Thursday, November 17, 2005

Mental problem

On Tuesday The Man informed me that he'd found a hospital where we could get 'flu shots, near our place. He made an appointment for yesterday.

In the part-time teachers' room yesterday I told everybody I was going to have a 'flu shot, and asked whether anybody else had had it this year. I explained that I was nervous about it.

"Needles make me pass out," I explained.

It turned out the secretary had her shot last week.

"It hurt," she said.

"Hurt?" I asked. "HURT?" I hadn't thought of that.

She saw my horrified expression and backpedaled rapidly.

"But it was really quick," she said. "And it didn't hurt THAT much. Until the next day, and not badly, really."

"I wasn't expecting it to hurt," I said.

One of the Japanese teachers looked interested.

"It's not usually the needle hurting that bothers you?" she asked.

"No, not really," I said. "It just the needle itself. The IDEA of the needle."

"Oh, I see," she said, nodding understandingly. "You have a mental problem."

"No!" I said indignantly. I paused. "Well... yes."

That was a bit disconcerting. I hadn't thought of it like that.

When I got home The Man was waiting. We cycled off in the other direction from Monday's little expedition, and had to cross a busy road.

"I hate crossing here," said The Man. "It's dangerous."

"So do I," I answered. "I think we should just give up and go home."

He laughed at me.

We got to the hospital and had to fill in a form. The Man filled his in first, then translated the information sheet and the questions for me.

"Have you read and understood the information about the 'flu shot?" he asked.

"No," I said. "You had to read it for me. Does that mean we can go home now?"

"Yes," he instructed, and I circled Yes obediently. "Have you ever had any heart condition or anything like that?"

"Er... I don't think so," I said.

"No," he instructed, and I circled No.

"Have you ever had a ... a.... you know, this," he said, wobbling his arms and legs.

I stared at him, trying to figure it out. "You know," he said, "Like this - "

He started convulsing on the chair. He didn't look well at all, and the receptionists were glancing nervously in our direction. I stared and tried to imagine what it could be. Suddenly light dawned.

"Epilepsy!" I said.

"That's it," he said. "I forgot the word."

"Not that I know of," I said, and circled No.

Eventually we got down to the question about whether you had a fever recently, and whether you have any medical condition now.

"I had a slight fever," I said. "When I started getting this cold. And I'm still coughing a bit."

"We'll talk to the doctor about that when we go in," he said.

He handed the papers to the receptionist, and we were directed to room thirteen. That didn't sound too promising. We went down the hall and told the nurses in room thirteen we were there. They told us to sit in the little waiting area in the hallway.

Across the hall there was a toilet. The Man went in, and I briefly considered running away. I didn't, though. This is good for me, I told myself. I really should get over this stupid fear.

The Man came back, and eventually a nurse came out with thermometers and asked us to take our temperatures. The Man's temperature was almost a full degree less than mine, which explained his lizardly qualities and why we always fight over the air conditioning. I didn't know it was normal to have a temperature of only 35.5C. Perhaps it isn't.

I was getting more and more nervous. I said to The Man,

"I'm being silly, aren't I."

"Don't worry. You can't help it," he replied.

That was almost as bad as being told I had a mental problem.

When we finally got to see the doctor, he refused to give me the shot because I still have a cough left over from the cold. The Man got his shot, though, and grumbled about it all the way home while I tried not to laugh.

"All this hassle is for YOU, not me," he said. "That stupid doctor is being far too careful. I'm going to look for another one who will do it. They give 'flu shots to all the old people. How come they won't give one to you? The old people are no healthier than you."

"It's because I'm a gaijin," I said, smugly. "Nobody wants to take a risk with gaijin."

I imagined the headlines. I could be an international incident!


Well, perhaps not.

But to tell the truth, I'm starting to just want to get it over with. All this farting around is getting a bit stressful, and stress is bad for people with mental problems.


Wiccachicky said...

I have a very weird phobia of needles and doctors in general, so I understand.