Paralytic Pain


Saturday night my last class finished about 9:30pm and I headed to a party in the countryside. We were invited to eat kaninabe (蟹鍋), spend the night, and relax at the onsen (温泉) in the morning. It sounded like a fun time and was played up as if a lot of people I hadn’t seen in a long time would be there. For the record, kani is crab and nabe is pot; kaninabe involves heating broth at the table and tossing in veggies, mushrooms, and crab. Easy to make and very tasty.

The party ended out being five people including me; and the location was at the home of “The Lord of the Flies”. Our host was 19 years old. As far as I can tell, he has been living with his younger brother for at least the last three years. Whenever I meet him I notice many odd behavior patterns, but now I think I understand a little better. If my brother and I had been left unsupervised when he was 16 and I was 14, I imagine we would have been peculiar. (Well, I mean more so than now.)

One guest was a restaurant owner who I have been unable to contact for several months. I had gone to her restaurant a couple times during normal hours and found it closed. I had called on her cell phone as well, with no luck. A mutual business contact was able to tell me that she had been in an accident and the restaurant would be closed for awhile. At dinner I found out she was hospitalized for three months and had at least three bone graft operations. Her body still hurts a lot and she is going through rehabilitation. Finding out how she was doing made the trip worthwhile.

I had to get that positive bit in before the main point today. At some point people just started laying down around the low table and nodding off. I asked where I could sleep and was told, with an indication toward my current location, “Right there.” I asked for a futon and got a kakebuton (掛け布団) which is basically a comforter. I managed to drag another kakebuton out of him, so I could lay on one and under the other but I got no pillow. This is when I started to notice the effects of an unsupervised household: lots of (fight-related?) damage to fusuma doors; missing bulbs from light fixtures; non-functional bath tub; and miscellaneous maintenance mishaps.

Anyhow, I woke up in the morning with a kink in my neck like I have never experienced before. Anything below the middle of my neck either felt painful or numb. I had a sense that any sudden movement would leave me paralyzed (probably unfounded, but that was how it felt.) Slowly and in small stages, I shifted onto my back and started straightening myself out and breathing deeply. Eventually I was able to get up and move around, but raising my arms above my shoulders or turning my head more than a few degrees was excruciating. We ate some breakfast and showered up, but by noon it looked like the nice onsen trip was off.

Driving home I had to be very cautious because I could barely check my mirrors, let alone make head checks. Most of Sunday and Monday were spent trying to sit in positions that might help the situation. Hot showers and kneading my shoulders helped a bit as well. Last night I was able to make a business meeting where I picked up one (or maybe two) weekly classes. Today I got out for Japanese class, shopping for a heater (which I carried up four flights), and taught an evening class, so I’m definitely functional; although I still have a sharp pain in the middle of my neck and my left upper arm.

Years ago I realized that old muscle tears in my neck and under my shoulder blade were weak points; and, that I need to exercise and stretch to keep them in check. So, it just seems my body is paying me back for my lack of exercise this year.

Oh, almost forgot: waking up with a kink in the neck is called nechigae (寝違え), from the characters for sleep and strain (or difference). If you watch Heroes you’ve seen the second character on Hiro Nakamura’s jacket that said bachigai (場違い), “out of place”. It gets used with a lot of characters to mean various things related to mistakes.


12 Responses to “Paralytic Pain”

  1. Sylvia Says:

    Wow, that reminds me of that Japanese movie where the kids are abandoned by their mother. I hope your neck gets better!

  2. びっくり Says:

    Yeah, I think normally in divorces one parent leaves the home, but in this case they both left. Wacky. I was thinking about the other people at the party. One is a divorced male who is old enough to be “Flies” father. Another is an estranged woman about the same age. Maybe they are kind of a proxy family, each trying to fill spaces in each others lives…

  3. Stefanie Says:

    Oh no! Hope your back is feeling better soon! Maybe indulging in a good professional massage would help. I can’t imagine how the woman with all the surgeries could not have ended up in pain from sleeping on the floor. My back hurts just thinking about it.

  4. びっくり Says:

    I was feeling better, but had a twinge today. Tuesday I will go on a skiing trip. Two other guests are knowledgeable about okyuu, a form of incense therapy to correct imbalances. I may have to ask them to take a look if I’m still suffering. The woman recovering from surgeries indeed seemed to be in pain.

  5. kevenker Says:

    I know what you’re talking about. A few times I’ve gotten cricks in my neck that were so painful that in order to get out of bed, I would wrap a towel around my neck to make an ersatz neck brace and use it to help pull my head up as I sat up. Not fun!

    Check out chiropractic or shiatsu massage.

    I’ve had very little/no neck issues in the past year since I started seeing a chiropractor last year about this time.

    I hope you feel better in time for your ski trip!!

  6. びっくり Says:

    Yikes, I think I may have a stomach flu as well.

  7. fightingwindmills Says:

    Are you feeling any better today? I’m sorry to hear about those sleeping arrangements that you had to suffer through.

  8. びっくり Says:

    Actually, I am feeling much, much better, thank you. Friday I was hit with some kind of nausea and headaches. Lots of sleep Friday, Saturday, and Sunday sure helped a lot. Sunday my neck/back was still a little sore, but I went to a Christmas party luncheon and figured out how to buy Ibuprofen on the way home. That took the inflammation down a bit and made it easier to rest.

    Tomorrow I’m off to Nagano for skiing.

  9. Curtis Says:

    I had a question about bachigai. I’ve been trying to figure this out for months now.

    I’ve seen it used to describe someone that does just doesn’t fit or feels out of place in the world. Is it being used incorrectly? I keep asking on forums and generally get a ‘yes, that is incorrect’ answer, but it’s often from students rather than native speakers, and the places I see it used are, from what I assume, posted by native speakers.

    Can you elaborate on bachigai’s proper context and possible uses, if Japanese allows for multiple definitions?

    Thanks in advance!

  10. びっくり Says:

    First, thanks for posting a comment. Often people leave no trace that they’ve been here and I wonder if I have any readers.

    Bachigai (場違い) is indeed a Japanese word, but I don’t hear it used so often. I think it is heard a lot in America because it was popularized by Hiro Nakamura on the TV show Heroes. He even wore a jacket with it embroidered on the chest. Ba is a ‘place’ and chigau is a ‘difference’, ‘variance’, or ‘mistake’. Most dictionaries will list bachigai as ‘improper’, ‘unsuitable’, or ‘out of place’.

    My Japanese-Japanese dictionary explains it simply as something (action or item) that is improper (unbecoming) for the place. Probably I don’t hear it used much for two reasons. One: we normally strive to do appropriate things in appropriate places. Two: it would be harsh to say this directly to someone since we strive to avoid such behavior. Tonight I saw much “inappropriate” behavior (by Western standards), but it was in an appropriate place; hence, nobody said “bachigai“.

    I hope that helps.

  11. Shaun Says:

    That last comment was a big help, I’ve been also looking online at the Hiro Nakamuran (Jacket).
    Is it not a fashion label/brand? it would look good with my new jeans lolz is it just something they have stitched on

  12. びっくり Says:

    I don’t believe it is a brand, although I would not be surprised if they made one after the show.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: