Call the doctor

15 Dec

I’ve had a bit of a cold for the past week or so.  Not a huge deal… or so I thought.  Sure, I’d been having trouble sleeping because coughing and other cold-grossness was keeping me up, and maybe by Friday I was feeling pretty gross.  But I thought, there’s no harm in asking the school nurse if she had any cold medicine that might help me get some sleep.  NyQuil is illegal here, and I’m not familiar enough with Japanese brands to be able to know what just type of cold medicine to get.  So I figured the school nurse at one of my elementaries, with whom I’m pretty close, would know what to give me. 

Instead, I found out that 1) nurses’s offices in Japan don’t give medicine out to kids, and 2) if you mention being sick in a Japanese work setting, all your coworkers might force you to go to the hospital. 

So instead of getting some drugs quick and easy, I was instead shepherded into the nurse’s car and taken the the closes hospital– or rather, clinic.  You see, in Japanese, it turns out, hospitals aren’t just hospitals.  Hospital is a catch-all word for any size medical facility, and most Japanese “hospitals” are a cross between what we would consider a doctor’s office and a clinic in the United States.  As far as I’m told, small hospitals don’t take appointments, which makes them have the feel of a walk-in clinic.  I was assured by all my coworkers that they weren’t usually crowded and that it wouldn’t take more than an hour… yet when we got there, the place was packed with old people and we were told that there would be a bit of a wait.  It was a Friday, which, my coworker explained, meant that tomorrow, the hospital would be closed.  

WHAT? you might be thinking, but it’s a true fact that many Japanese hospitals are closed on weekends.  Larger hospitals (ones that you would call a hospital in America) are open on weekends, but not smaller clinic-like hospitals.  So I was forced to wait 3 hours to be seen, and ended up missing two of the classes I was supposed to teach.  This, to say the least, quite vexing to me, since I had really wanted to teach fun Christmas lessons to the kids today, and my coworkers assured me when they forced me to the hospital that I wouldn’t miss my classes.  But there was nothing to be done, and so I finally got to see the doctor… who briefly examined my nose, throat, and the sound of my breathing before pulling up a cute program on his computer that seemed to be the doctor version of Kid Pix and using a blank template of the throat and what appeared to be the “inflammation” brush to show me what my throat looked like.  He pointed out a variety of pills, at the end of which I was expecting him to say “which seems like it best applies to your symptoms?” or something of the like… but instead he prescribed all four to me.  And then said I was also getting a shot.  

This all seemed a bit like overkill for a common cold, but I didn’t really have much choice, so I got my shot, and then headed to the pharmacy to get my drugs as well.  But on the bright side, with my national health insurance, the whole thing only cost me less than ¥3,000 out of pocket.  Yup, that’s right.  Four prescription drugs, a shot, and ~15 minutes of the doctor’s time all for about 40 US dollars.  Cool.  

So I did end up missing two of my classes.  But on the bright side, I also got to sleep through the night last night.

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