Pictures: Peter in his hospital gear (sorry, hon, caught you blinking!); my lunch; Peter's lunch.

As most of you know, Peter is currently going through some problems with his adrenal glands. This is actually a recurrence of a problem he had three years ago. After someone has had severe adrenal problems once, ever afterwards their glands are weak. So, taking a special medication every day is necessary to prevent a relapse. However, Peter had some medication issues when we went back to Canada (his original one wasn't available in Canada, and he ended up being allergic to one of the replacements), which is why he now needs some time to recover.

When his adrenal issues resurfaced, we decided along with the doctor to get him tested for a whole bunch of things, just to make sure there were no underlying problems with anything else. It was a fascinating experience, and that is what I'd like to share with you today.

First, we had to choose where we would go for the tests. Hospitals in Japan are not government-owned. They are doctor-owned. As such, each hospital has its own list of specialties. Every hospital does not cover every discipline to some degree, as they do in Canada. So we needed to choose a hospital that covered as many disciplines as possible.

The other consideration was language. My conversational Japanese is now at a point where I can get by, with the help of my dictionary, and make myself understood. However, medical terminology is outside my current capabilities. So, we decided to go to the "Adventist Medical Center". It's well known in our area as being the only hospital that guarantees a doctor in every discipline who has a good knowledge of English. Most of the nurses don't speak English, but at least some of the doctors do.

I called to book Peter an appointment for extensive medical tests, and he was given one for the following week. The fellow who booked the appointment told me that we would receive a package in the mail. It arrived two days later. The package contained instructions on when to show up at the hospital for the tests, and specimen collection tubes for various bodily excretions (to be collected over multiple days).

We showed up the following Wednesday at 7:50 AM. It took us a few minutes to get signed in and register for a few extra tests that the doctor had requested. When we were done, the receptionist directed us towards a lounge area. As a family member, I would spend the entire time in that area.

Peter was soon directed to go into a side room, and change into an outfit that looked an awful lot like pajamas and slippers. He put his regular clothes in the locker, and the staff helpfully provided a locker key on a band to be worn around his wrist. He came back out to wait in the lounge.

As the morning progressed, he would be called into different rooms, coming off of the lounge area like spokes off the hub of a wheel, for various medical tests. They measured his height and weight. They took his specimens, and drew his blood. They tested his eyes. They did CT scans, x-rays, and more. He must have had about 20 tests and scans.

The doctor talked to him about the results that had already come back, and gave him an interim report summarizing them. The remainder of the results would take about a month to get to us. So far, everything apart from his adrenal glands looked normal.

After two and a half hours, they announced that all of Peter's tests were finished.

We were confused. Given the number of tests that had been slated, we had been amazed that the Japanese thought they would be able to get through them all in a day. In Canada, including waiting room time, the same number of tests would have taken at least a week.

Now they were telling us that they were done after less than one morning?

When we booked the appointment, the man had also told me that they would have lunch for us during the test day. How could this be, if Peter was already finished?

Well, it turns out that because fasting is required before some of the tests, the hospital arranges to give its patients food before expecting them to drive home. So we both had lunch.

Because Peter has some food allergies, the hospital chef and a nutritionist consulted with him, and made a custom lunch. I just had the standard one.

It was delicious! Definitely not what we usually think of in relation to hospital food...

We were back at home by noon.