Friday, April 21, 2006

I peed blood. Nice to meet you!

So, I had quite the adventure two weeks ago. um… and I’m still behind, but I am trying to be semi regular in my latelarity. This way, when I have a particularly dull week, I can put up something like “There is no joy in mudville, mighty Brentey has struck out”. And then no one under the age of 24 would get it.


This is, in fact, the kind of post that makes me want to dearly hope that my mother doesn’t read this blog. (and Mrs. Cross… you can feel free to skip this one… though your dry-as-a-kite-and-clean-as-a-whistle-prohibition-era-morality-observing son is certainly in no danger of any sort of lifestyle-related issues.

Other than syphilis, of course.

/I kid, I kid. He’s a good boy. We practice safe…uh… stuff.

//ok. Sorry Still kidding. Apologies to the entire Cross Family.


Closing brackets can be a challenge for me. I love to go out on sidebars, and I just forget them.

Where was I?

Oh yeah, the scariest thing that’s happened to me since coming to Japan.

It happened the same day I dropped Jess of at the airport. (which already put a SERIOUS downer on the day.) Enroute back to my apartment, I decided to hit up a bookstore in Shinjuku for a book on Japanese Kanji that I’ve been meaning to find. I spent a few hours looking for it, and during my wandering, happened to engage in one of my two most favourite forms of excretion, peeing.

Imagine my … excitement when I happened to pee the wrong colour.

Like, a very wrong, very red colour.

Being the health conscious person that I am, I thought to myself…” ok…this is bad. But maybe its just a … cut…??? Uh… ok… we’ll give it one more pee later today, and then if its … blood-y then we’ll… deal with it….”

And I promptly tried to put it out of my mind…

Later that day, after I met my good friends Geoff and Marc for dinner, I started feeling a pain in my lower left back. I thought it was milk in something I’d eaten, or the chair was funny or something, so Geoff and I set off for his school (about a 5 min walk).

During the walk, the pain went from mildly discomforting to horribly awful, and moved from my back to my entire left abdomen. I sat down to rest for a bit, leaned on Geoff, and basically stumbled my way to the bathroom near his school. Once there, I pissed some more blood, puked my guts out, and stumbled out to meet him at his school. Within about five more minutes I was lying on the floor in a ball of pain.

At this point, they decided that it would be prudent to call an ambulance.

The ambulance people were very, very nice, and also very unable to speak English. Fortunately, I was in a school where some people happen to speak both English and Japanese. We made it most of the way through the translation, including my stomach hurts… yes I am in a lot of pain…I can probably walk… etc.

The translation broke down when I started to say something like “my genital area”… she was like “your genitals hurt?!?!?” So I was like… no.. well..yes…but…no… ah… forget it. I’ll tell the doctors at the hospital.

After a quick ambulance ride, and the doctors (who also spoke about as much English as I speak French, which, for those of you that know me, is basic to say the least)…. Were very nice.

I was, however, in a great deal of pain. They fired me a painkiller and set out to do an ultrasound. One the way to the first magic machine of healthcare, the doctor asked how much pain I was in, after the painkiller, from one (no pain) to one hundred (when you first came in) to gauge how well the painkillers were working.

I answered “(grimace) ninety five!”

Please remember that I tip the scales at about 95kg, a wee bit larger than the average nihongeen patient. So he told me “Too Big! One More!” and fired me another painkiller for the trip. That brought me down to about ninety percent.

Finally… as they could tell from my face that I was still holding in some sort of reaction to the tearing going on in my insides (more on that later) they decided to pull out the big guns.

Too bad for me, the “big guns” of painkillers are NOT administered intravenously, but rather, rectally.

Yep. You read that right. It was time for a suppository. I said “ok” and expected them to hand it to me to deal with.


Before I knew what was going on, the nurse rolled me on my side, whipped down my pants and ….

“NICE TO MEET YOU!” I roared at the top of my lungs. (Seriously. Word for word, that’s what I hollered.)

Within about two or three minutes, the pain subsided to about five or ten percent of normal. Not too shabby. When I was lucid, I turned to the doctor and said “She is a very nice girl.”

Grinning, he replied, “I want to study English at your school”.

So, after an X ray, various exams and an ultrasound, they managed to convey (using portable electronic dictionaries) that I have a stone somewhere in my bladder/tube systems. My dear Japanese co-workers showed up at the hospital to translate in more detail.

They explained that I have a small stone in my bladder area, which happens to be tearing/ripping its way down my various tubes, leading to lots of inflammation and a decent amount of pain. The doctor was a bit worried about the amount of painkillers they pumped me full of (Admittedly, I was spacing like it was 1968 when they explained the problems to me). Specifically, he was worried that I would stop breathing, so he offered to let me stay overnight in the emergency section.

Now, I’ve heard plenty of horror stories about patients in the US system going to the hospital for three days and being presented with a $30000 bill. So… I was really concerned about the price. Kaori (my coworker) explained that the doctor was actually worried about me, and there would be no charges for the overnight stay. (!!!)

/Sidebar: the grand total for the entire shebang, including an ambulance ride, ultrasound, x-rays, examination by two doctors and three nurses, overnight in the emergency, three Japanese people’s doses worth of painkillers and a monthlong prescription run of three different meds was…. $400! Not too shabby. The insurance company pays everything back within about a week and half.

Anyway… no major problems during the night in emergency. I drank lots of sweet saline over the night, and Kaori showed up in the morning to make sure that all was hunkey dorey. The doctor showed me some more x rays, etc, and wrote me a prescription.

As Kaori explained:

there are pills to dissolve the stone and help it come out through the usual bladder channels (D’OH), as well as two kinds of pain killers. Regular ones to take daily, as well as the stronger stuff. Its…. Oh… how do you say it…. Ummmm… Ass Medicine.

I spent a few days at home recovering in ranging levels of pain, but I am quite well now. Apart from being apprehensive, of course.

You see, I think (the translation never got that far) that I have a gallstone, the younger and nicer brother of the dreaded kidney stone. I have heard and read several times that passing a kidney stone is the closest a man can come to giving birth – as the stone basically has to rip its way down your urethra (I read an account written by a mother of three who had passed two stones). Anyway… even if this is “horrible pain junior” I am not looking forward to peeing out a rock.

Of course, if the pain gets too bad, I can always retreat to the bathroom and declare loudly how great it is to meet myself.


.h said...

I read this a few days ago, but couldn't open the comment box due to dial-up-ness. How are you feeling now? Any better?

Merry Man In Japan said...

Yeah.. I went back to the hospital this weekend. That was a linguistic adventure and a half... especially when they pulled the ol' "pee in a cup" after I'd JUST pissed.

Basically, I sat around the bathroom for 20 min drinking water and trying to work up a reasonable volume for testing. That sucked so much that...let me tell you...I was briefly even temped to just jerk off and pretend I misunderstood.

So... yeah. I'm good.

:) thanks for asking.

Koza said...

The craziest conditions pop up when living in Japan. I really dont get it. Anyway, I am glad to hear that you are doing much better and that social medicine has your back!! Ja ne!