Here’s how it happened: Sunday I woke up about 4 AM extremely congested and coughing. I slept on and off until about 9. I felt bad all of Sunday. Monday I felt horrible, but I still went to school, because I’m an idiot. After my last class my teachers told me to go home. I didn’t argue. I said I may not come in on Tuesday, depending on how I feel. One of my teachers suggested a doctor. Monday night I knew I wasn’t going anywhere the next morning. So I just set my alarm for 8 so I could call off work the next day.
After sleeping several more hours, I set out to find the doctor’s office. I found it but it was very confusing. The staffed seemed to be on a lunch break even though their stated hours said they should be there. Who knows? So I just decided to go to the hospital. After a long and arduous linguistics test (for both me and the nurses) I got a nice surgical mask to wear. In Japan if you are sick you just walk around with a mask on so you don’t infect others. I felt silly. The nurses told me that I was there at an off time so there would be a “price big”. Thinking of American prices I decided to come back. She said come back at 6, but when it became clear that I may have something bad or in my foreigner ignorance not be able to find the place again she decided that now was a good time for me to go. After some more linguistic tests I got to talk to a doctor. He spoke fairly good English (much to my relief). He gave me three meds an antibiotic, something for my nausea, and something for my sore throat. Next I went to the in hospital pharmacy area. They gave my meds, but I didn’t know how many to take them. I couldn’t think of the Japanese words for “morning, afternoon, night” so I said “ohio gazimasu” (good morning) and mimed taking a pill, then I said “konbanwa” (good night) and mimed taking a pill. The nurse said “to lunchi” (and lunch). With more semi-embarrassing miming I got it worked out: take the antibiotic and sore throat med 3 times a day for 5 days (the doc said take the anti-nausea if I am loosing my apatite or desire to consume epic amounts of water). So how much did it all cost me? An emergency room visit and 45 pills cost me $40. JET insurance paid 70%, so the grand total was more around $130. But in the US you pay $130 just to drive by a hospital. Amazing what a semi-nationalized health care system can do to prices.
Unfortunately I am stuck at home until Monday. My doctor was very clear that I should not leave my house unless it is on fire, and even then I should stick around for a while just to make sure it doesn’t go out by itself. I’m trapped here swimming in a plague cloud of my own pestilence. But at least I’ll get better soon.