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English-speaking Dental Clinic in Fukui City

Last weekend, I had a dental emergency. My level of Japanese is just enough to set an appointment, but definitely not enough to understand any medical procedure (I had to google what "gums" were in Japanese). Hayakawa Dental Clinic is a rather big clinic with 3 attending dentists and a lot of dental hygienists and assistants. Initially, I had an appointment for a week later because the clinic is a little busy. But the pain became unbearable a few days after I set the appointment. I asked a friend to call them and tell them that I had an emergency. So I came just before clinic hours started just in case they could accommodate me. The staff were patient, treated me as if I had an appointment, and one of the dentists was able to accommodate me. I had an X-ray taken, my tooth cleaned, and my situation explained to me. The dentist I saw could understand English, and could also speak basic English. The assistants spoke Japanese, but were very gentle and used signs to explain whatever I couldn't catch. I am very grateful ! 

Hit by a car, Part 1

There are a few things in my life that I regret happening. Some of them were my fault and completely preventable. But others, nothing could have been done because they were totally out of my control. Two years ago was one of those things. I was pregnant at the time with my son.   The clinic where I eventually gave birth had asked me to come in so they could test me for gestational diabetes. I’m going to pretend that it is something everyone has to do,not that I was being singled out for being overweight or anything *coughcough*. I mean, I had no symptoms and it wasn’t part of the standard testing that comes with pregnancy, but let's just leave it as concern for my health and the baby’s. In order to test for diabetes though, the doctor needs to know how much my body processes sugar in a set amount of time, and to get a good reading, I would need to be on an empty stomach. So the night before, I had an early dinner and then no breakfast the following morning as I checked into my 9 am doctor’s appointment. They took my blood and everything was ready to go. I downed a bottle of sugar water, then sat in their overly crowded waiting area for an hour until my second blood check and another bottle of sugar water. Then another hour long wait until the final blood check and I would be deemed ready to go home. Now seeing as I was rather pregnant at the time, and all I had had for the past 17 hours was two bottles of sugar water, I was rather famished. I ended up fainting during the third and final blood draw.  Another wait in the sitting area to be sure I was ok to go home, then finally after almost 2 and a half hours I was free to go! And eat! It was about a ten minute walk to the train station and along the way there was a 7 eleven. Thank you Japan for convenience stores everywhere. All I could think about was an onigiri and then getting myself somewhere for a good lunch.  I never made it to the Seven-eleven. Just as I was crossing the street, a guy hit me with his car. My bum broke his right headlight, and my upper torso slammed onto the hood of his car. I slumped to the ground. After doing a mental assessment of whether or not I was ok, I turned my attention to the driver. I was flabbergasted. The guy had been stopped at the intersection before I began to cross at the pedestrian crossing. It was mid-day and I am an oversized pregnant foreigner. I stand out. There is no way he did not see me unless he was looking exactly the opposite direction of the way he was driving. Angry, I just started lecturing him in English about looking where the f* he was going….yadda yadda yadda. After figuring out I was pregnant, he helped me to the sidewalk where I yet again go faint for a few seconds. Was it shock, or hunger, I will never know. But the driver, in complete shock and dumbfounded as what to do, did the right thing and asked me what he could do. What was the one thing on my pregnant mind. I asked for him to buy me an onigiri from the corner store. After getting him to call me an ambulance, a passerby stopping to help out called the police, and I got me an onigiri! Well, two infact, and a bottle of water. But just then, the ambulance showed up and I was carted off, around the corner and back to the clinic i had just spent my entire morning. At some point I had texted my co-worker, getting her to contact my school and my husband. The clinic strapped me to the baby heart monitor and I got another ultra-sound, showing him flipped over and snug on the left side of my abdomen and sleeping. It was almost like he had run away from the impact inside my womb. And then I waited for my husband. To be continued...

I used to run...

