I wake up three days ago feeling odd. I lay on my futon on the floor, staring up at the ceiling, wondering what feels off. I check my watch. Typical time, about nine. I roll over and sit up. My stomach feels funny. Must be hungry.
I go into the living area where my host mom and host baby sister have already been awake for three hours. I start a conversation with my host mom, telling her I feel funny. She suggests that I might be sick and that maybe I should put on a mask.
Note: In Japan, when sick or when suffering from allergies, face masks are common. Not only does it help prevent from spreading whatever virus you may be carrying, but the mask makes it so that you, susceptible as you are, to catch something else.
I listen to her carefully as she explains where in the apartment I can find a mask, when the edges of my vision start going black. And then my entire vision is black and my head is light and I realize I'm going to pass out, so I crouch down and lower my head between my knees.
Ah, yes. Being sick is fun. I ended up spending the rest of the day in bed. I would feel nauseous and the world would be sent spinning around me whenever I tried to stand, lost my appetite, and whenever I would eat, I would vomit. Good times you need to know about.
The next day I'm told we're going to the hospital. Host Baby is also sick, and we'd go to a place that takes adults and children. If I didn't know better, I would go straight into panic-mode about money and how serious the word, "hospital," is. But the word "hospital," in Japanese is basically equivalent to a health clinic.
I just googled, "Japanese Hospital," and I got a bunch of pictures about "Japanese hospital robots." I'm sorry to say I didn't run into one of these guys. They apparently help people, though. That's awfully nice of them.
So we go into the clinic and I fill out a form while waiting. I sit and close my eyes, trying not to feel the world churn around me as I wait. About fifteen minutes later, I'm called in to see the doctor.
He remarks that I seem to not be feeling well and we shortly after begin to talk about my symptoms. He checks my heartbeat and then has me lay down and pushes on my stomach a bit, asking me if it hurts when he pushes in certain areas. Finally I sit up and he tells me that my stomach seems to be working too hard but it's okay, there's a medicine for that! I hadn't eaten for over thirty-five hours, so he told me he'd hook me up to an IV for an hour and that I'd be able to start eating again, little by little (since I was starting to feel better on my own, already; that is, I walked into the clinic feeling so-so, but was able to walk into it nonetheless).
The health room where I received the IV was freezing but luckily I got to lay down with blankets, except for my exposed arm, which chilled quietly. By the time it was done, my fingers were ice cold, but I also felt less weak than I had coming in, malnourished.
So I'm about to leave the office and you must be thinking, my God, I can only imagine the bill. Medical expenses are, well, expensive. I'm going to have to take out a loan just because I caught a cold.
1,300 yen. Roughly 15 dollars to see the doctor, get a prescription, and get hooked up to an IV for an hour. Be amazed at the power of an advanced and well-developed medcare system. And my medicine? Only another 2,000 yen or so, around 24 bucks. You jelly, America?
I ended up with four different types of medicine, pills for when my stomach hurts, pills I take twice a day, pills I take three times a day, and also a powdery substance I take three times a day. This powdery substance is disgusting, by the way. Japanese people just take it straight, without mixing it into anything, "because that'd probably make it worse," my host mom said. I try to sprinkle it over my food and trick myself like a dog but it doesn't work. Host Baby has the same powdery medicine, and when host mom gave it to her the first time, her nose scrunched up and her eyebrows bunched together so that her entire face was puckered, and then she started to wave her little arms up and down and making sad whiney noises, like, "No, NO, I don't want this! Noooooo!!" Which pretty much summarizes how it tastes really well. I felt like she was projecting my feelings excellently.
Fortunately I'm better now. I'll be taking these meds another four days or so but I'm feeling better since. I still get tired a little fast if I walk too far or push myself too hard, but that'll pass, I'm sure. Also, being sick gave me an excellent opportunity to read all of Memoirs of a Geisha, which was an AMAZING book. Actually, probably my favorite book I've ever read. Chiyo's wisdom is astonishing, I was actually moved by her writing and her story. I'm going to add it to my favorite's list on my facebook just so you know that I'm serious.
Also started school again today. Screw that.