So you know how I know I am getting old? Jetlag utterly destroys me.
I recently traveled for a week out to Croatia — an impulsive, last minute decision made just two days before I went. That being said, when purchasing the tickets, I didn’t have much time to think through the timing. The 12hr return flight, not including the 4hr stopover in Istanbul, landed me back in Osaka at 6:45pm, the day before I had to return to work. Furthermore, Japan is 7hrs ahead of Croatia — going to work at 9:15am the next morning felt like I was trying to start my day at 2:15am, after not having slept for nearly 24 hours.
My circadian rhythm was way off and I struggled to get the requisite amount of rest each night. Add that to the demotivating depression of being back home after vacation and the tell-tale tickle of an upcoming sore throat, my general health took a bit of a nose-dive.
Pushing through didn’t really do me any favors, so when this morning consisted of dizziness and utter fatigue, I got sent to the doctor.
Hooray! My favorite — an anxiety-ridden trip to a medical office where I didn’t know if I would have the energy to try to mime my way through describing my symptoms and understanding the diagnosis and treatments they gave me. I think experiences like these, as mundane as they might seem on paper, are an underestimated part of expat life where you learn what it’s really like with a language barrier. I mean, healthcare is something we all need at some point, right? How uncomfortable and stressful to do it in a second language — and it’s not because I don’t want to learn the language, I just haven’t had the chance to and language is HARD. And even then, it’s possible for me to find English speaking doctors in most places — but what about for people who don’t speak English or Japanese as a first language?
Anyway, funny story. I got sent to this clinic because they apparently had an English translator. I figured it would be a Japanese doctor or nurse. Imagine my surprise (and dismay) when they sent up the cute Polish pharmacist from the pharmacy a floor below.
Come ON. Really? When I’m barely holding it together? And while he was conversational in English — I babble when I’m nervous so there was a bit of small talk as we waited for the doctor — his knowledge of medical terms didn’t especially exceed what I could already figure out through gestures and miming. All the same, he sat through what seemed like a circus of an appointment — there were 4 of them in there with me, and I wasn’t sure why we needed so many people, even less so when they pulled in a 5th person to take my blood pressure. It was a little overwhelming, and I got a little light-headed and nearly fell off my seat — I mean, I was still pretty sick throughout all of this.
At least I got to impress him with my knowledge of Polish: cześć (hi!), piwo proszęm (beer please!), and na zdrowie (cheers!). Thank you, college roomie.
Anyway, visit and 5 days of meds (antibiotics and throat lozenges) set me back less than $20 — hooray for healthcare! After a fairly awkward exchange of farewells — I never got his name, but the Polish pharmacist seemed to like to use mine excessively — I trudged home and proceeded to sleep for the rest of the afternoon.
Should I have asked for his name? Did I miss an opportunity there? Ha! Yeah, no.
Moral of the story: Always be prepared for chance interactions with beautiful people.
Even when you feel like you’re dying.