Saturday, February 13, 2010

And Now for Something...Meatier

I've spent the last 24+ hours trying to put a less than stellar (one might say "traumatizing") OB appointment behind me. I mentally drafted and re-drafted the post that would describe how unpleasant it was and the more I thought about it, the more it frustrated me. I don't want to come off as melodramatic or anti-Japan. And so, I've chalked up most of my frustration with the appointment to cultural differences.

When I was in graduate school (the first time when I was studying public affairs and policy as opposed to the second time when I was studying library and information science - I know. Two degrees?? What was I thinking. But whatever..) I took a few public health classes that I really enjoyed. In one of the classes we spent some time talking about successful public health campaigns and especially, how to reach "under-served" populations. From the perspective of the USA, one under-served population as you might imagine, is those people who are non-English speakers. Having been on the other side of the Dr.'s desk, so to speak, I now understand why. I mean, I got it conceptually, while I was in school. And I thought that improving the "cultural competence" of medical staff sounded logical.

But now I see how vital cultural competence truly is; it's not just a buzzword or politically correct token effort. Because if I didn't have a husband willing to go with me to these appointments, I would just stop going to see the doctor here in Japan. The frustration I experience, the embarrassment, the confusion - none of it feels worth it during a pregnancy that I feel is routine. Naturally, I'm no doctor and could be wrong about my own condition or that of the baby, but I'm telling you, even with husband to take me, I don't want to go back. I don't feel any sense of understanding or compassion or accommodation from the staff of a fairly large and modern hospital system. Instead, I get what I can only assume is the routine treatment and I'm just supposed to go with it. Accept that this is "how things are done here" and that's it. I understand that the situation might be a little different if we'd chosen a hospital or clinic in a more urban area, but as I said, this one is pretty modern and I figured it wouldn't really matter since in the 2nd trimester you mostly get weighed, have an ultrasound and call it good. I didn't expect that they'd want to see me every 3 weeks, nor did I expect things to get as "invasive" as they've gotten.

But I've decided it's just not worth it to dwell on it. Instead, I'll take from this experience only the parts I want to remember and I'll just do my best to block out the rest. So..... Turns out they think I'm a little iron-deficient (just barely below the cut-off for "regular" standards here) and I'm taking this as a sign. A sign I tell you. I am MEANT to have the Big America "New York" burger at McDonald's. I missed the Texas burger, but I won't be missing the beef in the New York burger you can bet on that! And that California burger looks yummy too. This might also explain why I was overjoyed to sample the Sasebo burger the other day. You can't imagine anything like this if you think of American fast food joints. The bun was perfectly toasted, the lettuce was crispy, the sauce wasn't too skimpy or overly sloppy, the egg was fabulous...I could go on, but instead, I'm going to call it another day and get some rest. Yesterday was draining and the baby and I surely need some more rest.


  1. Sorry you had such a bad experience. I can not imagine how frustrating it must be dealing with not only medical terms in another language but the cultural differences too. Glad you and bubs seem to be doing really well though.

  2. I can't even imagine what it's like going to the OB in another country -- and frankly, I don't really want to! Especially with all the crap that's been happening to me this time around. I think you are awesome for being flexible, even though it's painful (in several ways!).

  3. Dang! I haven't meant to not be reading you. I'm relying mostly on the sidebar in my blog and I was SURE I added you, but you're not there. Anyway, the details you're not giving us about your appointment sound (or I'm sure would sound) just awful! I'm very curious about what happened, but I understand you not wanting to talk about it. Are there any low-intervention PCPs in Japan, akin to nurse midwives here? Maybe not in your area, but are they anywhere?