Patient Zero

It has not been a good week for me, dear Reader.

I have been, frankly, sick as hell — to the point I’ve lost about a pound of body weight a day for the past four days due to not being able to keep any food down. Today’s pukefest was the straw that broke the dromedary’s back, and I decided to take the day off to get some rest and go see a doctor.

I enter the neighborhood clinic. I explain my symptoms to the doctor, a man who acts as if he’s in a terrible hurry despite the fact that I am the sole patient in his clinic.

“I’ve been throwing up for days,” I explain. “I have occasional hot-chills, and my joints hurt. I think it’s a flu bug.”

The doctor examines me. He examines me to the point where I want to smack him for prodding my stomach and asking, “How is this?” when the previous several prods have almost made me throw up and I have through gritted teeth informed him of such.

Finally, Dr. Prodder determines that what I have isn’t a flu bug but a stomach virus. He begins writing out a prescription.

“Also,” I mention, “I had to take a day off work for this, so could you please write me a shindansho?” I ask, using the word for a doctor’s certificate. As in, the thing that can prove to my bosses I was actually being seen by a doctor and wasn’t out getting piss drunk or something.

only“What would you like it to say?” Dr. Prodder responds.

This takes me back a bit.

You’re the goddamn doctor, I think to myself. You’ve examined me, now just put something about this experience on a piece of paper.

I look at him. He looks at me, obviously expecting an answer.

“Uh … That I didn’t go to work because I felt like I had flu-like symptoms, and that you examined me for it?” I ask.

Dr. Prodder looks at me, tilts his head to one side as if not quite understanding where I’m going.

“As in, mention your condition and prescribed medication?”

As sick as I am, I want to put my foot through the back of this guy’s head.

“Yes. Please.”

He grunts, scribbles something into my file and mentions that a shindansho will take chotto (“just a little”) more money. I say that’s fine. And then I’m practically being shooed out the door.

I’m told my bill at the receptionist’s window: 4,200 yen, or roughly $42. In America I wouldn’t have blinked at a bill like that, but I’ve gotten used to doctor’s fees here regularly being in the $5-$10 range. Regardless, I fork over the cash.

Once outside, I give my shindansho a glance-over. Unlike the last one I received for that time when the people of Tokyo decided to screw up my back, this one is actually handwritten.

And the writing is so terrible that I can barely make out what it says.

“Virus … Work … Medicine something. What the fuck is this?!”

I get frustrated, move my attention from the shindansho to the printout of my bill.

Visitation fee: cheap. Medicinal fee: cheap.

Cost for written materials — i.e., my shitty illegible shindansho:

3,000 yen. Thirty goddamn U.S. dollars.



9 Responses

  1. What?! This seems like complete bullshit you might want to deal with when your body and mind is up to it, seems like complete bullshit!

  2. Poor man, I now feel silly for sending you my jokingly scolding mail the other day haha. I hope you feel better soon!

  3. This had to be the worst doctor ever !
    When I went to the clinic next to my place (also in Tokyo) for a flu, the guy did not charge me anything for the shindansho. He was very friendly and went as far as prescribing me a whole week off. That was sweet 🙂
    As far as illegible goes, though, I think it’s a doctor thing. Not once have I been able to read the handwriting of any of my doctors.

  4. don’t ask for a note! just bring your boss the bill-it has the date and time on it

  5. Yeah, what a dick! Probably one of those uber-old-fashioned guys who thinks you shouldn’t have taken the day off work unless you were bad off enough to have been brought there on a stretcher.

    I’ve always been lucky to have good dealings with Japanese doctors. Dentists on the other hand…

  6. @billywest: if you (or anyone else) needs a good dentist, I can recommend a very good guy in Shibuya (normal health insurance OK).

  7. WHAT THE– 3000 yen just for a flimsy letter?!


    that’s just… urgh.

    Also, hope you get well soon, sir! :3

  8. come back to blog world

  9. Hope you feeling better homey.

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