Doctors Again

In the U.K. when you are ill you go to see general practitioner (GP). It’s the GP who decides if you need to see a specialist. But in Japan they don’t seem to have GPs. I wanted to talk to a doctor last week about multiple things, but I couldn’t do that. I had to pick one of the things and see someone about that. I went for the joint pain as it’s keeping me awake at night.  The receptionist said, “you wish to see an orthopedics specialist”? And I looked blanked while I tried to remember what orthopedics is. I did eventually remember but would not have remembered the word myself if someone hadn’t suggested it.

I saw the orthopedics doctor and was sent for blood tests and x-rays.  I am still amazed that I can have x-rays done right away and sit down five minutes later and talk to the doctor about them.  The x-rays didn’t show anything out of the ordinary and I was told that the results of my blood tests would take a week.  I went today to get the results.  They weren’t very interesting.  They show that I am sick.  But I knew that already, it’s one of the reasons I went to the doctor.  It doesn’t give any indication as to why I have joint pains, but it does at least rule out rheumatoid arthritis.

As well as not being able to see a GP I also can’t get re-fill prescriptions.  I find this incredibly annoying.  It means that I have to go and see a dermatologist once a month if I want to have feet that don’t bleed.  I tried to see the dermatologist today but, unfortunately, they don’t work on the same day as orthopedics.  It would be easier if they were closer, the surgery is about an hour away, but it’s my limited Japanese that means I have to travel so far.

I’m not overly happy.  I left the doctors today feeling sick, with blood tests to back that up, but with no actual cure.  I need to go back and see someone in internal medicine.  I also need to see a dermatologist.  But first, I need to go the thyroid hospital, as I’m due another set of blood tests.  This is not going to be a fun week.

7 Responses to “Doctors Again”

  1. Chastity Says:

    Oh Karen, I’m so sorry you have to struggle through this. It’s hard enough to be sick, but then to have to worry with the language and office hours and just trying to see the doctor you need to see…ugh! That would be unbearable to me. You are very brave and strong, and I admire how gracefully you handle all this. Lots of love to you!

  2. Jessica Marie Says:

    Oh yuck! You’re in my prayers Karen. You’re so much better at handling this than I would be.

  3. Andrew Noble Says:

    I always thought that anything Japanese would be very efficient – then again thinking back to the Toyota debacle, maybe not!

    I hope you get to see who you need, get the treatment you need and are feeling better soon.

  4. Tatsuhiko Miyagawa Says:

    It’s surprising people (esp. US) think Japanese health care is perfect.

    I think it’s perfect for people who are always sick, or want to go to hospital even when they are not sick (a.k.a oldies who doesn’t do anything besides that)

    If you’re healthy and get sudden sick to figure out, it’s a bit painful to get the first care. Some hospitals even require recommendation letter which causes some chicken-and-egg issues for people like foreigners.

  5. karen Says:

    @miyagawa I do think that there are a lot of good things about the Japanese system but there doesn’t seem to be much concern about how much of my time gets wasted on it.

    The first time I needed a letter of recommendation it cost me 15,000 円 to get it. I didn’t understand the system, so to get help I ended up going to see a British doctor who didn’t fall under the national health scheme.

  6. karen Says:

    @andrew – Japanese things are not always efficient, but they do have a detailed system. And I think at times their system is better than the U.K. one. I’ll be going to the thyroid hospital tomorrow and they can get me my results in one hour – this would never happen in the U.K. I can sound like efficiency but really it’s just that the hospital has a really good system in place. And also that they throw more people at this than they can in the U.K.

  7. karen Says:

    @chastity, @jessica, thanks for the kind words!

    I don’t always feel like I handle it well. But I know that a lot of the problems are caused because I lack knowledge. I’m looking forward to the day when I understand the system. I am, however, not sure that I ever want enough experience to learn the Japanese for a variety of diseases!