Monday, March 14, 2016

Visiting a doctor in Japan

Recently I havent been feeling so great- been having some mysterious pain- and last Friday it was so bad that I had to call in sick to work. Obviously I needed to visit a doctor.

So in Japan, with national health care, you just pick any doctor you want to visit and show up at their office. I've already been to a local hospital clinic for my headaches. At this place you sign up as a patient and get an ID card and then you can easily visit any of the group of doctors they have at that location or their larger sister hospital, and this clinic has an English translator too. Unfortunately they didnt have the kind of doctor I was looking for, so I needed to find one on my own.

Luckily Japan has a medical help hotline set up to help foreigners like me! I just called them, told them where I lived and what I was looking for and within an hour they were able to give me a couple options of English speaking doctors. I picked the nearest one and called. The receptionist couldn't speak English, but the doctor could- pretty well, too. They told me I needed to appointment but just needed to show up before their lunch break or wait until after.

Kris and I hopped on a bus, rode about 20 minutes away, went on a short walk in the rain, in which I got so lost in the small side roads and Kris had to figure out where to go. Finally we showed up 10 minutes before their lunch and they took us right in. We were the only people there. At the door there was a genkan where we exchanged our shoes for the pink slippers patients wear inside. On the patient form I just needed to fill out my name (in English and katakana), address and phone number. Then they took my right in to see the doctor.

After going through a door I was in a large room that was sectioned off with curtains and some cubicle walls. I sat on a chair in an open area of the room near the doctors desk and described my symptoms. Then they led me into one of the two cubicles with curtain doors where they'd do an exam. The nurses couldn't speak English but with their simple Japanese and gestures I understood just fine. Within 5 minutes of arriving I had an ultrasound, urinary test, and general exam done- bing bang boom. Results were inconclusive so they want me to visit again next week and keep an eye on any symptoms.

Finally it came time to pay. For the appointment and procedures my total was less then ¥4000 (about $35). The national health care covers 70% of medical costs that are covered, pretty nice huh? Anyways, I was pretty nervous about this whole thing but the efficient doctors and helpful, kind nurses made me feel really comfortable. Not too bad.

Oh! And while Kris sat in the waiting area for all this a spider jumped onto his lap. HA!


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