A 23,150 Yen Mistake!

I had to miss work yesterday because I’ve been having a pain in my lower left abdomen. If a person’s really fit it’s right where those diagonal lines are that frame the lower abs; where the upper part of your leg and the lower part of your stomach meet. This pain has been ongoing for three weeks now…

I have made a total of three visits to two local doctors in my area, one owns a private clinic and speaks decent English (went there twice), and the other was a doctor at the Tsukuba Medical Center. I have been having trouble sitting for extended periods of time without getting the same dull, aching pain.

The first time I went to the private clinic, the doctor did some poking around, and we determined that the area wasn’t painful to the touch. He gave me Mohrus tape. Which are like these adhesive patches you use for muscle aches and pains. I was to put on these strips three times a day. He told me to keep monitoring it, and if the pain increased, to come back again.

The pain didn’t subside and I went back. The doctor did some more poking around and this time he said, although he didn’t know for sure, that it could possibly be a hernia (based on where the pain was coming from). That wasn’t good news because I know the only way to really fix a hernia is to have surgery :o . I told the doctor I was worried and asked about how much it would cost to take care of a hernia. I told him that my money was a bit tight, that my latest insurance plan required that I pay in full up front, then get reimbursed later. All he said was “don’t worry.” He told me to keep monitoring the area and to come back if I had any more pain. The doctor I saw was also the clinic owner. At the end of my visit, in Japanese he told his staff members not to charge me. I thought that was pretty cool of him.

When the pain started getting worse, I went to the bigger hospital (Tsukuba Medical Center) for a second opinion. Because of the time I went I had to go to the emergency room to be seen. This visit proved to be pretty unproductive as the doctor spoke very little English and was a new trainee. He actually told me that he wanted to ask a supervising doctor what my issue was. I don’t fault him for being new, but the daily pains were really starting to nag me. After the same poking, I got the same advice…just monitor it.

Saint Luke's International Hospital near Tsukiji Station on the Tokyo Metro.

By the middle of the week, the pain was getting to me so much that I wanted to see a fluent, English-speaking doctor. I got the day off (unpaid…d*mn it!) to go to St. Luke’s International Hopsital (SEIRUKA KOKUSAI BYOIN or セイルカ国際病院) near Tsukiji station on the Tokyo Metro.

St. Luke’s hospital was the biggest one I’ve ever been to since being in Japan, so I was really hopeful. There had to be a fluent doctor in here somewhere. I went to the main registration area and the attendants spoke to me in English. I knew this was going to be good (…or was it?). I ended up having to go the emergency route…again (double d*mn it!). This time it was because I didn’t have a prior appointment.

I had to wait for about an 40 minutes before I was seen, and the nurses seemed to be ripping and running quite a bit (that’s the emergency room for ya). When I finally saw the doctor, her English was quite limited…my heart sank. I communicated with her using both Japanese and English, and she examined me using the the same Ultrasound machine that’s used on new mothers to check on their babies to be.

Long story short, she didn’t find anything. She told me to hold my breath and checked for hernias, but didn’t find anything (that was good news). But she couldn’t pinpoint what was causing the pain. She suspects (like the first doctor I saw) that it could be muscle related. She prescribed some pain killers and told me to come back if I had any more pain.

I put my brand new Saint Luke’s card into the machine to see how much I had to pay. 9550! Oh no! I reluctantly pulled out a 10,000 yen bill and watched in terror as this frightful machine devoured my darling bill and spit out the 450 yen gristle (triple d*mn it!). On my way out, I threw the pain medication prescription in the nearest wastebasket.

Well, enough with the hospitals. I’ll try to take care of this myself. If I start to have more pain, I’ll definitely be seeing a doctor in Tsukuba where the hospital fees are cheaper.

Missing a Day of Work: Approximately 11,000 yen
St. Luke’s Emergency Room & Doctor Fee: 9550 yen
Round Transportation from Tsukuba to Tsukiji and back: 2600 yen

Hastily exiting the hospital before the gamma energy in your blood turns your skin green and sends you unstoppable rampage…priceless :)

In Japanese, SEIRUKA KOKUSAI BYOIN or セイルカ国際病院

Donald Ash

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  • Seriously lovin’ your blogs!
    Its like my mornin’ newspaper.
    Makes my determination, to get to Japan, even stronger.