I used to run. I used to run two hours nearly everyday along the river by my old apartment. Before I met my husband,I ran anywhere I needed to go and could get to on foot. This was not something I would have ever done in my home town. For one, even if I ran for an hour from my highschool home, I'd never reach anything more than a gas station or cow pasture. But also because the idea of someone seeing my sweat dripping, red face huffing along the side of the road terrified me enough to stay inside and watch tv and eat microwave popcorn instead of even think about exercise. Moving to Japan gave me a new perspective. Long out of high school and far from the kids who spat at me during p.e., I was finally in a culture that embraces sweat. The students I taught at school encouraged me to get out and move. They were ecstatic that I was red faced and out of breath when I accidentally ran into then on my runs through the neighbourhood. It was a very different cultural perspective on a plus sized woman tackling her own body. Running gave me inner strength I never learned was there, because the mentality I was brought up with taught me that if I was big, it was my fault, and therefore I was too weak to do anything.Japan taught me that I am strong enough to pull passt my weight and keep going.But I can't run like I did back then.  I've also learned something else while here. That my running was actually destroying my body. Due to an injury to my spine, my body secretly started to degrade as I started to feel stronger inwardly. As I  lost weight, gained confidence and looked better, I felt more pain and fatigue than ever. This is an actual image of my spine. One of my discs has all but withered away. Running for exercise, for strength, is not possible anymore. It's now time to focus on gaining real strength in my muscles. After injury and pregnancy and being hit by a car, giving birth, breaking my ankle and now raising three children, I'm more determined than ever to build myself up. I used to run nearly everyday, but now I'm looking to run every day, head first into my life and tackle my body and all it's problems. I will run every single day, even if my body can't run like it did before. But first, I've got to learn how to exercise, how to strength build, how to fit this life into my life.

The Four-Eyed Raven. (Game of Thrones, anyone?) Buying a pair of specs in Japan!

I worked as an English teacher online for almost three years before and after that, I had a short stint as a web content writer. And that my friend, is how you ruin your eyesight. I’ve had three pairs of eyeglasses already with different grades for each since I was born to be stubborn. I only used them when I needed to. I didn’t fancy the idea of something being placed on my face, but I know I had to.Here are some of the frames that they offer. Before leaving the Philippines, I had to do an eye check-up and I learned that I have a severe case of nearsightedness. The doctor told me I had to wear my glasses all the time. And I decided to do so..in the first few days after having them. So I came to Japan fully-prepared being a four-eyed human being. However, a month ago my mind just went blank and I couldn’t remember where I placed them. And don’t start telling me about contact lenses. Ever since I saw my college classmate struggled placing those lens on one of her eyes, I cannot fathom the idea of putting them on my own eyes. However, I want to try to use them in the future, as awful as it seems to be, at least for me and my weird self. As I’ve said, I lost my glasses and it feels bad not being able to see everything well from afar. Back in the Philippines, I have experienced taking the wrong public transport because I would often not wear my glasses. In Japan, I want to prevent it from happening so after a month of parting ways with my third pair I finally went to this optician in Shibuya. One of my students recommended me this shop called Jin’s. I chose to visit the one located on the third floor of the Lumine Man building on Meiji-dori. Luckily, a foreigner works in that branch so I did not struggle when it comes to communicating with the staff. My Japanese is terrible and it’s difficult to know the English speaking ability of the Japanese staff, so props to the company for having a foreigner-friendly branch. The cheapest frames cost 4900 Yen excluding tax and they already come with the lenses. Others range from 6900 - 9900 Yen. If you want to attach the special lens then you need to add 4000 yen to the price of the frames that you have chosen. The service was pretty fast although I did not expect the place to be busy at around 8 - 9 PM. I went back for my glasses the next day because I didn’t want to wait. Overall, I would say that this pair is actually a lot better than my previous ones. Cleaning it is easy and it’s light so it’s not that much of a hassle to wear it. They have magazines on the corner for the bored souls. Ah, but the best thing of them all? After a month of being blind, I couldn’t contain my happiness of finally seeing everything clearly again. I can avoid getting lost and I can do people watching again. Oh, well. Goodness me! So if you have problems with your second set of eyes, then I recommend you to check out Jin’s. See you guys in my next blog!Here's my new baby with my favorite coffee.Here’s a link of their website if you want to check out their locations and frame designs.

