Alison: I met a Chinese-looking girl today…

My name is Alison. I’m a doctor, work in a sexual health hospital in the centre of the city. The hospital is in the centre but it’s a very quiet part of the centre. I met a Chinese-looking girl today. It’s a very rainy day. Many parts of the North East England were flooded. The sky is grey. The patient before her didn’t turn up, so I called her in as soon as the reception lady told me she arrived. She came in with a red waterproof jacket and a umbrella. When I saw her, she was writing a card on the arm of the chair in the waiting room, like she was in a library, like no one else was around her. She struggled with her bag for a bit before she could follow me to the room.

I double checked her name and date of birth. I do wonder sometimes if patients get annoyed by being asked for their date of birth so many times. She was here for a smear test. I asked how old she was. She looked in the air for two second and said “1986 and 2012, so it’s 26.” I didn’t follow what she was talking about. She quickly added, “I’m 26.” I realised she was doing a maths to calculate her age. I heard of Chinese people were good at math. Does she need to practise maths in order to remember her age rather than remembering a number?

I explained the procedure of the test briefly and called in a nurse, Claire. She was new, hasn’t been working here for long. She was not the best nurse, I’ve seen really capable nurses before, but what can we ask here. I did the test quickly. The girl didn’t make a noise. I told her it was not too uncomfortable. Don’t know what she thinking lying there like a frog. They always remind me of frogs waiting for being dissected in the lab in school. I don’t like my job, particularly this one.

I advised her to do the blood test as well. I left Claire to do the job. I heard them chatting a bit and suddenly one of them went “oops”, then silent. I wondered what happened behind that curtain. Then I heard the girl said, it’s OK, don’t worry. When they finished, the girl came and sat next to my desk again. I told her when and how the result would be sent to her and I saw a drop of blood on her jeans. I didn’t say a word, I was just thankful she was a tolerant girl. Chinese people are really mild and harmless, aren’t they?

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