Last week, the kids and I went to Okayama for Theo's semi annual round of checkups. The appointments were pretty straightforward with no surprises or invasive tests. It always seems like a long trip to make for a few 10 minute chats with doctors to tell them that nothing has changed since they saw him last. I guess it is better to be safe than sorry though. The only glitch in the day was when I got on the wrong bus at the train station. The bus that goes to the hospital does not have a readily obvious bus number or show the name of the hospital anywhere on it. I usually ask the bus driver to confirm that it is the right one but I was feeling daring last week and just hopped on the one that pulled up at the appropriate time. About 15 minutes later I knew that I had made a mistake but luckily the bus went in the right direction and since the hospital is fairly large and looming I was able to see it a kilometer or two in the distance. I am never too annoyed about a bit of unexpected exercise. All in all, I was much relieved that it was nothing like our last visit.
Our last trip to the hospital was in February and a total disaster. The day started off on the wrong foot. Shortly after arriving at the hospital I realized that I hadn't to brought quite enough money on my person to pay for the hospital bill, meals, and transportation back home. I know this might sound neglectful, but I am still getting used to a society where cash is used for everything and virtually no one accepts anything else. Also, since I had left Hiroshima I couldn't use my bank book to get any more cash. As I waited for nearly three hours in the waiting room to see the doctor I tallied my resources and realized that I could, just barely, pay the hospital bill and the train fare as long as nothing unexpected cropped up and we didn't eat anything. Theo, who almost never has an appetite and only eats when absolutely necessary (i.e. when we force him to) didn't really seem to care that lunch time came and went. I, on the other hand, was got progressively crankier as the day wore on.
Our last appointment for the day was an MRI to check Theo's spine. Because he can't stay still enough in the machine to get good photos, they needed to sedate him. In Canada, this meant that they put in an IV, gave him some kind of milky looking substance which knocked him out almost immediately, but when the IV was removed afterward he woke up within a few minutes groggy but functional. At our appointment in December, I was informed that they never used IV sedatives on children in Japan because they were much too strong. They instead gave him some orange flavoured syrup that was supposed to knock him out in 30 minutes to an hour. An hour came and went and instead of Theo getting sleepier, he just got extremely stoned. It was hard not to get irritated at him as he loudly demanded irrational things, tried to remove all of his clothing because he felt too hot, and insisted on walking around even though he kept on tripping and falling all over the place. At one point I thought he might settle down if I brought him outside into a courtyard with pretty mini-lights strung all over the trees. Instead he stared at it in wide eyed amazement while his head wobbled around and said: "wow, mommy look at all the pretty, pretty lights!". By the two hour mark the doctor was amazed that he was still on his feet and conscious. He told me that I would have to brig Theo back in a month so they could try again with a larger dose of sedatives.
Dejectedly, a completely high Theo and I made our way down to the reception to pay our bills and hopefully have enough left over to pay for a train ticket home. As I was standing in line to hand in my paperwork, Theo made his clumsy way to one of the chairs and promptly fell into a deep sleep. I ran back over to the doctor's office and he was able to rebook the MRI appointment he had just canceled. Theo was whisked in for pictures and out 10 minutes later. Unfortunately, this meant that I had to haul a completely unconscious, 20 kg sack of potatoes onto the bus and then on to the train back to Fukuyama. The good news was that I eventually did manage to haul his limp body safely back home and even had a little money left over once we arrived!