[ Note : in New Zealand, a WoF is a Warrant of Fitness certifying that you’re still roadworthy. Lots of workers in NZ, OFWs especially aren’t that young anymore, but still have lots of miles left in the tank. Please listen to our story on the day we applied for our latest WoF. matira ang matibay! ]
WE’RE THANKFUL EVERYDAY that we have a job in New Zealand, but we also (wink–wink) welcome any unscheduled break from the tedium and organized chaos of our chores and tasks in the factory where we work.
Not today though. Being in the same age group ( if you don’t know our age group, it’s too late to ask ), I and a lot of our co-workers were all apprehensive of our company physicals that management conducts annually. Most of us were/are confident, but you could see the nervous twitch on the corner of some smiles of my production colleagues. I know, cause I owned one of those nervous twitches.
You see, healthwise and otherwise we can say it’s been a little more stressful than usual for Your Loyal kaBayan (YLB). Our dad left this world middle of last year, and we’ve suffered palpitations and hypertension around the same time. We also didn’t get the best numbers our last physical, and there was no assurance we could even maintain our number this year.
***** ***** *****
A little backgrounder kabayan on our company medical checkups. It’s not comprehensive like the visa medicals or the executive checkups back home in the Philippines, where every metric associated with physical health and major organ function is measured. It’s very basic, questions are asked interview style about how your job, particularly the manual handling and physical exertion impacts your body, and how you’re coping with your work environment.
Then there are the actual tests. For some reason, the company focuses on these numbers : your blood pressure, your lung function, your hearing, and your eyesight.
We can guess why, but am still not sure the focus is only on these numbers : BP (blood pressure) is the ideal (but not the only) indicator of heart health, which after all is first though co-equal among the many organs in the body. You can have sub-par performance for a few of your organs (knock on wood) but not for your heart.
Lung function is a close second to the previous test, where our work is concerned, because obviously you need enough force and energy to complete the jobs expected of you. In our factory it’s not so much one job as a series of many little jobs – monitor a machine here, replenish or top up the oil on a gear there, test the product somewhere else – that makes up most of our work day. To do this, move from one small job to another with speed and endurance, often for more than eight hours, requires a steady reserve of strength and resistance that is fueled by the oxygen from our lungs.
If we’re lucky enough to show that our blood pressure is normal and lung function is likewise, it’s on to the eyesight and hearing tests. Being mortal humans we’re definitely not expected to possess perfect eyes and ears (though it’s a plus). But we’re expected to see and comprehend signs and images a certain distance, and failing that, we’re expected to use aids like eyeglasses or declare such defect. Same with hearing, although it’s a given that with age we lose a little of our hearing every year, especially to sounds on the very low decibel level.
So that’s it. The nurse was quite engaging, and we suspected she was at our age level because she could relate to many of the age-related and occupational issues of our narrative, though she could just be very good at her job.
I’m sure you’ll be curious to know how I fared: after carefully monitoring my own BP with meds and beetroot, I had the best result in years : 110 over 80, surprising everyone but the beetroot. Amazingly, my hearing powers remained the same over the last 12 months.
The best result was my lung function test : I was able to blow 110% capacity over the first few seconds of my test blow, and I repeated it, no “fake news” result.
The world may be going to pieces around me, but I’m staying healthy (knock knock).
Thanks for reading!