May 15, 2015

On cabin fever...

I love my house.  I love relaxing and watching TV, but all this occurs under the premise that I can leave it at any time if I need to.  This injury has had me laid up and stuck in my house.  If I become brave and attempt to venture very far, the pain flares up again.  I feel so weak and frustrated but most of all lonely. 

A friend of mine came to visit yesterday, and we ate desserts and sat and talked for hours.  I really miss talking to human people in person not via the internet.

Today's weather is particularly horrible.  It's cloudy and humid, and I'm certain a storm is coming.  I want to run away and leave this stuffy air behind, but I can't run.  I can barely walk.

Yesterday, I was moving much easier, and I had a faint glimmer of hope.  "I'm getting better!" I thought.  Unfortunately, it was just the medicine, and once it wore off, the pain returned.

I feel so...I don't know, so many things.  I just want my life to return to normal.

May 12, 2015


My husband and I celebrated the beginning of my by going to あしかがフラワーパーク (Ashikaga Flower Park). The weather was perfect albeit a little warm and despite fighting hoards of people, I managed to get some good shots.  The wisteria 藤 were in full bloom and absolutely beautiful.  I definitely recommend Ashikaga for a day trip from Tokyo.

May 11, 2015

On going to the hospital in Japan...

You may remember my last post where I talked about not going to the doctor for a cold.  Well, I want you to know it's not because I hate doctors or hospitals.  I know the appropriate time to go to the doctor. 

Yesterday, I left work about thirty minutes early hoping to get home so I could relax and fight off the rest of this cold.  As I was walking down the train station stairs, the heel of my shoe broke off and I tumbled down the stairs.  It was a rather epic fall, but not the good kind.  I was in so much pain.  Two Japanese mothers (the one who saw me fall and another waiting for the train) immediately came to my assistance.  While I was wailing, they asked me if I was okay and if I needed to go to the hospital.  I said I wasn't okay but I didn't need to go to the hospital.  I'll just walk it off, I thought.  I managed to hobble myself to the train platform where I leaned against the wall and immediately broke down again whether due to pain or embarrassment I can't be sure (but probably pain).  While I was again sobbing, an older Japanese woman insisted many times that I go to the hospital.  I still insisted I was okay and got in the train where I continued to weep for 11 minutes until the end of the line.  The girl next to me tried to give me a towel to dry my face, she insisted I take it (and keep it) and I politely refused.  How Japanese of me.  I dragged myself into the elevator still sobbing and another older lady helped me out of the elevator and at that point I just gave up and told them that I needed to go to the hospital.  A mother with a baby strapped to her chest asked me in perfect English what happened and I explained that I fell at another station and needed to go to the hospital.  She was surprised I (foolishly) rode the train.  She and the older woman together got the stationmaster and they put me in a wheelchair.  I profusely thanked the older woman and made certain she got on her way, so she wouldn't trouble herself further over me, and before the lady with the baby left me she said: "They are talking you to the hospital, so don't worry.  You'll be okay."

The stationmaster rolled me up to the street where there was an ambulance waiting.  Now my mom's a nurse, and she always warned us about taking an ambulance to the hospital because the cost to ride in an ambulance in America is outrageous.  Isn't that sad?  You have to worry about money in an emergency situation.  I got in the ambulance but was a bit worried about the cost the whole (short) ride to the hospital.  All the EMTs spoke English and tried to make me feel as comfortable as possible.  It was a weird experience, surreal. 

When I arrived at the hospital, the doctor who spoke a little English, ushered me to have X-Rays.  I received pain medicine and after the x-rays, the doctor said they could find no fracture but they wanted to do a CT scan to check for any other problems.

Meanwhile, I had to wait a really long time for my husband because the doctor wouldn't tell me anything and wanted to explain everything to my husband.  (I assume this was due to his limited English proficiency and my limited Japanese proficiency).

The doctor explained there were no fractures and I got to wear this glamorous half cast:

I was ordered to return the following day for another check of things.  The hospital bill was nothing to mortgage your house over or even cry about.  I'm so glad I live in a country with national health insurance, and I'm also really glad I pay for it.  Aside from the pain, the hospital experience was not very stressful at all.  I could understand what they were telling me to do, and they took very good care of me.

All in all, I'm really not happy that this happened, but I'm glad that the hospital visit was not a difficult experience.

BTW this was my first ride in an ambulance.  Weird that it happened in Japan.  (Well, I guess not considering the cost in America.)

Finally, I'm sorry I'll probably never see these people again, but I am so thankful for all the people who showed care and concern for me and helped me get to a hospital.  Japan is a nation of mothers, and when it all comes down to it, maternal instinct is much much stronger than any fear of foreign people.  I am so thankful for the two mothers who came to my assistance on the stairs.  I'm thankful for the two older women who helped me at the station and I'm thankful for the mother who made sure I got to the hospital.  I am also so thankful for my wonderful husband who came to me at the hospital and made sure I got home safe and that I ate dinner.  I'm truly lucky.

May 8, 2015

Cultural differences: on being sick...

I'm currently sick with what I'm 99% sure is a cold virus.  I have wonderful symptoms like congestion, cough, sore throat and runny nose.  My mom's a nurse so maybe I know better than others that there is no cure for a virus.  You treat the symptoms, get lots of rest, and drink lots of fluids (which also thins that nasty mucus).  This is what I've done practically my whole life every time I've gotten a cold.  I've never gone to the doctor.

This is not the Japanese way, and my husband who is Japanese insists I go to a doctor every time I'm sick.  When Japanese people are sick, they go to the doctor where they are prescribed a short dose of antibiotics.  I thought that most people know that antibiotics are useless when it comes to viruses.  Apparently Japanese people don't think so and this medicine miraculously cures them.  I'm pretty sure it doesn't and that their immune system does all the work.  In addition, Japanese medicine is ridiculously weak.  I've tried going to the doctor in Japan when I have a cold.  They give me antibiotics (every time) and some other weak and thereby useless (for me) medicine.  I find this to be a tremendous waste of time.  Dragging my miserable self to the doctor when I don't want to leave the house.  I find that time better spent on resting and letting my immune system do its job.

Therefore this is a major cultural difference for my husband and me.  I've tried to explain it many times, and he still insists I go to a doctor.  While I appreciate tremendously his care and concern for me, based on experience there's nothing a Japanese doctor can do for me.  I know it's probably best not to self diagnose, but I've had many colds over the years and I know what to do when one appears.

How about you?  Care to share any stories about going to the doctor in Japan or Western versus Japanese doctors?