Saturday, 25 April 2015

A Visit to the Doctor ~ The First

It was inevitable.

No matter how far across the world I'd decided to move, I was not going to be exempt from certain things. I was most definitely going to have to have good days. I was most definitely going to have bad days. And above all, I was most definitely going to get sick enough that I would need to take my first steps to go and see a doctor.

It was one of the things I'd been dreading since I'd arrived. Thus, before I came, I had stacked up on my British medicines and even asked my mother to send me over some goods when I ran out. But evidently, I ran out again. And the cough that had attached itself to my cold persisted long enough for me to become concerned. So I decided that it was time to put my health insurance to good use.

Once again, I consulted those more knowledgeable than myself and they pointed me in the direction of a website (which I unfortunately don't remember the name of) in which you can use in order to find an English speaking doctor. I called the number in question and the lady very helpfully called me back suggesting two that were relatively close to me. The one I was chose to go to was literally located about a two minute walk from my front door. So with that sorted, one morning before work, I took myself to the clinic in question and took yet another giant leap into the unknown.

Winter - as I reckon with anywhere in the world - is cold season. So when I entered into the establishment, I was met was half a dozen other people who were obviously there for the same reasons I was. I went to the front desk and as I had expected, the reception staff did not speak a lick of English so low and behold, I had to brave it and simply do my best. I told them my issue in broken Japanese and they gave me a form to fill out. All I could handle at the time was my name in Japanese and the rest of my details in English. They then proceeded to ask me a bunch of question which I barely understood if I'm honest but I got the general gist of it when the word "allergy" came up. So I figured they were merely asking me if I had any serious conditions that were worthy of note. I am very fortunate that I don't suffer with anything so this made things pretty easy. The form filled out, I took a seat.


Not two minutes later, one of the receptionists came to ask me another question. I had no idea what she was talking about so that very quickly ended that exchange. I watched as people entered and left the consultation room and eventually I was called in.

The doctor in question spoke fairly good English but he didn't particularly do much. We had a brief chat about my symptoms and then he stuck something in my nose to clear a relatively small blockage. After, he sprayed something into my throat and then he postulated that I probably had an inflammation somewhere. He then prescribed me various things for my symptoms, so much so that I ended up enquiring about the price,to which he suggested that I could choose whether to have him remove one of the items or not...hmm. In the end, I decided that one of the products probably wasn't necessary; after all, not even the doctor seemed to think it was required.


Fluffy toys included apparently...
In the middle of all this, the receptionist from earlier who had asked me something that I did not understand came in and had the doctor confirm what she was talking about. It turned out that someone from an insurance company in Tokyo had called saying that they would be sending someone to the establishment for a check up and they wanted to know if the person was me. Obviously I wasn't.

Afterward, they sent me outside where there was a bunch of machines that resembled the photo on the right. The chord had a face mask attached to the end of it and I was instructed to breath in the vapours for roughly 3 minutes. To this day, I'm not 100% sure what it was for but I'm guessing it might have been to clear my airwaves. Afterwards, I went back to reception, paid my dues and was instructed to head to the chemist next door.


I walked inside, handed over my prescription and after filling out my name, address and details for  second time, I sat down and waiting for my goods. The chemist dealing with me, returned with about five or six different drugs and I immediately saw the unease in his eyes. This unease turned into rapid fire Japanese and even after I asked him to slow down, he still persisted so I simply held on for the rollercoaster. Even though I didn't know what each one was for, I managed to understand how often I was to take each medicine which was helpful in a way I guess. I paid my dues again and went home. Collectively, I spent about 3000 yen.

It turned out that it's quite a common thing in Japan to be prescribed what I feel are ridiculous amounts of drugs. In the UK, one prescription is usually enough. And it usually does the trick. But over the 8 days that I took all these medicines, I have to say that not one of them helped me in the slightest. I still had the cough; I still felt under the weather and while not ridiculously expensive, I felt like I'd wasted my money on both doctor and medicine. As a result I will not be going there again.

I spoke to a friend of mine in Shiga who mentioned that he and his entirely family got quite sick
My prescription
but they were prescribed only antibiotics and within a few days they were right as rain. The doctor who I had seen felt that antibiotics weren't necessary at all but I can't help but wonder if a steady seven day course would have sorted me out in no time.


Nevertheless, I suppose I have to take in consideration that the strength of medicine in Japan is weaker than what I'm accustomed to. Whenever I've had an issue, whether it be a headache or a cold, I've yet to find anything that works. I tend to get migraines more often these days as well but I still have a steady supply of paracetamol from back home so that's something I have in check. I dread to find out what happens though when I run out however...

I've only had this sole experience with a doctor in Japan so it's not a lot to go on but I can't say that I am impressed. Hopefully, if I have to go again, the next doctor I see will be as competent at his job as he is at speaking English. But I think next time I go and see a doctor, I'm going to be quite direct. I would rather be prescribed something that works as oppose to ten or twelve things that don't.



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