Sunday, October 22, 2006

Flush and Puffy

I woke up this morning and couldn't remember why I was in the hospital. It came back to me gradually. Everything is very surreal.

Both my parents are here now, but thus far we've avoided the mushy emotional stuff I've been dreading. Mom'll go back to Osaka with me after my hospital stay; Dad happens to have meetings in Tokyo on the 30th, so we'll work out tomorrow whether or not he wants to make the four hour trip down and back just to stay for part of the weekend.

The reflexes in my legs seem to have returned, and though my hands and torso are still sort of numb, the strength of the numbness has definitely abated. The steroids are making me warm, and I've a constant red blush across my nose and cheeks. I'm told to also expect some puffiness*. As long as I can still fit in my jeans, this should be okay; otherwise, I'll be wearing my newly purchased pink plaid pajama bottoms on the train back to Kansai. But at least I won't be gracelessly staggering about, clutching at the metro walls and railings the way I initially was when trying to get to the MRIs and base. Another weird gaijin creeping through the public transport system... I'm sure the Japanese just take it in stride now.

At Dad's suggestion, I've emailed my union rep at AFSA to get a sense of my rights. With the time change, I don't expect to hear back for about a day and a half or so. The Physicians Assistant at the embassy health unit called to tell me he's sending a cable to med in DC to alert them to my new medical status. I don't like this. I don't trust med. I told the PA that I was hoping to go to Africa or the Middle East after Japan... He said Africa would be no problem, but made no comment on the Middle East. I didn't press him -- it's not like this is his fault. I just hope I don't have to spend the rest of my career in DC and Europe. I don't want to be restricted. If I go blind in Iceland rather than Iraq, does it really make a difference? It's not like there's a cure. Just meds forever and steroids during a flare-up. Steroids are pretty much everywhere. I could take them orally. Or give myself shots. Or maybe even rig up a transfusion with a coconut, a rubber hose, and a bike needle like Jackie Chan in 'Who Am I?'.

Speaking of which, they've just told me that they'll have to change the IV tomorrow. I hope I handle it better. I hope my parents aren't around to watch.

I spoke to my youngest sister on the phone. "Katie, are you going to be in a wheelchair?" "No girly -- don't pay any attention to what you read online." I hear myself reiterating for her what the neurologist told me. I know she's worried and I don't want her to be.

*Wow, they weren't kidding! Where's my waist? I could have sworn I left it right here... To shamelessly quote Lewis Black, I've taken on the appearance of "a dumptruck in heat."