Wednesday, 28 October 2009

okayu and dentists

Okayu, or congee in Cantonese, is a rice porridge that is quite common breakfast fare in southern China and commonly eaten when people are ill and unable to digest easily.
This has been the week of okayu. Okayu for breakfast, okayu for dinner.

Fortunately the rice cooker has an okayu setting and with the appropriate amount of rice and water, as determined by the measure on the side of the rice cooker. Overnight the rice cooker turns itself on and the rice and water added the night before will be okayu in the morning.

Why okayu? No stomach ailments, intsead Hiro's interminable visits to the dentist have resulted in 'no chew' food. Simmered pumpkin, tofu, simmered sweet potato, pumpkin and tofu, finely chopped spinach, mince, pudding, simmered eggplant.... It's very tedious, made more so by the fact that I broke the part of the blender that gets used for mincing food when I put a piece of lamb in it a couple of years back. (with the other attachments working it seems like a pity to replace it when usually we can chew food....)

Hiro's dentist, who was recommended by a colleague and is vastly better than the previous dentist who put his bite out of alignment, decided as part of the fixing process part of a tooth would need to be removed exposing the nerve. My common sense would say that this should be covered... but the dentist has a different common sense, not to mention an apparent sadism more suited to the darker chapters of WWII. Hiro went back yesterday - a week later - to have it covered over. But wait, it would be too simple if that fixed it. It is a temporary cover and he needs to go back in a week and a half to get a permanent cover. There is no such thing as a single trip to the dentist. Usually it will require at very best 2 visits but often 4. A couple of years ago Hiro spent 12 Saturdays in a row at the dentist.

Part of the problem seems to be that the insurance system only pays for x minutes of treatment in one go (rather than a set amount per procedure). This has Japanese people in the habit of multiple visits. So a second problem results - dentists milking the system for all it is worth - because they can and there is no incentive for them to finish a patients treatment quickly. Which the law of supply and demand might suggest would be fixed with people going to doctors who were quick and efficient, but that doesn't happen - in part because people are used to long treatments and don't know any better - and partly because most dental universities entry is by payment rather than by academic merit (I suspect strongly that exit may be the same, even though there are supposed to be standardised exams at the end of the course.) The technical skill of dentists seems very low compared with Australia. This does not seem to be the case for doctors - doctors here get flack from foreigners for feeling afronted if they are asked questions and poor bedside manner, but not really for technical skill.

It is very rare to find someone with a good word to say about a dental experience.... sigh...