Monday, February 18, 2008

Visiting a Japanese doctor

It’s no secret I’ve got a debilitating fear of dentists, but I’ve never really feared doctors. At least not until I noticed I was running out of birth control pills and realized that the only way to get more was to pay a visit to a Japanese doctor. At home I would just call the doctor’s assistant and she’d write me a new prescription which she could even fax to my local pharmacy, where I could get it filled at my convenience. But how does one go about it here, in Japan? Yasu had no idea, so my best bet was just visiting a doctor showing her the box of my pills and hope she could prescribe me some Japanese medicine remotely similar to my Dutch one. But who knows what else they do in Japan?
The doctor’s office apparently was part of some small clinic or hospital, but it didn’t look reassuring at all. Everything looked very old-fashioned, shabby and dingy. We even had to take off our shoes at the entrance and put on hospital slippers. This made me more uncomfortable, because it’s hard to make a quick getaway (which I worried I might need) in a pair of tiny and ugly plastic slippers. I was glad Yasu was with me because a pile of Japanese forms had to be filled out and of course I was totally clueless. Even though the people were very friendly, the place reminded me more of some slaughter house that used to scare me in Belgium, than of a doctor’s office in a modernized country. When I get to Osaka I’m going to get a city doctor that practices medicine in a fancy and modern building, one that doesn’t creep me out. And if he or she could speak some English that’d be nice too, but may be too much to ask for though.

The doctor's office from the outside (I was a bit scared to take pictures inside)

The doctor talked a lot but Yasu translated a little, mainly because the doctor kept confusing him with too much information. I was already worried about them wanting to run scary tests on me, so I felt like passing out when the doctor started making weird gestures and started patting the inside of her elbow and her lower abdomen area. And my worst fear was realized when Yasu translated something like blood test and an examination for worm (?) cancer. I didn’t want to see or feel any needles! And what kind of weird diseases do women get here, I definitely did not want to be checked for any kind of worm cancer. Later Yasu spelled worm for me and it turned out that they were talking about ‘womb’ cancer and he just didn’t know how to pronounce it. Pfew, well at least that was less weird than I thought. But of course there was no way in hell that I was going to let them perform some kind of invasive examination in that creepy doctor’s office. But I did convince myself to get a blood test, because medicine in general scares me and it might be a good idea to let them check the hormones in my blood and make sure the new birth control isn’t harmful. I wasn’t happy when they put that needle in me and I squeezed Yasu’s hand to pulp, I am such a big baby!

The only picture I secretly took inside with my cellphone is of the room where they took my blood... How happy would you be if they stick a bllod-sucking needle in your arm in this room?

Anyway, I ended up with one strip of expensive birth control pills to try out for one month, after my Dutch ones run out. After that I’m supposed to come back for my blood test results and to buy some more pills (of the same or a different kind), which they sell at the doctor’s office instead of at a pharmacy. Well, it was another new experience in Japan, but one I’d rather not undergo again though. But at least Yasu will be there with me to protect me, like today.

2 comments:

Yasu said...

It was totally a new experience for me too. There are lots of new words that even in Japanese they make no sense. But overall we have enjoyed our adventure. mwah

Amimomi said...

Hello, I was looking up rurikei onsen and your blog came up. So I started reading and couldnt stop.
I live in Osaka City now, with my husband who is Japanese. And although I know a pretty good deal of Japanese, I agree Doctor visits can be very frightening! I remember my first visit to a womens clinic for a check up. I had to sit in a chair pantsless and the chair... simular to a dentists chair lifted me up and spun me around so my naked lower half was facing a curtain, on which the other side was the doctor. It freaked me out to not be able to see the doctors face as he was checking me! But it seems this is the norm here. However when you do move to Osaka, I am pretty sure you will be able to find gynocologists (etc) who speak english. I have come to trust the clinic I went to, Of course it looks much cleaner then the one I saw in your picture. I gave birth at the clinic and have a very healthy 2 yr old now.
Also look me up when you get here! It'd be fun to meet and talk about experiences in Japan etc.