Whenever the weather changes, I catch a cold. I don’t mean I have four colds a year, one for each season. I mean half a dozen or more. If it is very hot and humid on Monday, then cool and rainy on Tuesday, chances are I will have a cold on Wednesday even without coming into contact with anyone. I suspect that sudden significant changes in ambient climate depress my resistance to germs naturally inhabiting my body. So while people can normally easily resist disease from the microbes in their bodies, in certain situations their resistance is lowered and their metabolisms are overwhelmed.
My son is just like me. For me, colds are terrible, because they go straight to my throat and vocal cords, giving me debilitating laryngitis, and also straight for my lungs, leaving me with a chronic hacking cough that sometimes develops into bronchitis. My work depends on my voice. If I cannot speak then I cannot work, and I have no paid vacation days or paid sick days to fall back on. If I cannot work then I am expendable. But Japanese think it’s cute. They think a “husky voice” is cute. Never mind that my voice isn’t husky at all, it’s practically non-existent, totally unable to use to teach a class, let alone six, and that I am in considerable pain. Japanese teachers repeatedly advise, “You should rest” before leading me to teach six classes in a row. The morons. The thing about morons, you know, is that they don’t know they are morons.
The thing about morons is that they don’t know they are morons.
So when I have a cold, even the first mild inklings I have to get me to the doctor, and quick! The routine is always the same. I don’t need an appointment; just go to the clinic, take a number, show my social health insurance card, and take a seat. The throat doctor I see - the two Dr. Funadous, senior and junior - always inspect my throat, swab it with iodine, then give me the usual prescription: a week’s worth of five or six different pills. They include: an antibiotic taken twice a day, morning and evening one pill each time; a general pain reliever, take one pill three times a day after meals; a cough suppressant, taken twice a day, two in the morning and two in the evening after meals; an antihistamine, one pill three times a day after meals; and a decongestant for my nose, one pill three times a day after meals. All of these pills are placed in two separate, labelled paper bags inside a plastic bag with a computer printed page of instructions on how and when to take them.
If it doesn’t sound like a lot of medicine, I think it should. Cold medicine protocol is often a target for rooky foreigners’ complaints here. The effect of all these pills isn’t very noticeable. After a week my symptoms have barely waned and I often have to make a repeat visit to the clinic. This is largely by design, I think. Prescriptions are commonly limited to a week, ensuring that patients will return. Will have to return. In part it is a strategy to control drugs in society, and in part it is a strategy to grease the wheels of the social health care system. The customers must be forced to use the system. Also, maybe in part it reflects a gradualist approach to medical treatment.
I try to follow the drug protocol for the first day. After that I take the pills only in an approximate order because the protocol is so confusing, or tedious that I can’t be bothered to remember it. It’s more like a cornucopia of drugs. The drugs are intended to be taken after meals because the dissolved fats of digesting food are a vehicle for translating the chemicals into the bloodstream, and from there to all the body’s tissues. The first problem I have is that I don’t eat lunch. Doctors and pharmacists blithely describe taking the drugs after meals, but the morons are so narrow that they don’t imagine dissident eating patterns.