After getting back from Cambodia, I had a pretty weak stomach. Didn't really feel like eating much, and it came out again pretty fast. Kind of to be expected, I figured.
But then, a few days ago, it started getting worse. Until one morning I couldn't take it anymore and detoured to the hospital on the way to school to do something about my burning insides.
Turns out I had what the doctor called 腸炎, which my dictionary tells me is enteritis. Which still doesn't help me much with any meaning. In fact, I get more sense out of the Japanese, the kanji of which literally read "intestinal flames". Turns out my intestines are swollen and inflamed and it's near impossible to keep any food in there. So, I have been hooked up to an IV to pump nutrients directly into my bloodstream for the last couple of days. I'm at home to rest now, but will go back tomorrow morning.
One thing I've really noticed about the Japanese hospital system, aside from being irritatingly inefficient (there are no appointments, you just turn up and take a number, and wait… and wait… also, everything is so specialised you probably will have to go from one doctor to another, and wait there as well, despite it being in the same hospital…), is the total lack of respect for privacy.
Nurses come out into the waiting room to do preliminary questioning, which means being asked and having to answer all kinds of embarrassing questions in front of hundreds of other people. It's pretty ridiculous. These kinds of questions would normally be asked behind closed doors in any other country I'm aware of. Also, as I was led to my bed today to be hooked up to my IV, I was laid down in a bed right next to some old man who had his pants down around his knees and had his bare ass flashing up at everyone while the nurse must have been off doing something else.
I guess it probably comes down to that whole thing Japanese people are so good at, which is pretending not to notice stuff right in front of you if its inconvenient to do so. People don't like to gete involved in other people's business – there's a very strong "nothing to do with me" feeling around. When I started my job, i was told about my predecessor who was going home along the river one day, and saw a man floating along it facedown, while other people stood on the side of the river and watched. My predecessor pulled him out and saved him from drowning, while the onlookers looked on. They just didn't want to get involved.
Quite often you'll find yourself in a place where you recognise someone who you're sure you know, but they show you absolutely no sign of recognition, and later will pretend like they never even knew you were there. If it's inconvenient to acknowledge a truth at the time, it won't be acknowledged. My friend who has a Japanese wife even got that treatment when he went to visit her at work one day. Perhaps because she didn't want deal with it, she acted as if she'd never even met him before, dealt with him efficiently, and sent him on his way.
So, I guess if you're in a waiting room and the person next to you tells the nurse that they're worried they might have gotten blood in their cuts from the person they killed last night, it's probably in your best interests to pretend you never heard it. Nothing to do with you, after all. 🙂