Rear cures

Nov. 1st, 2011 04:08 pm
pergamond: ([Toy Story] Buzz // wibble)
Suppositories are my new crack.

I was lying in bed, gazing at the waxy bullet shaped tablet that was bathed in morning light on the counter top. Magic.

It hadn't been the best of nights, can you tell? I had to admit, exploration of the Japanese health system would have been rather more fun if it hadn't required certain sacrifices on my part. Like being horribly sick.

The headache had started in the early evening. Since I'm prone to such nasties, I took the opportunity to blame my communication class, swallowed an analgesic and didn't think much of it until I headed home about 8 pm. By the time I was half way across campus and had accosted two lampposts, I was forced to acknowledge I had a problem. At 9 pm, I started an indepth conversation with my toilet. At 11 pm, I called my parents because I firmly believed in their power to do something magic from 5500 miles away. They had the rather more practical suggestion of asking a friend to sit with me for the next few hours. I phoned one of my work friends who appeared and took one look at my face before calling for reinforcements in the form of a second friend. So began an extremely long night.

The problem was I knew this was just a migraine. An incredibly bad migraine that made me fantasize about drilling a hole in my skull, but not one that was going to cause my sudden exit from this mortal coil. By the time we reached midnight, this last fact was nothing but disappointing.

I had previously had three headaches on this scale, two of which landed me in hospital, once in the UK and once in the USA. The first time had sent everyone into a whirl of excitement involving cat scans and suggest spinal taps before I persuaded my parents to organise a break out. The second time, I'd been left in a room to die, optimistically because it was deemed unlikely since I had been sick before. The third time, I'd been in Tokyo with no mobile phone and so had just spent the night rolling around on the floor and trying not to wake the neighbours with my muffled screams.

All of this had led me to the conclusion that hospitals either did nothing or they locked you up for days and threatened terrible tortures. Then there was the fact that I didn't understand how the Japanese health system worked.

Japan has social health care, but unlike Canada or the UK, the Government only pays 70% of your bill. Judging from some of the prices I'd seen in the USA, the remaining 30% had the potential to still be a hefty sum. Add to that the fact my health card was in my office and I had no credit card to put down for a bill, I was anxious about going to a hospital when I was pretty confident I would live to deal with the financial consequences.

So I opted for the cycle of drawn out discussions with my lavatory followed by fifteen minute intervals frozen in my bed. My bed, incidentally, is the only furniture in my apartment. This meant my poor, faithful, uncomplaining friends were on the floor. They tried to get water into me, rubbed my back as I vomited and tucked me up when I was done.

Rinse, repeat.

At 2 am, I was no worse but no better. I agreed we should call for a taxi.

The hospital my friends were familiar with was in the southern part of the city. I was cuddled in the back while I sobbed and the taxi driver attempted the smoothest journey possible, undoubtedly fearing for his upholstery. We reached a brightly lit building and were bowed inside by the waiting doorman.

It looked nothing like the emergency rooms I had seen in the UK or America. For one, it was quiet and only a few people were about. The room looked more like an airport lounge than a medical waiting area. At one end, there was a wooden reception desk and at the other, a door through to the consultation rooms.

I was seen almost immediately by a nurse who took my details, my friend translating as we went along. Either side of me were two small boys, both crying quietly. One had a bandage on his forehead, the other was complaining of a headache. It was clearly a bad night for heads in Sapporo. Shortly afterwards I was seen by a doctor who took another set of notes and prescribed a suppository for the pain and a IV drip for the nausea and dehydration.

The great thing about a suppository is that it's fast acting and you can't bring it up. The worst thing is ... well, I think that's obvious. I'd been led off to a quiet ward and the nurse drew the curtains around my bed, indicating that I should turn on my side and...

... let's just say she was an expert and all I managed was a surprised squeak much to my friend's amusement.

"No 1... 2... 3...?" she asked when the curtains were pulled back.
 
The IV drip was less successful. Try as she might, the nurse couldn't get the needle to sit in my vein. I am not a fan of needles and a certain level of mental reserve is needed for me to deal well with them. Currently, we had no mental reserves. None. This was somewhat balanced by me being too weak to conduct a good getaway, but my veins had disappeared into hiding. The nurse put this down to dehydration and I was able to weakly agree that this was certainly the reason and not my fault at all. My punishment was to be a wicked bruise on my arm the next morning.

The suppository though was doing its job. Within about 20 minutes I was feeling a lot better. The pain was easing and with it the sickness. I started drinking water like a champ. An hour later I was discharged. Wobbly and sore, but considerably better.

"You look pink," one of my friends told me. "When I first saw you, you were blue!"

Anxiously, I approached the reception desk to be told that I had to pay the full amount now, since I didn't have my health card, but I could claim it back later. They put the bill in front of me: 9,500 yen, or about $100. I handed over the cash. Best $100 I spent this month. I even got medicine for the next few days, should I need it.

