Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Last piece of the puzzle - the medical

My application for a visa for New Zealand has taken a while to get together.  I'm being sponsored by my partner, who is a New Zealander.  We needed police certificates for both of us for everywhere we'd lived in the past ten years, as well as a medical certificate for me, and, most importantly, proof that we'd been together for as long as we have.
I had forgotten about the medical cert in the hassle of getting the police certs, which is a shame, because I could have done it during my summer break if I'd remembered earlier.  In Italy, there are only a handful of doctors, all in Rome, who do the exam.  I chose the only one close to Tiburtina station (where I arrive from Abruzzo), which was also the only one to do both the doctor's exam and the chest x-ray (checking for tuberculosis apparently) on one premises.
Having done medical certs in Italy before (for driving licence and sports insurance), I was expecting this to be similar, especially in cost.  These cost €50 a time.  My boyfriend's British father (who also goes to NZ with a visa) warned us that we might be in for a shock.  When I googled it, people seemed to have paid around £150 in the UK.  I called the doctor's and asked for details.  €300.  Ouch.
One parental loan later, I headed off to Rome at the crack of dawn yesterday.  It was a painful experience from start to finish.  I had difficulty finding the centre, and arrived late at 11am and stressed.  They pushed my appointment back to 12.30.  I had had to fast for the blood tests, so was already grumpy, being one of those people who don't function without a hearty breakfast.
The doctor doing the tests was kind, but explained that she had just discovered a change in the form when other NZ applicants had arrived that morning.  The NZ authorities wanted, she explained, a very complicated and excessive test of kidney function that involved collecting 24 hours of piss.  Could I stay in Rome until tomorrow?
I could not.  Getting a day off work was already not ideal, and I had no intention of taking two.  The only thing for it was to collect the next day's, i.e. today's piss at home/work and send my poor boyfriend back with it (he doesn't have work) tomorrow.  Joy.  And we needed to make a third trip to pick up the results next week (having been told on the phone that the centre would be posting them to the Embassy).  Could they not post them?  Absolutely not.
Then the dragon of a receptionist told me it would be €433.01.  "Why the change?  I did call beforehand to check the cost?"  "Non lo so, signora, non ha parlato con me!"  (I don't know, madam, you didn't speak to me.)
Now, the cost increment could have been explained by the extra test, or it could have been the receptionist getting her own back for me being late.  In any case, I would have liked at least an explanation.  When you struggle to afford heating and food, €130 extra is nothing short of a catastrophe.  That woman, with her scornful little laugh, left me seething with anger.  I probably had a racing pulse and high blood pressure in the tests thanks to her.

Sun splits the cloud across the base of the Peligna Valley, looking toward the Gizio river valley

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