Monday, January 31, 2005

When in Rome, don’t eat sushi.

I am recovering from a close brush with an unpleasant and painful death. OK so it wasn’t that close but it could have been, you know, if it wasn’t for modern medicine and all. Let me explain.

Believe it or not, the giant French hypermarket chain “Carrefour” has tentacles all over the globe, including a store in Osaka, where every Sunday, a selection of fresh imported produce is available, including many types of cheese, paté de foi gras, and other luxuries. Now I am not necessarily blaming the blue cheese for certain, but a day after consuming it, both I and a fellow blue cheese eater were struck down with a fever, which at first I mistook for the `flu (which I also got). After a few days though the fever came back, my tongue started feeling really sore, and it was very painful to eat and drink. Considering that my friend had just been pumped full of antibiotics after getting acute tonsillitis which stopped her from eating and drinking totally, this was slightly alarming. It was also complicated by the fact that I was due to go to Tokyo for a three-day orientation session the next week. So with the help of someone to translate, I decided to brave the Japanese health system.

It appeared that people don’t get ill on Sundays in Japan, since my local hospital was more or less shut, apart from the emergency department, where after registering at the hospital as a new patient, I had a very short wait before being seen by a couple of doctors who seemed even younger than me (though they probably thought the same) and various other nurses and people who chipped in to try to ask me questions in English. Anyway they sent my on my way, telling me I’d got flu and tonsillitis, and with a bunch of pills and instructions to see a doctor in Tokyo immediately if it got worse. Which it did.

Now I’m sure this is a case of a little knowledge being a dangerous thing and all, but I couldn’t help being slightly perturbed that the antibiotic they had given me was penicillin! The first antibiotic ever discovered, by Alexander Fleming in 1929! Surely everything was resistant to that nowadays? It must have been prescribed to death by now!? Maybe it was silly to worry about that since they really gave me a synthetic derivative of penicillin, and I have no idea whether it works well or not, but I was still having thoughts of gangrene in the trenches and having to have my head amputated or something. It still didn’t work though since the next day I arrived in Tokyo feeling absolutely terrible, and my tongue and lips had started to swell up and get covered in sores like mouth ulcers (I’m so very sorry, dear readers, I didn’t take a photo), and my face was swelling up like someone who had botox injections!

So I turned up at the registration desk and very apologetically demanded to see a doctor immediately (a medical doctor, not a proper doctor :-) there were about 40 of them there already). So they promised to send someone with me to the clinic round the corner as soon as the registration had finished. The doctor I saw then spoke quite good English, and with the help of the chap who had come along with me (who was Japanese, but spoke very good English, and French and German!), I managed to lisp out my explanation. After a blood test and chest x-ray which determined that the infection fortunately hadn’t spread to my lungs, he sent me on my way with some more powerful antibiotics. I was immensely relieved that the next day I felt a lot better and the swelling had gone down considerably, and though the flesh-eating bacteria were still munching away at me, they seemed to be losing the battle. I was able more or less to enjoy the rest of the orientation programme, including an unplanned burst of stardom at what turned out to be a Karaoke pub down the road from our (very posh) hotel. My god it’s difficult to persuade French people to sing in public.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

French orthographical joke:
paté de foi gras?

Eating that could give you a crisis of faith!

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