Curveballs and Lemonade

You know those lines you always hear when you are down? “When life throws you a cureveball, make lemonade!”

Or something like that.

Anyway, we’re having a kind of lemonball week around here.

Me Too woke up early on Sunday morning, saying she felt sick to her stomach. Then a few minutes later


accompanied by fever.

This isn’t a good combination. And what’s with the getting sick on a Sunday, when I can’t take them to the pediatrician?

Japanese emergency care kind of lacks….urgency. She wasn’t sick enough to call an ambulance, which we know from an unfortunate head-splitting (literally) experience in the past will arrive without a destination. I know that is totally mind blowing, so I’ll repeat it again. When the ambulance gets to your house and loads up your kid, they have no idea where they will take him and sit in the parking lot for ten long minutes calling around to various hospitals.

A hospital in each municipality in Yokohama is designated as an emergency hospital for weekends, but only from 9-4. That’s right, hospitals do not accept patients 24/7; you cannot just rock up to the ER. There is one after-hours facility that is open from 6-midnight. So since Me Too was suddenly ill between the hours of midnight and 9am, we were in a tough spot.

I’ve dealt with dehydration before, unfortunately. Both kids have had ER visits and subsequent IVs from tummy bugs, probably because the Rotavirus vaccine was not available here until about three months ago.


It was a very hard morning. Poor Me Too was so sick and so miserable. I kept spoon feeding her fluid every few minutes, but it seemed like she was losing more than I could put in. After about six hours of this and me wondering how much more she could take, begging HRH to call the urgent care place and tell them we were coming, I began frantically scrounging around in our very unorganized medicine menagerie when I found a single dose of anti-nausea medicine.


We made it through to the next day. She was still vomiting occasionally, but not as frequently as before. I took her to the pediatrician’s office first thing, where they gave her a suppository. (I must pause here to admire the professional technique. Whenever I have to do this, it’s like the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah all over again: wailing, screaming, gnashing of teeth, et al.) I expected to be put in the Chamber of Shame, that separate room where the people with rashes and other suspicious symptoms go. (Unlike in the US, where there are several rooms for patients and the doctor comes to you, in Japan there is one room with the doctor in it. And then there is the Chamber of Shame.) But the chamber was occupied. In fact, ever space that could be cordoned off was occupied. We ended up behind a little curtain in a space filled with boxes.

But I could hear what was happening in the examination room.

Infuruenza desu ne.

Over and over and over again.

And thus was our fate, too.

Me Too has the flu. Apparently no one else with Type A Influenza was throwing up, but after a loooonnnnggg Q-tip was shoved up her nose, there was no denying it.

The first day or two she was a poor little lamb, to be sure. So feverish. So needy. So desperate and sad, I thought my heart might break. And she’s been all over me like tight pants at a football game. (American football, that is.) She wanted to be held. She was afraid when I left the room. She cried when I left her at night, which I never do for long since we sleep together (it’s the norm in Japan,) but sometimes a girl’s gotta pee!

(I reckon I’ll probably catch it, too. I’ve been snotted on and coughed on and thrown up on. I caught Me Too licking the ice scoop from the freezer so god only knows what other strange places the virus is lurking.)

But yesterday, Sister started sitting up a bit. By the afternoon, we were playing with her stuffed animals.

Today she still has a fever of around 38, which is much better than the 40C she had on Monday, so she wants to play.

And she is getting bored.

She’s so sad to see Me First leave for school in the morning. Her face lights up when he comes home in the afternoon. But he has been so completely obsessed with these robotic legos things he got (finally, several days late) for his birthday that he has not given her any attention at all in the past two days.

I’m the oldest, too, so I can understand where he is coming from, but….I need a break, too, and he is the only other human being I have seen for several days. Oh sure, my husband has been home late at night, apparently. I see his dirty laundry, I find his dirty dishes. I don’t know if he’s been busy at work or is avoiding the flu germs, and I’ve had my hands so full of sickness that I haven’t had a chance to ask. Or care, if I can be honest.

This morning, Brother was all in a tizzy that one of his caterpillars was gone.


