Posted by: wesleysensei | October 16, 2008

Visiting the Clinic: Long Lines and Funny Drugs

I’m not sure what the deal is but I’m sick again. I woke up this morning with my usual stuffy nose but today it was accompanied by a sore throat. The entire left side of my throat was being attacked by post nasal drainage and my body was trying to help out. I figured the throat problem would fade away in the same way my congestion normally goes away by about 9 am. Not today.

I had to go to the yakuba (Town Hall) to pick up some things from my supervisor and immediately he could tell I was sick. Ever so concerned with my condition he asked if I was taking “sick pills.” My response was no because I have been unable–grant it I haven’t looked yet–to find a drug store. He drew a map for me and told me to go to this store for the medicine. He was even nice enough to call the place ahead of time and give me the proper Japanese to explain my symptoms.

What I didn’t realize was that he was sending me not to a drugstore like CVS or something but rather a doctor’s clinic. Here in Japan, workers are automatically enrolled in the semi-socialized Medicare system. I believe the nation pays for 60% and you pay the remaining 40%. In any event, I showed up to this place and knew I was in for a long wait. After a thirty minute plus wait I was called and taken to a room in the back. The doctor depressed my tongue for all of 1 second and then pressed the stethoscope on my chest and back for about the same time. He said something and then “three times a day” so I figured he meant the medicine.

I went back to the reception desk and paid the bill and got my prescription. At which point, the receptionist was nice enough to walk me to the pharmacy because I couldn’t understand what she was saying; I felt bad that she stopped working for me but I was thankful for her sympathy. At the pharmacy I sat in line for another 30 minutes this time with a group of old Japanese women gossiping away; that I must say was enjoyable to witness. I heard my name called and went to the counter. After giving my phone number and address I was given three different types of medicine.

The first was for my cold symptoms. You know “snowman poop” that is sometimes given as a joke around Christmas? Essentially it is just the packing peanuts that look like white cheezy poofs. Now, imagine those but only hundreds of tiny ones. That was the cold medicine. The instructions I received from my JTE were to pour the packed into my mouth and then drink water. Meh. I needed something to help the medicine go down. The second packet was a fever reducer for….my non-existent fever. The third packet, however, was an antibiotic but was at least in pill form. The pharmacist didn’t say what it was for and my JTE wasn’t sure either. She did inform me that it was strong stuff and apparently pregnant woman are not supposed to use it. Let’s just say I have not tried the third packet yet.

And so, as I sit here typing this blog I have a pile of tissues in front of me and have stopped many times to sip on some OJ. I just took the mini-snowman poop stuff so hopefully that will help. If I’m not better by tomorrow I think I’ll try the extra strength; I HAVE to be better by Saturday night for the ridiculous, raucous rave that is: Ganban Night 08 ( )
In other news, there has been a development since the “How to Become the Most Unpopular Teacher” post. The student I took the note from has gradually become less resentful. It started with eye contact, then an occasional wave, until finally today–totally unprompted–she got my attention and said “Goodbye” with a smile on her face.

A good friend of mine mentioned the tone of the blog has become less upbeat, but I want to assure you that I’m still loving it here in Osato. The “honeymoon” period may be coming to an end but I’m still overly optimistic and enjoying the experience.



  1. dang, from the link you gave, ganban night seems tight. You weren’t joking when you called it a “ridiculous, raucous rave”

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