Tuesday, October 24, 2006


I've been sick now for a week and only had one real day of rest yesterday. One thing about trying to buck up and work your way through rather than relax and take the time to get better is that you don't get much better very rapidly. While I can say I didn't cancel one private lesson because of my cold, I can also say I had a coughing fit in each and every lesson. Talking tends to cause you to erupt into uncontrollable fits of coughing when you have a cold mainly centered in your chest. The annoying thing is that students will invariably assume it's your throat and encourage you to drink water but it won't help at all. What I really needed was an expectorant but I'm too tired to go to a pharmacy to buy one and too stubborn to go to a doctor.

Going to the doctor, is, of course, another highly recommended action. Everyone tells me to go to a doctor as if he will magically cure my cold. I hate the fact that people go to doctors for colds instead of just resting and getting lots of fluids. It's a waste of the socialized health care funds which mainly seems geared toward medicating symptoms sufficiently to allow sick people to go to work and infect the rest of their office and everyone on the train who they cough all over with their uncovered mouths. My students don't believe me when I tell them there is no cure for the common cold. They just think I'm some wacky primitive. In fact, one of them actually said I was adhering to some sort of "primitive" healing philosophy but she used to be a pharmacist so she's probably more fond of medication than most.

The only thing worse than the coughing fits in the middle of lessons is the stuffy nose which can't be blown. In Japanese society, it's considered rude to blow your nose but okay to "sniffle" constantly. That means that you hear people snorting up gobs all the time (and sometimes get to see them spitting them out so everyone else gets a chance to step in them). It's really pretty disgusting but I guess part of being culturally open and trying not to be ethnocentric is seeing such behavior as different rather than gross.

Hopefully, this will soon pass and I'll be back to regular posting and whatnot in the near future.


Helen said...

I'm with you about the whole over-medication thing. I can't believe that so everybody here goes to the doctor for a cold. In Canada, we'd make a quick trip to the drugstore and then we'd stay home and sleep!

I've had arguments with my students about whether the doctor can actually cure the cold or not. They just won't listen. I've also had people tell me that I can catch a cold from wearing short sleeves......

Ah, living in a different culture...what fun!

Shari said...

Short sleeves seem to really rile up the Japanese. I've also had students comment on it as has my husband (who wears short sleeves all year 'round).

The Japanese do have a far greater faith in doctors than most westerners do. I do wonder if they confuse the alleviation with symptoms with a "cure". That is, they think if you're not showing symptoms, it must be gone. I have my doubts about the medication itself though as most medication really isn't good for you.

I dropped by your web page and see you must have found me through Luis. Thanks for your comment, Helen!