"If there is a next time," I told my friends. "Don't take any crap from me. We're going to the hospital earlier."

"I learnt two new English words today," one of my friends remarked cheerfully as we got into a taxi. "Drip and suppository."

Apparently, everyone got something out of this visit.

The next morning I took my second suppository. It's not really the sort of thing you want lying around on the kitchen counter.
pergamond: ([xkcd] Canada)
The zombies were advancing. I planted a pea shooter which smacked the head off the nearest advancing brain eater. Six more were behind it, some with protective cones and buckets over their decaying heads. Swiftly, I slammed down an evil looking chilli plant which exploded to leave blinking columns of ash in its wake. The final wave was on the march and ....

... was rudely interrupted by the sound of bawling in my left ear.

I looked up from my iPhone. Seriously, kid, I get you're sick, but scream any more and I'll destroy your brains myself. Possibly Saturday afternoon was not the best of times to go to the walk-in health clinic[*]. I sighed and flicked out of the 'Plants vs Zombies' game on my phone to check the time. In truth, I wasn't sick --although that might be about to change given the state of people I was sitting beside-- but I wanted a prescription for ...

Look, I should probably mention now that this post might be too-much-information for some of you here. Just sayin'

... for the pill. This was to be the first time I'd seen a doctor in Canada and I'd taken great satisfaction in passing over my socialised medicine card, rather than my visa, when I walked through the door. Glee at that had gotten me through the first half hour, 'Plants vs Zombies' through the second and now .... now I was remembering I didn't like kids. All the more reason to get the pill.

"Elizabeth?"

W00t. We were rolling. I stuffed my phone into my pocket and followed the nurse out of the waiting room. The first step transpired to be a standard pregnancy test; the urine sample pots for this were in the washroom, the pen for labelling them afterwards was on the desk beside which was the counter where the sample should be left and after doing so, I should return to the consultation room. Then the nurse was gone in a whisk of crazy-time-at-the-clinic efficiency. I uncrossed my eyes and went into the single washroom to discover...

I really can't piss on demand.

I'd like to point out that the whole business of aiming into a small container is hard for a woman too. Possibly it was stress at this that caused my bladder to become drier than the Sahara desert. After what seemed like an obscene amount of time both for me and the mother of the crying boy outside who had seemingly decided that his rear-end needed to run as well as his nose, I managed something that I hoped would be sufficient.

Returning to the consultation room, I tried to remember whether I was told to keep the door open or closed. Fortunately, my choice (closed) worked and a doctor appeared. I showed him the brand of pill I used to take and he promptly whisked out a prescription pad. Gratuitously quick but ...

"I actually don't want the pill for contraception," I injected hurriedly, before he dashed out as quickly as he came in. "I want it because I get a ton of pain every month that's been getting worse since I came off the pill last year."

"Understandable." The doctor pulled off the top layer of his pad.

Understandable .... and .... worrying?

"Um. Should I be concerned?"

"Well, it could be due to a variety of things." This statement was followed by a reel of conditions that all sounded faintly life threatening.

".... Uh." What does one even say to that?!

"We could do blood works, an ultra-sound and then refer you to a specialist if that doesn't show the problem." The doctor continued when it appeared more input from him was necessary.

"..... Should we?"

I really didn't feel this was my call. I mean, I also wanted out of here and on the road but I didn't want to die horribly and prematurely either. I felt this was not an unreasonable standpoint.

"I used to have problems when I was in my teens." I volunteered the snippet of medical history, even though no one seemed interested. "But the pill sorted them out. I'd rather go back on the pill and forget all about it, but I don't want to cover up a more serious problem by doing so."

"Well, if the pill cures it, then it's probably nothing serious." The doctor concluded. He passed me the prescription. "If it doesn't, come back." He walked to the door. "And get a PAP done."

The door closed. I saluted it. If I have to come back, I'm totally going mid-week or finding a family doctor with appointments. Leaving the clinic, I set off at a brisk jog back home. It was necessary; I was desperate for the toilet.


--
[*] The reason for the long line; I didn't have an appointment.
pergamond: (Eiji Inui Juice)
... is not a tasty delicious snack for all the family. In fact, I'm going to come right out and say it's not good.

This website has the following helpful tips on the subject:

"Most people who drink spoiled milk will immediately identify the "off" taste and spit out the milk. But young children astrophysicists who may not know better but think is doesn't matter may drink the milk [......] do not ingest it as you normally would."

I would actually go as far to suggest that you should not ingest it AT ALL, even supposing you had a surprising way of doing so. For the record, the milk being strawberry and drinking it from a straw makes NO DIFFERENCE. None. Note this.

On a related topic, I'm sure this gives me a valid reason to buy an iPad. Before this morning's .... incident .... the real reason I desired one was so I could surf the internet during talks. This was a damn good idea BAD REASON. But seriously, if you have to spend that long in the restroom, you might as well stay up-to-date with your email. It'd be great for the next time I do this.

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