March 7, 2008
Three Cheers for National Health InsuranceI have been extremely sick for the past two days. On Tuesday afternoon, I started to feel bad, a nasty headache, and my joints started to ache. When that happens, I know I'm in for some sort of sickness. I went to work on Wednesday, but started to feel bad again in the afternoon, and by the time I went home I had a nasty headache, achy joints, and sore all over.
I didn't get a wink of sleep that night. By about 5am I decided that I wouldn't be going to work, and started looking for a place to get myself checked out.
I don't really know the workings of the Japanese health care system that well, but every encounter I've had with it has been many times better than when I've gone to a hospital in the US.
I went to a local "clinic" - I guess we have these in the States also, but I've never seen as many as they are here. There are three clinics within walking distance of where I live. I showed up at the place at 9:30am, saw a doctor at about 10:30am, and was given medicine a few minutes after seeing the doctor. The amazing thing is that all of this only cost slightly less than $20. I got antibiotics, an anti-fever medication, and two other pills (a total of 44 pills) for less than what it would cost to park at a US hospital.
Even more amazing is the paperwork: there was none. I showed them my health insurance card (I was enrolled when I started work), they asked if I had been there before (no) and then they asked me to write my name (which they had a tough time with: their computer didn't like it one bit) and address. That was it.
According to the doctor, I should be better in two to three days. I hope so. I've had about three hours of sleep in the past two days, and I've eaten one piece of bread and a pastry in the same time. I've been drinking all sorts of orange juice, but I'm just in terrible shape. Nothing will stay in me, and my guts are a mess. My Japanese isn't great for medical stuff, but according to the doctor I've got bad bacteria in my gut. It is filling me up with gas - I feel fat and full all the time - and I've got lots of diareahha. Since I haven't eaten though, that isn't so bad.
I had a fever too - 38.6, which sounds low to me. Like, almost popsicle style ice-cold dead. But when I converted that into Fahrenheit, that's like 101.5! Higher than the 98.6 at which I prefer to stay.
Anyway, I am sick, but I hope I'm getting better. I was going to go see the Stars and Broken Social Scene in concert tonight, but there is no way I'm leaving my apartment today.
I am really impressed with the Japanese Health Care System though. One good thing about the upcoming election is that it looks like both Hillary and Obama have strong health care programs. I think we need to get capitalist interests out of health care, and look at it as a social service.
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