I must remember to teach my students to say 'I don't feel very well'
Japanese are obsessed with health and the doctors. The slightest sneeze and they rush to the hospital to see a doctor. One student bashed her leg on the table, and went to see the doctor. The average immune system in Japan must be absolutely crap, considering how often people get ill and how willing they are to get medicated for everything.
I suppose this goes someway in explaining people's attitudes and openness to giving you information about their ailments. Whereas a British person, with someone who is not a friend, would subtly say, I'm not feeling too well, or, my stomach hurts, if they have period pains: a Japanese woman will just tell you: I have period pains. I often don't want to know this amount of information from my students.
They are also very quick to tell you that YOU look tired, etc. There really IS no subtlety.
Anyway today one of my students came into the class and hadn't done her homework. She then proceeded to explain to me that she had been ill with pains 'there' [pointing between legs]. Desperately hoping she was trying to tell me she had pulled a muscle or that she had cystitus or something (too much information but....) I listened in growing horror as she started to describe small spots.
Maybe she saw the look on my face at that moment (she knows I know who her boyfriend is and there are some things you REALLY don't want to know) because she went on to say, after saying she'd been to the doctors... that it wasn't an STD but stress, or something.
At this point I breathed. Knowing about your students period pains is bad enough. Being told about their STD's would be pretty bad, wouldn't it?
This morning my tooth was feeling a bit funny. (See Japanese health paranoia is rubbing off on me). I've been a bit headachy and sore throaty and toothachy recently so I was a bit worried. I looked in the mirror and saw a biggish black spot on top of my wisdom tooth. Now, I have NEVER had a cavity, filling or whatever, and was told a few years ago it's highly unlikely at my age that I ever will. But seeing this black spot got me worried. I got out my toothbrush and brushed really hard to see if I could dislodge anything. I couldn't. I used my fingernail: nothing. I got VERY worried.
Partly worried about my obviously rotting tooth, and partly worried that I would have to go face-to-face with a Japanese dentist.
Me and my paranoia were running pretty late by this point so I left the house. Sitting on the bus I found a toothpick and a mirror in my bag and decided I wanted to dig the toothpick into the hole. (I'm a freak, okay). I tentatively put the toothpick into my mouth and went about attacking the hole....
One stab later a bit of food was sitting on the toothpick and the 'hole' had miraculously disappeared.