No post for the last few days, because I’ve been too busy trying to keep my head from exploding.
It’s hard work.
I felt a bit like death warmed up this morning, only not quite so chipper. So I called in sick again, and decided to go to the hospital next to the school because I was getting a lot of rather strong suggestions to “go get it checked out.”
I thought it was just a cliche that Japanese people went to the doctor for minor colds. Nope. They actively encourage everyone to go, even for a cold. I’m not sure where this comes from. It’s a cold. I know it’s a cold. It’s a lousy cold, but it’s just a cold. There isn’t anything that the doctor can do for me. I know that, he knows that.
But I’m still going, because there’s this strong pressure I’m feeling from all of my teachers.
Also, if I miss more than two days of class, I need some kind of doctor’s note for the absences to be officially excused, in case I want to ever get a student visa. (Not that I do, I just don’t want to close any doors inadvertently.)
So I got on my bicycle, and headed down to the hospital.
Really, I thought this was a bad idea the whole time. Bicycling, in fall, with a cold. Sounds like a lovely recipe for pneumonia.
The Okazaki Hospital Shuffle
Since I’ve already done the whole Japanese hospital thing once before, I figured I would have some advantage, and I did, kind of. The hospital here, however, doesn’t really have as much in the way of English language help, so I was really on my own. Fortunately I’ve been using a lot of Japanese lately, and I had my electronic dictionary with me, so I didn’t have too much trouble getting through the forms.
One thing that saved me was having my address written in Japanese with me. I keep that on me at all times.
Really, the most difficult part was the waiting.
And understanding what everyone was saying.
And understanding what I was supposed to do.
When they told me to go into the exam area, I thought I was supposed to go into a room, so I accidentally walked in on someone. Oops. I didn’t know I was supposed to go from sitting on bench #2 to sitting on bench #3, like I did at Westminster.
Well, I know that now.
I finally got to meet the doctor, and in a mix of so-so English and Japanese, I communicated the problem, and he communicated that I had a cold…. which I already knew.
Then he pulled out a folder full of pictures of pills, rapidly pointed to five or six of them, summarily told me what they were, and what they would do, and sent me on my merry way in under 5 minutes.
The exam was basically taking my temperature (they do it under the arm– eww), and looking at my throat (yep, it’s a throat). That was it. Oh, and the pill pointing. Then it was just a shove out the door to wait for the real pills.
Why did I even bother? I can be sick at home and just rest and not bother with bicycling down here and sitting around more sick people.
I did get one useful thing out of this trip. I learned how to use my digital TV remote.
While I was waiting to see the doctor, they had a really useful show on the TV at the hospital. It was some of the most useful TV I’ve seen in a while.
It was a show all about how to use the new digital remote controls for Japanese TV.
In Japan, there’s not only HDTV, there’s enhanced HDTV with data.
Say I’m watching NHK-G, for example. (That’s the local over-the-air NHK channel.) I want to know what the weather’s going to be like, but I can’t be bothered to walk 5 feet to my computer, I’d have to lean over to grab my cell phone, and don’t even ask me to open a window or a door.
That’s no good.
If I press the “d” button on my remote, up pops a digital TV menu surrounding the current program. (The TV program shrinks into a little box. I can still watch! Yes!)
Now, using those mystery red, green, yellow, and blue buttons you see on a lot of remotes these days, I can navigate through the menus to find the weather report, or latest earthquake news, or whatever.
If I know the Japanese for it all. Hey, that learnin’ is coming in handy!
If I hook the TV up to the Internet, I can get even more info, but that involves buying more Ethernet cables. No thanks.
I was glad to at least get this info. This will save a lot of time, and it solves the mystery of the red, green, yellow, and blue buttons I keep seeing all over the place on remotes, even in the U.S.
Anyway, I got my sack of mystery pills, and headed home to look them up. I wanted to see what he saddled me with.
For starters, there was an antibiotic that failed to get approval in the EU, and was withdrawn from the US. Fun. Then an antihistamine and something that vaguely resembles ibuprofen, but isn’t. Then something like Axid and another stomach medicine, because all of the pills will apparently kill my stomach. And, of course, and iodine gargle.
I didn’t take any of them.
Well, I took one of the antibiotics… but stopped. It just didn’t feel right.
I don’t get the whole idea of going to the doctor when you’ve got a cold. Just stay home, rest, push fluids, push vitamin C, get some chicken soup and other hot comfort foods, gargle ice water if your throat hurts and take plenty of anti-inflammatories. That’s the advice I got from my M.D. years ago, and I can’t find anything that works any better. Eating chilled oranges works pretty well, too. Cold meds if you need them.
Antibiotics are only good if you have a real infection going on. Not a viral one, a bacterial one that’s trying to eat part of your insides. A cold is just a virus. There’s nothing you can do about it. Just take some meds to relieve the symptoms, and watch whatever goes for “The Price Is Right” here.
On the way back home, I stopped by Domy (the grocery store) to pick up a few things, most importantly, some masks, so i don’t spread my disease to my classmates tomorrow.