For this week's culture lesson, let's visit the inside of an ambulance and an emergency room.
Yes, that is what I did this week! And I'm still alive to tell you about it. Apparently I have been eating a lot more eggs than I realized because on Thursday night I had a severe allergic reaction to them (anaphylactic reaction) and ended up in the hospital.
I could write the whole boring story, but who wants to read that? Instead, I'll just give you some impressions:
- Just like everything else in Japan, the number to call for an emergency is the opposite of what you call in the U.S. Instead of 911, here it is 119.
- When my face was swollen up like a huge strawberry, I met the local owner of the school who rushed to the clinic to check on me. Nice impression, I'm sure.
- The ambulances in Japan are free. The ER visit, complete with IV drip and meds will probably cost me less than $100 and I have no insurance!
- If you say anaphylactic with a Japanese accent, they will understand you.
- Japan has no epi pens. I told my doctor he could keep it as a souvenir.
- Japan doesn't have benedryl, although the doc had heard of it. He called around to several hospitals to see if anyone had some. I finally got some tablets of something, but I have no idea what they are -- except they made me sleep for about 2 days!
- They had to use a triple dose of steroids to get my facial swelling to go down and even then, it didn't go away for about 48 hours.
- In Japan, they use REAL eggs in their cakes and they brush egg whites on the top of the bread to make it shiny -- so I had been eating eggs without knowing it.
- There is also egg in the chocolate.
- And the bread.
- If you tell someone in a restaurant that you're allergic to eggs and does the pizza have any eggs in it, they will rush back to the kitchen and ask. :)
I have been very hungry since Thursday night since there is very little I can eat in Japan. This makes the whole transition even harder and adds more stuff to do every day. But maybe I'll lose some weight! My boss is bringing 4 epi pens later this week and until then I'm pretty afraid to eat.
God must really have a sense of humor to send me to Japan. I can't eat eggs, rice, soy or chicken -- the staples of a Japanese diet. But it is a chance for Him to show his strength through my weakness. Tonight my students asked me how I can enjoy life if I can't eat anything. "How can you have any fun?" they asked.
"I have to find other ways to enjoy life," I answered.
I am learning that you can have fun that is centered on things other than food. It is a good lesson to learn. I wish I could eat anything I want, but I simply can't. And, although my stomach is empty, I am finding more pleasure in other things.
Well, I've got to go find something I can eat now. I'm STARVING! Bonnie just got done eating a bunch of chicken on a stick and my mouth is watering. I guess I'll have peanut butter or some cheese. Maybe both! :)