Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Doctor Robotto

As if my life didnt suck enough lately, yesterday I woke up totally sick. I couldnt stay awake more than 10 minutes at a time and I had a fever and a sore throat and murderous thoughts. Luckily I had today off, so I went into work to find out how one would treat these symptoms in a country like Japan. My boss than handed me a map to a clinic.

Nothing like a long bike ride on a warm day when you cant breath or swallow your spit.

Despite the map I made it to the clinic. I took off my shoes, and hesitantly put on the communal slippers. I wondered How many people a year come here for foot infections? Foot infections caught by all these fucking communal slippers?

I went up to the desk, without appointment or translation book, and did that thing where I just stare blankly with my big blue gaijin eyes until they figure out what I want.

I filled out a short survey with questions that included, "Have you ever fainted during treatment?" and "Are you married?" I guess in Japan you cant perform an operation on a woman without the consent of her husband. Maybe that'll help explain the nurses uniforms; little pink paper hats with matching smocks.

It only took about three minutes before they got me in to see the doctor. Three minutes! I thought with crazy national health care I'd be standing in a line out the door, next to the place where you pick up your sugar voucher. Maybe America lies to me. I was pretty happy to see a doctor, actually. Just because I probably havent been to one in over two years.

So the pink nurse guided me into the doctors office. I sat on a stool next to his desk and he asked if I speak Japanese. I managed to get a "no" out. Then he stuck a piece of metal and a flashlight in my mouth for less than a second and went on to explain for five minutes what tonsils were, and that mine were swollen and infected. Then the nurse took my temperature under my armpit (which was a little sweaty, with the fever and the biking). I noticed that even though Japan loves over wrapping your food products, there are some things they dont think to wrap. Including thermometers and those metal things they stick in your mouth. No plastic sleeves! Weird.

Then he wrote out a bunch of prescriptions and told me "that's all." So I went back to the waiting room, not really sure what I was waiting for. They didnt take my vitals or any of those formalities they do in the U.S. He didnt listen to my heartbeat or breathing, either.

BUT! It only cost me 1000 yen! That was pretty sweet. After I paid the nurse walked me to the pharmacy next door. I knew where it was, but you know, I dont speak Japanese so maybe Im an idiot.

I filled out the same questionnaire at the pharmacy, about my marital status and fainting spells. And I gave my little note to them. I waited for like four minutes this time, then the pharmacist came and tapped me on the shoulder (without actually touching me, somehow). She was small and spoke really quietly. First she whispered, "I am sorry for the wait." Then she began placing envelopes on the counter. There were five of them. She started taking out the contents and explaining when I should take them and why. I had no idea what she was saying, but she was so shy and scared I couldnt bare to interrupt and ask questions. I just paid the 950 yen (score!) and took my bag of drugs home.

As strange as this all sounds, Ive never received this kind of service at these prices at home. The few times I had health insurance when I was a kid the doctors pretty much did the same thing but with more touching. And I like the less touching.

So now I have all these powders and pills that I kinda know what to do with. Hopefully they work, because I have to go to work tomorrow, and calling out sick just means Ill be doubling my work the rest of the week, so I'll go in. I just wont be able to talk or pay attention or keep my eyes open or look presentable. Anyone who knows me knows this is so unlike me, Im the master of sick days. Japan is really teaching me life lessons! Like avoid doing things that'll stick you with tonsil infections!


ElizT said...

Hope you get better quickly! [Shame there is no companionable cat to give comfort]

Fern said...

tonsil pic is superb.

do this: spoonful of apple cider vinegar in a small glass of warm water and gargle it. All of it. Often. I SWEAR this works!

You'll be spiitng out such excitingly, nasty stuff, you'll want to take pictures and post them here.

Anonymous said...


Jon said...

I hope you get better! And yes, the 'United States of' does lie to you.

Jazzophile said...

you get japanese medication!!! coooooool. :)
great picture

Afreud of Myself said...

I think you should find a way of staying sick. You write even better when you're sick (physically) than when you're sick (mentally).

If I had more money, I'd finance you to be in a room in a city/country of your choice, drinking any cocktail combo you wanted, and spending most of the day in bed writing Proustian meditations on desire and/or drawing penises.

If I ever win the lottery, you'll be one of the first people I send a few hundred thou to.

Jeannette said...

I never draw penises. But thank you.