Some narative was inaccurate and corrected on the instruction of the author — Curzon
My post from last summer criticizing Japan’s medical system is still generating comments, so I thought it an appropriate time to share this guest post, authored by a friend and reader on his recent adventure through Japan’s medical system.
Back in August, I began to develop a massively painful cyst under the skin situated above my buttock and wanted to see a specialist. The ordeal was a real pain in the ass.
My first mistake was going to a local dermatologist. Without diagnosing me, the doctor bent me over, lanced my cyst and squeezed a bunch of push out of it, then told me to stop by anytime! She’d be happy to drain out the pus that accumulated when it became too painful to tolerate. Nothing was mentioned to a permanent cure until I pressed her for a better solution. She seemed surprised — if I actually wanted the problem fixed, I would need to have the cyst excised. They would not be able to do this at the local clinic, so she then referred me to a university hospital.
The university hospital I visited is comprised of different specialty units. You begin at the central reception desk. Upon arriving, I filled out a pretty standard form at the reception counter and waited for about 30 minutes to hand it in. After handing it in, I had to wait for another 30 minutes before they processed it, finally handing me a patient card and referring me to the dermatology center — where I had to wait, again, for about an hour.
The dermatologist said that the only way to cure my problem was through surgery, in which I would come in, have the cyst removed, and then be sent home. I booked the surgery at the next available appointment. By the time of surgery, my cyst was about half the diameter of a golf ball.
You won’t be surprised to hear that ass surgery isn’t fun. The removal of the cyst means you have to be opened up in a humiliating position as if you are giving birth. During surgery, I couldn’t help myself from staring at all the cracks in the ceiling of the Soviet style architecture. If a major earthquake struck surely the building would collapse and leave me dead, with the added humiliation of firefighters discovering my naked body in the rubble in the position for ass surgery. When I wasn’t worrying about that, I was wondering in what decade the device they hooked up to stop the bleeding was manufactured — late 1980s, if I was lucky.
The doctor, with my ass opened up, began by saying “sugoi naa.” There are about a million things wrong with that. First, that’s not reassuring — it sounds like my problem is really bad, which is the last thing a doctor wants his patient to think. Second, it’s not professional. Third, it’s pretty humiliating. He then spent the next hour hacking away, removing chunks of ingrown hair and flesh, then stitching me back up and sending me on my way.
The wound itself seemed to heal fine, but the original problem was not fixed. Before long, the incision split open in two locations and started to ooze black pus. Charming. So I went back the following week, this time waiting for about an hour outside the dermatologist office before being called in. When they finally called me in, I was greeted by yet another doctor, whom I had not even seen up until this point, who told me that I would require even more extensive surgery, including a skin graft. A freaking skin graft. He then proceeded to explain that skin grafts are too hard for the dermatology section to take care of, so he referred me to the Plastic/Reconstructive surgery unit in the same university hospital.
I feeling a little nervous about the whole thing, but decided to go talk to the doctor in the plastic surgery division they recommended. After all, it was the same hospital, so it shouldn’t take that long, right? Wrong. I had to go back to the central reception desk, fill out much of the same paperwork again, wait three hours (all while sitting on my very painful ass) to meet a random plastic surgeon for all of five minutes who instantly said yes — you need surgery, skin grafts, and two weeks of hospitalization — when do you want to come in? I was taken aback by the lack of any explanation or reassurance to this procedure, and had him confirm that I did in fact hear everything correctly. He looked at me like I was a total idiot: ‘Yes. Two. Weeks’.
I have no medical education, but even I could see my problem wasn’t that bad. I went looking for a second opinion, and fortunately, a contact in the pharmaceutical industry in Tokyo recommended me to a specialist clinic, Aruto Shinbashi Proctologist Clinic. These guys do branding right — aruto is the Japanization of ART, which stands for Anal Rectum Treatment. (Imagine putting that on your meishi.)
This doctor was a specialist (finally) who seemed much more knowledgeable about butt boils. He even had pictures and explanations for my condition — he said that I most likely had developed a pilonidal cyst. In brief, through prolonged periods of sitting (I have a desk job), the sinuses in the area become infected, and masses of hair just curl up again and again underneath the skin producing massive amount of pus and eventually a cyst develops, primarily of ingrown hair and skin, that turns into a blister or wound on the surface of the skin.
He also came to me with a much better deal for a cure — he could fix my problem by surgery, without skin grafts, and only one week hospitalization. Sold! I had a much better feeling about this place, and decided that a week in hospital wouldn’t be fun but I had to have my ass problem solved.
Everything seemed to go fine, but there were typical careless accidents after the surgery that reminded me that when you are in the care of a Japanese doctor, even one who you trust, you have to fear for your life. The catheter they shoved in the shaft of my penis hurt like hell after they removed it. And they evidently pierced through a vein when they hooked me up to an IV, as the solution drained into my arm through the night and I woke up to see my forearm puffed up like a balloon.
But other than that, the surgery seems to have gone well, and I am currently recovering, trying not to sit for extended periods of time.