when you visit me in japan (as kara did recently), here are some ground rules:
DO visit all the good restaurants with me because we both eat meat! meat rules!
DO have a rousing night of old-people-meets-new-people karaoke with favorites like Gold Digger and Dance Dance.
DO eat the delicious breakfasts i make, like orange, chocolate chip, walnut scones.
DO get dressed up in antique kimono that cost over $10,000 and eat traditional desserts like yokan.
but lord, DO NOT come down with anything vaguely resembling the flu if you were recently in the US, or the still-panicky health department will send you to get tested for the swine flu. this involves having a swab stuck so far up your nasal cavity that your brain hears a knock at the door.
kara and i had a really great visit, but the day she was supposed to leave, she showed up at my school with a high fever and sore throat. when she called the health department (she was required to call them every day of her trip to assure them she was in good health), they sent us to the hospital for a swine flu test. we weren't even allowed through the main entrance. a nurse with a very secure mask resembling a cloth duck bill met us and told us to stay in the car. when they called us in the back basement entrance of the hospital, the doctor and nurse who met us were in full-body cloth hazmat suits! not a speck of skin or hair or clothing was open to the air.
on the left is the wonderful teacher helping us, miss shirota, with her signature style of wearing a mask over just her mouth. totally effective, uh huh.
the hospital basement with some machine thingie.
the depressing room in which we had to wait for the results. very prison-esque.
the exam was short, and kara came up negative for swine flu, but they still wanted to keep her in the hospital for several days while her fever went down. the only other choice was my house. of course it was ok for her to stay with me, but it meant putting off the rest of her trip.
we returned home, and i went back to work. soon someone came to inform me that i was taking a mandatory two days off so i wouldn't threaten the rest of the school with the flu i didn't have. fine! two free nice days off (no complaints)...cooped up with a sick person. so it was no surprise that i came down with the same thing the day kara got back on the road.
my sore throat got worse and worse and worse. fearing strep throat, i headed to the doc, and though he only looked in my throat (no culture needed, i guess), and after the obligatory brain-scramble swab, he told me it wasn't strep or the flu. however, since he prescribed an antibiotic, i didn't complain. i figured that should kill it.
in japan, you can either swallow the fun powder or fill your own capsules, which i decided to do, just because it was fun playing apothecary.