Please, whatever you do, do not get seriously ill in Japan. Should you realize one day that you are not feeling quite up to par, you will not receive any real help from the doctors here in Japan. They will either tell you that you are not ill at all, or that you are deathly ill. I say this from personal experience as well as many, many stories from friends.
So on Wednesday, I woke up feeling like a train had just run itself right through my body. Overnight I had suddenly developed a pounding headache, constant chills that I could feel down to my bone marrow, aches in every muscle, joint, and bone, a cough that refused to stop once it got rolling, a sore throat, the strength of a dead snail, and the sensation that an ogre was taking tap dance lessons on my chest. So Thursday, when this persisted, I headed over to the clinic. The doctor then did their usual checkup-y routine on me, and did some chit-chattering. Then she pulled out a very long stick, a little less than a foot in length, with a swab on the very tip of it, and said “鼻” (“hana”) which means “nose,” and shoved that stick so far up my nose that I was leaning backward and twitching before I even knew what was going on. She kept at it, swabbing mercilessly for about five full seconds, as I tried to keep from falling backward off my chair. Finally she took out the swab, tested it, and told me that I had Type A Influenza.
The nurse/assistant lady brought in a box of medication and after a very long and, from what I could tell, concerning, conversation with the doctor, she told me “well, we want you to take this medication… and, well… a lot of people take it, and it’s really good… but, well… it’s one of the most effective medications, but… well, it might… make you go crazy.”
My eyes widened and I moved to reject the offer, but she went on to explain to me that it’s a very rare case, and the cases they do have of people jumping from buildings has only been in teens, and are very few. I was a bit too tired to argue much, so they housed me in a sectioned off room with a bed, made me get in the bed and pull the covers over me, and gave me a bottle of special mineral/vitamin/electrolyte water that tasted like sweat. They then called my dormitory with instructions to make me a room on the first floor, put me in there, and not let me back out until two days after my fever had broken. Then they came back into the room and gave me my suicide medicine along with a cough medicine, a decongestant, and prescribed throat lozenges (though I told them I already had throat lozenges). They wouldn’t let me leave the room until 4:30, when Chikosan, the dorm parent of Global House, would be available to put me into my makeshift room.
So, when 4:30 rolled around, I headed back to my dorm with a bag chock full of instructions, medications, and ice packs, and was escorted straight into Washitsu (Washitsu is a room in our lounge that is Japanese style) where my bed (mattress and all) had been pulled down from my room and set up in the middle of the floor with my blankets, pillows, stuffed animals, and my computer.
And there I stayed and slept for two days. Finally I needed to do homework and realized I couldn’t get internet in the room for the life of me, and since my fever had broken I was allowed to return to my room, but it wasn’t a fantastic experience overall. Chikosan did bring me some food at times, and so did a few of my friends, but I felt like a caged animal.
I was told that every year at least one person ends up getting quarantined like that, but that usually they get to stay in one of the tutor bedrooms (there is one single room on each floor with a livingroom, kitchen, bathroom, etc, and just one bedroom, as opposed to the way my unit is set up, with four bedrooms, and the tutors that live there stay in those rooms) but right now they are all being used.
I’ve stopped taking my medication because the amount they gave me made me feel so high that I couldn’t concentrate on anything productive for more than a few seconds, but I am back to normal. I am well, awake, and… well I wouldn’t say concentrating… but that’s a different story.
So now I just need to chug through the rest of Winter quarter as I had planned before, and then I will be free for a month!
The weather is clearing up, the temperatures are raising, and I am just thrilled to be able to look out my window every morning and see what beautiful days Japan has been bringing me.
I will be posting again soon. Until then, matta ne!