This made me pause. I mean, there’s that stupid dojo fish, and then there’re are the beetle larvae (I don’t think I’ve written about that yet,) but I wasn’t aware that we were also the proud owners of caterpillars.

Come to find out, he meant those things that cover tractor wheels. He needed two to complete his horrible all-consuming Lego project, but could only find one.

He searched and searched until he was almost late for school. I promised I would keep an eye out for them, and I did. (I’m surprised I remembered, too.) But I didn’t find anything.

When he came home, we looked some more. Hither. Thither. Yon. Even over yonder, for good measure. But nada.

Then tonight as I was putting the kids to bed, I noticed Me Too looking secretively into her “treasure box.” She was only opening the lid slightly, hiding whatever was inside. I peeked a few minutes later, and sure enough there was the missing caterpillar.

I can’t say I blame her. She must have been feeling so jealous. She wants to play, too, but those parts are way too difficult for her. (Hell, they’re too hard for me!) I talked to Brother about how Sister must be feeling, but I don’t think he can grasp it. When you’re the oldest, there is always someone in your face, in your way, wanting to play, wanting to imitate, wanting to be.

The funny thing about being a parent of more than one is how you slowly come to see how the other side must have felt. How left out the younger child must have felt; how aggravated and put upon the older one was. You get to come full circle, in a way that is both heartwarming at times, but more often than not cringe-worthy.

I worry that my kids, being different genders, will not play together and be close companions much longer. I wish there was a way for my son to see that he should cherish this time with his sister. She won’t think he hung the moon forever. But I think I remember my mom trying to tell me the same thing as a child, and utterly failing to understand it until too many years, and far too many miles, had passed.


5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. gaijinwife
    Jan 24, 2013 @ 13:39:29

    hope she was able to go back to kinder today? I have Shou and Marina home but Marina is better after a badd-ish day yesterday and Shou never really got bad but had a temperature in the vicinity of ‘ring mother to come and collect him from kinder’ range. The doctor didn’t even do the flu up the nose test this morning as ‘it will be flu, his sister has it’.


    • hamakkomommy
      Jan 24, 2013 @ 14:19:36

      Maybe it’s just Yokohama, but they can’t go back to preschool until they have been fever-free for three days and have a doctor’s signature. So far no fever today, knock on wood. I can take her to the dr Monday, and maybe she’ll go back Tuesday.

      Apparently some kids’ fevers goes right down after they start the meds and they were being sent back to school while they were still contagious, this the rule change.


  2. gaijinwife
    Jan 24, 2013 @ 20:13:45

    here its fever free for three days too but the Drs. sig? Wow. What a pain in the ass!! Having to go bloody back! Gah. Marina took another turn today and back up to 39.6 :( Shou is all better, it seems and Ryu, so far, is fine!! High Tiger Boys WHOLE FAMILY is down.


    • hamakkomommy
      Jan 25, 2013 @ 12:59:17

      I’ve been trying to comment on your blog for days, with no luck! Well, I guess it is lucky for your readers, but anyway…. WordPress doesn’t seem to like me this week for some reason.


  3. illahee
    Jan 25, 2013 @ 12:58:28

    i am the oldest, too, and i definitely relate to hiro over that. but, the baby (tommy) is such the baby…i don’t mean he acts immature, but that as the ‘last’, i want to hold him close forever and let him be my baby! hiro and sasha got along *so well* last year (they are now 6 & 8) and tommy was third wheel for a long, long time (he’s 5). over winter vacation, though, hiro and tommy seemed to get along well and now sasha is a screaming banshee. *sigh* i know that three is different from two so there’s that dynamic, but i think these things go in cycles.

    i got along with my brother really well (except for a few years when we were teenagers, but even then we were never at each others’ throats) but my sister, who is seven years younger than me, well, we didn’t really get each other until we were adults. she was the spoiled baby of the family (weird dynamics, but i do need to be careful NOT to baby tommy) and always acted like everything that was mine was hers. it was very annoying.

    anyway, i hope that your daughter is feeling better soon. so far nothing here, but sometimes it’s only a matter of time…


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