Throwing up & Building Relationships (The Hospital, Part 1)

Well it’s been over a year now and I think it’s time this experience saw some daylight.

Last August, about two and a half weeks after I came to Japan, Aaron flew over just in time for me to get sick. Really sick.

Of course, when I first felt the pain deep in my lower right abdomen, I thought it was the usual ovarian cyst bursting or something of the sort. So I ignored it.

Two days later, Aaron, Teresa, and I were invited over to one of my JTE’s house for dinner, and even though it felt like someone was slowly twisting a red hot poker into my gut while simultaneously dripping acid onto my  surrounding organs, I decided to go.

Well, that was obviously a mistake as I spent half of the dinner curled up in a ball in their bathroom, and the rest of it crying on a futon in their living room. After everyone realized what was going on (I had snuck out from dinner without telling anyone I felt sick) they decided the best course of action was to take me to the emergency room.

Fortunately someone thought to bring a plastic bag because I threw up a couple times in the back seat on the way to the hospital. Great way to meet a new colleague, eh? Breaking down walls and building relationships the quickest way.

At the hospital, I was rushed into the ER where we tried to explain my problems to my JTE and hoped she could translate. The doctors then had me changed and sent in for an x-ray.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to stand so well, so it took them a few tries to push my chest up against the machine to get a clear view. Once they had me set in a passable position, I hugged the machine and promptly threw up over the back side of it. And then twice more. I vaguely remember saying I was going to throw up beforehand and, miraculously, someone caught all of it at the last second in what I think was an instrument tray. I hadn’t even known anyone was still in the room with me.

And then it was the waiting game. Everyone sat against a wall in a white room filled with medicines and needles, while I writhed in pain on a bed towards the center of the room begging for some sort of pain killer. Which they denied. Multiple times. Looking back, it might have been because they didn’t know how I would react or… something. I don’t know. But I repeatedly cried for pain killers until they injected me with something.

It was the weirdest thing ever. Maybe they just wanted me to shut up, I don’t know, but it definitely was not a pain killer. More like a pain distraction. All of my pain was still there, but my extremities and throat got warm, my peripherals went absolutely bonkers, and I could have sworn someone was massaging my eyeballs. I did sit still then so, good work doctors.

The next day everyone was called back to the hospital to discuss what the doctors had found. I was wheeled to the door of a meeting room where I then had to hunch-waddle my way around my two highest ranking superiors. All while wearing a t-shirt and shorts (that I had sweat through multiple times), no bra, no brushed teeth or deodorant, and no brushed hair or make up. I mentally cringe every time I think about it.

It wasn’t actually that bad in the moment. At the time, I was just focused on keeping my body out of the fetal position. My bosses were super sweet as well. They explained that they had come because they knew it must be scary for me being in Japan and since my parents weren’t there, they wanted to assume that role.

These two grown men then sat through a meeting of pure woman body talk gripping their knees and nodding vigorously to say they understood what the doctor had said. I think they were in way over their heads.

Anyway, the doctor wasn’t sure what was going on, but one thing they did know was that my right Fallopian tube was swollen and seemed to be full of blood. They didn’t know what was causing it but they thought there was either a bad infection or that one of my veins had somehow wrapped around my Fallopian tube. They decided to put me on antibiotics. They hoped it would get better soon but if not, I would have to be taken to the mainland by helicopter.

Over the course of that Saturday and Sunday, I began to feel better and much more energetic. My stomach was quite swollen (almost looked a little preggo), but things were looking up. Minus the fact that I couldn’t eat.

I thought it was because I was in Japan and I wasn’t used to the food yet, but even bananas tasted awful. I would get trays of food and leave them almost untouched. It got to the point where the nurses began bringing me bread instead of rice. It still didn’t work.

Yet, somehow I was convinced I was getting better. My heart still thundered in my ears constantly, but I had definitely been in worse condition and was ready to go home. I was further convinced of this when the doctors finally said I could take a shower.

Now, one thing I haven’t mentioned is that on Oki, the one hospital that we have doesn’t provide towels, toothbrushes, chopsticks, or even a hospital gown. Yes, that’s right. When someone is admitted to the hospital, they need to bring all of this on their own, or hope someone else will. Fortunately, I had Aaron. Unfortunately, I had run out of shorts for that day and Aaron had yet to show up.

Not wanting to take a shower and change back into dirty clothes, I tried to explain my thoughts to my nurse. I failed. Miserably.

Forgetting that “pantsu” does not mean “pants” in English (though it really ought to), I repeatedly told the nurse that I couldn’t possibly shower because I didn’t have any “pantsu” to change into. Once the nurse finally understood, she made a strange, slightly panicked look, motioned for me to wait, and ran off.

This is where I mention that “pantsu” in Japanese actually means “underwear”. And not “pants” like it should. Why, Japan? Why?

Guess what the nurse brought back for me? Yes, that’s right. A giant, adult diaper.

I, of course, didn’t realize that “pantsu” meant “underwear”, and so I thought she had brought that back for me to wear in exchange of a pair of pants. I had an awful image of me puttering through the hallways, hunched over like an old lady, in nothing but an old T-shirt and a very reinforced, fluffy diaper.

That’s where I lost it and began spewing broken Japanese, English, gibberish, anything to get that giant booty trap away from me. Whether the nurse realized my translation mistake or not, she definitely understood that I would not be wearing what she was offering.

And then- you know what, I don’t feel like writing anymore today. End of part one.

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