The Consequences of my Lack of Sleep: Tales from a Japanese Clinic

Monday morning after my Kobe adventure, I was pretty much dead to the world. I slept 10 and a half hours and still felt groggy. Worse still, I had *that* taste in my mouth.

Let me explain. Since I was 13 or 14, I have been prone to sinus infections, particularly when the seasons change and the temperature drops (or rises) significantly. The odds of me getting sick increases exponentially when my body undergoes a surge of relief after a long period of stress. Having been in Nara for four or five weeks now, it was beginning to feel like home, and after last night’s misadventure, I was completely run down. Still, Caroline was coming to visit, so I did my best to look alive even if I didn’t feel it. But the way I can tell if I’m getting sick is actually not a stuffy nose or the itch in my throat. It’s this strangely stale taste in my mouth. Once that happens, I cue the big pot of soup and prepare myself for a disembodied state of mind.

“You look terrible,” she told me.

“I feel terrible.” We went to a crepe cafe, which I enjoyed because of the Earl Gray, did some shopping at Daiso, and worked a bit. She left early. I returned to my apartment… and proceeded to enter a state of zombiehood.

The next day was no better. At the beginning of the work week, I was so completely out of it that I didn’t even feel like I was living the life I was. I was coughing a lot, and I couldn’t breathe. My throat was also getting sore. My coworkers were worried, and so were my students. The assistant manager suggested I go to the hospital, but I didn’t think it was severe enough for that. Nonetheless, I told her I would consider it if I didn’t feel better in the morning.

Wednesday, I felt even worse, so I decided, for the sake of my students, to visit the hospital. Oddly enough, what the Japanese people call a hospital is sometimes not a hospital. Where I went was more of a walk-in clinic. The entire trip took 40 minutes, and the end result was this:

Japanese Pharmacy

How many drugs does it take to cure the common cold? In Japan, OVER 9,000!!!!!1

The doctor there diagnosed me with a common cold (the same one my coworker had) and prescribed me four pills,¬† none of which I know the names of. The one at the left and the one with the blue wrapper were to be taken twice a day with breakfast and dinner. The one at the right was once a day with breakfast. And the nasty looking packet of disgusting white dust was to be taken with liquid at every meal. I could deal with all of the pills since they were small, but that powder… it tastes like the vinyl things my dentist puts in my mouth to take my x-rays. In other words: absolutely disgusting. More than once, I asked my head teacher why, for the love of God and all things Holy, the Japanese could build robots and engineering feats like Sky Tree but couldn’t condense that white powder into an easy-to-swallow pill.

Four medications, seventeen gallons of tea, a plate of level 3 curry from Coco Ichiban, and one week later, I finally felt like a human being again, and there is nothing that feels quite so good as that.