Going to the doctor

I have this pain in my right arm and elbow. It started some time after I arrived here in Japan and hasn’t gone away since. First I thought it’s because I was working for hours on this Excel file. I put anti-inflammatory patches until my skin started to act up. I replaced the patches with tapes to fix my elbow. I started using a cushion below my wrist when using the mouse. I bought a new mouse. I changed using the mouse with my left hand. Nothing really helped. My next theory was that it could be because of my bike here. I switch gears twisting the handlebar with my right hand. So I stopped switching gears at all and also using the break on the right side. Also, I started writing with my left hand. Looks terrible… Still, the pain ist not going away. It’s kind of there day and night. Having just finished an important milestone of this Excel-project, it thought it was time to see a doctor. Fortunately, J had an address of a clinic where there is a doctor who speaks English.

You can just go there without an appointment. They open at 9am. When I arrived at 9.30am, there were already about 4 or 5 bikes in front of the house and the waiting room was about half full but no queue at the reception desk. There were two women working at the reception behind a Corona plastic screen. They couldn’t speak English, so I just presented them my health insurance card and got back a thermometer and a form to fill in.

Health insurance card

Like in Switzerland, health insurance is compulsory in Japan. However, people don’t get to choose their insurance company. You are either insured through your employer (health insurance is part of the social insurances) or if you’re not employed (like me) through the municipality. The monthly fee is calculated depending on your income and is charged to the head of household which in Japan is the husband… We just received the bill for January and it was only about a third of what I paid in Switzerland. I wonder how much it would be with the salary I used to have in Switzerland.

Back to my visit at the clinic. I measured my temperature and filled in the form giving name, address, date of birth etc. and describing my symptoms. Then I was asked to sit down and wait. A big TV screen was mounted on a wall and showed some loud breakfast show. Something with women and losing weight or shaping up their bodies.

Looking from the waiting room past the reception desk to the examination area

After a not too long wait, I heard a woman call “Infanga-san”. My turn. I took off my shoes, put on some green plastic slippers and stepped into the next room. Another waiting room. About 5 minutes later, “Infanga-san” was called out again and I could enter the examination area. A room with spaces closed off with curtains. I was led into the first space to the right. A small cubicle of 2 x 2 meters with a stretcher, a desk and two tables. The doctor started talking in Japanese but then signaled that he understood English. I had to describe my symptoms and he asked me some questions. Then he prescribed me some pain meds and asked me to come back in a week. If nothing will have changed by then, he will refer me to a specialist. The whole thing took no more than 10 minutes and I was asked to go back to the first waiting room. Another couple minutes later I heard the third “Infanga-san”. I got my prescription, a patient card and the bill.

In Switzerland, the bill goes directly to the health insurance company and they charge you back what you owe them depending on the level of excess of your insurance policy. Here, you have to pay 30% of the bill and the rest is covered by the health insurance. My 30% for the consultation and prescription resulted in Yen 1’080 which is about CHF 9.-. I would say that’s quite affordable… Now wish me luck, that the pills will work and my arm will recover soon.

Patient card

4 thoughts on “Going to the doctor

  1. Dear Esther, sorry you are in pain. I would guess that you were prescribed Ibuprofen. That reduces pain and modulates inflammation, but doesn’t fix the cause. I guess you will be allowed to see the specialist :-) Therefore I am eagerly awaiting your next report!
    Thank you for all your stories!


    • Hi Stephanie, thanks for reading and commenting :-). Correct, I got prescribed an NSAID called Loxoprofen plus a muscle relaxant called Tizanidine and on top of that a mega giga dose of vitamin B12. 3 x 500 mcg per day….!! It definitely numbs the pain :-) Cheers, Esther


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