An American in Chengdu

Staying healthy | September 17, 2009

When I came in this morning, there was a thermometer on my desk. Office mate Samantha told me that all teachers are now required to take our temperatures each morning; in my case, I’m to report mine to a woman in the international office by 8:30 am.

It had already become clear to me that China is taking a much different approach to H1N1 prevention than the U.S. At my last job, at an American university, the only measures I noticed were signs (illustrated with cartoon pigs) in the bathrooms that encouraged us to wash our hands, and a family-sized bottle of hand sanitizer in the coffee room. On arrival in the Beijing airport, not only did I have to walk through a thermal sensor, but all the passport agents were wearing masks. Then there was the trip to the travel medicine clinic. Yet here at the medical school, there’s no soap in the bathrooms, much less hand sanitizer dispensers.

But at least in this case, I wasn’t being subjected to extra medical scrutiny as a foreigner. I popped the thermometer into my mouth. Half a minute later Samantha’s eyes widened as she glanced across the desk at me.

“I think you can put it here,” she said, gesturing to her armpit. Oh god. This was a used thermometer, wasn’t it? I hadn’t gotten an armpit-temperature since childhood, but it was definitely preferable… if only I’d known.

I came in at 36.1, which seemed a little cool to me. But maybe that’s just the nature of armpits.

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1 Comment »

  1. I had to take my temperature in my ear when I was sick. I don’t think I was very good at it.

    Comment by Helen — September 21, 2009 @ 10:19 pm


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    About me

    I've come to Sichuan in search of adventure, fluency in Chinese, and awesome vegetarian food. I have to concede that the baby pandas are very cute.
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