I don’t know how I do it, but I always have very strange experiences with doctors.
There was the doctor in Wellington who had me take off all my clothes to inspect my eyes, ears and joint rotation.
There was the doctor who checked my moles and prescribed me hot sake and onsen.
There was the doctor who insisted on sonogramming my insides and commenting on how small my womb is (thanks!).
And then there was the doctor who electrocuted me.
I have been having bad back pain for the last few weeks and since it was becoming awkward trying to socialise while lying on the floor, I went to a chiropracter.
I had noticed that there was one near my house, so I plucked up my Japanese-speaking courage and went in after school one day. I launched into my speech about how my back hurt so I wanted to see a doctor but I don’t really speak Japanese so was there an English speaking doctor there…?
A chiropractor who actually spoke a little English came out and I was SO relieved…until he showed me their price list and told me they didn’t take health insurance.
I made a quick escape and went home to lie on the floor.
The next day I asked a friend about chiropractors in town that would accept my medical insurance card. She told me I would need a 接骨院 (sekkotsuin–bone setter), so I typed it into Googlemaps and picked the one closest to my house.
After school, bouyed with a mixture of desperation and magic ibuprofen, I cycled over to the clinic and walked in.
I got through my speech and managed to answer a couple of questions, and was feeling pretty good about this experience when he told me to go into the treatment room.
In true Japanese doctors’ room style, it was all open plan, but luckily empty, and I sat down on one of the beds while he asked me a few questions. When he told me to lie down on my front I was fully prepared to relax into an excellent massage when I heard him use the word for electricity.
Then he put something rubbery on my back, with something warm and heavy over it, and showed me the little dials on the end of my bed. I was highly confused until he gestured to the HUGE BLACK SCIFI LOOKING MACHINE ACROSS THE ROOM.
I began to understand.
He indicated that I should adjust the dials, so I gave one a bit of a twist. He yelled ‘yukuri!’ (slowly) at the same time as I got zapped in the back with a jolt of electricity.
When I had the electricity buzzing me at a comfortable level he told me just to wait.
I lay there, with a weird buzzy feeling on my back, while he wandered around the room making stilted conversation, obviously vaguely unsure how to deal with this odd gaijin.
When the big scary machine started beeping loudly he came and took the zappy things off my back and had me move to another table.
Aha! I thought, now I get a massage.
He began pressing heavily on different parts of my back asking if it hurt. A couple of times I wished I knew the Japanese for ‘Of course it hurts, those are my internal organs you’re pressing!’ but for the most part I just lay there having the air squished out of my lungs and waiting for the massage to start.
After five or so minutes of this I began to get suspicious. Where was my massage?
My suspicions only increased when he made me lie on my side and twisted me like a rag. After that, I lay on my back while he tried to make my knees touch my forehead.
All hopes of a good massage faded when he told me I could sit up, and did it feel any better?
As a final treat he stuck a large, cold pad that smelt refreshingly like Vix to my back. Woo.
Luckily, with my medical insurance it wasn’t expensive, so I paid, thanked him and left.
Then went home to lie on the floor.