More of the Same

This month has been full of doctor's appointments. Between both children, we have been to the doctor's office eight times this month. Thankfully, most of the appointments were scheduled. At the beginning of the month, Theo had an appointment with a pediatric urologist here in Fukuyama. They took a blood test at that time and noticed that his white blood cell count was higher than normal.  He didn't have a fever, was acting pretty normal (or as normal as he ever acts), and his urine test came back clean, so I didn't really think much about it.

Powder packets of medicine
That night Theo woke up with a fever and complaining that his ear hurt. The mystery was solved, but now I was faced with the problem of finding a pediatrician and trying to communicate with my limited language skills. I located the closest pediatrician from a list of doctors that we had received from city hall and walked over with the kids. The appointment was actually fine, and between my few words of Japanese, the doctor's few words of English, and quite a bit of pantomiming, we established that Theo had a middle ear infection. I thought he would prescribe antibiotics and we would head home, but that would have been far too easy. Instead, he felt the need to refer us to an otolaryngologist even though he had already established that Theo had an obvious and uncomplicated ear infection. The children and I found our way to the next doctor who preformed all of the same checks that the pediatrician had and agreed that Theo had a middle ear infection. This time, at least, we were given a prescription of penicillin, acetaminophen, and antihistamine before leaving. When I had picked up the medicine from the pharmacy, I was surprised to find that it was all in powder form in little wax paper pouches. I have never given children medicine like this, since in Canada it is always mixed into a syrup by the pharmacist. After making call to a Japanese friend of mine, I found out that the powder is supposed to be poured into his mouth and washed down with water. The powdered medicine is mixed with sugar, so Theo had no problem taking it whatsoever.

Happily waiting for a CT scan
The next week, we went twice to the hospital that we had been referred to, Okayama National Hospital. One day we had an appointment with a pediatric urologist and the next with a pediatric neurosurgeon, who both spoke excellent English. One of the biggest concerns that I had before coming to Japan was that I wouldn't be able to communicate with Theo's doctors. I really didn't want to become uninvolved and uninformed about his medical condition purely because of the language barrier. I have been really fortunate in finding specialists that are all very easy to understand and communicate with in English. At those appointments, Theo had another ultrasound and a CT scan, both of which he found very exciting. He loves what he calls "doctor machines" and thinks it is pretty cool when he gets a chance to see them in action. Lucky for him, that happens often enough.

I managed to snap this shot before they kicked me out. He
is not drugged, just blinking!
It  took us about an hour and a half one way to reach the hospital from Fukuyama and this made for really long days hauling both kids back and forth. I was pretty proud that I managed to take the right trains and buses, and make all our appointments on time without losing anyone along the way or suffering through too many temper tantrums.

The boys playing in the hospital waiting room
Lastly, William had three appointments this month getting his vaccinations started. As I mentioned in an earlier post, we decided to wait until we arrived in Japan before beginning any vaccinations. After waiting for our health cards to arrive and just plain dilly dallying, I finally decided William's time was at hand. I brought him to the same pediatrician who initially saw Theo about his earache and he referred us to a vaccination clinic. I would really like to know what pediatricians do here other than refer you to doctors that they feel are better qualified to deal with your children's health. Last week, William received his first DPT shot, and on Wednesday he had the first of his Hib and pneumococcal vaccines. Needless to say, we have had a pretty sore and cranky baby for the past few days.

This month has felt very hectic so far and I am hoping that we are done with appointments for at least a few weeks. A little bit of peace on earth would be very welcome in our household over Christmas and New Years!

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