Archive for the ‘How it all started’ Category

The Start

Posted: October 22, 2013 in How it all started

What am I doing here? 39 years old, with no fever and absolutely no symptoms except for the hacking cough and the blood-tinged phlegm.

Well, perhaps some background information is in order. Back in February, I had a bit of a bleeding scare that is well-documented on my other blog. Things were looking good until I started have a bit of pain in my left ribs around the middle of May. After a follow-up visit, it was determined that I had pneumonia, so after a round of antibiotics, the pain went away and things started to settle down, but I still had a nagging cough. Some days were better than others, but very rarely did I produce any phlegm. The doctors told me it was a chronic dry cough caused by my allergies, but was there an underlying cause?

Two weeks ago, around the beginning of October, I began to cough up phlegm with streaks of blood. Needless to say, this brought back memories of my blood vomit fest back in February, and I was wondering when the faucet in my respiratory veins would open up and start their flow of hemoglobin. With work as busy as ever, I decided to cancel my classes last Wednesday (October 16) and pay a visit to a respiratory hospital here in Osaka Prefecture. After a chest x-ray and CT, the doctors started talking about TB again (I was tested back in February but the results were negative). They drew some blood to check for TB and gave me a couple of test-tube vials to collect any sputum I produced.

I dropped off a vial on Friday morning and received an urgent call from the doctor a few hours later. My Japanese is sufficient enough to past muster in person, but on the phone I turn into a second-language learner novice, grasping for every discernible detail while trying not to dwell too long on the lexical rockets fired into my rapidly failing working memory. I ducked the new words while grabbing ahold of bits of shrapnel such as “hospitalization” and “you must be absent from work” and “months”. What did they all mean?

On Monday morning, my loving wife Kanako and I went back to the hospital. The result? Both the blood tests and sputum tests came back positive. According to Japanese law, TB sufferers are required by law to be quarantined and hospitalized for 1 to 2 months. I managed to buy a little time from the doctor and agreed on the following day (Tuesday, October 22) as the start of my prison sentence hospitalization.

With this fresh news, I rushed home and contacted all of my bosses. This quickly turned into a nightmare: I teach part-time at 4 different universities and had to break the news that not only would I be unable to teach for the rest of the semester, but that I had contracted a highly-contagious airborne disease. Chaos ensued.

The next step was dropping by my local Ward Office in Osaka and meeting with the health department, who, after giving me a 30-minute interrogation cum interview, informed me that the Japanese government would indeed be paying 95% of the costs of my hospitalization. Take that America!

The rest of the evening involved packing and organizing, and squaring away last minute details with all of my schools, which left little time for sleep..