Today I want to share with you a couple of bad experiences I’ve had with doctors while living in Japan. I’m writing this for anyone that may find it helpful and not for the sake of bashing any business, therefore I will not mention names.
I will, however, answer emails privately if you need help with your current clinic. Feel free to contact me and I’ll do what I can!
I’ve chosen to use dessert photos because they are happy, colorful and fitting for my dentist from hell stories.
A couple years ago I went through a rough patch in which I ended up needing a doctor quite urgently, so I just went to one of the most popular English-Speaking clinics in Tokyo. Let’s call it Z Clinic. They do walk ins for general stuff so I just went and explained what was wrong with me.
Throughout three weeks I was checked out by a nurse first, then a doctor, then tests, then a different doctor. The thing that bothered me at that time is that the doctors were extremely patronizing. I did not make up my symptoms (they were obvious to The Husbun too…), but still both doctors treated me like it was all in my poor work-from-home head. I don’t want to get into details but those consultations were extremely uncomfortable. The last time I saw the doctor, he literally laughed-shouted at me “You’re ok! You’re too much worry!” And I will always remember A) his misspell, B) The feeling of shame. Oh wow, sorry for being healthy.
Two years passed and I needed a dentist checkup, so I decided to go to Z Clinic again (I know, great idea right?). Because dentistry is in a whole different area, managed by other doctors, I thought that chances were it would work out just fine. I’m sure some of you already know my dentist story (Posted it on Instagram Stories) but basically, the dentist told me he had to remove my four wisdom teeth because they had cavities. I’ve had my wisdom teeth for years, they are straight and healthy otherwise. He said he would remove them four at the same time and gave me no other options.
So what you may not know is that my dad is a doctor that of course knows many other doctors, including top-rated dentists. So I called him and he asked for a second opinion to his dentist colleague. He was shocked! I was informed that removing four wisdom teeth at the same time when there’s no pain, infection or danger was unnecessary and it would put through weeks of recovery, stitches, and liquid diet.
He also asked me why fillings were not on the table and advised me to talk to the dentist in Tokyo and demand them when possible. I did so, and the Z Clinic dentist seemed to suddenly remember fillings exist, and agreed to do two. Still wanted to remove the other two teeth. My attitude then was: OK mate I have zero trust in you now, fill one of my teeth and let’s see how it goes.
It went wrong.
I required three shots of anesthesia and still it hurt like hell- so much the dentist just stopped 80% through because I was in such misery but he could not stab (there’s no better term for what he was doing) me with more anesthesia. I should clarify now that I don’t do particularly bad with pain, I’m no gnarly sailor but I have been tattooed 5 times and have wild PMS cramps every month. But then, I felt like something was off the whole time. I thought…Is this supposed to be so awful? Did the internet research betray me yet again?
Shaking, dizzy, numb for the gods and traumatized, I left that Z Clinic with a temporal filling and a temporal loss of faith in humanity. I immediately started googling for another dentist, got an appointment two days later at a new clinic.
I would have gone the next day but the Z Clinic dentist’s treatment provided me with incredible tooth ache and a freaking fever.
Enter dentist #2. To my surprise he told me that none of my teeth needed extraction since the cavities aren’t deep, and he would gladly fill them one by one with laser- which is virtually painless. I was ELATED.
I’ve already had one filled and I can say the difference is abysmal. I was so relieved I almost cried!! I still have to finish the rest of my fillings but so far, it has been life changing and eye opening.
Remember the patronizing doctors from Z Clinic? Well I’m not finished with them either. I recently went for a check up in the same field I consulted with them, but in a new specialized clinic. When I told my new doctor about my last experience in the first clinic, the conversation went like this:
-They didn’t perform any other other tests with those symptoms?
-They didn’t tell you to return for further check ups?
-No, they sent me home saying that I worry too much and no further instructions.
-Can you tell me the name of the clinic? I feel like a need to be aware of it. Let’s get you checked up right now.
So I had all the tests and (good) results on the day. Afterwards she took extra time talking with me, answering my questions and definitely not making me feel guilty for being healthy, but encouraging me to be alert and take care of myself. Like WE ALL SHOULD.
Goes without saying but, you will never catch me even close to Z Clinic again. Here are some tips for you if you need a doctor in Tokyo:
- Google reviews have been accurate in my cases. Check them out.
- Trust your gut. You know your body best.
- Many doctors speak English in Tokyo, even if they don’t say so.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for a second opinion.
- Googling symptoms is a bad idea but googling options is not.
I hope you never have to consult a health professional in Tokyo, but if you do, don’t settle up on whichever is first to talk to you in English. As you can see in my case, your treatment can vary immensely!
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