Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Japanese medicine revisited

One of my most visited posts from search engines is from back in 2009 when I wrote a little bit about Japanese medicine.  It seems that many people search this topic and occasionally end up on my blog - probably a little disappointed with the shallow information they receive!  Anyway, I have been sick over the past 4 days and finally went to the doctor yesterday to confirm that the high fever was not the dreaded influenza which would put me into isolation for 5 days (although the thought of that wasn't actually so dreadful...).  Unfortunately it was not, but I was given the usual bucketful of medicine just to be on the safe side.  I am diligently chugging it back a few times each day, but still have a real problem with the powder ones..... 
For anyone new to Japanese medicine this powder form seems to be very common and for those who don't like swallowing pills I'm guessing it could make your life very simple, but.... it is bitter AND it sticks to strange parts of your mouth rather then sliding straight down your throat, meaning the bitterness stays and comes back to haunt you every 10 minutes or so!  Give me a pill any day!
I don't get sick very often and when I do I try to avoid going to the hospitals here, despite them actually being pretty good.  I know that others in Japan may not have such great experiences, but in our area they have excellent testing facilities, you don't usually need an appointment, they process you relatively quickly and in general their manner is very good.  A good percentage of the cost is also covered by insurance, so you don't walk out with huge bills.  But (you knew there was a but coming!) one thing I really don't enjoy is the lack of privacy during consultations.  First the nurse comes out to the waiting room and gets every detail of your complaint.  It doesn't matter how full the waiting room is she still asks as many questions as she can... some which are not exactly ones that you feel like revealing in front of everyone - my favourite yesterday was when I had my period last.  
The next privacy issue comes when you head in to see the doctor.  You are in a separated cubicle, but there is only a curtain for a door and the walls only go three quarters of the way up.  As one patient is called in the next two are called to sit outside the curtain and wait their turn.  You therefore get to hear every detail of the 2 people in front of you who go in for their consultations and of course the two people after you get to hear every detail of your consultation.  Not so bad if you  have just had a fever for 3 days, but I would probably think twice about going there if I had a slightly more worrying or embarrassing complaint!  At least I guess it is an encouragement for me to take my full course of medicine and not have to go back again in the near future!


  1. at least your medicine comes in commercail packs so you know what it is- ours are packed at the pharmacy so it's mystery bags of powder. :(

    How long do you think it will take for the whole 'privacy of information' thing to carry on to the medical arena? I'm not holding my breath!

  2. Guess I'll wait till next week to come for coffee then :) Hope you're feeling better soon.

  3. My wife and I tease each other about the meds that are prescribed by our doctor in Yufuin. He is a firm believer of using natural herbs before using the "good stuff". We have learned to expect to receive #16 if we have any type of gastro-intestinal problem. I don't know what #16 is, but it's in powder form and it tastes awful. Whenever we get sick, we threaten each other with, "If you go to the hospital you'll have to take #16". That's usually enough to discourage a visit to the hospital unless it's Really necessary. I'm with you...I'd rather take pills.