An Unpleasant Sunday Morning

…and another Ugly Example of Anti-Immigration Hysteria

Bad Nurse
Bad Nurse

Winnie and I are currently in the process of buying some additional life insurance.  Not a big deal or at least it shouldn’t be.  Part of the process now-a-days to buy life insurance is take a medical exam, and the insurance companies actually make this part easy by sending a nurse-practitioner to the prospective client’s home for administering the forms and lab work.

Yesterday, we had our home visit.  As part of the nurse’s visit, she subjected me to some of the ugliest anti-immigration crap I’ve been personally subjected to.  As a side bonus, she performed what at best would be the sloppiest blood sample draw, on Winnie, I’ve ever experienced or witnessed.  Ever.

We had setup for a 9:00 Am Sunday morning appointment – inconvenient for us, but when the nurse-practitioner called to make the appointment, she explained she did Sunday appointments but not Saturday’s or late weekday evenings.  She showed up essentially on time, but from there the visit went down-hill.

The three of us sat at our dining room table.  The nurse interviewed Winnie first. As normal I assisted with language issues and answered questions where Winnie’s language failed. After administering the questionnaire she drew Winnie’s blood sample.  At this point the woman had already explained she worked for dozens of insurance companies doing this type work, and was a licensed nurse-practitioner.  In the process of drawing blood, she did “something” with the needle and blood ran down Winnie’s arm, actually dripped on the tablecloth.  The nurse sort of apologized, with the explanation that “that usually didn’t happen.”

I had never seen or experienced this type incident with drawing a blood sample.  I was disturbed but passed it off as an accident.  Later, Winnie told me the draw hurt, and showed me the mark on her arm. It was a tear, not a tiny mark as normal.

Winnie left the table and the nurse started on my forms and exam.  As we progressed through the interview, the nurse asked where Winnie was from.  She mentioned her sister-in-law was an immigrant from North Korea, who had taught their children the Korean language.  Then he started talking about her husband, a retired army ranger on 75% disability, and their children.  She went on to mention that her children could all speak several languages fluently, but not Spanish.  They all refused to learn Spanish, opting to learn Korean, Russian, French, and possibly a few others – I started losing the conversation.  When she -proudly – mentioned her children refusing to learn Spanish, she looked at me with this “significant, knowing” look.

Then the nurse started talking about illegal immigration.  She related how her 19 year old son had recently testified before Congress on the Immigration Bill.  She proudly described how her son had compared, in front of Congress, the need for Illegal Immigrants to work and care for their families as being comparable to prostitution.  The nurse repeated this several times, each time ending with the statement that the Immigration Bill had been defeated, as though her son’s testimony was the cause of the bill’s defeat.  The nurse also proudly described how a senator from Alabama approved of her son’s comparison, how this senator had never himself though of comparing illegal immigrants with prostitutes.

By now, I was feeling upset.  The part of me that believed in being a proper host to visitors kept me quiet.

The nurse went on to make more comments that offended me:

  • Illegal Hispanic immigrants were responsible for 60% of all crime in the US
  • Immigrants were spreading disease.  This nurse-practitioner claimed that tuberculosis, Spiral meningitis, and hepatitis were becoming rampant in our public schools due to immigrants.
  • She talked more about hepatitis, stating that people drank dirty water in their native country then brought the disease here to spread.
  • Schools were overcrowded, and providing inadequate educations due to immigrants
  • Immigrants were using up all the welfare money, would cause social security to not be available to our children, and refused to pay their taxes.

I was now angry but still trying to be a proper host.  I was also stunned by the statements this medical person was making and not sure just how to react.  When she paused to momentarily breathe, I reminded her that it was employers were the ones not paying withholdings.  She ignored me.  I asked if the tuberculosis (TB) she was referring to was the penicillin-resistant variety.  She stated it was.  I asked this for a reason; Penicillin-resistant TB started showing up in the US in inner-city homeless people several years ago and has been spreading.  For a nurse to make the statement she did, claiming this type of TB was directly related to immigrants, showed serious professional ignorance.  I wanted to make this point, but she immediately wound up again.

The nurse started talking about legal issues and the Department of Homeland Security.  I actually felt a need at this point to defend Winnie’s Immigration Status.  I had the thought that this woman might actually file a DHS report on us.   I stated Winnie and I had married in China and then had waited 20 months for Winnie’s visa to come through.   The nurse made the acknowledgement statement “So she is here legally.”  I repeated my statement “We waited 20 months for her visa, and a total of 39 months for her green card.”  The nurse’s comment “I know it’s hard, but you have to follow the law.”

Then the nurse talked about her sons going to Virginia Tech for a Homeland Security Degree and started winding down.  When she finished, she resumed the exam.  The nurse took my blood sample very smooth and almost pain-free, in direct contrast to how she took Winnie’s blood sample.  When she finished my exam she collected her papers then let herself out of our house without even giving me a chance to open the door for her.

The entire exam lasted about 30 minutes, but left me with a bitter, angry feeling that took many hours for me to even verbalize.  I felt violated by this nurse who entered the home Winnie and I share to conduct a medical exam and then proceeded to politic on immigration and make hurtful, deceptive statements.

It took several hours for me to be sure in my own mind that the nurse’s comments were deliberately aimed at Winnie and me, simply because the behavior was so far outside the norms I expect from a medical person.  The incident with Winnie’s blood sample was the most disturbing.  After thinking all things though, I am convinced this nurse deliberately “twisted the needle” on Winnie, to hurt her, simply because Winnie is an immigrant.

This morning, after collecting my thoughts, I called the agent handling our insurance package and made my complaint.  The response was immediate and gratifying.  Our agent, whom I believe is also an immigrant, apologized profusely.  She promised to follow-up with the agency that sent the nurse over, and if the incident checked out would immediately sever all business ties with them.  Our agent firmly stated the nurses were there to administer a medical checkup, not discuss politics or personal opinions.

From my personal experiences these past several months, I am beginning to feel frightened of the level of animosity here in Northern Virginia against people who are immigrants. I am feeling that anti-immigration sentiment is approaching the level of general hysteria.  When any issue is ramped up to hysteria levels people get hurt and even killed, lives are ruined, property destroyed.  This is an issue that deeply affects Winnie and me, and I don’t know how or when things might “boil over.”

As always, I will post my follow-ups on this incident.

Related Posts

Follow-up to an Unpleasant Sunday Morning…and a resolution to my complaint: A follow-up to this post on reactions of the agency representative the home nurse worked for.
Some Thoughts On Immigration : My reflections on immigration and the people who chose to call America their home.
The Anatomy of an On-Line Discussion Thread : An example of what passes for “discussion and debate” in our local Prince William County, Virginia, newspaper online discussion boards.
We Are All Immigrants : Further thoughts on immigration, as the grandson of four grandparents who were immigrants to America.

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