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Jul 5, 2018

The difficulties of expat life: when you've got no one to call

My husband and I were violently sick a bit over a week ago. Norovirus had been going around our daughter's school, which she picked up, then gave to our son, and then inevitably gave to us as parents - it didn't matter how much we sprayed the house down with disinfectant...this bug was ruthless.


This was the first time that both my husband and I had both been sick at the same time since we had our kids. Sure, we've been sick before, but it was generally a cold or a minor bug that had us feeling far from 100% but still relatively functional. Anyone who's had norovirus where you're projectile vomiting at rapid frequencies knows that "relatively functional" is just a dream at that point.

The difficulties of expat life: when you've got no one to call photo

Sometimes as an expat, I feel like I'm surrounded by people - but still alone.


For the most part when it comes to living in Japan, we're lucky. We have my in-laws living in Tokyo, so any time we have a really big issue or concern we'd be able to call them for help. At this point in time though, they were both back in the States for the summer, so we were solo. Both brutally sick, and trying to watch a three year old and a one year old when we didn't have our heads in a bucket. Not easy.


This to me is where expat life is really hard. I have some fantastic neighbors, who are friendly, kind and helpful - but would I feel comfortable contacting them and asking them to watch our kids when they never have before, knowing full well that they'd probably get sick after it too? I don't think I could do it. We battled through the day as best as we could and felt far better the following morning (thank goodness) - but it just highlighted to me that sometimes even when you live in a great community, there are times when you can feel alone when you don't have a family network nearby.

genkidesu

genkidesu

After spending the last several years in the beating heart of Tokyo, I will be spending the next three in the countryside of Japan. I adore this country and all it has to offer - and I'm always learning more and more about life here as I go along!


7 Comments

  • edthethe

    on Jul 5

    This was how I felt with the birth of my son. The first two weeks after the hospital, I literally thought I was dying but had no clue who to contact. My in-laws live in Japan, but my husband's father is bedridden and his mother can't drive. She spends her days looking after the father. The only reason I was able to eat anything was that my husband could phone in and order bento for me while he was at work. It was crazy isolating

  • genkidesu

    on Jul 5

    @edthethe it's definitely a hard, weird feeling when there's no real obvious support network. I suck at asking for help, so I guess maybe that also plays into it for my situation...but I totally feel you about how it can be super isolating at times.

  • Candiajia1

    on Jul 5

    I’m so sorry to hear about your experience. That is truly a difficult thing to deal with. I’ve pretty much had a similar experience with all 4 of us in the house-including our baby who was 4 months at the time -been ill. Thankfully though my baby’s godmother who is a nurse at our local hospital was able to take medication and rush to us at almost midnight to call hospitals and accompany me to the pediatric ward long after midnight. If she wasn’t around then I don’t know how we’d cope!

  • genkidesu

    on Jul 6

    @Candiajia1 that's awesome that your baby's godmother is also a nurse - thank goodness for her, she sounds like just the person to have on speed dial when sickness occurs!

  • Saitama

    on Jul 7

    I'd love to say "call me", but the reality right now is that I am quite restricted with the kids still. As they get older I dream of being able to help friends at times like these, cause God knows I've been there. And it sucks. When my youngest was 3 months old we all got the flu, except my husband. My MIL was in the States or Switzerland (can't remember which she was living in at the time!) for 3 months with my SIL who had just had a baby. My husband's work was extremely busy so neither he nor his father could help. I was vomiting and just felt like shit and all I wanted to do was sleep. But I had to hold my kids hands as they vomited and change the baby's nappy and make food etc etc. Our only saving grace was that husband wasn't sick, fat lot of good it did though as he wasn't here!!! But it did help at night when he did what he could so I could sleep a bit better.

  • genkidesu

    on Jul 7

    @Saitama you're a sweetheart...it's so hard at times just to keep your head above water sometimes when the kids are young, right? And I only have two so you are an utter superstar to me! I feel like even the regular days when everyone is well are busy and a blur and then you add the challenge of sickness into it and it's just next level exhausting! Totally get you about feeling exhausted and just wanting to sleep - it's so hard when the littlies are depending on us and we just have to power through!!

  • Saitama

    on Jul 9

    @genkidesu your kids are at that really hard age. I am about to come out of that stage, cause K started kindy in April (well actually she only really started last week - long story!!) and its starting to get easier. Up to three / three and a half though it feels like there is no let up and they really need all of you. K has started being less high maintenance in the past couple of months and with her in kindy this week and last I really don't know myself. I just keep thinking though if I had of had a reprieve like this, even just a few hours a week, for the last 8.5 years I wouldn't have got so exhausted!! There is so much good in raising kids here, but one area they're lacking; babysitters. A few hours "off" a week makes a huge difference.