“Though the doctors treated him, let his blood, and gave him medications to drink, he nevertheless recovered.” — Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace

I have heard others say that the Japanese health care system is not so great. (Something I don’t want to get into, but feel I must mention: Is America’s, though?)

Here is my opinion, or rather my experience today, fresh off a visit to the doctor and pharmacy.

No appointment: I just straight up walked in and was like, My body is fighting off tiny invaders. Can I see the doctor?

They said, Sure! But first, fill out this rather basic information chart. (Compared to the extensive family history you need to see a doctor in America, this was rather pleasant, if in a foreign language with a rather complicated writing system. No longer did I need to guess whether or not my great-grandmother’s husband, or my mother’s great-aunt twice-removed was the one with an upset stomach after eating a questionable potato salad that one time.) In fact, they did not ask one single question about anyone else in my family. (I was there about a cough though, so maybe that just didn’t come up.)

The only weird things I was expected to know, weird because America uses a ridiculously complicated and unique measuring system, was my height, weight, and blood pressure. Luckily they had a blood pressure machine!

AND, the machine did not take three or four tries to acknowledge that I was a living thing. It is rather annoying when no one can find a pulse. Even worse when a machine can’t.

So I waited a couple minutes, let’s say 20, and then was talking to a doctor. He spoke English, which was awesome! Because in my illness-raddled brain I could not remember the word for throat. He took my temperature, (a slight fever, which again, didn’t really understand until I looked up the conversion to American), listened to my breathing, and then was like, X-rays for everyone!

They took two, in five minutes, I waited another…let’s say 15, and then I was back sitting with the doctor looking at my lungs and heart and boooooones. (Are lungs just supposed to show up as two black expanses surrounded by bits of bone and a weird shaped heart thingy in the middle? I hope so.) The doctor seemed to agree that I looked free and clear of plague and pneumonia, So he gave me a prescription and sent me off to pay.

Less than 20 dollars. Seriously.

I did have to walk to a pharmacy to get the medicine, but that’s okay. Normally, when my lungs aren’t trying to escape my body, I like walking. It’s pleasant. Today, every time I had to cough,  I instead was treated to my leg trying to do a jerky dance as I tried to walk and regurgitate bits of organs at the same time. I probably should just stop trying to multitask.

At the pharmacy, I  had an equally easy experience. I did have to fill out another very similar looking form for a medical history. This one had more medicine related questions though. Like do you eat three times a day? And how much coffee do you drink a day? (Yes, I might have fudged that one a bit, mostly because I haven’t been drinking a lot of coffee with this particular cold.) They also had one about driving and drowsiness on medicines but it’s cool. I don’t have a license here.

When they called my name, I swear, only 10 minutes later, they gave me FOUR…I’m sorry, wait a minute…FOUR different medicines. FOUR!

And the best part was that for a 5 day dose, 3 times a day, of four different pills (well ones a powder…ish substance) I paid 5 dollars. 5 dollars. 5!

Either they’re sugar pills or they think I’m in a gang, cause that’s the cheapest medicine I’ve ever seen. Though for three of them, I’m not exactly clear on what they do. Something, I hope.

I guess you can compare this to your own recent doctor visits and make your own judgement. Though do keep in mind, if this wasn’t my first year on the social health insurance, I would be paying at least twice of what I am now a month. Win some, lose some.

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