A One-Stop Site for Medical Services in Tokyo

Japan is a wonderful country to live in, as you really get to experience all four seasons.  The tough part, however, is that your body has to deal with the changes in climate. Generally, it's hard enough getting sick, more so if you live abroad and you have to find a way through language barriers. Health is of prime importance and it's best to have regular check ups, too. It can be tough finding a clinic with staff and doctors that can communicate effectively with you, especially since most services in Japan are, well, in Japanese. Luckily, there's a website that serves as a search engine for your medical needs, may it be hospitals, clinics or pharmacies.It's pretty neat because you can dig into specifics. You can indicate which station or location you would want to look into to make your trip to the doctor convenient. You can even state which language you prefer.And select which type of medical help you need.You can find the website here! Stay healthy, everyone! Was this helpful? Tell me what you think in the comments below!

Gym/Workout in Japan

I usually workout in a gym about twice a week and go cycling once every two weeks, for the first 3 years I living in Japan I didn't join any gyms because it is really expensive. Most of the gym cost about 12,000 yen a month, that is about 3 times more expensive than the gym I go to in my home country.At the end, I give in and just join a cheap "Fitness club" where most of the people go there to socialize, old lady walk on the treadmill and do aerobic, you have to signup on a whiteboard to reserve the treadmill machine and other equipment. As soon as the 6 months contract ended I switched to a more standard gym because that fitness club just doesn't have the machine I need and the music from aerobic is too load.Today, I went to Tokyo Big Sight to check out the SPORTECH event, there are many new training machines and bodybuilder there. Since I like cycling, I tested this cycling machine in one of the group demo session. A demo session turned out to be an extensive 10 minutes workout, the demonstrator or should I say the coach didn't talk about the machine at all. After the demo, I didn't have any energy to try another machine.After the workout, I am so exhausted that I went to a booth nearby to get some protein drink, it turns out that protein drink is not for guys no wonder why that salesman give me a strange look.Looking at more machines before leaving.Leaving the event on by way back, the weather is good but a little bit hot.

Healthcare for foreigners in Japan

A recent but prolonged illness forced me to cancel much of my plans to travel and study in Japan and remain in Australia for the foreseeable future.  Between the surgical consultations and medication, my savings and holiday leave evaporated requiring me to start over again.Perhaps it was fortunate that this occurred in Australia where my wife could drive me to hospital in the middle of the night and explain the situation as I was in no condition to communicate.  I would hate to attempt to describe my condition with my limited Japanese, especially trying to mime the symptoms, when I was almost delirious.In Australia, much of our healthcare is publicly funded by the taxpayer – although private health insurance is encouraged by our government's obsession with cost cutting.  Due to the tight budget, the consequence with both the emergency department and the hospital stay itself is the approach of “treat 'em then street 'em” - deal with the immediate problem and then as soon as the patient is out of danger, handball them back to their General Practitioner.Should I have fallen ill in Japan, I find myself wondering what the situation would have been.  I've known people who visited America and fell ill or were injured during their stay, only to have doctors refuse to treat them because they didn't have the right kind of insurance.   Having injured their back, one was required to pay cash upfront for treatment, the other had to administer their own treatment – the family she was staying with were all doctors but couldn't help her, but did show her how to inject herself.Previous study trips I have taken have been to places where comprehensive coverage was available for a modest annual fee with a local hospital, or covered by my own travel insurance for shorter stays – the arrangement being that once I was out of danger, I would be flown back to Australia for the remainder of the treatment required.  These have typically been “tourist destinations” and often operated by Australian businesses.I would be interested in learning other people's experiences with healthcare in Japan – how much was covered by different insurance schemes versus how much they were out of pocket, what difficulties they encountered both in communication and if they encountered any discrimination.  Even differences in treatment between cities and rural areas.

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