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Medical Exam & Diagnostic PFT

Last Monday morning, I nervously packed an overnight bag for my medical exam. I was told to bring a suit, a book, running gear, and a towel. Doesn’t sound like a lot, yet my bag weighed a ton. I took the train to Government Center and began teaching at the shelter. Halfway through the second class (about 2:30PM) I got a call from my sister’s husband Bill inviting me to the Red Sox game that night (7:05PM). I knew I’d be running all over Boston the night before a very big day, but I had to do it.

We were told we had to check-in at the hotel before 6PM, so I had to head to East Boston immediately after class. I made it to the hotel at 4:45PM, checked in, was given my room key, was told that the curfew was 11PM, and that the wake-up call would be at 4AM. I dropped my bag in the room and headed downstairs for dinner. I sat down and ordered the steak tips with roasted peppers and wild rice, and chocolate cake for dessert. I found out from a few recruits sitting near me that there were 64 of us staying that night at the hotel. The meal turned out to be very good, and totally free. I went back to the room, changed into a hoodie and sneakers, and left for a train back to Boston.

I met up with Bill and his friends at a bar down the street from Fenway. Bill told his friend what my plans were in the military and his friend replied with “thank you in a advance for your service.” Living in Boston I’m often surrounded by people whose beliefs and values differ from my own. It feels very good to get support from people. I went to the game, had an awesome time, and left in the 9th inning in order to make it back to the hotel in time. I got back at the hotel at 10 to 11, got my clothes ready for the morning, set my alarms, and went to sleep.

4AM came very quickly. I showered, re-packed my bag, made sure I wasn’t forgetting anything in the room, and went downstairs for checkout and breakfast. The buffet breakfast was killer. I filled up on eggs, potatoes, sausage, and coffee. At around 5:15 we were told to stand in the lobby for roll call, and as are names were called, were led onto an awaiting charter bus. Once we were all on board, we left for the Barnes Building in South Boston.

We arrived, exited the bus, went through security, and were told to check in at our branch’s liaison office. We were then split up and I ended up in a classroom with about 20 others. We put our bags in lockers, and for the next 30 minutes under watch of a doctor, slowly went through our medical history and medical examination paperwork as a group, making sure we filled out everything correctly and truthfully. Before we could begin our exams, we had to take a breathalyzer test. I passed. After the breathalyzer , I was separated from the rest of the recruits, and was told to sit by myself in a room.

A nurse came in a few minutes later to give me a hearing test. I was told to sit in a sound-proof chamber and put on a pair of headphones. I was instructed via a voice on the headphones to push a button whenever I heard beeps, no matter how faint. The test went on for about 5 minutes, and I was told to exit the booth. The nurse told me I passed and instructed me to wait where I was sitting earlier for a vision test.

This was the only part of the day I was actually nervous for. It’s been ages since I’ve gotten a vision test, probably senior year of high school, before I left for college. The doctor administering the test was nice and helped me relax. I was elated to find out I still had 20/20 vision. I was brought from the vision test to the main waiting room, where I was told to sit in a red chair.

Next up was the blood test for HIV. The nurse found a vain on the first try and only took out a small amount of blood. It was over quickly and I was taped up and sent out.

Next on the agenda was the drug test, to which the doctors referred to as, “the whiz quiz.” This was the first uncomfortable situation of the day. I didn’t think it was so bad, but others had more serious ‘issues’ with it. 6 of us were brought into a small room with 6 chairs and told to sit and wait. There was a diagram on the wall showing us how far we had to fill the cup. 15 minutes later, we were given our cups, told to write our names on them, and led into a mock bathroom. Along the wall were 6 urinals. We were told that once we finished filling the cup, to place it on the top of the urinal and walk backwards until we were standing against the wall behind us. A doctor looked on to make sure nobody cheated as we filled our cups. One of the six wasn’t up to the task, again, and was told to come back later. The rest of us individually brought our cups up to the counter at the end of the ‘bathroom,’ where they were packaged and sealed.

After the whiz quiz, we were told to sit in the main waiting room and wait for one of two doctors. I spent the next hour or so talking to the guys sitting next to me and reading Time magazine (it was either that or Car & Driver). Eventually it was time for my one-on-one with the doctor. I went into his office and was immediately told to take off everything from the waist up, and to sit in the chair in front of his desk. He proceeded to skim through my entire medical history confirming all the questions I had answered “yes” to. After a brief physical examination, I was cleared and told to proceed to Ortho room 1.

I walked into Ortho room 1 and stood alone awaiting a doctors instructions. He soon entered and told me we were going to do my height and weight. He then says, “go into the room next door, take off everything but your underwear, and wait for me.” My eyes widened as I walked into the room to find myself standing in the center of 30 silent clothed recruits, all of which were staring back at me. I stood speechless for about 10 seconds trying to figure out what was going on. I then faced the crowd staring at me and asked, “did I go to the wrong room, or is this some twisted joke?” Everyone laughed and told me that it wasn’t a joke, and that they all had to do it too. I stripped and waited for what felt like 10 minutes for the doctor to come in and weigh me and to get my height. I was told to get dressed and go back to Ortho 1.

I went back to the other room and waited for about an hour or so until there were 6 of us in the room. We were told that this was the final leg of our exam and that we’d all be finished soon. Again we were told to strip to our underwear and to put all of our clothing in the wall-lockers. This was the monkey-see-monkey-do section of the exam. Our names were read aloud and we were told to stand on number on the floor. A soldier would stand in front of the room performing various movements, which we were instructed to mimic. The doctor would walk around the room inspecting our bodies. This is when we did the infamous “duck walk” (which wasn’t as bad as I’d thought it would be). After the inspection was finished, we were told to get dressed and proceed back to the main waiting room to await checkout. About 45 minutes later my name was called. I signed and initialed some paperwork and was sent on my way.

I got my bag from my locker and ran into my OSO in the hall who told me to get some chow and head downstairs. I got a meal voucher from the Marine Corps liaison office and headed to the cafeteria where I got a buffalo chicken wrap with onion rings. I found a table with a couple guys I recognized from earlier. After lunch I took the elevator to the first floor and met with the Captain and Staff Seargent. I changed into my suit, had my picture taken (polaroid and digital), changed out of my suit and into my PT gear.

The Staff Sergeant showed me proper pullup form and demonstrated the illegal techniques. He told me to give it a try. I banged out 20, 4 of which I didn’t come down until my arms were locked, making them not count. 16 isn’t bad for now, I have a couple months to get a solid 20. Next he showed me proper situp form and gave me some pointers. We switched spots and he began his stopwatch. I easily reached the maximum 100 situps. We left the Barnes Building and headed to Castle Island where I would be running the 3-miler. We stopped to get gas and I chatted with the Staff Sergeant about the Marines. We soon arrived at the beach. I stretched and a minute later was off. The first half of the run felt good. I passed some men who knew what I was doing and yelled some words of encouragement. The second half of the run I started feeling my lunch in my stomach and came close to hurling. I held on and stuck it out, finished with a time of 20 flat, my fasted 3-mile to date. After a cool down, we headed back to the office, where I grabbed my things and went home, exhausted. My score on my diagnostic PFT was 268 out of 300.

Updated checklist:

  Medical exam
  Letter from dentist
  7 Letters of personal reference (I have 4 of 7)
  Electronic Personnal Security Questionnaire Worksheet
  Pass ASTB (air test)
  Pass cycloplegic eye exam
  Final Physical Fitness Test (1 month before Class 190 board meets)

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