Our first visit to a doctor – a Nagasaki eye clinic

So, it finally happened. After almost 5 months on the road, we needed to go to a doctor.

I HATE going to the doctor. I avoid it like the plague at home. So it took me scaring myself senseless by reading Doctor Google to finally come around to seeing a doctor.

What happened is that I got a piece of sand in my eye. It has been in my eye since Tioman, I think, but wasn’t causing any problems other than being slightly irritating. When we were in Tokyo it started bothering me more. I could feel it at night, and sometimes my eye would water and stop me from sleeping. When we left for Kyoto, it was getting so bad at night that I couldn’t sleep after the first time I would wake up, because my eye would just water and water. The morning of the first full day in Kyoto was like that, and it was bothering me so much that I was trying to pull my eyelid away from my eye. I guess I scratched my cornea then, because the next thing I knew, I couldn’t see right out of my right eye. It was blurry. I thought it was just something there, like some tears or a floating piece of eye goop or something. But it didn’t go away. The next day we were traveling so I tried not to think about it. I thought it would go away on it´s own. The day after that, Hubby suggested I see a doctor, but it was half way through the day, and Kiddo had just fallen asleep, and so I googled. Oh, I googled!

Google told me that a scratched cornea or – corneal abrasion – was a very serious problem that should be seen by doctor right away. They should heal in 1-3 days, though. Well, I thought, if it isn’t better by morning, I will see a doctor.

It wasn’t better! So I decided that when we arrived at the hotel in Nagasaki, I would ask them to help me find a doctor. I was nervous, but I thought – I will just ask. Maybe they wont be able to help me and then I will be off the hook. The staff, though, bent over backwards for me. The woman I asked offered to call the doctor to see if they could speak any English. Then she had me write down my symptoms, put them into google translate, and relayed them to the doctor. Then, she proceeded to walk with me to the doctor´s office (which was only 2 blocks away BUT STILL!), tell them who I was and repeat my symptoms for them. 

We had to wait a couple minutes and then the nurses brought me into the back. There were mostly old men in the waiting room. The nurses were all young and once I was placed at the front of the line for the doctor, began to crowd around their iPad. They were talking into a translation program, and giggling like mad. Finally, one of them turned to me, looked at the screen, and said, “The doctor sees you now,” and the rest giggled away.

The doctor spoke English amazingly well. He examined me while three or four nurses stared without reservation from behind the curtain. He did exactly what Doctor Google said he would, which was stain my eye with yellow dye and then shine lots of lights into it. He said he saw a small abrasion, and where he marked on the chart it looked like it was right in the center right part of my eye, right where the blurriest spot is. I was glad to know that it was indeed a scratch and that the doctor didn’t seem too concerned. He said if it got worse to go see an ophthalmologist. He didn’t tell me how long it would take to heal and I forgot to ask.

He prescribed me antibiotic eye drops, which could be picked up at the pharmacy next door. That was the worst language experience I have had so far. The pharmacist was trying to tell me something, but I don’t know what. I think he might have been trying to figure out how to say “three to four times a day for three days” or possibly “they told you three times a day in the doctor´s office, but the instructions say four times a day”, but I am really not sure. I was standing there talking to him for ages, but probably only about 5 minutes.

The whole thing cost about 6,400 yen, or about $65. I thought that was pretty amazing! I am not sure if we can claim it on our travel insurance because the receipt is in Japanese (and a translation would certainly cost more than $65 in Norway!), but it was a pleasant experience, actually!

When I got home, I found on Wikipedia that a large Canadian study found that only 0.7% of corneal abrasions become infected if they are not treated with antibiotic eye drops, so I decided those were good odds and I will hold off on using the eye drops. It makes me uncomfortable to take antibiotics in general, and particularly in this case since I don’t have the packet instructions and have no idea what that poor pharmacist was trying to tell me. 

When we left the office, prescription filled and Kiddo safely sleeping in the Ergo on me again (she napped through the whole thing – we put her down on the chairs in the office), the women at the front desk held up their iPad with a large display reading: “Please take good care any”. Not sure exactly what that meant, but it was nice anyway! 

It was all in all a very painless experience, much better than I had feared. My lesson is: if you think you need a doctor in a foreign country, go for it! And it certainly helps that we booked the #1 ranked hotel on TripAdvisor in Nagasaki and had their extremely helpful and gracious assistance.

Now, just waiting for my vision to clear up 🙂


One thought on “Our first visit to a doctor – a Nagasaki eye clinic

  1. Pingback: Nagasaki | Our crazy year

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