Phobia – Day 13

July 5, 2006

poker night

Lost ¥5000 last night playing poker, mainly to the Dutch guy, who never bluffed and lined up his poker chips, as he won them, into gridded army formations.

The last morning here. It was the typical wakeup farce that drives my roommate crazy. First the nurses come into an hour before the morning medical check. Today that was 8am for a blood sampling at 9am, but sometimes its 4.30am for the catheter insertion at 5.30am. They turn on the lights, open the window curtains and private curtains we have circling our beds. Ohaiogozaiimas, Wakeup! Then my roomate asks them when we actually have to wakeup, and they say in 1 hour. So my roomate then gets up and closes the curtains, turns off the lights, shuts the door and tries to go back to sleep. Which wouldn’t be so bad except that other nurses repeat the procedure two or three times in the next hour, every 20 minutes or so, and each time my roommate gets out of bed and closes the curtains, deals with the light and kicks the door closed and by now he’s seething, “Why the FUCK do they keep waking us UP!” So this morning when we realised it was the last morning of this crap, we had a private cheer.

But we’re not over yet. The next two more morning are reserved for screenings, which we travel to from a hotel, and then I fly back to Tokyo for half a week. Then fly back for another follow up screening. Then we get paid.

japanese onsen

After checking into the hotel we went to yet another onsen, this time up in the mountain. We walked though the forest and found a natural spring flowing into a cold running stream. It was amazing really. You could feel the water change from very hot to quite cold as you moved around in the water. There were little hot waterfalls to place you head under. Three of us jumped in naked and it was very peaceful. After we visited a proper onsen attached to a hotel. It was magically designed, and a thunder storm sprang forth while we soaked outside. I jumped from the sauna into the cold bath and practised pranayama breathing. Within a minute I was high as a kite. This was like the fourth onsen we’ve visited so far, so I guess you could say as well as being a clinical drug trial, a boy’s club and a computer camp, its also a mini tour of the best onsens of southern Japan.

I’m being to realise something about myself, something that is not neccesarily bad, but maybe rooted in insecurity and pride. We spoke today about skydiving, somehow it came out. I described to the guys how I did four jumps several years ago. It was shit scary, and I did it because it was. I wanted to confront my fear. The french guy said, “Yes, and afterwards you felt like a king, right?”. An he was right. Its the same with the clinical drug trial, I feared needles, and wanted to confront that fear. Now, after two weeks and dozens of blood samples, they don’t scare me at all. And I feel pretty good about that. It works like this for other things in my life too; spearfishing and freediving for one; the fear of the deep, the fear of not being able to breath.

river onsen


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