Monday, April 12, 2010

Re: Personal Note

A few weeks ago, I reluctantly posted a note that I may suspend this blog. A the time I posted it, I expected to be spending the next X months of my life trying to rebuild it yet again with little time for scribbling. Fortunately, although nothing has really changed, I have somehow been able to trick myself into believing that I am once again in control. Nonsense, of course, but a reassuring lie that helps us all deal with the fact that we aren't in control of a damned thing.

I once tried to keep everything personal out of this except for occasional rants or goof-offs, and I hope this is the last "personal note" I ever write.

I have learned a few things, which I am sure that most other people over 15 learned years ago.
Living in Japan as non-citizen makes you very vulnerable, no matter how much you think you have adapted or how much you think you know. Oh wait, Japanese is the key. You passed JLPT 1? Cool, never mind, just show the certificate and this won't apply to you. Ditto if you have permanent residency.
One should never, ever, ever, ever---shall I repeat that?---allow oneself to become to dependent in any way on any single person. I'd guess that this is something that men tend to do more than women. I'd guess. Anyway, one should make sure that he has a whole network of folks of varied relationships and of all nationalities even if it occasionally pisses off said person he has become in any way dependent on. Always be prepared. Have your capsule hotel or a spot along the Tamagawa ready to move to on a day's notice.
The medical system in Japan may be all wonderful for those with a sore throat who need lots of pills, but for something serious, your hindquarters may be in trouble.
Been to another hospital about the same problem? Then get out of ours for we will have nothing to do with you.
Did you call the ambulance yourself or did another person have to do it for you? Oh, you did it yourself? Well, then your illness isn't really that serious.

I am a doctor. Why the hell should I listen to you, a patient? What do you know about what you are suffering from? Let's just run yet another CATSCAN because I am too f***ing lazy and unimaginative to try anything else. Oh, it is negative so you cannot have the symptoms that you have. Like, what are you going to do about it if I am wrong or am merely a quack? Sue me? Bahahahahahaha!
The good thing is that health insurance covers such incompetence and, in my opinion, unprofessional behavior. When T.R. Reid did his little piece on health care in Japan for PBS Frontline a year ago, he didn't mention anything like this. He seemed to me to be more interested in showing the world that he could speak basic Japanese than investigating the health care system here. Good for you, Tim. (I was not the patient in this mess but a family member was/is. This was my third major experience with the medical system here and I am not impressed.)

Now with this vague, incoherent post, I hope to gradually and erratically resume more regular writing unless my fantasy of being a bit more in control turns out to be nothing more than a fantasy. At least I won't be doing it from under a blue tarp along a less than pristine river.

Thanks to those who commented, e-mailed, or otherwise contacted me. I do very much appreciate it.

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