Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Medical Exam -- The Quest for Luxembourgish Residency, Pt. 3

Mëttwoch, 16 September.

When it rains, it pours. I mean this both literally (as it is currently raining cats and dogs outside my residence window) and as a figurative reference to my ongoing registration process. Oh. My. Lord.

After yesterday's exciting visit to the CMS for my tuberculosis test, I imagined that the next step -- the medical exam -- was going to be tricky. At first, I was pleasantly surprised. Sure, it took a rainy walk to the train station and two train rides to get to the doctor I'd found online. And sure, I was starving and almost entirely soaked (despite my umbrella) by the time I arrived. But the receptionist was friendly, the town of Bertrange was cute, and the medical exam itself was over in fifteen minutes. (Literally, it took longer to walk to and from the Bertrange-Strassen train station than it did for the whole exam.)

See? Cute town, nice doctor's office ... it's all too good to be true!

In case you're as curious about the medical exam as I was before today ... the doctor asked me a few questions -- did I have any diseases? had I been hospitalized? was I taking any medication? -- before taking my height and weight. She then checked my throat, ears, lungs, blood pressure, and (rather rain-soaked) feet.

And then came the kicker. "Do you have your vaccination card?" the doctor asked. I looked at her like I'd never heard English spoken before. Vaccination card? I didn't have a vaccination card! Had I misread the list of important documents? Was there an email I had missed? (Turns out, no. I've scoured the internet and the whole vaccination thing is just a completely random fun surprise.) Luckily, the doctor assured me, she could complete the information if I just emailed her the dates of my vaccinations. Which -- thanks to some particularly thorough medical clearance paperwork for the U.S. State Department -- I already had in my email inbox!

And then came the (second) kicker. An email from the doctor in response to my listed vaccinations, politely informing me that I was missing a polio vaccine booster. Yes, POLIO. As in the disease that I was vaccinated against at age six and hadn't really thought about since because it has been eradicated in all but like three of the world's countries. But apparently in Europe, adults typically receive additional polio boosters ... or maybe they just make their non-EU visitors receive them! Either way, it wasn't the end of the world; I figured I'd make another appointment with the doctor for later this week. And besides, when it comes to crippling diseases, better safe than sorry -- right?

And then came -- you guessed it -- the (third) kicker. According to the website through which I'd booked my first appointment, my doctor didn't have any available appointments until OCTOBER FIFTH. As in almost three full weeks from now and wayyy past the day I'd hoped to finish my paperwork. (Reminder: the titre de sejour can take 1-3 months to process and you can't leave the country until you have it.)


I panicked. Like "used my phone to call the doctor's office at $1/minute" level of panic. And luckily, the crazily overpriced phone call was worth it -- I was able to talk to my doctor and arrange another appointment for tomorrow morning. (Phew.) In conclusion: it took a little while, but I am still getting the vaccine. I can still turn in my paperwork. All is well in the Grand Duchy.

Lessons learned from this adventure?

  • If you're moving to Europe, make sure you're up to date on your vaccinations (and then some). Don't forget copies of any important medical documents and if you don't have an international vaccine card, consider getting one from your doctor. (More information here.)
  • Texting and internet access are great, but life is a LOT easier if you can make phone calls.
  • If you come to Luxembourg, bring a BIG umbrella.

PS. Want to know the absolute craziest thing about this whole day? On my way back from the doctor's office, I decided to take the bus instead of the train back to Luxembourg City. As I was standing at the bus stop, I suddenly realized that everything around me felt strangely ... familiar. Molly and I wound up (accidentally) at this station back in 2013, when we got slightly sidetracked on our route from Luxembourg City to Brussels. Isn't that hilarious?!


  1. What an adventure! Keep your chin and umbrella up!

  2. Elisabeth, I'm reading your Lux. blog and loving it! Betty (Preshy) always shares your accomplishments with me, and I'm so appreciative.
    Ann Barker

    1. Thank you so much!! I am having a lot of fun keeping track of all this craziness and am glad that it's making somebody smile. (: