Japan DiaryOp-ed (ish)

Health Care: A Civilized Story

By September 28, 2020No Comments

The size allows for more than the usual amount of coffee. The mug is soft and round with a slight heaviness to it. It’s what a cup ought to be when one drinks coffee as regularly as I do. One of only a few vices besides almonds. I have come to find out they are a detriment to my health causing kidney stones. After a five year hiatus them pesky stones are back in my life causing nagging back pain and frequent trips to the bathroom throughout the day and night.

After a month of “gamman,” Japanese for enduring, I finally sought out the seedy doctor who took care of it the first time. Anytime a doctor’s office, located on the 3rd floor of an office building and allowing anyone to show up on an early Sunday morning without any appointment is seedy in my book. This is not to imply it is a bad thing. In fact, I would prefer all of my doctors to be in the world of seedy. It makes for interesting fodder for blog postings. And as long as the job gets done seedy doesn’t matter. And this guy has proven to get the job done.

Arriving on the dot at 9 a.m., the tiny office waiting room is already filled with a number of patients. Clearly word is out that this is the go-to place to deal with STDs, kidney stones or any other urological-related issues.

My creative mind concocts stories of the waiting white and blue collar workers. Having a night on the town and hooking up with hookers only to realize upon awakening early the next morning there is an itch needing to be scratched and a pain in the groin that was not there before the night began. Off to the seedy doctor.

Convenient. No appointment needed. Discreet and open early enough to get the job done before the spouse even knows the bed is unoccupied. Check-up done, medicine ingested, good to go. The itch persists, but not for long once the meds hit the bloodstream.

I am there not for that reason, no really I am not. A different kind of less sinful vice did me in. (Refer to first paragraph). A few questions, piss check and a quick ultrasound reveals two pesky stones 2.5 and 3 millimeters in diameter residing on the left side. Check up done. Paid and prescription in hand I am off to get it filled just around the corner, and in less than ten minutes no less. Total bill including a month’s worth of meds, thirty bucks!

I am relieved and swear upon the first ingestion of purchased meds the rocks began to move from their lodged location–ahhh relief. It’s psychosomatic of course. That is until I take my first regimen of daily drugs three times day for a month and within two days the pain legitimately subsides.

Other than the stones story, you will not be getting anymore intimate details of my health issues. Because this is really about the Japanese health care system. And what you’ve just read is one of many experiences I have had over the years.

The Japanese health care system can be characterized with one word–civilized. What I mean is every visit I am treated with respect, genuine kindness and a cheap bill. It doesn’t hurt I have been going to the same places for many years. My dentist, 13 years, eye doctor, 7 health clinic for check ups, 13. But I have been to many other places across Tokyo for various other issues and everywhere it is the same.

Brace yourself for what I am about to say next, “The Japanese health care system is socialized medicine.” There I said it. We all pay a monthly fee based upon a percentage of our salaries and taking into consideration the number of family members. In my case, I cover my wife and get this, my ten year old son is free and continues to be until he is sixteen years old.

You never have to worry about whether or not you can afford to go to the doctor for any issue. You never have to worry that by going to the doctor it will somehow break the bank causing bankruptcy. You never have to consider not having health insurance resulting in far less stress and worry.

The benefits of a civilized affordable social health care system is far reaching beyond what I have mentioned. Which is why I never quite understood why anyone would not want to have this.

I will continue drinking my coffee and eating almonds knowing full well when the next five years comes around and I have lower back pain along with frequent urination, I will have a civilized and affordable health care experience.

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