Sick in Japan

It is unfortunate that the “Sick in Japan” post has to come before the birthday weekend post… But with that said, I am grateful to be at a place in my life and in a country where I can afford healthcare. At the moment, I am stock-piling tissues and I can’t even smell Vicks VapoRub, so that’s how much my nose hates me right now. I have also spent the majority of the last two days in bed, feeling lazy, but oh-so-lacking in energy. And so begins the saga of getting sick in Japan!

Monday morning was a national holiday (Respect for the Aged Day) and I was still in Tokyo on my long weekend vacation. I woke up with a pretty bad sore throat and tried my best to get on with things throughout the day. I got back on the shinkansen train to go home and could barely enjoy the ride as I was feeling ill, kind of like the beginnings of a fever. I arrived home around 11:30pm on Monday and went straight to bed.

I woke up feeling pretty bad, but I’d felt worse and still gone to work, so… I asked my friend for a ride to work in her car. It was raining cats and dogs and I was pretty sure if I rode the bus or walked, I would get sicker. I was so very grateful for the ride, since our workplaces are right next to one another. Throughout the day, I began to feel worse and worse. I made it to lunchtime, but after that I was so miserable and feverish that I wanted to cry. I had the chills like you wouldn’t believe. I texted my friend and asked her for a ride home at 4:15pm when work was over, but she asked me if I wanted to go to the doctor. I couldn’t say no.

Oh hey, look: My fingernails turn purple when I get the chills. Blah.


On the way to the clinic, every time I moved my head, it hurt. I just wanted to curl up in my bed and be unconscious. We walked in there and I presented them with my shiny new Japanese national health insurance card. They took down my info and gave me a thermometer to check my temperature. You have to sit down in the waiting room with everyone else and stick it under your armpit yourself. It was 38.2/100.8, yikes! For me, who has a low body temperature anyways, that is pretty high. The nurse saw me, took my blood pressure, and checked me out. Pretty similar to how it goes in the states, except there was no private room. You enter another common room with all the nurses and sometimes other patients if they are busy.

They told me to wait to see the doctor outside of the common room. I waited there with my friend and I could feel myself get worse. I asked to take my temperature again and sure enough, it had risen to 38.5/101.3. My fever was rising fast. It took a while to see the actual doctor, an elderly Japanese man. He examined me and prescribed a bunch of medicine. They had me take some fever-reducing medicine right then and there to get the fever down.

Then they told me that they wanted to give me an IV. I was like, “Hey, sure! I’ll do anything if it means I get to lie down and rest somewhere!” So I then went back into the common room where other nurses were seeing other patients and they told me to lie down on a bed-thing off to the side. Again, no private area or curtains or anything. I apologized to the nurse for my miniscule veins and after some preparation, she got it in the first time! She was really good. I laid there for a while until all the liquid was gone.

This is the sheet of all the medicine they gave me! Wowza!


And here is something I have never seen before. Medicines 1-4 are  pre-packaged in little things like this:


Weird, huh? But it is very convenient and cuts down on packaging/bottles.

Oh, and here is the kicker: The whole visit, plus all that medicine, cost me a grand total of 1900 yen (about $25). Can we say sweet??

After the doctor’s visit, my friend took me to the supermarket so I could get some food. I could feel my fever start to break at that point, walking around the store. Made me kinda dizzy, so we got back to her apartment and her very comfortable couch. I made my soup (happy just-add-water pumpkin soup!) and settled down to watch Dreamgirls.


My supervisor texted me to ask me how I was doing, but I had fallen asleep. He called my friend instead and she told him the whole story. I guess she told him that I was pretty bad, because he was really concerned and suggested that I take two sick days. I couldn’t complain. I knew I needed the rest.

That night I slept pretty hard. I woke up once in the middle of the night, but then I slept until 7:45am. Whoops. Guess I really wasn’t going to work. My supervisor took care of everything for me and arranged for my sick leave. I owe him a lot for taking care of things, but… that is not all he did.

He also showed up at my door with gifts of medicine, mochi, and fruit! I was astounded, since fruit is pretty expensive here and so is medicine. I was overwhelmed at his generosity…




I  have had little energy to do much but lie in bed and watch television shows on my computer. This morning I got up at 6am and had to take a nap at 9am since I was still so tired. Over my sick days I have watched various episodes of:

– America’s Next Top Model (TV)
– Australia’s Next Top Model (TV)
– Project Runway (TV)
– Project Runway Australia (TV)
– Necessary Roughness (TV)
– Top Chef: Just Desserts
– Britain’s Youngest Caretaker (Documentary)
– No. 6 (Anime)
– Game of Thrones (TV)
– Dexter (TV)

Keeping myself entertained. I went for a walk to the grocery store this afternoon and it was cold and windy, so that was enough for me. The gunk seems to have moved to my chest now, so I have a lovely cough.

I had to decline a road-trip to Tokyo with my friends this weekend because of being sick, but.. I told them to call me if they ever needed help finding a place or recommendations. And I was happy that they did call tonight! They were in Harajuku and needed someplace to eat. I am happy to have been able to help somewhat, but I wish I was there.

I am feeling a million times better than Tuesday or Wednesday, and I am grateful for the time off to get better quickly. However, I am supposed to run a 10k on October 2nd and this is kind of putting a major kink in my training. Darn!


3 Comments to “Sick in Japan”

  1. Glad you’re feeling better hun! Take care! *kisses*

  2. Take care of yourself! I’m glad your supervisor let you take some days off. Get lots of rest, drink lots of fluids, etc. <3

  3. Stacy, this is Itzel take care of yourself. I know what you mean when you talk about tiny veins. I have the same issue. They are not only tiny, but they move a lot. :-) I’m enjoying the blog. Keep writing

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