Sunday, December 15, 2013

Hospitals in Japan: Closed for your Inconvenience

If you get sick in Japan and need to see a doctor, you must do so between Monday through Friday from 8am – 5pm. Closed on weekends and during national holidays. Also closed on days and times that are most convenient for you. This is not an over exaggeration! Hospitals in Japan close on evening and weekends. So if you break your arm while trying to twerk on the doorframe of some sacred Buddhist temple, you’ll have to suck it up until Monday or the next morning. I knew about the ridiculousness of Japanese hospitals prior to my arrival, but I didn’t realize the inconvenience until I needed to see a doctor. About a month after my arrival to Japan, I became ill and needed a specific antibiotic, I decided to hold off until my half-day, Thursday, to see a doctor because my mother I packed medicines from home and refused to take a personal day. 

Put a Pokemon Bandaid on it and wait until Monday
Thursday came, I left work and headed to the hospital. As I walked into the hospital, I immediately felt something was amiss. There were no receptionists at the front desk and the lights were turned off, so I walked around musing at the similarities between my life and a horror video game. I assumed that I was on the wrong floor and proceeded up the elevator only to reach a floor with hospitalized patients. I quickly backtracked and returned for the first floor to find someone that could help me. As I was snooping around, I found sign with the opening hours for the hospital. Using my very limited Japanese, I found the name of my specific clinic within the hospital and realized that the clinic closes after noon on Thursdays. Thursday was their half-day too! Eventually, an old woman, who I wasn’t sure worked there, approached me and told me to come during lunch break or to take a personal day. I thanked her and returned home feeling defeated. 

video

(You may remember that I mentioned this next part from a previous post, see here)

It has been joked about that I could smile and excuse myself out the door whenever I wanted in the Japanese workplace. Since I refused to take any personal time, I decided to test that theory on Tuesday and do just that. I excused myself from work about an hour and a half early. Half way to my car, the principal stopped me to say that I was leaving early. I walked back to tell her about my situation, but she continued the conversation saying that she missed the opportunity the previous day (because of a typhoon) to give me a huge bag of okra and sweet potatoes. Turns out, I mistranslated what she said. She said that I was leaving quickly ("fast" and "early" are the same word in Japanese). Either way, I felt bad and told her what was going on anyway. She couldn't care less that I was leaving early, as long as I used the veggies she gave me. 

At the hospital, which was now open, I checked in with the receptionist and filled out various forms. I was escorted to the waiting area, where they called me in to take my blood pressure and measure my weight and height. I met with a doctor, who surprising spoke English, and he asked me about my symptoms and prescribed me the Japanese equivalent to my usual American medicines. SUCCESS! 

Case closed!


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