I had my first Japanese doctor experience yesterday. Mum, before you panic, everything’s fine.
I have some moles which have been concerning me for a while now but I have put off going to get them checked out because the thought of seeing a doctor in Japan, quite frankly, scared the pants off me.
I finally bit the bullet and asked my JTE to recommend a dermatologist near school and, being the wonderful woman that she is, she also called them to check if anyone spoke English (they didn’t) and offered to come with me (dear god yes please).
So Friday evening after school found me sitting in a Japanese doctors’ surgery (they call them hospitals here, which is quite concerning) laughing at all the mad Japanese health posters on the walls.
Health posters are funny in any language but the Japanese ones are hilarious!
When I finally got the call for Warren-san, they ushered me into the doctors’ room (that apostrophe is not misplaced, they are all jammed into one room) and sat me down at a desk. I was there for about twenty seconds while my JTE explained my problem. A nurse then high-speed ushered me into a tiny cubicle and pulled the curtain shut. When I say tiny, I mean I had to lean backwards over the bed so as to avoid inhaling curtain.
Ten seconds later the nurse rushed back, spun me around, pulled my shirt up and the doctor inspected my back for a good twenty seconds. The curtain was whizzed shut again and I was left doing my awkward lean over the bed.
Another ten seconds later the nurse ran back, whipped the curtain back and herded me back to a chair at the doctor’s desk. Lucky, because I was getting pretty dizzy by that point.
The doctor then gave his diagnosis. In fast, animated Japanese. First he asked how many brothers and sisters i have, and which one was older. He then talked for a while, the pulled out a sheet of paper and started underlining and circling text. Then he pulled out a diagram of the human body and pointed to the intestines, then the head, then the intestines again.
I was thoroughly confused by this point. What? Intestines? What do they have to do with my moles? And what do my siblings have to do with anything?
Things only got stranger from there. He pulled out a cartoon of a man taking a bath and tapped it emphatically before writing “40•C” next to it.
There was a picture of fresh fruit and vegetables with a big cross through it. There was a laminated Japanese newspaper article. He put some cream on my hand. He asked how I was sleeping. He drew a picture of feet in a bucket. And all this was accompanied by a ceaseless flow of Japanese.
My JTE wasn’t translating any of this, she was just nodding and making that Japanese noise of comprehension, so I was completely in the dark the whole time.
Eventually, he handed me a sweetie (yes, really) and the cartoon of the man having the bath.
Back in the waiting room, I turned to my JTE for some kind of explanation.
Turns out the moles are nothing to be concerned about. The doctor’s prognosis? Stress, exhaustion, poor circulation and–yes I’m quoting–“being cold and stiff like a fish in the fridge”.
Prescription? Cut out sashimi, salad and beer because cold foods are making me cold. Instead I must drink hot sake, go to onsen often, have massages, and rest.
Oh, and he gave me a bottle of what appears to be moisturizer for my back.
I don’t know how he got all that from a twenty second examination but I’m carefully following doctor’s orders by going to Hiroshima this weekend for the sake festival. I might even squeeze in a trip to an onsen to be safe.
But I’ll probably still eat salad.