When I was pregnant with Stella and batshit crazy with anxiety, much of my angst manifested itself in the form of a major disdain for the Japanese healthcare system. I was all, WHAT? I have to have an ultrasound at every single effing prenatal visit? That’s not how they do it in Canada and therefore IT IS TERRIBLE. This lunacy lasted for about eight and a half months, at which point I decided that I really did have to learn to trust my doctors or else instead of pushing out a baby, I’d find myself with brainz and headmush exploding out my ears. And so, I just surrendered to the process (barf....i can’t believe that I just wrote that) and things got a lot better. In fact, things were great. I loved my doctor. I loved my midwives. I loved my birth center. In short, I loved the Japanese healthcare system. I wanted to marry the Japanese healthcare system. It really was that good. (I’m not being sarcastic.)
And so it is with this love and appreciation in mind that I present the following story: An Exercise in Rediculosity and Smashing my Head Against the Table.
The other day Stella and I headed over to the Public Heath Office for her (mandatory?) four-month check-up and BCG vaccine. Within about three seconds of walking through the doors half the staff was running around in a tizzy, because OMG! A Foreigner! What do we do?! FOREIGNER! FOREIGNER! FORRRRRREIGNER!!!!
After much paper shuffling, many confused looks, and a little toing and froing for good measure, a super helpful nurse sat down with us and walked us though a series of questions designed to assess babies’ development:
Nurse: Does she hold her head up?
Stella: *Holds her head up, looks around the room, sticks fingers in mouth.*
Nurse: Does she smile?
Stella: *Giant gummy smile, blows raspberries. Drools. Smiles again.*
Nurse: Does she follow you with her eyes?
Stella: *Catches sight of a baby, flaps hands, launches her body in the direction of said baby follows baby around the room with her eyes.*
So, I’m thinking, well, aren't you supposed to be assessing her development by, perhaps, OBSERVING her? But whatever. I’m a well-informed parent, and I don’t have any concerns about my baby’s development. So, no biggie.
A nurse gestures at a chair, and runs off with our medical records. And we hunker down for a touch of waiting-for-god-knows-what-or-who-or-why-or-how-long. I don't mind though, for as foreigner living in Asia, I’m totally adept at this skill.
Okay, next step...BCG vaccine! FIll out paperwork! Answer more questions! About vaccines! Has your baby had any lately! "Why, Yes!" I say. "Five days ago she had DTP." "Okay! Sign here! Acknowledge that you’re aware of the health risks and side effects of this vaccine!"
"Sorry, what? What side effects? What health risks? Can you please explain them to me?"
And thats when things fall apart.The baby can’t get the vaccine. A doctor tells me I’m too stupid to understand the reasons why. I tell the doctor that no, I’m not that stupid. Perhaps he should just do his effing job and explain this to me. And FINE! Okay! We won’t get the vaccine. I never wanted it anyway, you JERKS.
Then, more paperwork, more sitting and waiting for who knows what.
Okay, okay. Move over here! Sit down! New nurse! More questions! Actually...we've already answered these. With the other nurse. She asked us these questions, and wrote down the answers. Oh, wait! That woman over there! She has a foreign husband! She can translate! Come over here, stranger! Please interpret these detailed questions about this person’s private medical history! Okay, go! Translate! Uhhhh....actually, I already answered all these questions, remember? No matter! We now have a translator! We must do them again! But I understood last time, and we already answered these questions. Does your child hold her head up? Does she smile? Does she follow you with her eyes? Onward, unwitting translator!
Meh. Whatever. Answer, answer, answer. Translate, translate. Tell complete stranger all about my labour. My lady parts. My baby’s poop. My boobies.
Next step, more waiting!
Okay, now through here. Undress your baby. Weight! Height! Now, sit in this room full of naked babies and wait some more!
Alright the doctor’s ready to see you. Check, check, check. Examine. Listen.
“When your baby was born, her condition was not good. Now her condition is good. Thank you. Good bye.” Exits stage left.
Oh, thank you doctor. I’m so glad that we missed a nap, a feeding, and spent THREE HOURS OF MY FUCKING LIFE TO DISCOVER THAT CRITICAL PIECE OF INFORMATION THAT I COULD NOT HAVE LIVED WITHOUT OR DEDUCED ON MY OWN OMFG THANK YOU FOR THIS MAGNIFICENT INSIGHT!