14 September, 2012

Another encounter of the medical kind

Today I ventured into a large inner city hospital. I have a dislike of large Japanese hospitals, mostly due to my experiences with them in my first term (I wrote down some of that here).

I have a niggly knee. It is barely enough to call "pain" most of the time. I'm not limping, but I know that it just isn't quite right. Especially if I walk on rough surfaces or jolt it for some reason (like tripping and landing heavily on it). I've been trying to ignore it, but some colleagues urged me to at least as our OMF Japan medical advisor about it and he advised me to get it seen to, as it is the second time in a year that my knee has caused me concern.

The trouble is, it is only a niggle and there is no reason why, as in, I can't pinpoint an accident that might have caused this. It is hard to describe, even in English, as it isn't consistently painful and I can still do everything I usually do.

All of this heightened my anxiety to stay out of a Japanese doctor's office. But, that is exactly where I ended up today.

And not just our local orthopaedic's office, we've been there a few times with our boys with sprained joints and a hair fractured finger, but a whopping big hospital. Reason being, investigations were likely to lead down the path of an MRI (arrgghhh).

So, we did what foreigners do in Japan when confronted with a medical problem (actually a need for any sort of service, a car problem, need for a hairdresser, a dry cleaner etc.). We asked around. End result: a friend's husband contacted a colleague and got me an appointment with a professor, no less!

Some of our many Japanese patient cards.
So, today I swallowed my fear and strode off downtown on my own. The who-you-know principle was very clearly to my advantage today. The hospital already had me in the system, they had my patient card* and a chart so that meant I could avoid all the initial "set
up" and could cut straight to the chase.

But I'm sure you don't want to know the rest of the story. It is a typical story of the large-institution-in-Japan type. You get shuffled from place to place, carrying various pieces of paper as you go. It reminds me a little of international airports, actually.

I saw the doctor, he sent me to x-ray, they sent me back, he saw me again. He was somewhat puzzled (and probably a little bored by my not-so-dramatic case). The x-ray didn't show anything and my symptoms are hard to describe and not so severe. No surprises there, really. We talked around in circles for a bit (thankfully his English was better than my Japanese), and eventually agreed (I think) to pursue an MRI if my knee is still bothering me in a month.

I survived, minus a few too many yen! But I didn't feel very triumphant. You see I just want this problem to go away. I don't want to struggle to hike with my kids. Heck, I'm not even 40. I want to go back to the gym too. I was grateful to see that there was no sign of osteoarthritis. But whatever the problem is, it's hiding. I don't really want to brave an MRI for such a seemingly small problem, but it seems that might be exactly where I'm headed. And hopefully that will justify my complaint. At present, there is no evidence that this isn't just all in my head.

*I don't think we have the equivalent of this in Australia. Whenever you go to see a medical professional here, you get a card. We've got quite a collection from various hospitals, specialists, dentists, and even a masseur-type professional.


Tim and Susan said...

Sorry to hear about your knee still bothering you, but thankful with you for a Good??? Doctor visit. I'll pray for healing and relief.
Glad to her that little Marshal wants to take Japanese! It's always a bit of a battle at times to know what to push, encourage and let go, huh? Sigh.

Helen said...

Have you considered taking a high dose of glucosamine? I could send some for you to try.

Leah Makin said...

Hi Wendy, I hope you find out what is wrong and that your knee doesn't continue to give you too much trouble xo.

Wendy said...

Thanks Ladies.

Helen, my brief Google on glucosamine talks about it being used for arthritis, which I don't have. But also that there being conflicting reports of its effectiveness. I'm not sure it is worth it, when it isn't giving me a large amount of pain. Perhaps if this whole excursion to diagnose proves fruitless?

Judie said...

I've read there are doubts about glucosamine & arthritis, too. It's possibly worth a try, though, if it doesn't come out too expensive.
Let's see what the doctor says.