September 2011 Archives

Visiting the Eye Doctor

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I really, really, really hate going to the doctor. I will avoid it at all costs, limping on a sprained joint for months before confirming it isn't broken, suffering with pain until it gets too bad to ignore, letting a chesty cold turn into bronchitis and even then not going to see a doctor, letting funny headaches plague me for two years before getting a scan. As for colds, forget it. They're just going to tell me what I already know - I am sick. And I take drugs even less gracefully than I visit doctors, so there's not a lot of point.

But this morning I noticed that my eyesight was weird. I posted about it on Facebook: "Currently everything in my vision has a 50% drop shadow. Weird." and within moments friends were advising me to go have it checked out. Retinal detachment?! It seemed to me they were being terribly alarmist. I  was sure it was from too much reading and planned to give my eyes a rest and do some things offline - like rehearse for my upcoming show. Then Beth Lavinder chimed in "If you are experiencing a shadow in your vision, go to the doctor NOW. Don't do anything athletic. Let us know how you are doing." I took note.

I turned off the computer, grabbed my bag, and realised I had no idea where to go. I don't have an eye doctor. 

As usual, Tod came to my rescue. Not only did he find me a ganka nearby, he also went with me which was good because I certainly would have chickened out otherwise. Tod's Japanese made the interactions a lot smoother, too. I can explain myself haltingly, but I confuse people with my grammatically incorrect and vocabulary impaired Japanese: "my eyes have a shadow in" is  just not quite clear, is it?  Tod's presence is always calming; once I am in the examining room, I alternate being furious at my body for betraying me, and acting like a timid mouse of a patient especially with anything relating to my precious eyesight. Tod had to hold my hand and pat my knee when they stuck paper things on my eyeballs to test my tears.  I practiced yogic breathing to get me through those long two minutes. 

Dr. Ono was very nice. She has been practicing for 50 years. Ono Ganka is staffed by women who were efficient and kind. On Friday afternoons they have someone in the office who speaks English; every morning they have someone on staff who speaks sign language. They are connected to several local elementary schools and practice pediatric opthamology as well as the usual stuff for adults. The equipment dates from the 1970s to modern, as it tends to in many private practices in Japan. And like most doctors here, she keeps current. Dr. Ono takes alternate Fridays off to attend medical seminars.  Her touch was reassuringly skilled, and even though the slit lamp exam gave me a blinding headache for the next four hours, I was glad that she was thorough. She told me I had beautiful retinas and my optic nerve was strong and healthy.  

The diagnosis was that I have been reading too much (See, I knew it!) and the cure is to wear my glasses without fail. I have some allergic gunk in my eyes, too, so Dr. Ono prescribed me drops and told me to come back when they were done and to bring my glasses next time. I probably need new ones.

Equinox 2011

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autumn.jpeg
Is the equinox the start or the midpoint of the season?

Technical Drawings

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Tod asked me to help him create an illustration of latency for an executive report. I love finding ways to encapsulate complex stuff into drawings, so of course I made some sketches. I think these illustrate the points very well, and also explain why I am not well suited to the corporate world.

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A Dam Walk

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After a couple of days of migraine, I needed a chance to breathe fresh air, so Tod & I took the train to Okutama on Sunday. We asked at the sightseeing office about local highlights and they suggested we head a little way out of town to the Ogouchi Dam. I think there may be some spectacular hiking and trekking in the area, but the environment of the lake and hills there was just my speed.

Hydroelectric Plant

Peering over the dam, which supplies a lot of Tokyo's water, we saw a hydroelectric plant. This is also the headwaters of the Tama River. We skipped the "Woods and Water" visitors center, but climbed the tower on the dam and checked out a scale model and some information about the construction of the dam. The project began in the 1934 but didn't finish until 1958 thanks to WWII. It created a lake 45 kilometers around. This is the dam featured in the 1961 film, Mothra.

View of Lake Okutama

There's a mountain path that leads to several beautiful views of the lake. While we didn't catch a glimpse of any mega-moths, we saw wild monkeys a couple dozen meters away from us, a kamoshika deer strangled in a fence, and two snakes that I later identified as a young yamakagashi, which are poisonous. I only got a photo of the snake.

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Jumping Grandma

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Me and myself

The Frisk campaign launched on 9/1 and a friend spotted me on the train that very day. The next day, I found myself on the Yamanote line with Heather....and there I was, leaping for Frisk. My tattoo has been Photoshopped out and I'm wearing a white wig and some daggy clothes, so it looks nothing like the everyday me. Whew.

Now we are playing "Where's Kristen?" in the transit system nationwide, and I think there will be some large posters or billboards of me out there somewhere. If you find one, let me know. In the meantime, you can check out the fun at the Frisk Japan website (at least for the duration of the campaign). Perfect if you want some rad jumping people wall paper or want to know where to go this month to grab a sample of lemon mint Frisk.

For the sake of posterity, here's a hi-res version of my jumping ad:

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