Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Ungainly Angry Gangly Ganglion

I like Japanese doctors so far. If you know me, that's a really big statement.

But here things have been pretty good! And the health care is great! We have Japanese national health insurance, which pays 70% of all medical expenses (at least on our plan... I'm not sure if there are different ones), and our monthly rate is incredibly low because it's based on salary you earned the previous year. In our case, we earned nothing last year in Japan, so we have the lowest rate possible. Next year will be more, unfortunately.

We went to Dr. Oka yesterday, a nice doctor who speaks excellent English and has his own clinic just a short bike ride from our place. You simply walk in, no appointment necessary, and he saw me in 10 minutes. He instantly recognized the bump on my wrist as a ganglion cyst. It's an icky little stinker that I've had for 6 months, but it started hurting in the last 2 weeks and that's no bueno.

We had it removed right then and there. You can either drain it with a needle or surgically remove it. We chose the former because it's fast, easy, relatively painless, and cheap. If it comes back, I'll opt for the surgery, but sincerely hope in the meantime that it never happens.

Note the cute smiling needle. Only in Japan!

He applied a topical anesthetic, waited 5 minutes, sterilized the area, inserted the empty needle, and pulled out quite a bit of strange jelly stuff. Brian and I were talking excitedly about how gross it was, so the doc squirted it out onto a metal tray so we could get a better look. It was perfectly clear with some little bubbles (probably from going in and out of the needle), had no odor, and really just looked like a marble-sized blob of aloe vera gel that you might use after a bad sunburn. I can't believe there was that much in my wrist.

It's a little sore now, but already feels much better and has no evidence that it ever existed except for a tiny little red dot where the needle was inserted. Fun!

*Note: 3 weeks later and it's almost fully back, and the little red dot where the needle was inserted still has a scab. It hurts again too from the pressure on my wrist joint. Not sure if I want to drain it again, get surgery or leave it alone.


  1. I have had one that is kind of a "recurring" one on my left wrist. The bad part is when it starts hurting. My advice is to have it drained when it starts hurting, but otherwise, don't remove it. I have been without it for probably... 5 years now. It just disappeared. And two people in my family had them and had surgery and it is always sore in that are and they have a little concave spot in their arm now which looks ODD. I think the surgery just might not be worth it.

  2. Hrm, thanks for the advice Lorenia! How many times have you had it drained? Cuz it really was the best hospital experience I've ever had, and cheap too, so I wouldn't mind doing it again.

  3. Great to hear that your experience with Dr. Oka went so well medically as well as logistically:-)

  4. I had one of those in jr. high. It eventually just went away and never came back! But it got me out of gym class for a while!

  5. Update: It's totally gone now. We just waited it out and it went away.