Thursday, June 09, 2011

The art of putting people at ease

I don't usually use this blog as a space for "complaining", but have just had an interesting experience at the hospital which I thought I would share. The only time I have really been to the doctor here in Japan is when the children were born and then of course what seemed like every second week for various things for the children when they were small. We have a good hospital in our town, but the doctors seem to change each year so it is a bit of potluck as to who you will get. In terms of children's doctors we have had doctors who have been excellent with the kids, but hopeless with the parents and vice versa. The current doctor is excellent with both and it helps that I teach two of his children. He has a way of putting everyone at ease and not making you feel like you are being a hypochondriac for being there. But, unfortunately today I actually went to the hospital for me and therefore had to see the adult doctor who didn't quite have the same personal skills.
For the last few days I have had a really strange throat - it feels like something is stuck in there and basically it is making me feel yuck. So this morning when I woke up and I still felt stink I bit the bullet and went to the hospital - cancelling two classes to do so. From the very start I lost confidence in the doctor - he spent about 5 minutes asking a couple of questions, umming and aahing, asking a zillion times if I had eaten anything that morning and telling me how unfortunate it was that I had as he wanted me to swallow the stomach camera and I needed an empty stomach to do so. Of course he also answered his mobile phone twice during the "examination" too. He seemed to have no idea what was going on so got the standard x-ray and also a C-T scan ordered. That done I was back for the "results".... x-ray - yes, you have something which is causing a large shadow in your throat in basically the exact position you claimed it was. Unfortunately they can't make me swallow a camera tomorrow so would it be okay if I waited till Monday? Ummmmm.... do I get a choice? I guess it is going to be a long weekend!
Then came the results of the CT scan.... he pulled all the pictures out of the file, spread them out, put them all back into the file, said he needs to get an expert to look at them, talked a bit about the camera thing I have to swallow on Monday, pulled the CT scans out again, started to say something, stopped and then said that he would wait and get the expert to look at them over the next few days and then let me know what is worrying him. To be honest, I don't actually think there was necessarily anything in the scans that was worrying him, but his manner definitely got me worried! I think they should have special "human relations" courses as part of medical school - I'm sure they do, but I think this doctor skipped them!
Mind you having said all that - I am always impressed by the Japanese medical system. I was there at about 8:30am with no appointment and had all the x-rays, scans etc. and results in less than a couple of hours. I don't know about other countries, but from what I have heard it would take a couple of days to get it all done in New Zealand - and that is if you can get an appointment in the first place!


  1. i hope you don't have to swallow the stomach cam, it's extremely uncomfortable. i also hope you're feeling better soon!

  2. Wow- sounds very uncomfortable- the throat and the doctor! Hope both improve and soon!

  3. becca5:42 am

    it would probably take days here in the uk too! hope you get better soon!

  4. That is very true. Some people have that special art of putting people at ease. And some just don't. : ) I'm sorry to hear the doctor who saw you, didn't have the best "bed side manner".

    Hopefully things will get resolved for you on Monday and you'll feel much better once they figure out what it is.