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 😮 . 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.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 🙂