was strange that I do not have a lumbar curvature also, because that usually occurs to correct the top curve. He wrote me a letter stating the degree of the curve and it will not interfere with my work or living in Saudi Arabia. I hope the hospital is satisfied with this letter.

Display in the orthopedic office

The spine and back

Next, I saw a pulmonologist via a telemedicine appointment. This is how a lot of doctors are seeing patients during the COVID pandemic if possible. I enjoyed this, as it saved me driving time and having to get out of pajamas! We swapped stories about how COVID was affecting our jobs. He told me some stories about having patients that have had symptoms for TWELVE weeks! He said it is affecting diabetics and obese people more than asthmatics and COPD patients. He said he is scared what the long term effects will be from the inflammation the virus causes.

Unfortunately, he was not able to tell the degree of my pectus excavatum based on the chest x-ray. I need to get a CT scan to decide that. So I have that scheduled for this Tuesday. Hopefully the doctor can view it and write my letter that day. Then I will scan both letters to my agency and wait. Once the hospital finally approves my physical, I just have to wait for the visa and the borders to open.

Now, I want to discuss again about whether or not to tell people where I am going. I want to use the orthopedic’s reaction as an example of why I am hesitant. At first I only mentioned I was trying to get a job overseas. As the appointment progressed and we had some small talk, he asked where overseas. When I said Saudi, he froze. He was typing on the computer at the time but stopped to turn around. He gave me a look that was between horrified and shocked. Then he scrambled for something to say and finally responded “You know they don’t treat women so great over there?” I told him I have read up a lot about the country and researched it. I am prepared for what I am getting into. Afterwards I thought of a better response of “oh so have you been? And have you experienced being a woman anywhere?”

I also told the pulmonologist about where I was going, but he only commented that it sounds like an exciting adventure. Maybe he was holding back his shock. Or maybe the difference between the two responses was the fact that the orthopedic doctor was Jewish while the pulmonologist was not. It is the same reason I am scared to post about my real plans on Facebook because I fear the reaction of my Jewish friends and acquaintances in Israel. I wish my decision was not seen as a political action by some people. But I have read comments on other blogs or posts of expats in Saudi to know that some friends will be against my choice.

If you are planning to move to or find a job in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, how do you feel about telling people? Do you have fears of people’s responses?

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