[blog]* Day 4 to 7 - getting in a healthy amount of trouble: visiting a Japanese hospital (twice), seeking help at an embassy, and the wonders of convenience store food
Well, as I've hinted at quite a bit now already, I got into a little trouble. Not entirely unexpected, for a long trip like this - but perhaps not ideally quite as early as four days in.
As it was, I woke up looking like a six ton elephant had decided to sit and gyrate on my legs. I also had a high fever, and could barely limp out of the hostel where I was staying.
A little souvenir from the hospital
So it was that I ended up in a hospital ER.
Actually, I should be more specific. Being the dogged idiot that I am, I only decided to go when I literally couldn't actually walk anymore without falling flat on my face. So by the time I went it was already 1am in the morning, and I was randomly stuck in some back-end part of Asakusa.
I hailed a taxi and asked for the nearest open hospital.
Unfortunately, this being the start of Silver Week (and 1am in the morning) most hospitals were closed, and certainly none that spoke English. After extended negotiations with the night guard involving a lot of desperate hand-flailing, I finally stumbled into the emergency wing.
After a battery of blood tests and X-rays, the doctors gathered together to talk. It rather looked as if they were discussing funeral arrangements for a certain dashing but unfortunate young lady from London who was about to die at 22. Finally, the youngest and most miserable-looking of them came up to me.
"We don't know what's wrong with you."
"It might be some hereditary auto-immune illness, but we're not too sure."
"We won't know until consultant comes back Friday."
Wait, wait. Friday?! This was Monday.
Not wanting to wait in a hospital until Friday to learn whether I was about to die from some mysterious affliction I had never heard of until today, but not sure where else to go, I left, and in the morning decided to try something I'd only seen done in the movies - I went to the Australian Embassy for help.
I had to fight my way through security, who had apparently never had a tourist walk-in case and was also appropriately confused that I looked more Japanese than Australian. But in any case, once I was through the gates the two ladies at Consular Services were amazing, and offered me tea and chocolates while arranging for me to get transferred to a different hospital nearby.
If only half the bureaucrats in the UK were a quarter as nice.
Anyway, this time - perhaps because my legs had devolved overnight into an angry writhing mass that no one could possibly misidentify - I was in and out with three minutes and finally wound up with a very confident diagnosis of cellulitis.
Doesn't sound very scary, does it? Actually, cellulitis is only a lighter version of the notorious flesh-eating bacteria that goes around eating up people's legs alive. So there.
Although potentially serious if untreated apparently all I needed to do was actually pop some antibiotics and stop walking. No, I did not have any mysterious hereditary auto-immune disorder.
I looked at the doctor with super puppy eyes and asked him if it would be OK, please, if I went to Hokkaido tomorrow. The look he gave me then would have sunk an aircraft destroyer.
Actually, it wouldn't have been feasible anyway, what with not being able to walk and all. In the end I stayed put in a hotel room and for the following three days ate nothing but... convenience store food.
I can't believe I'm actually posting about convenience store food... but it is quite a Japanese thing, I guess.
Think gas station shop, without the gas station. So-called "convenience stores" are found open often 24/7 all around Japan and stock, amongst other items (shampoo, magazines, etc.) a usually impressive collection of food.
Mentaiko (marinated fish roe) onigiri
I'm not saying it's great, but when your transportation options are limited to crawling or handstands... it's OK.
Plus, you do get to try a decent array of Japanese food, instant-ified. The inarizushi above, for example, is made of sushi rice stuffed into a little "pouch" of fried tofu skin, and the onigiri, or rice ball, is wrapped with sushi and filled inside with a variety of food - like mentaiko (marinated fish roe) or wakame (seaweed).
Japanese chocolate is the best
Incidentally, one thing I really, really, really loved was that... salad dressings were sold separately.
Sorry, did I get you too worked up? But it's really nice how you can mix and match to your heart's content.
The dressing packaging is also done very nicely - you snap it in half and squeeeeeze through the gap. No mess. Now, if only the salad dressing manufacturers of the REST OF THE WORLD could take a hint...
"BIG FRENCH SEAFOOD"? I had to try this.
And that was that. On Day 8 the antibiotics kicked in nicely and I was promoted from crawling to hobbling, which was enough - I was out of there.
Results: Days 4 - 7
Photos: 109 (average)
The List: #4 - Convenience store food ^^;
All in all an unexpected turn of events, of course, but I did get to meet some lovely people (staff at the Australian Embassy - thank you!) and I'd brag to my friends for months about getting into hospital on Day 4. So, it wasn't that bad, really.
Different question this time! Ever been sick in Tokyo, or needed to seek consular help? What was your experience? And - do you like convenience store food? Favourite items / chains? Send in an e-mail, comment below, or follow me on Twitter / twitter.com/foodjapan