    Keep it up!

    • Donald Ash

      I appreciate you taking the time to post, Rebekah. I’m REALLY trying to create something cool, and every time somebody tells me that they’re a regular reader it really makes feel like I’m getting there. THANK YOU SOOOOOO MUCH!!!

      • Munisa

        Greeting from Tashkent. Hope you feel really good now and enjoying the life.
        I am going to fly to Japan in 2 weeks with my father who needs a medical help. He has problems with stomach and we really need a help of a good gastroenterologist. So we have been planning to go to St. Luke’s International Hopsital. But after having read your blog I am thinking does it really worth to go there at all?

    • “Its like my mornin’ newspaper.”

      Quoted For Truth… ;)

  • Jon Heese


    If it is a muscle issue I can introduce you to a therapist who may be able to help you. Since it’s right by my place I can interpret for you. The cost is also pretty cheap but if you’re not on the regular national insurance plan perhaps we’ll need to work something out for you. All is possible. Let me know if you want to give it a try.

    • Donald Ash

      Thanks Jon, I may have to take you up that!

  • Chad Bamsey

    Have you tried looking up some rehab type stretches to do for it periodically? Could be an over worked muscle in a sort of constant state of cramping that just needs to be relaxed. Anyways, I hope you get to feelin better!

    • Donald Ash

      Thanks Chadwick! I am trying to do some stretching in the event that it is muscle related.

  • Robert Williams

    Mr. Ash,

    Greetings from the other side of the world.
    Sounds like you have a muscle tear. That can be really painful especially in the abdomen area just because we use the ab muscles so much in life. It’s an inflamation thing. You may try some anti-inflamatory rub or pills. I hope and Pray that you will be fine in the near future. I’ve been doing pranic healing now for some time. If you were closer or if you get back in town I would be glad give you a session.

    Take Care My Friend,

    • Donald Ash

      Thanks man, I’m just making sure that I do all I can to take care of it. I appreciate the advice. I’ll keep you posted.

  • Were the nurses cute at least? -laughs-

    It sucks that your bill was so high! >< Ugh. Are you with the company health plan or the Gov. one? I know Interac can set up both for you. If I get the job after my interview I am going to go with the gov. I think.. Not sure on that one. Anyway!

    That's a really bad spot to be having pain. :/ What about massage if it's muscle pain or acupuncture?

    • Donald Ash

      Some of them were, actually ;)

      I have private health insurance with InterGlobal. Interac is able to set up the government plan. It’s significantly more expensive, but after this, I may consider doing the same. I should figure out what’s causing it today. Thanks Nanami!

      • I really do hope you feel better soon Donald-san. :(

        • Donald Ash

          Thanks Nanami!!

  • Jess

    You must travel into the mountains and find Isohisshi Tanakoforohishi. He is the only one who has the cure for you. But be prepared, for he will have a quest for you to complete first, and then you must fight in the tournament!

    • Donald Ash

      Whatever I have to do to get rid of the pain.
      I guess it’s quest/tournament time :D

  • candy

    Crazy gaijin. You better get your a$$ to a rael doc b4 its too late. Men and their chicken heart.

    DO you think it might be your appendix?

    • Donald Ash

      :o They were all all real doctors. That’s why I went to Saint Luke’s because it’s a reputable hospital here in Japan, but they’re having a hard time pinpointing what’s wrong. At first I wondered it was my appendix, too, but there hasn’t been no fever, no swelling, etc. I’ll go to a specialist in the morning. Thanks for posting, candy.

  • well if you ask me……it is not mistake.

    your health is everything.

    making sure everything checks out all right is key.

    foreign men/women in japan tend to neglect their health and not go for annual c.ups.

    and insurance………interglobal is pretty good. i used them for a few years.

    anyway feel better soon. hope the docs and all can fig it out before you hafta dole out anymore dough.


  • Hope you are feeling better. Post an update in the comments if you find out what the problem was. :)

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