I went to the eye doctor today. This is a big accomplishment coming from the girl who said she would never ever go to another eye doctor other than Dr. Parker ever again. I love Dr. Parker. We searched for years and years for an eye doctor I would be comfortable and when I finally found her I refused to go to anyone else. Even when we lost our health insurance for a short spell, I made my mom promise me she wouldn't make me go to someone new. I was in a panic about it, but she promised me I didn't have to see anyone other than Dr. Parker.
I've been going to her for over ten years now. We even laughed about it the last time I saw her. She told me that when my mom made that first appointment she told them I was a very nervous patient and to be please be gentle with me but after the exam I said, "gee, that wasn't bad at all!" It was love at first sight (harty har har.) This woman even bought an $800 set of knives off of me that horrible summer of Cutco. So you know she is pretty darn awesome.
I really considered coming home and having my eyes checked by her over my summer vacation and if America didn't have a completely screwed up health care system then that's exactly what I would have done. But the miser in me kept reminding the wimp in me that it would be very expensive to do it that way and rather silly since I have insurance here in Japan. The wimp in me reminded the miser that I don't speak Japanese well. The miser put her foot down. And since I had the afternoon off today, I visited the local clinic.
It wasn't that bad. But Japanese clinics are completely different than American ones. American doctors and medical staff are tied up by HIPAA regulations that go to sometimes silly measures to protect patient confidentiality. There is no such thing as patient confidentiality in Japan, except when the doctor decides not to tell the patient what is wrong with them, to protect them from bad news supposedly. There are no separate exam rooms. There was a waiting room, a testing room, and the doctor's office with a curtain for a door. Aides flitted around with their patients in tow, each of us at a different testing station right to each other.
My Japanese was just good enough to get my point across and there was only one test that I was slightly confused about, but I finally figured out what they wanted me to do. They did a lot more tests than Dr. Parker ever did and the doctor concluded that my glasses are actually stronger than I need. I don't feel like spending any money to replace them at the moment because they don't bother me, but I did order more contacts. Although they would only let me have a 3 months supply at a time. Not that this is a huge problem. I only wear my contacts on the weekends or special occasions so 3 months will likely last me through until next summer.
The doctor and my aide was super nice and made me feel very comfortable despite my lack of Japanese. The only real downside was that it took forever. You don't make appointments in Japan you just show up and join in the queue, so I had to wait a bit. Then there was about 45 minutes of eye tests. Then another wait to see the doctor and another wait after that while they figured out the financials, coming to a grand total of almost 2 hours. And it would have been longer if I had arrived any later than I did because it got real busy while I was there. But it's over with. I survived. And I saved money. Woohoo!