20 November, 2012

Routine medical issues, not routine at all

 I spent all morning seeing two doctors in two different locations. I had my blood pressure checked twice, done a wee test, and well, you don't want to know about the rest.

Thing is, if I were in Australia I could have this all done by my GP, and all in under 30 minutes. Whenever I'm in Australia and this topic comes up with a doctor, they are always aghast that I can't go to the same doctor for asthma drugs as I can for a PAP smear (sorry if this is too much information). So today, I went to our local internal doctor for the first one and a gynaecologist for the second one (meant filling out two hospital forms, as I was a new patient). Different locations, different lines that I had to sit in, and different blood pressure checks. All morning event.

Thankfully I was met with kindness and helpfulness from almost everyone. The reason I was a new patient is that the last gynaecologist I went to was a dreadful lady, I blogged about her here, and as you'll find out if you go and read about her, I decided back then that I'd never see her again. So, I finally hitched up my I-can-do-another-new-hospital britches and went.

The "almost everyone" refers to a nurse/admin person (not sure which), who tried to tell me that I couldn't have a test done that our OMF doctor had asked for me to get done. Well, actually she said I could have it done, but insurance wouldn't cover it. In only a couple of minutes of conversation she almost had me in tears. She just spoke louder in large public reception area about my private request and used more complicated words that I didn't understand.

Eventually, just before I couldn't cope anymore, she excused herself and found an English-speaking staff member who confirmed that I had understood the original lady correctly (which was a relief).

It didn't relieve me of the problem of what to do about this screening test. It seems that if I say I have a problem, then insurance will cover it, but if it is just a follow-up on a recommendation by a non-Japanese doctor, I will have to pay up. Um, I said I'd go away and talk to my husband (and our OMF Medical advisor). We'll see what eventuates.

All that said, dealing with relatively routine medical issues in another land, in another language is not a routine thing. It takes courage and determination.


Alyce @ Blossom Heart Quilts said...

Good on you! We're still adjusting to the medical system here and how many different doctors and such you have to go to so as to get the care you need! Thankfully our "local GP" speaks English, and will give us our medicine in tablet form, not powder!

Wendy said...

Kari posted this:

Wendy- the trick is to wait until a day when you have a bit of pain in "that area," and then go see the doctor. Then when they ask if there is a problem, you can say "yes," I have/had this pain.....This was the advice from another woman---I myself have always gone when the city had the 500 yen coupon

Karen said...

How frustrating. So they don't have a GP equivalent there? Or are gynaecologists the only ones who can deal with...ahem....womanly issues?

April said...

They have GPs here, but they don't handle "women issues." Just very general stuff. Japanese like their doctors to be specialized.

Wendy said...

April: Not really GPs, at least in the way an Australian would understand. "Naika" or internal specialists deal with very general things as you say. Like coughs and colds, vaccinations, headaches, infections, hayfever, gastro etc. They don't deal with skin, ENT, orthopaedics, or "women's issues" etc.. All things that an Australian GP would take in their stride (though perhaps refer onwards, if necessary, like a broken bone).

Peter from the UK wrote this on FB in relation to this post:

We have a drawer full of clinic registration cards from all the places we and our children have been seen in, in all the places we've lived in Japan. One for each specialism we needed in each place. Paediatrics, ENT, eyes, skin, dentistry, orthopaedics...

But what we liked in Japan compared to the UK is being able to go directly to a specialist when we know what we need. Here, you have to start with the GP and get referred, which can take weeks. Even the GP is not always accessible..